Esplanade no sacred cow

Modernizing Chico’s beloved boulevard for safety will not sacrifice its charm

If there was a pivotal moment during Tuesday evening’s long Chico City Council meeting, it was when Dave Chesterman, a retired civil engineer with a breadth of experience in capital projects, stood at the podium in front of the dais and reminded the council members why Chico’s roadways, including our beloved Esplanade, need modernization.

Chesterman is the father of the late Kristina Chesterman, the Chico State nursing student who was killed two years ago by a drunken driver while riding her bike along Nord Avenue. He traveled from the Bay Area to Chico to speak to the council about the importance of improving safety aspects that would, as he put it so poignantly, “help spare other families from the tragic loss of their loved ones.”

He obviously was aware that some Chicoans have called for the city to leave the roadway as it is. Moreover, it was clear from the tenor of the meeting that certain members of the council are resistant to several changes proposed by the consultant hired to come up with options, especially a dedicated bike lane.

The Esplanade is a beautiful roadway, but that’s because of the trees and historic homes that line it, not the asphalt and concrete that make it a major thoroughfare.

We hope Chesterman’s comments, along with those of the other dozen-plus speakers, struck a nerve with the council members. We, too, believe that the boulevard is in dire need of improvements, including those that accommodate bicyclists and people with disabilities. The Esplanade has served the community well over the decades, but it’s now time for changes that would ensure it continues to do so well into the future.