Put safety first

Council must not cave to the irrational fears over changes to The Esplanade

The interesting thing about the opposition to the construction of roundabouts on The Esplanade is that none of the elected leaders who oppose them—and few members of the public—have done so out of concern for public safety. Rather, there is an irrational fear that making changes to the corridor will diminish its historical significance. Never mind that the roadway has already gone through several iterations in its lifespan.

For our part, we’re actually pleased that approval of the roundabouts has been reconsidered. That’s because we don’t believe they are a safe option for the boulevard (for more on that, see “Rescinded,” Second & Flume, April 21).

And let’s not forget that safety is the end goal here. No one should be more cognizant of that than our elected leaders. After all, public safety is their No. 1 priority. Yet, based on what we’ve heard from the dais, our concern is that that fact has been lost in the hysteria.

When the council members return to discussions of The Esplanade next Tuesday, May 3, they ought not throw the baby out with the bathwater. The panel adopted with little controversy some sound traffic features, including new signalization and a two-way bicycle path on the old railroad right-of-way. Those features will make the boulevard a safer place to travel for pedestrians, motorists and cyclists alike.

However, that doesn’t mean what has been approved is a cure-all for the roadway. City staff, the council and the community must continue to look for solutions to mitigate the safety issues surrounding Chico High School and the two most problematic intersections—First Avenue and Memorial Way.

The bottom line here is that the council shouldn’t give in to the provincial outcries that most assuredly will surface. Making changes to The Esplanade may not be the most popular decision, but it is in the best interest of the public.