Lane Reduction on Maricopa Highway in Ojai

By Jeffrey Weinstein

Please print the following Letter to the Editor as Ojai Valley News will no longer print my letters (censorship) because the current owner and publisher do not agree with my position, and support the City Council.  What ever happened to providing the public with objective information so they can make up their own minds, and acknowledging the opinions of those with whom you don’t agree?  

It is shameful that John Trent and the Ojai Valley News exploit the tragic death of Marion Weil while riding her bike on narrow (24′ wide) and hilly Cuyama Rd. at 7pm Friday 8/7 when the setting sun is blinding traveling due west, to buttress support for lane reduction on Maricopa Hwy (100′ wide) serving multiple schools, churches, medical offices, shopping centers and Ojai’s only hospital.  An investigation of the unfortunate accident is ongoing, yet both Mr. Trent and this newspaper jump to the conclusion that our streets are unsafe.  The truth is the City of Ojai ranks near the top in both pedestrian safety (54th out of 75 similar-sized cities) and bicyclist safety (62nd out of 75 cities) for all persons less than 15 years of age, in other words, we are in the 70th percentile for pedestrian safety and 80th percentile for bicyclist safety.  

Another fact overlooked in Mr. Trent’s letter (and the Ojai Valley News) is the City of Ojai predicts actual bike ridership by Nordhoff HS students to increase by just 1%, from 2% of existing students to 3% of future students, not 30-40% as claimed by certain City Council members.  Because current enrollment at NHS is just 729 students (a loss of 1500 students during the past 10 years due to lack of housing), the City is spending $2.6 million in State funding (not including City expenses) so that an additional 7-8 high school students (1% of 729) may ride their bikes to school separated by a lane of parking and trees.
These facts found in the City of Ojai’s grant application for ATP project funding do not fit neatly into the City Council’s (and Ojai Valley News) narrative, so they are conveniently omitted.  Also omitted from any public discussion is the westbound passing lane on Ojai Ave. at the ‘Y’ will be eliminated, the only legal opportunity to pass slower-moving vehicles traveling from Santa Paula.  Lane reduction on Maricopa Hwy is all about ideology over engineering, just as COVID-19 is all about politics over science.  Rather than rely upon what some City Council members and their supporters claim about lane reduction on Maricopa Hwy, I urge all citizens to decide for themselves what’s best for our community based on the actual plans and documents found on the City’s website and via public records request.
Jeffery Weinstein is a Ventura County resident and architect
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal

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4 Responses to Lane Reduction on Maricopa Highway in Ojai

  1. Cesar O'campo August 26, 2020 at 6:06 am

    Have you think if we have another fire like saint Thomas fire, Ojai has few roads to leave the area, if we have narrower lanes it would be more difficult to leave.

    Reply
  2. VCsurfer August 25, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    LOL! And a footpath would be even safer, but a lot harder to get where you’re going with longer distances and heavier loads. You are a “true believer,” huh?

    Reply
  3. Leslie Lange August 25, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Regarding the letter to the editor dated 8/23/20 entitled “Lane Reduction on Maricopa Highway, I have a few questions and comments:

    What is the source for the writer’s statement that Ojai “ranks near the top” in pedestrian and cyclist safety? And if Ojai ranks 64th and 57th out of 75 cities, doesn’t that rank it nearer the bottom? I assume 1st would be the safest and 75th the least safe.

    Also, while the estimated increase in Nordhoff High School cyclists is indeed approximately 7-8 students, this represents a 50% increase in cyclists. Percent increase is defined as (new value – old value)/(old value)x100. 2% of 729 = 14.58 and 3% of 729 = 21.87. At any rate, there are many more cyclists on the road than NHS students, especially during these trying times.

    Bike sales have increased dramatically (L.A. Times, 6/25/20, “Bicycles have enjoyed a boom during the pandemic” and Washington Post, 5/15/20, “What do bikes and toilet paper have in common? Both are flying out of stores amid the coronavirus pandemic”, to cite just a few articles.) A safe environment to continue this healthy, cost saving and environmentally friendly means of transportation.

    Finally, at least one study has shown that narrower lanes can be safer (ResearchGate.net, June 2015, “Narrower Lanes, Safer Streets”). Widening the already very wide Maricopa Highway at this location may not be the solution – restructuring it will be.

    Reply
  4. Rriff Raff August 24, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    I suggest a following the “National Example”. Organize and have ongoing “Peaceful Protests”.

    Reply

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