By Angeli Hernandez
My name is Angeli Hernandez, and I live in City Heights. The Youth Opportunity Pass is a no-cost bus pass for young people. Just as the name says, this pass is a tool that opens up opportunities for youth. Many young people, including myself, have to go to their jobs or internships and school.
The lack of money in our families leaves us with no other alternative other than walking or biking, instead of taking public transportation. In an ideal world, walking and biking to work and school wouldn’t be an issue, but dangers lurk on those paths and roads.
This is not an issue of not wanting to bike or walk, as so many of our residents do, but it’s an issue of safety. In 2011, according to the San Diego Police Department, the number of juvenile victims of violent crimes increased right after school hours ended. Many of these young people were victimized on their way to play sports or jobs or internships.
It is disappointing to know that on their path to success they will have a high probability of being robbed, attacked, or even sexually assaulted. It worries my single mother and I that my 16-year-old brother, who aspires to become a photographer, could be a victim. Access to safe transportation for those who cannot afford it can make the difference between staying alive or coming back in a coffin.
Many of our streetlights are still unlighted, our sidewalks and roads are still cracked and unsafe for bicyclists. In 2011, 38 teenage walkers or bicycle riders were victims in motor vehicle collisions, and these only count the accidents that occurred within a 100-yard radius of Hoover, Crawford, Lincoln or San Diego High school, according to the 2011 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System report. Some might argue that with more police those numbers would decrease.
However, that is not the case, hiring two or three police officers is not going to solve the issue. Our police officers cannot prevent all these collisions or attacks.
People have been so focused in treating the issues and by that time, it’s too late. It’s time to focus on preventive solutions. That is why I believe that by investing in our youth and the Youth Opportunity Pass we will not only save the city a lot of money, but also create a safe and healthy living environment in our community and our beautiful city.
Angeli Hernandez is a graduate of Herbert Hoover High School and is currently in her second year at San Diego City College.
Show your support for the Youth Opportunity Pass – City Council budget hearing, 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, City Hall, 202 C St., 12th floor