With the long-awaited arrival of the Expo line set for May, we are beginning to see a fuller picture of how Santa Monica has shaped up to connect and support all its varied mobility options. The future of mobility in Santa Monica can be summed up in one word: choice.

We are designing a city that allows residents, visitors, and workers to have safe, convenient choices for how we get around, whether you walk, use a wheelchair or other mobility assistance device, bike, take the bus, or drive.

On Sunday, Big Blue Bus, after months of community outreach, began the second phase of its three-phase Evolution of Blue, the agency’s biggest overhaul of service in its 70-year history, to phase in adjustments to routes that will connect our neighborhoods with our new regional light rail system. And, tonight, the Council will consider moving forward with a Pedestrian Action Plan to make our sidewalks and streets safer and more comfortable for all who use them.

The newest component of our public transportation system, Breeze Bike Share, which is sponsored by one of our local tech businesses, Hulu, recently hit a milestone. Just over 100 days after it launched, Breeze boasts some impressive data:

_ coming up on 10,000 active members

_ more than 42,000 trips for a total of more than 98,000 miles ridden

_ nearly 93,000 pounds of carbon reduced

_ and more than 4.2 million calories burned

On Valentine’s Day alone – also the day of the L.A. Marathon – Breeze riders logged nearly 1,500 rides. But what this new public transit asset accomplishes is so much bigger than these figures show.

Breeze Bike Share is part of the vision of a healthier active transportation network for Santa Monica and the region. Metro Bike Share will soon launch in Los Angeles and we also have more systems coming online in Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.

Public bike-share opens up connections to final destinations and to existing public transportation systems by extending connections to buses and the soon to arrive Expo light rail, helping to get people to make the so-called “first mile, last mile” segment of their transit trips.

It’s important to have a realistic understanding of what our growing public transit network will accomplish. It won’t, as some complain it hasn’t already, “fix traffic.” There is no successful metropolitan area that does not experience traffic; it’s a side effect of economic health, albeit a very frustrating one.

A multi-modal public transit network will give us real choices to skip the traffic headaches by leaving our cars at home when we don’t really need to be driving.

In more concrete terms – in just a few short months – we will be able to hop on a Breeze bike, board a bus, call a Lyft or an Uber, and connect to a train that will take us to Culver City, USC, the Staples Center, or Downtown L.A. without having to deal with the hassle of driving, finding parking, or paying for gas.

Within the city, we can take the bus or train to Santa Monica, ride bike-share to appointments, entertainment, shopping, or to meet up with friends. Residents can get around for their daily needs and not be forced to get in their car. Bike-share also allows visitors and residents to experience the city at a human pace.

Of course, there will be times when you just need a car. However, for people who don’t care to own a car, the proliferation of car-share is also a helpful development, since such services allow you access to a car when you need it without all the trouble – and cost – of having to store it and maintain it yourself.

The key here is choice. Much of the consternation we feel when we are stuck in traffic is due to the fact that we feel trapped. For many years, we’ve designed our cities to give us little choice but to drive. We are now seeing that change in dramatic and exciting ways. Looking toward the future, we must also move away from low-density, single-use zoning, which prevents the growth of walkable neighborhoods and forces us into our cars much more frequently than is good for us, or the environment.

As with all change, we are still understanding how best to make it work. With Breeze, priority has always been placed on serving residents of Santa Monica and to help bring people new to biking into the system by providing bike safety education and finding ways to to better serve low-income and underserved neighborhoods.

Santa Monica residents and Santa Monica College students get discounted rates for Breeze Bike Share memberships. The community outreach team with city of Santa Monica, Santa Monica Spoke, and Breeze continues to offer free bike education classes for the public.

Equity being an important issue for transportation, Breeze and its partners collaborate with Santa Monica’s single-largest nonprofit affordable housing developer, Community Corporation, to provide subsidies to its residents, many of whom can’t afford to own cars. Workshops are being planned to introduce bike-share in conjunction with bike safety education in fun and interactive environment close to these homes.

As we evolve into the city of our future, we can be grateful to see healthy active transportation options prioritized by our civic leaders, who are committed to giving us choices in how we get around. We are happy to see the redesigning of our public space to give people more freedom to choose their preferred modes of transportation.

Jerry Rubin, Laurie Brenner, Valerie Griffin, Cynthia Rose, Frederick Zimmerman, Judy Abdo, Ernie Powell, Richard Brand, Elena Christopoulos, and Tim Harter for Santa Monica Forward. Read more at santamonicaforward.org.