LETTER- Add biking to streetcars
Kudos to the Hook for taking up environmental issues. In particular, Randy Salzman's article, "Do we desire a streetcar?" is excellent [February 22]. He pointed out some stark facts: "Some 54,500 citizens commute around Charlottesville and Albemarle. Some 78 percent of Albemarle commuters drive alone."
How can we save ourselves from gridlock? Much as everyone loves public transportation in theory, the fact is that the residential pattern around much of Albemarle makes it difficult to support, the issues being the frequency of rides, the distance of shopping and so on from where people live.
Maybe we could emulate the so-called "Kiss and Ride" parking in Northern Virginia. Commuters coming from the North could park in a facility north of the airport. With frequent small buses to locations where people spend their workday, the 29 North congestion could be alleviated.
Another issue intersects with transit and traffic, i.e. the availability of reasonable bicycle lanes. The membership of thousands in health clubs in this area is proof that people understand the benefit of exercise; however, it's somewhat incongruous to have people drive in from the country to spend time on stationary bikes.
The population of Albemarle County is not randomly distributed. Hence it would be a good idea to try to connect defined subdivisions with downtown or some other center closer to where the action is. One could start by extending a bike route from the Free Bridge to the Key West subdivision. We should also be mindful of the benefits of bike lanes for the Meadowcreek Parkway.
We may or may not desire a streetcar, but surely we could fight gridlock as well as obesity by encouraging bicycling as a healthy sport, and by supporting the many people who are favorable to the sport but petrified of many, if not most, of the local roads.