Speakout

August 12, 2007

THE ISSUE:

Aiming to get people to use alternative modes of transportation, Annapolis will begin an incentive program this fall to boost the use of electric scooters and bikes.

As part of the Annapolis Pass program, people who buy scooters and bikes will get discounts at local businesses. The city is recruiting shops and by the end of the month will have a number of restaurants and stores in the program, city officials said. Participants will get half off on bus rides.

The city offers a free-fare zone for bus riders between Compromise Street and West Gate Circle. About 1.2 million customers a year use the city bus system, and the city expects increased demand.

What else can the city do to encourage people to leave their cars at home, or at least not drive downtown? What would persuade you?

Parking only adds to the congestion

Traffic is a nightmare, especially during the peak tourist seasons. Encouraging the use of bikes and scooters might reduce some of the car traffic, but it will simply shift the problem to a different type of traffic.

Most streets are too narrow to add dedicated bike lines. So where will the bikes be? In the streets, slowing down vehicle traffic as cars try to get around them, or worse, on the sidewalks, where pedestrians will have to dodge to avoid them. Scooter and bike riders don't always feel obligated to follow the same rules of the road as drivers, and I have witnessed dangerous near-accidents as bikes and scooters wove around cars stopped at crosswalks or intersections.

It is already hazardous to try to cross heavy traffic on foot downtown, especially if you have small children in tow, and I can't imagine that increasing another type of traffic will make it any safer.

The traffic problem in Annapolis isn't so much the number of vehicles, it's the lack of parking spots. Vehicles head downtown, only to find that the main public garages are full. And then they start circling, looking for metered or street parking, which can take a half an hour or longer during peak times. And yet city officials have continually scrapped or reduced plans for construction of public garages. The best way to get vehicles off the street? Give them somewhere to park.

Laura Booth Annapolis

Expand the idea; cut oil dependency

The program and the idea that Annapolis has is great for the environment, and for the traffic. However, what we can't do is let it stop in Annapolis. The idea, or new and more creative ideas, must branch out into neighboring towns or cities.

The more we begin to use other modes of transportation, the better we will be. We need to slow down, be able to take a walk or ride a bike somewhere. Exercising will help reduce stress.

Furthermore, we need to become less dependent on oil. Currently, if something happened to our oil supply, America would falter.

Last, but not least, our environment would benefit.

Let's get together and help expand the city's idea.

Victor Henderson Glen Burnie

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