The SLO City Council’s 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Bike!

A cyclist bikes toward Cal Poly in the green bike lane along California Boulevard, which was added to increase safety for bicyclists.
A cyclist bikes toward Cal Poly in the green bike lane along California Boulevard, which was added to increase safety for bicyclists.

Bikeology … Just pronounce it. It rhymes with “Scientology” and it’s just about as scary.

“Bikeology”: The new religion the San Luis Obispo City Council has embraced and is determined to impose upon our neighborhoods. Mayor Heidi Harmon and Council Members Dan Rivoire, Carlyn Christianson, Aaron Gomez and Andy Pease seem to be pushing for a new 11th Commandment: Thou Shalt Bike! — regardless of whether you want to or are able to.

Their 12th Commandment can’t be far behind: Thou Shalt Live the Way This Council Wants You to Live!

Is what was once the happiest city on earth devolving into the next Orwellian “Brave New World”? It appears so. Richard Schmidt’s Nov. 23, 2017, New Times piece on SLO as our “Socially Engineered City” was spot on.

The council’s plans to run a bike boulevard down the throat of a historic neighborhood that was never designed for it has become our council’s holy grail.

Imposing such force-fed dogmatic ideology upon a traditional neighborhood — its residents be damned — is an outrage. The Anholm Tract, which includes Broad and Chorro Streets, was built in the 1920s and 1930s according to the street standards of the time: two travel lanes with on-street parking lanes and 6-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides of the street.

Morphing this neighborhood into a bicycle highway by eliminating heavily used on-street parking and replacing it with bright green bikeways bristling with white plastic polyps is a slander against where we live. Broad and Chorro work just fine as streets shared by cars and bikes alike, as they are today. For the last five years, there have been zero car-on-bike accidents in this area. So why do this? What’s the point?

Since this project will have significant impacts on the functionality and livability of a neighborhood built 90 to 100 years ago, shouldn’t it at least be subject to environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act?

Shouldn’t it also be reviewed by the City Planning Commission and the Architectural Review Commission prior to proceeding? And shouldn’t this city, once proud of its citizens’ involvement in decision making, be listening to the residents of our neighborhoods rather than repudiating them?

Yet our council persists in ignoring such questions. Why? Because it conflicts with their mantra of “Bikeology.”

Come Monday, Dec. 11, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. the city will hold what may be its final community meeting to present their latest thinking on the Broad Street Bike Boulevard. Not only should the Broad/Chorro neighborhoods be there in force to oppose this affliction, but so should the residents of any city neighborhood that could face this fate. After all, your neighborhood could be next.

To the San Luis Obispo City Council: Please stop this nonsense, leave our historic neighborhoods alone, and stop forcing this unwanted ideology upon us. If our council members want to try out these ideas, let them do so on the new neighborhoods that been approving.

If they remain determined to push “Bikeology” onto our older neighborhoods, let’s remember these names and hold them accountable come election time: Harmon, Rivoire, Christainson, Gomez and Pease.

T. Keith Gurnee is a planner and urban designer who served on the San Luis Obispo City Council when he was a student at Cal Poly.

Oceano Elementary School was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as a Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Business, making it the first K-12 school in the United States to receive the group’s highest level of recognition.

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