August 31, 1989
2932 Pine Avenue
Berkeley, California 94705
Re: East Bay Regional Parks, Parking Lots, and the Environment
Dear Ms. Jefferds:
While on one of my twice-weekly hikes to Vollmer Peak (at the south end of Tilden Park), I overheard two Steam Train engineers discussing which trees to cut down. Further investigation revealed that there are plans to expand the parking lot at the Steam Train -- hence the loss of trees. I appreciate that there has already been a lot of discussion of this issue, but I would like to add the perspective of someone deeply involved in the fight to clean up the air in the Bay Area, and specifically, to stop the expansion of the freeway system and turn the tide away from dependence on the automobile and back toward public transit.
All auto facilities (freeways, parking lots, etc.) encourage auto dependence. Expansion of auto facilities (freeways, parking lots, etc.), rather than solving the problems it aims to solve, merely induces people to drive farther and more often. It just makes the problem bigger than it was. This has been proved by research done by Jeff Kenworthy and his associates, as referenced in the enclosed letter.
In order to clean up the air in the Bay Area, and meet federal and state air quality standards, we will have to reverse this trend: put a complete halt to the expansion of auto-serving facilities, and begin finding ways to discourage driving and encourage use of public transit. Besides common sense, this is required by law (the state and federal Clean Air Acts, among others).
We are all going to have to find alternatives to such things as expanding parking lots. The problem of air pollution is so huge that it will not get solved without everyone doing their part. My part is to not own a car, to use public transit wherever possible, and to campaign to halt freeway expansion. Your part is to stop expanding parking lots and instead find ways to encourage people to use more environmentally sound forms of transportation. For example, you could (1) charge for parking, (2) have people park in the dirt lot that is only a hundred yards away from the current lot, or along Grizzly Peak Blvd., or (3) provide a free/cheap shuttle between the various Tilden lots, as is done in Yosemite Village.
Our parks are, and should be, the perfect setting to teach people the facts about the environment. What better way to do this, than to show them in a small way the kind of changes that we are all going to have to undergo in order to save our planet/home from serious degradation? I don't say "sacrifices", because I don't feel that they are sacrifices. I have found my life immeasurable improved by simply not owning a car! What better time than now?
Thank you for your help.
Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.
Modern Transit Society
California Transit League