Petition for Healthy, Slow Streets San Marcos
San Marcos Mayor and City Council
Help San Marcos Physically Distance Outdoors with Healthy, Slow Streets
During this pandemic, more and more people are turning to active transportation as they seek ways to get outdoors. Yet cyclists and pedestrians have little space on our streets with small or nonexistent sidewalks or bike lanes and often struggle to practice appropriate physical distance while avoiding traffic lanes. Add to that speeding cars and our streets can become hostile and unsafe for kids and adults alike. Parks have been closed, but people need to get outside and designating safe open space in neighborhoods is an easy solution.
Across the country, cities small and large are creating “slow streets,” "healthy streets," or “open streets” programs that give some of the public space given to cars back to people by closing vehicular lanes to thru-traffic and limiting non-resident access to emergency, service, and delivery vehicles traveling at very slow speeds (e.g. 10mph). San Marcos should do the same!
This petition asks the San Marcos City Council to immediately create a limited number of Slow Streets in neighborhoods across San Marcos through at least August 1, 2020 to allow residents to more safely physically distance.
WHY HEALTHY, SLOW STREETS?
- COVID-19 Has Us Locked In. The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is changing lifestyles around the globe. Even as Shelter-in-Place orders relax, the City of San Marcos can consider ways to increase access to open space and provide increased social distancing. Streets and sidewalks can be a resource to make sure we stay healthy during this prolonged period of physical distancing.
- People are Using Streets as Shared Public Spaces. With COVID-19, people are taking to the streets more than ever. In order to maintain at least 6 feet of space from a neighbor, people are walking from the sidewalk into the street or crossing to the other side, or putting their families on bikes and strolling around the neighborhood to get exercise when vehicle traffic is low.
- Physical Activity Needs to Occur in Your Neighborhood on Streets. Our neighborhood streets represent underused space that can be given back to people so that they can safely get outside locally.
WHAT ARE HEALTHY, SLOW STREETS?
Slow Streets are streets that receive “soft closures” to vehicular thru-traffic with basic traffic cones, barricades and signage to allow adults and kids alike to walk, bike, or play in the streets at safe physical distances.
Emergency, transit, service, and delivery vehicles are still ALLOWED at slow rates of speed, as are the private vehicles of residents or guests to the street.
There are a variety of different ways to implement a Slow Street from partial (open curbs, shared streets) to full (open streets). Here's a link to a helpful graphic from Mike Lydon of Streetplans.
WHERE can we do this?
Healthy, Slow Streets can easily be implemented equitably across San Marcos. Suggestions from the community should be considered, and the map below presents some ideas for first phase locations.
One of the “silver linings” of this awful pandemic is that fewer cars have been on the road. You may have seen the remarkable photos from around the world depicting air quality improvement so dramatic you can actually see it . Sadly, we are also learning that exposure to high rates of air pollution - namely from cars - before the pandemic has been linked to increased mortality in COVID-19 patients.
Unfortunately, with less cars on the street motorists are now driving faster than ever. The number of car crashes is plummeting due to lower traffic volumes, but the rate of car crashes per mile drive is actually up in many cities as drivers are getting more reckless on wide open lanes. Even more reason why we need slow, safe streets. In that same vein, the City of San Marcos has been working with neighborhoods recently to lower speed limits across town so this effort is aligned with existing community initiatives.
Slow Streets programs around the country have been so successful that some Cities, such as Seattle, are now making the changes permanent. With more permanent infrastructure, the San Marcos Slow Streets could be this start of something positive for the quality of life for residents of the City. Let's make it a goal to return to a San Marcos better than the one we left.
San Marcos Mayor and City Council
From: [Your Name]
Mayor Hughson and Council members,
During this pandemic, more people than ever are turning to active transportation as they seek relief from enclosed spaces; but cyclists and pedestrians have been allowed such a limited allocation our streets, they often struggle to give physical distance. Parks have been closed, but people want to get outside! The acres and acres of oil-based impervious surfaces given over to single occupant vehicles has been brought into stark relief.
Across the County, cities small and large are responding by creating “slow streets,” "healthy streets," or “open streets” programs that give back some of the public space given to cars back to people by closing vehicular lanes to thru-traffic and limiting non-resident access to only emergency, service, and delivery vehicles traveling at very slow speeds (e.g. 10mph). San Marcos should join them!
We are asking the San Marcos City Council to immediately create a limited number of Slow Streets in neighborhoods across San Marcos through at least August 1, 2020 to allow residents to more safely physically distance.
Thank you for your service to the City during this challenging time in our history. And, thank you in advance for creating Slow Streets in San Marcos for the health and safety of your citizens.