A UCSB alumna will help a local advocacy group carry out its mission of reacquainting community members with the sidewalk.

The Coalition for Sustainable Transportation named Jessica Scheeter as the organization’s new executive director on April 14.

C.O.A.S.T. was founded in 1993 in response to increased freeway expansion projects within Santa Barbara County and works with government agencies on public transportation services and alternative transportation. C.O.A.S.T. is a nonprofit organization supported by funds collected through membership fees and grants by the Fund for Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara Foundation.

One of Scheeter’s duties will be to coordinate the Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) program. By working with community agencies and partners, she said, the program aims to reduce the number of accidents and increase the number of children walking and biking to school safely.

“I am excited at the opportunity to work with SR2S partners to reduce the number of cars on the road and make streets safer for kids to bike and walk to school,” Scheeter said. “I feel it is our duty as a community to provide safe routes to school for our children.”

Scheeter, who graduated from UCSB in 1999 with degrees in ecology and environmental studies, said she will be involved in several other C.O.A.S.T. projects promoting more environmentally conscious approaches to transportation development.

“C.O.A.S.T. is currently trying to improve options for commuters in the South Coast,” Scheeter said. “It is obvious to everyone that Highway 101 is filled beyond capacity, but rather than adding lanes, which is a short-term solution to traffic, we are advocating … research and implementation of sustainable transportation alternatives, including bus services, car sharing and land-use policies.”

Alex Pujo, C.O.A.S.T. president, said that without reasonable alternatives to driving, traffic relief would consist of “one widening [of a freeway] after another.”

“We support pedestrianism – you should be able to walk,” Pujo said. “It seems revolutionary to us, but this is how it is done in the rest of the world. America has a love affair with the automobile, but now it is an addiction.”