Santa Barbara Walks recently co-hosted (with the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition and the Coalition for Community Wellness) a Walk/Bike Forum with international expert Dr. John Pucher from Rutger’s University. “Car-free John” as he is known by friends and colleagues, gave an informative presentation on the health benefits of walking and cycling as transportation and how these activities are essential for our community’s sustainability. His presentation included a plentitude of examples how other countries have succeeded in encouraging and providing infrastructure and policies that support pedestrians and bicyclists.
Dr. Pucher’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion with Grant House (Santa Barbara City Council Member), Janet Wolf (County Board of Supervisors) and Michael Chiacos (Community Environmental Council). The panelists provided opinions of what Santa Barbara has been doing to accommodate non-motorized transport as well as candid impressions of where we as a community have been lacking.
When Michael Chiacos asked John Pucher, “What should we do first, what are the low hanging fruit?” John said a sound education system teaching the youth how to walk and bike safely was the most important. He followed this by indicating that having the infrastructure to support pedestrians and bicyclists (well-connected sidewalks, bike paths and bike lanes, etc.) was second to educating the youth.
The Forum was quite a success and we received positive feedback from many of the roughly 50 people that attended. If you missed it, Santa Barbara City TV is showing the recording on their site. Visit www.citytv18.com/ to see the schedule. In addition you can download the PDF version of John’s PowerPoint presentation here.