Walt Seifert

Transportation Columnist

About This Author

Walt Seifert is a transportation writer and activist who has participated prominently in local transportation planning efforts and led an award-winning bicycle advocacy organization.

Articles by this author

Caged Drivers

Activists for walking and bicycling sometimes refer to drivers as “cagers” since automobilists are encased by a ton or more of metal and cut off from their environment.
In the age of COVID-19, instead of being a cage, a car seems more like a protective steel bubble in a world that’s turned hostile. When they aren’t staying home, people take advantage of that protection when they venture out, even taking pleasure rides when cabin fever becomes too much.

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Pandemic Pause

The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on transportation has been so profound and pervasive that simply listing the changes is overwhelming. Overnight, we adjusted how far we travel and how we get around.

Air travel and public transit have been decimated. Cruise ships are anchored in port. Congestion on the roads has disappeared as vehicle trips evaporate or shrink. Emptier streets have increased driving speeds. Social distancing makes shared trips via ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft suspect.

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Crowded Out

The world’s population keeps growing. In 1900, the planet was home to 1.6 billion people. Today, the population is 7.7 billion and it’s projected to approach 10 billion in the next 30 years. Most of the growth will be in urbanized areas.

The California Department of Finance expects Sacramento County’s population to increase 54 percent by 2060—nearly 800,000 more people. El Dorado and Placer counties are growing at faster rates. Yolo County is just behind. Those three counties could add another 430,000 residents to the region’s population, bringing the newcomer total to more than 1.2 million.

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Great Idea, But…

Vision Zero is the idea that no one should die or be seriously injured in a traffic crash. It reflects a moral imperative that our streets should never be deadly.

The concept has been adopted by 42 cities in the U.S. and around the world, after originating in Sweden in 1997. Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has made a national Vision Zero program part of his campaign.

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