The Urgent Need to Improve Pedestrian Infrastructure in Camarillo

Biking in Camarillo


Serena Avila

Students that bike to Cam High can park their bikes in an enclosed bike parking lot.

When it comes to getting to school, students choose a variety of different means of transport including driving themselves or being driven by their parents, walking, and biking. Many students at Cam High choose to bike, citing economic, environmental, and personal health reasons. However, many other students at both Cam High and other schools across the country might want to bike to school but choose not to due to concerns regarding distance, poor weather conditions, and, traffic-related danger concerns.

For the students of Cam High, biking to school provides them an excellent opportunity to start their day off strong with exercise and freedom in the outdoors. “I bike to school on the [Calleguas Creek Bike Path]. There [are] multiple reasons [why I bike to school]: first, both my parents work, so it’s kind of inconvenient for them to come pick me up every single day and drop me off [at school]. Secondly, I eat too much so I need to do exercise. Lastly, I want to [promote environmental sustainability],” said Cam High junior Sai Rithvik Kotla.

“It’s convenient not to waste my parent’s time when they’re busy with some kind of work or job. And it’s just fun: you get exercise. When you’re in a car, you’re just sitting there doing nothing but when you’re biking, it’s more active and it’s more like you’re paying attention to your environment. I like that feeling because it’s kind of similar to when I’m running,” said Cam High junior Eyouel Abate.

Exercising is scientifically proven to increase dopamine levels and thus can improve a student’s mindset even before arriving at school if they walk or bike. “You get a dopamine boost after exercising. It makes you feel better because in the car you’re just sitting there, you’re not exercising. But when you bike you actually get that dopamine boost which [starts your school day off well],” elaborated Kotla. 

Unfortunately for many students attending Cam High, they might find it difficult to bike to school due to traffic safety concerns. This issue is not unique to Cam High or Camarillo as a whole; in fact, nearly 30.4% of parents cite “traffic-related danger” as a primary obstacle to allowing their child to bike to school according to a 2005 CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) survey. More recent surveys have also supported these findings.

“Luckily, I have a bike [path] near my house. Whenever I’m on the bike [path] I feel really safe, but the second I leave it, I don’t feel so safe anymore because all these cars don’t look for me. I have to wait and I’m really scared so I always stop [at every intersection] just to make sure there [are] no cars to make sure I don’t get hit. The biking infrastructure outside the [Calleguas Creek Bike Path] is horrible,” said Kotla.

Outside of the Calleguas Creek Bike Path, which runs north to south from the intersection of Upland and Flynn all the way down to Pleasant Valley Road, students could be deterred from biking to school simply due to safety concerns. For many, it is difficult to ride on the city’s streets; many choose to ride on the sidewalks which can be uneven or sometimes end abruptly as opposed to riding on the bike lanes, which are too small for riders.

Abate stated, “Yes, there is quite a risk [to biking to school]. The trail is the only good bike infrastructure in the city; the rest of it is basically on road. And some of these roads don’t even have proper sidewalks, which is sad. The bike lanes are basically a death sentence.”

Luckily, there is hope for pedestrians and bike riders. Many cities throughout California including neighboring Ventura have adopted a so-called “Active Transportation Program” which seeks to attract more pedestrians and cyclists to the city by improving infrastructure.

When it comes to Cam High specifically, many students are especially frustrated with the entire parking situation. The time it takes to drop off– but especially pick up–children from school is considered to be unreasonably long and complicated.

Awareness and advocacy from parents and students can help improve this situation by encouraging biking and walking to school, as it may reduce the number of car drop-offs. Cooperation between the City of Camarillo and local schools could help produce solutions that target the concerns of the parents and students.

By improving and expanding upon sidewalks, as well as constructing more independent bike and walking paths, the City could help alleviate worsening traffic in school zones and improve the well-being of its citizenry.