The true culprit is the number of cars in the basin | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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The true culprit is the number of cars in the basin

Ted Long

Re: “Jury is still out on roundabout,” Page A6, July 1.

The roundabout is not the issue – everyone agrees that the roundabout is safer, far more attractive and a real contribution to our environment. In addition, the threat of traffic snarl is limited to relatively few days of the year, times when it will exist with or without a roundabout.

No, the real enemy here is the automobile and the average American’s unwillingness to give it up. When will it all end? Most experts tell us the automobile is a leading cause of global warming – another glacier was reported melting just last week – and is the principal contributor to air pollution and depletion of fossil fuels in the next 40 to 50 years. In every other major city in the world, laws are enacted to make use of the auto expensive thereby forcing people into public transportation. In London, for example, along with $6.50 for a gallon gas you pay $15 as a congestion fee to drive downtown.

A major difference is that London has excellent, easy to use public transportation as an alternative. We have little or none. If you want to make a real difference in my view let’s shift the conversation from the roundabout to the elimination of the automobile as some “God-given right to Americans.”

If you would like to add the beauty, safety and efficiency of a roundabout, a real focal point to the entrance of our town, to insure that it works well, join with me in helping to reduce the number of cars in the Tahoe basin. The basin is intended for the enjoyment and use of people, not cars, and beauty counts.

We first must have a working airport. It is conservatively estimated that an airport with charter and commercial service would take 200,000 cars off our roads. The current interest in the Reno airport will not address our problem. The vast number of visitors to the lake come from Sacramento and the Bay Area. They are not going to fly to Reno, then ride a bus for an hour when they can drive in half the time. The surveys tell us they will fly direct, however.

Our area lends it self to a public system. Let’s face it, there are not that many places to go that are not on a central route. You arrive at the airport and are quickly shuttled to your hotel; then there are only two directions, Stateline and Camp Richardson. From your hotel, we have the trolley, moving in both directions around the lake with stops at all the sightseeing locations. With a trolley every 15 minutes, you can continue your journey or reverse direction. In the winter the shuttle service to the gondola handles the need to drive to Heavenly. In short, we are a much easier city to serve, then say, Washington DC or London, which both do the job of moving residence and tourist very well.

Traffic congestion will not be increased by the roundabout. In fact it will be decreased by moving it more efficiently. The real potential for disaster rests in the car. Are we/you, willing to give up that symbolic “freedom” the car has so long represented ?

– Ted Long is a South Lake Tahoe city councilman.


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