Political Realities Can Change

Whenever Government is involved in deciding how to best spend tax dollars politics more often than not plays a huge and deciding role.  The needs of the citizens being served by elected officials are less served than the political interests of our elected officials or the financial needs of government.  This reality happens at every level of government including our city hall officials.

When the true reasons of spending is a pet project of an elected official they will rationalize all kinds of reasons to make it sound as if it is good for the entire community.  Unfortunately this is more the general rule than the exception.  If citizens attended more city council meetings and stayed for the entire session they would see such a pattern.  I have often been very critical of Cupertino City Council for wanting to build a new Community Center and parking structure for $57 million and a Stevens Creek Corridor for $55 million that will benefit only a small segment of our population.  Why not spend that money on a bicycle lane infrastructure for all citizens and solve some real issues such as traffic congestion and bicycle safety?

This is why many cities such as ours never develop into outstanding cities.  There are simply too many very expensive pet projects that serve few residents.  Without our two great school districts and Apple the city of Cupertino would have absolutely nothing to distinguish itself for.  All the amenities Cupertino now enjoys are due to the high property taxed of our very expensive houses and the sales tax revenues from Apple.  Without these two element which have little to do with our city government Cupertino would have little going for it.

But it does have world class schools and a class of its own company, namely Apple headquarters and does collect sizable taxes from both residents and companies.  Even during the 2008 crash Cupertino remained in the black and solvent while neighboring cities struggled with huge budget cuts which in some cases such as San Jose still persists.  So now that Cupertino has a surplus of more than $30 million this seems an opportunity for the city to do something really great, invest in a sustainable infrastructure involving bike lanes.

Why not make Cupertino truly unique by being the Bicycle Capital of America.  Why not use this surplus money together with grants from other agencies to build the best bike lane system on this continents?  Cupertino is small enough to make this possible and the money and resources to make it happen.  Instead of spending $112 million on a new civic center and Stevens Creek corridor how about spending it on bicycle infrastructure to make our streets safe to bike and convenient for shopping and commuting anywhere withing our city or even interconnect with other city bike paths?  By encouraging people to bicycle safely we will remove cars from the road thus reducing traffic and traffic congestion.  By making these bicycle routes attractive with landscaping and trees for shade and drinking fountains along the way we make these routes appealing attracting more bikers.  By providing short cuts through town we make biking faster.  By making biking trails along creeks and railroad routes we make bicycling adventurous.

If we build a world class bicycle city of people of all ages people around the world will hear about us and come here to see what we have and bike our streets.  We will steal shoppers from other communities to shop in our bicycle and shopping friendly city free of traffic congestion and parking problems.  What a great city to visit.  Wouldn’t you like to visit such a city?  It could be your city.  And we have such fantastic weather most of the year.

Since bikes cost virtually nothing to buy, ride, and maintain they will safe residents money to spend on other things.  They also consume no fuel and produce not pollutions and greenhouse gasses so are very environmentally friendly.  They are far safer than driving resulting  in far fewer serious or deadly accidents.  They are a great source of exercise for improving health and controlling weight.  And the list goes on.  But most importantly for the city is that it allows growth to become Sustainable.

So why can’t Cupertino become the Bicycle Capital of the Americas?  City Council lets us put Cupertino on the map as a truly unique city, a long lasting legacy that will outlive all of us.

About Frank Geefay

Sustainable Bicycle and Smart Growth Advocate
This entry was posted in Article, Considerations and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s