Friday, October 25, 2013

Thoughts On The San Diego Coastal Rail Trail Working Group Meeting

On Wednesday, October 23, 2013, SANDAG held the final meeting of the Coastal Rail Trail Working Group. This is an advisory group, meaning that they can make recommendations to SANDAG, and the City Counil, and all of the other stakeholders, but ultimately have little to no power how things will swing in this crazy town of uplifted politics. Darren and I, of course, attended with some dream that there would be bike paths through canyons and dreamy Class 1 lanes for leisure riding through Rose Canyon, maybe a true "Rail Trail" route. That option, at least in this meeting, wasn't even on the table. (Gotta give it to the hostile Rose Canyon lady, she has shut down any tampering of a trail in canyons, despite the fact that a FUCKING TRAIN can run through there several times a day.)

Alas, this is a hostile group. Generally speaking, the majority of people at the meeting want safe bike infrastructure to get from Rose Canyon, near the McDonald's on the north end of Mission Bay Drive, up to Sorrento Valley and through to Del Mar, while also servicing UCSD. However, the TransNet funds and project goals always include this huge 60% segment of the population of people who might be interested in riding bikes if conditions were safe enough to do so. Generally these meetings and forums are filled with bike commuters who already ride no matter what the conditions, homeowners and renters and parties who will fight to the death if they lose parking and traffic lanes, and advocates for other interests that see bike lanes as the ultimate failure of the world and everything will suddenly collapse if they let those goddamn bicyclists- who run lights, who take over the roads, who have no regard for anyone but themselves- get any part of current roadways.

It is super interesting to sit in on one of these meetings. Living in the urban core of San Diego, I'm right between the intersection of where North Park, City Heights, and Normal Heights converge, and I haven't owned a functioning car in nearly five years. Obviously I've been driven and can drive in these areas, but I feel less bike advocate than I do pro-multi-modal transportationist. Sometimes I need a ride, so a friend or the bus or the trolley suits me. Sometimes I bike and can get in and out of places faster than a car because I'm not chasing parking or stuck in traffic when things break down, like water mains or traffic lights or tragic accidents. And other times, I just walk. Generally speaking, there aren't people at these meetings who represent me, and that is precisely why I show up. I'm not a "cyclist", I happen to sometimes ride a bike, or ride in a car, or ride the bus, or take a cab, or walk, but I am out most every night, and every night I have to decide how to get from point A to point B and safely home again. There is no other choice, then, to show up and speak up at these meetings.

These meetings get really crazy when people speak about their experiences- a mom with toddlers not wanting cyclists in her park, as if she owns it, as if only homeowners have rights to these public open spaces. Even as a self-described cyclist, the same mom can't see the forest for the trees, or in this matter, that in a few years, her toddlers have the potential to grow up where safe bike paths exist, where in a few more years, her kids could have the mentality that running errands means packing up a basket on a bike instead of loading up the Benz to get groceries, or get dinner, or to have a fun night out.

I was incredibly flattered, after attending just four or five of these meetings that a SANDAG rep came over and whispered to me, "YOU really need to speak up. This isn't going well and these people need to hear from people like you." People like me. People like me sometimes don't have transportation choices. People like me ride in bike lanes when it's safe, but will ride a sidewalk when it isn't. People like me will ride with a 6 year old- sometimes on the street, sometimes in bike lanes, and sometimes on sidewalks- to have fun and ride because it can be so fun, so liberating, and a total escape from humdrum life. People like me don't gear up in jerseys on 10-speeds, we ride the bikes we can barely afford or the hand me downs, or the bikes we get from Craigs List. We light up our bikes, and we ride for freedom, for necessity, for fun.

It is incredibly exciting that our culture is changing, however slowly, to accept bikes on the roadways. It is exciting that a hipster on a fixie, a cholo on an undersized BMX, a beach bum on a Cruiser, or average people riding average bikes can maybe be considered when all of this bike infrastructure is finally laid out. It's exciting that California passed a 3 foot law for passing bikes (in effect 9/16/2014). It's reassuring to know that killing a cyclist isn't just an "Oops" and a small fine. Today it is just paint...sharrows and buffered bike lanes and signs to "Share The Road", but maybe all of this will be built out someday, and when I'm old, maybe I can be assured that showing up to these meetings in 2013 means that I'm alive to enjoy a bike in 2023, 2033, and beyond.

The meetings will continue. Follow up about the "Coastal Rail Trail" at the next public meeting sometime before the end of the year. There are projects happening all over the county, too, so READ UP, SIGN UP, and SHOW UP. After all, YOU are paying for all of this. Make it happen. Fight the state when they try to move the TransNet tax money into the general fund, where it is lost forever. Demand multi-modal infrastructure, command attention on your neighborhood needs- sidewalks and curbs and parking and safety-, and VOTE in the special mayoral election. David Alvarez is the guy who still cares about shit like this, while Faulconer and Fletcher hide their special business interests but will go right back to pouring money to developers and hoteliers.

As a final thought, I will say that I was perfectly content spending my twenties into my thirties in a stagnant lifestyle. I had a shitty bike that I sometimes used in necessity, but it wasn't until my mid-thirties that I got a decent bike. With the new bike came a change in lifestyle, freedom, and an entirely new mindset. I suddenly remembered how it felt racing down a hill on a banana-seat bike when I was 10. I suddenly paid attention to the houses and apartments and restaurants and buildings in my neighborhood. I grew a sense of pride in my 'hood and in myself that no job nor paycheck could ever match. And it is contagious. I hope I'm sharing this with you, and you will share it with your friends and family and neighbors and community. If you haven't been on a bike in a while, think about why. And think about how awesome it was when you were young  and got rid of your training wheels and you felt liberated. This is a step further. Get a bike, ride within your limits, jump on a bus and go someplace you've never been. Ride the River Path. Ride over bridges. Ride the streets. Ride Downtown, ride the Bayfront, City Heights and Normal Heights and the Coast and Coronado. It will make you love a bike again. It will make you a better driver. And it will make you love the amazing City of San Diego that you get to call "HOME".


Friday, October 4, 2013

California Bicycle Coalition: Three Feet For Safety Act Passes

I hate to be a lazy blogger, and I hate to post, verbatim, another blog, but in this case, I'm going to suggest that getting the word out is more important. A few weeks ago there was a petition to ask Governor Jerry Brown to sign "The Three Feet For Safety Act." The law mandates that vehicles give bikes 3 feet of distance for passing. The law was signed and passed, though it doesn't go into effect until September 16, 2014. You can read another interesting blog post about the law here. Good, thoughtful drivers will start observing the law immediately.

Three Feet for Safety Act Hailed by Media; Bicyclists
The passage of the Three Feet for Safety Act on Monday September 23rd was cheered by bicyclists across California. In the past week, the media has also been supportive.
The Los Angeles Times‘s Robert Greene called the legislation a “Victory for California cyclists”. In his column, he recounts the many setbacks that the legislation suffered before Governor Jerry Brown finally put the ink on paper and adds:
“Getting the law on the books has been a top priority for cycling advocates in California. Cycling has long been part of the civic culture in most large cities here, but in numbers that left pro-bike policy a poor cousin when compared with car-oriented laws and regulations — until the last five or six years. The state is beginning to catch up with the rebirth of cycling around the nation.”
Olivia Hubert Allen’s column in KQED News ran with the forceful headline: “Give California Cyclists 3 Feet–It’s Now the Law”. It largely mirrors the LA Times column. So does the column on it in KTLA 5 by Melissa Pamer.
Pamer adds:
“In recent years, enthusiasm for cycling in L.A. has been buoyed by the support of a growing activist community and that of politicians such at former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. The city in 2010 launched a “Give Me 3″ graphic campaign encouraging drivers to create a safe cushion between vehicles and bicyclists.
Bicycle Times‘s Adam Newman hailed the new law and showed optimism: “A $35 fine seems pretty petty, but it can be raised to $220 if a.) a collision occurs, b.) the cyclist is injured and c.) the driver is found to be in violation of the statute. Somehow that doesn’t seem like much of a penalty for breaking the law and hitting someone, but I guess a weak law is better than no law.”
Finally, Emily Baker, a California bicyclist, had this to say in response to the law’s passage:
“It’s a shame that there are kits available to buy for cyclists asking not to be killed. While the new law is a step in the right direction, there needs to be a lot more to educate cyclists and motorists and save lives.”

Our executive director, Dave Snyder responds: “That’s why we’re working with AAA and the Better World Club to educate their motorist members about the new law. We’re also working to make sure that the state’s new “Active Transportation Program” preserves funding for education as well as infrastructure to educate everyone about safe sharing of the roads.”

California Bicycle Coalition: Three Feet For Safety Act FAQ

This is the basic information about the Three Feet For Safety Act, via California Bicycle Coalition.


 How can drivers tell whether they’re giving a bicyclist three feet of clearance?

 By doing what they already know how to do. Most drivers who can park in a parking stall (like at a shopping center) can park their cars with enough space so they can open the passenger-side door — which is at least three feet wide — without hitting an adjacent car or wall. That’s how much clearance they should give a bicyclist when passing in the same lane. Easy, huh?

 AB 1371 will make safe passing a lot less confusing. Existing law simply requires a driver to keep a “safe distance” from a bicyclist. How is a driver supposed to know what’s considered “safe”?

 How will this law be enforced?

 It will be enforced the same way California’s current passing law is enforced: a driver who is observed to be violating the law can be cited. Many drivers will obey the law and some won’t – and won’t get caught. That’s a problem with enforcement, not with the law itself. (And yes, it also means drivers will need to be educated about the law.) The law will be particularly valuable where a violation results in a collision that injures a bicyclist, because it establishes a clear basis for citing the driver for unsafe passing.

 Believe it or not, under existing law it’s not illegal to injure a bicyclist with a car. In far too many cases drivers who injure bicyclists never gets cited or punished in any way. Drivers who kill bicyclists can be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter, a criminal charge. But there isn’t a comparable charge for injuring a bicyclist, even when the injuries are severe or permanently disabling. AB 1371 will result in more careless drivers being punished and some of the worst offenders being taken off the road permanently. This protects everyone else on the road, including other drivers.

 What will be the penalties for violating this law?

 AB 1371 contains two penalties. For a violation that does not result in an injury, the bill sets a base fine of $35, which becomes a $233 fine for the driver once court and administrative fees are added. This is the existing fine for unsafe passing. For a violation that involves a collision that injures a bicyclist, the base fine is $220, which becomes a $959 fine for the driver. This new penalty is equal to the lowest fine imposed for reckless driving with bodily injury. Will the law apply when passing a bicyclist who is riding in a bike lane? No. AB 1371 amends the California Vehicle Code section that deals with one vehicle passing another vehicle from behind in the same travel lane and traveling in the same direction (the technical term is “overtaking”). When a car and a bicycle are traveling in separate lanes, the safe passing law would not apply.
How would drivers give bicyclists three feet of clearance on roads that are too narrow?

 Keep in mind that state law doesn’t guarantee drivers a right to pass whenever or wherever they want. Drivers may only pass another vehicle or a bicycle when it’s safe to do so. This wouldn’t change under AB 1371. AB 1371 would require the driver to slow down to a safe and reasonable speed and wait to pass only when it was safe to do so. The driver would have to be prepared to demonstrate that three feet were NOT available and the slower, closer pass was done according to the law. This is a higher burden of proof for drivers than we have under the current law, which places no conditions on how to pass at a “safe distance.” 

Why do we need a law just about passing bicyclists? We already have a law about passing bicyclists.

 Existing state law requires drivers to pass at a “safe distance.” The problem is, there’s no way for drivers to know what’s “safe” when state law doesn’t specify a distance. That’s why we have Assembly Bill 1371. Plenty of traffic laws reflect the fact that many road users — pedestrians, school children, emergency workers and road crews, for example — are especially vulnerable in the event of a collision with a passing motor vehicle. That’s why drivers have special speed limits and special passing rules when approaching crosswalks, schools, school busses, emergency vehicles and road crews. By specifying three feet as the minimum passing distance when cars pass bicycles, AB 1371 simply extends this concept to passing bicyclists, who are just as vulnerable to motor vehicles.

 Would AB 1371 prohibit a bicyclist from passing a car too closely?

 No. The bill applies specifically to motor vehicles passing bicyclists from behind. A bicyclist who passes a motor vehicle by less than three feet –- for example, when pulling alongside a car stopped at a red light — would not violate this law (and wouldn’t cause the driver to be in violation of the law, as the bicyclist is passing the driver and not the other way around). The reason should be obvious: a passing bicyclist represents none of the risk to drivers that passing drivers present to bicyclists. In fact, we’re not aware of any evidence that a bicyclist passing a car has ever harmed the driver. AB 1371 simply reflects the unique potential of motor vehicles to cause significant harm to other road users.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Today! City Presentation For Buffered Bike Lanes on 5th & 6th Avenue

Whether they like it or not, Hillcrest is a major artery getting low wage renters- with City Heights being the densest population of non-car ownership- from home to downtown. Uptown has fought trolley extensions, street cars, bike lanes, and the BRT. What they decide affects all urban core neighborhoods and anyone living in neighboring areas should care and stand up against their NIMBY attitudes. Now that the bike share program is moving forward, and the Balboa Park centennial is coming up, maybe the infrastructure can finally be framed as a benefit to the Uptown Area. Hoping for a good turnout tonight at 6pm at Joyce Beers Center. We need to raise our voices now. From Bike San Diego: ACTION ALERT!! SHOW SUPPORT & LEND A VOICE Tonight at Joyce Beers Community Center 3900 Vermont St, San Diego, California 92103 6-8pm. The City is proposing to remove a travel lane and install a bike lane and buffer on 4th & 5th Ave from I-5 to Laurel St. This portion of the route is within the Uptown Community. The City will be presenting a routing map and the proposed travel lane removal to the Uptown Community Planning Group on September 3rd at 6:00pm at the Joyce Beer Center in Hillcrest- on Vermont Street in the Trader Joe’s Shopping Center. Bike Share is coming to San Diego and the city is preparing to implement bike routes throughout the downtown area to direct cyclists to the highlights of surrounding areas and are preparing a map that the city will be presenting to the Uptown Community Planning Group. The routes will be marked via way-finding signs and sharrows. For this implementation the city is only using paint, and they need to move quickly and implement as much as they can. This is an informational item and the city will be there to inform the public and listen to feedback. We need you there to add your voice and show support for bicycle infrastructure in San Diego! Find the event on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tuesday: North Park – Mid-City Regional Bike Corridors Project Open House, 5-8pm @ Queen Bee's

North Park – Mid-City Regional Bike Corridors Project Open House
Tuesday, August 27, 5 – 8 p.m.

The final open house for the Mid-City Regional Bike Corridors Project is Tuesday night from 5-8pm at Queen Bee's. 

For more information about this project, visit: KeepSanDiegoMoving.com/NorthParkMidCityBike

Thursday, August 15, 2013

U-T: "Momentum Builds For Bicycling Among San Diego Region"

This week, the U-T posted an article about biking in San Diego, combining coverage of CicloSDias with an upcoming SANDAG vote for bike corridor funding, as well as the always prevalent opinions that bike infrastructure is awesome so long as it doesn't interfere with vehicle traffic and barely mentioning the benefits of riding a bike, of the projected increase in bike usage if safety goals for bike corridors are achieved, and the numerous examples of increases for businesses in other cities who've trading parking or traffic lanes for bike lanes.

"Momentum Builds For Bicycling Among San Diego Region"

This article doesn't really shine a light on much, but it's a nice turn for the U-T to publish this after their idiotic watermelon editorial, "Bicycles Are Not Future of Transportation", published just a month ago (7.12.2013)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cycling In The City: Great Reads

A couple great articles to read when you have some downtime.

"Why Cycle Cities Are The Future"

"Bike Cities of the Future"

And in case you missed it, Jinna Thomas shot some great photos at CicloSDias this weekend. Of course, this one is my favorite.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cyclists Targeted By Pellet Gun Shootings

There have been numerous reports of people shooting at cyclists in the San Diego area. In various reports, I've heard of this happening in Torrey Pines, Mt Soledad, Hwy 101, Fiesta Island and more, and in various reports I've heard about paintball and pellet gun shootings. After an excessive amount of road rage on El Cajon Boulevard, it feels like the more cyclists increase in numbers and visibility, the greater the backlash by drivers unwilling to share the road. It is our responsibility when on our bikes or in our cars to pay attention to bad behavior and not be afraid to report it when we see it. Here's a link to one report on 10news.com


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Sunday Funday with CicloSDias

I am totally excited about Sunday's CicloSDias. After riding around on University after Pride with no cars, a day dedicated to Open Streets is just what this city needs. This was one of Mayor Bob Filner's initiatives earlier this year, and it is a shame with everything going on that he probably won't be around to see it come to life, but I encourage everyone to take part...whether you bike, walk, skate, or scoot, a day without cars is a good thing for everyone and might bring us one step closer to complete streets when people realize the benefits of riding a bike every once in a while. The event is free and family friendly, with the route blocked to cars from 10am-4pm.
"Ciclo­vía," which translates to English as "bike path" was coined in Bogota, Columbia, a city that began experimenting with its model Ciclovia initiative in 1974 as a response to the congestion and pollution of city streets. CicloSDias San Diego is modeled after similar car-free events held in cities around the world, including New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. As of 2012, some 80 Open Streets initiatives are held regularly in North America. CicloSDias is all about connecting communities and giving people a break from the stress of car traffic. CicloSDias San Diego will bring families outside of their homes to enjoy car free streets. The message is clear – we all want a clean, healthy and vibrant San Diego. CicloSDias welcomes everyone in San Diego to walk, ride, stroll and enjoy our streets. Approximately 5.2 miles of city streets will be opened to families, pedestrians, cyclists, joggers, skateboarders, and anyone else interested in using this public space in a new way. The event will include a “Hub” in 4 different neighborhoods in San Diego – City Heights, Logan Heights, North Park, and South Park. These Hubs will feature CicloSDias merchandise, showcase event sponsors, and host a bicycle repair booth. Event participants are encouraged to check-in at each Hub and receive a free entry into our Bike raffle. San Diegans will experience a free ‘open street’ event with activities along the route. Shops and restaurants will be open for business and neighbors and friends from all over will make our streets come alive.
Whether or not you're participating in the Open Streets event, it is important to note that along the route, there will be road closures with only periodic traffic crossing. You can read up on all of those fine details here. I'd just suggest you put your car keys away for the day and join the fun. There will be four hubs with toilets, bike repair, refreshments, and information, but anyone can access the route at any intersection along the way of the 5.2 mile stretch. This is your chance to see parts of the city from a whole new perspective...without cars!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pre-CicloSDias Events in San Diego

(From the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition)
CicloSDias Pre-Party Events

CicloSDias on KUSI

When: Wednesday, August 7th- 8:00 to 10:00 AM
Where: 30th Street & Upas

Join us and KUSI TV between 8:00 and 10:00 AM at 30th Street and Upas as we talk CicloSDias. Bicyclists, walkers, dogs- all are welcome! The first 10 people to show will get a free CicloSDias t-shirt! 


CicloSDias Pre-Party: Twilight Townie Ride & Fundraiser

When: Thursday, August 8th- 5:30 PM
Where:  Blind Lady Ale House , 3416 Adams Avenue, San Diego, CA 92116

Join us for a Twilight Townie ride around the Normal Heights Area and then head back to BLAH to hear all about CicloSDias, the ride, the details and how you can help.
Blind Lady will donate $1 per beer to CicloSDias that night, so bring your friends, enjoy some great food and beer, and help us raise some money for San Diego's first open streets event, happening this Sunday, August 11th from 10-4!

Friday, July 26, 2013

San Diego's Bayshore Bikeway Named #1 Bike Path In US

I'm not generally a supporter of anything Fox News has to say, however today they published an article naming the 19 best bike paths in the United States, and San Diego's Bayshore Bikeway was number one on the list. You can join the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition for an exploration ride covering some of this path this Sunday at 9am.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July 7: 21K Poker Ride

The 1st annual 21K Poker Ride is just over a week away!

July 7th from 9:00-12:30
13 miles - 5 locations - Raffle prizes - Swag

Best hand wins a trip for 2 on JetBlue!!!
Riders will enjoy an easy and scenic ride through Normal Heights, North Park, Seaport Village, Balboa Park, and finish at Blind Lady Ale House. Each rider will receive a playing card at each stop. The Rider with the best hand will win a trip for 2 on Jet Blue Airlines!!!

Registration is $35 (group rates available) includes T-Shirt, Reusable Bag, $10 Imago Bucks, a free drink at Blind Lady Ale House, and more!

All proceeds benefit the Young Survival Coalition, A non profit supporting young women under 40 with breast cancer. Register online here.

Have You Signed Up For Uber?

I haven't driven a car in 4 years. It seems crazy that it has been that long since my little Mazda Protege, took it's last ride. It was a gift from my parents after high school, a compromise that I would attend junior college for lower division courses instead of heading up to UC Berkeley, and that car had a lot of sentimentality attached. So much so, that I didn't actually get rid of it until I moved out of Kensington last year to get $400 to help with moving expenses. I obviously have gotten by...with public transportation, walking a lot, and various friends carting me around town to shows and such. Of course, Darren is a taxi driver, too, which is generally pretty convenient getting me around on weekends when his car is in service. But it is always good to have options. On the occasions when we go out together and need a ride, or I just can't get a ride home, it's nice to have Uber as an option.

This week, Uber is offering a great deal...instead of the usual $10 credit you get just for signing up, through July 7, you get a $20 credit. Now, keep in mind that rates are variable, so it might not be your cheapest 4th of July transportation, but with tip included and automatic billing to your credit card, it certainly takes the cake for convenience. Even if you don't need it now, having the app installed and ready to use is a great backup should you find yourself without a ride or perhaps a few too many cocktails after a raging night.

Using their iPhone/Android App or SMS you can request a black car to your location, arriving in 5-10 minutes. Payment is automatic. If you sign up using my link by July 7th, Uber will credit your account for $20 off your first ride.
You can also download and sign up from Uber's apps.

Enter this invite code: ubersddialedin

iPhone app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ubercab/id368677368

Android app: http://market.android.com/details?id=com.ubercab

NPR: How A Minority Biking Group Raises The Profile Of Cycling

This is a pretty interesting (and short read) about the changing face of cycling. I'd add that some of us aren't necessarily "cyclists" or even "enthusiasts" but just want to be people who sometimes ride in cars, sometimes take public transportation, sometimes walk, and sometimes just want to ride a bike. It's transportation, it's fitness, it's fun in the park. It doesn't have to be a movement or anything political.

How A Minority Biking Group Raises The Profile Of Cycling
"You'll see a lot of third-shift, late-shift folks or restaurant workers engaged in cycling because public transportation doesn't work when they get off of work. But those aren't the cyclists we'd see in a magazine, right?" said Sani.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday, June 25: Mid-City Regional Bike Corridor Meeting

If you ride a bike, have ever ridden a bike, or someday plan on riding a bike and live in Mid-City (very loosely the communities around Adams, El Cajon Blvd, and University from Park to College), you should attend the Mid City Regional Bike Corridors Community Advisory Group on Tuesday night. This is one of the last chances to give public input and see progress on possible east-west bike routes. With the BRT already going forward on El Cajon Boulevard, the stakes are even higher to get safe bikeways installed around the city. We'll see you there!! From SANDAG: This is a reminder that the third North Park – Mid-City Regional Bike Corridors Community Advisory Group meeting will be held: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 – 6:00 to 8:30pm at the Teen Challenge Center 5450 Lea St, San Diego, CA 92105 The focus of this third meeting will be to review the alignment study results and to discuss the benefits, challenges, and other considerations related to each of the alignment options. Please note, this Community Advisory Group meeting will include English and Spanish facilitation in addition to Spanish/English interpretation. View Larger Map