In a season of scary politics, one of the scariest measures on the ballot is California’s Proposition 6. If it passes, not only will it hurt us immediately by halting thousands of road safety projects, it will also indicate the dominance of a very dangerous and deep cynicism about the value of public works.
California’s transportation system is huge. Based primarily around privately-owned automobiles, it is expensive to maintain. It is falling apart. Bridges are unsafe. Legislators came together last year and hammered out a compromise to pay for that system that relies on a mixed package of fees and taxes and also slowly steers California’s transportation system in a more sustainable direction. It’s too slow for our liking, but at least it’s going in the right direction; the most recent transportation budget has a highest proportion ever of funds for transit, biking, and walking.
Prop 6 would repeal those funds. More than six thousand projects would be halted or delayed. Community-led efforts to make the streets safer for walking and riding bikes would be canceled. New pedestrian ramps for better accessibility in Burbank, bike lanes along Telegraph Ave in Oakland, upgrading 45 Foothill Transit gas buses with zero-emission electric models, Caltrain’s electrification + Bike Parking program, BART finally extending into San Jose…
Worse, the idea that we shouldn’t protect our public infrastructure with public funds as determined by our elected representatives is a very dangerous idea that we cannot endorse. The alternative is to turn to private business to maintain our infrastructure, so that only the roads that turn a profit are maintained and the rest crumble. Only the rich get to travel, and the rest of us, including those of us who choose to or must rely on the affordable bicycle to get around, are left to fend for ourselves in the dangerous margins.
Our democratic system is far from perfect, but it’s the best one we have and it’s the only equitable way to maintain our public infrastructure. Protect our roads. Protect our safety. Protect our public transportation system. Stop Prop 6.