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California budget agreement eliminates transit funds
By Yokota Fritz
If the new proposal to bridge the state budget gap is adopted, public transit providers will be finished commiserating over ongoing state budget cuts.
That’s because the latest plan to emanate from the “Big 5” budget negotiators doesn’t just cut public transportation funding – it eliminates it.
STA fund uses
In the Bay Area, State Transit Assistance (STA) funds provide operational expenses for The Altamont Commuter Express Train. Santa Clara County VTA uses almost $10 million in STA funds to fund paratransit and other operations. Santa Cruz Metro receives about $2 million from the STA program. Monterey-Salinas Transit depends on STA for about 10% of their operating funds. San Benito County Transit will lose $200,000 of funding.
Already saddled with an 85 percent raid on available state funding sources via the budget adopted in September, transit operators throughout the state are now bracing for what has long been considered the “Armageddon” scenario – the abolition of the State Transit Assistance (STA) program, the only ongoing source of state funding for day-to-day transit operations. STA accounts for as much as 70 percent of the operating budgets of transit agencies in California.
Expected to be taken up during legislative floor sessions on Friday or over the weekend, the plan calls for $536 million in transit cuts, achieved through the cancellation of the remaining $230 million due to transit agencies from the September budget’s STA allotment of $306 million and the eradication of the entire $306 million in fiscal year 2009-10. The $306 million was established as a baseline figure after $1.8 billion in current-year transit-dedicated funds were diverted to fill non-transit holes in the General Fund.
Democratic leaders had originally sought to preserve the STA at a bare bones $150 million level, as contained in their December version of the budget. But the most recent reported agreement reveals an apparent capitulation to demands by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Republican leaders to completely eliminate the program.
“Are Republicans and the Governor that bent on destroying public transit that this one last crumb of funding is really seen as making a significant difference in the budget crisis?” wondered Joshua Shaw, Executive Director of the California Transit Association. “And why after indicating all along that they understand the dire circumstances faced by transit providers throughout the state did the Democratic leadership ultimately cave?”
Shaw noted that transit agencies throughout the state have already enacted or contemplated combination of fare increases and service reductions to cope with the $3 billion in state funding that has been raided in just the last two years alone, and warned that more such drastic measures are on the way. “We will see fare increases. We will see service cuts. We will see layoffs,” he predicted. “I can say that with certainty simply because we’ve already seen those things happening even before the state apparently decided to abandon its responsibility to fund public transportation.”
. . . local leaders are planning a community bike ride to protest any slashes that would affect children.
The ride will start at the El Camino YMCA on Grant Road on Sunday, May 3, and cover 27 miles through Mountain View, Sunnyvale and Los Altos — all in an effort to bring light to children's rights, including the need for health and educational initiatives.
By Yokota Fritz
Southbound Baby Bullet train number 312 struck a big rig near the Broadway station in Burlingame this morning, delaying up to 15,000 commuters as Caltrain singletracked around the mess.
The tail of the big rig was reportedly hanging over the tracks when the express train screamed through the intersection. Witnesses say the gate crossing and signals were all working when the idiot truck driver, who suffered minor injuries, tried to beat the train through the crossing.
By Yokota Fritz
Benjamin Damm submitted this photo to the Caltrain board today showing the load on the bike car and a regular passenger car on a couple of morning trains out of San Francisco.
This photo posted by Murph to Holier Than You. Cyclists planned to attend today's Caltrain Joint Powers Board meeting en masse to call attention to what they feel is Caltrain's misdirected focus on improving bicycle access and parking, rather than the successful bikes on board program.
Personally, I'm close giving up on bringing my bike on the train. The evening bus schedule for the final leg of my commute changed just slightly so that I must now leave work a half hour earlier than before just so I can be home at the same time, which really really reeks. I'll probably do like my friend Dan does, who leaves a bike locked at both ends of his commute. I just don't care for the idea of leaving a bike locked overnight every night in Palo Alto. I'm now looking forward to the rainy season, which should put a significant dent in the number of cycling commuters on the train.
By Yokota FritzSan Jose, California Leaders Call for Bold Bicycle Program in the Downtown. Pilot program to link downtown employers, San Jose State University, Guadalupe River Corridor and transit hubs.
Without a pesky court order to slow the implementation of a bike plan, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed with Councilmembers Sam Liccardo and Forrest Williams call for a downtown bicycle demonstration project to increase bicycle trips and radically alter the downtown streetscape.
The proposal aims to increase bicycle usage among commuters by changin street elements in three significant ways: Physically separated bike lanes along key downtown commute corridors; better bike parking including public bike racks and “bike valets” at major festivals, concerts, or sporting events; and the introduction of a “bike share” or similar bicycle rental program.
“Every day our residents have opportunities to help implement San Jose’s Green Vision and save carbon emissions. I hope that this project will make it easier for residents to choose to commute to work or school by bike,” says Mayor Reed. “Every commuter who bikes rather than drives saves five pounds of carbon emissions over a five-mile trip.”
San Jose, California has 140 miles of bike lanes, 40 miles of bike trails, and 16 miles of bike routes, yet residents commute to work by bike less than 1% of the time, a rate well behind nearby towns such as Palo Alto and Mountain View, and far behind national leader Portland (3.5%). Surveys show that many people are reluctant about riding to work because they don’t feel safe.
“We have much work to do to enable more people to feel safe taking their bike to work,” Councilmember Liccardo noted, “and this initiative focuses on creating that safe environment.”
“Safety should be a top priority for any program. This proposal puts safety first with the implementation of physically segregated lanes,” added Councilmember Williams.
Improving cyclists’ sense of safety will be achieved through creation of physically segregated lanes along two or more key corridors, according to spokeswoman Michelle McGurk. A physical barrier — such as trees, shrubbery, or a simple curb — separates the bicycle lane from traffic.
In San Jose, the pilot program would focus on linking San Jose State University and other major employers and downtown destinations with transit hubs at Diridon station and the Transit Mall, and along the Guadalupe River Park corridor.
Another disincentive to cycling arises from the quandary many commuters face about where to leave their bike when they get to a transit stop or their final destination. Some feel reluctant to leave their own bikes at public racks for lengthy periods, due to concerns about theft and damage. More often, cyclists cannot find space to board their bikes on Caltrain, Light Rail, and buses. In a 2007 survey, 42% of cyclists reported having experienced an inability to board Caltrain five times or more in the past year because the “bicycle car” was full.
Accordingly, the initiative focuses on expanding its inventory of over 500 public bike racks, particularly at key destinations. The proposal also urges city staff to explore the concept of contracting with private parties to provide “bike valet” services at Diridon Station and at downtown events.
Finally, the initiative introduces a “bike share” program of short-term rental of bicycles from “docking stations” with the use of a credit card or pre-programmed membership card. These privately-funded programs have taken hold in many cities throughout Europe, and have significantly increased bike commuting. By locating “bike share” stations at key Caltrain and Light Rail transit stops, the program enables people to rely on biking to transit without concerns about whether there will be sufficient room on board for their bike.
The initiative focuses on the downtown area because of its high density of transit, its close proximity of major employers, and because of its visibility to visitors, where a vibrant program can “sell” San Jose’s high quality of life and extraordinary climate.
Caltrain Bicycle Access and Parking Plan now online
By Yokota Fritz
As I reported last month, Caltrain renamed their much maligned Bicycle Master Plan the "Bicycle Access and Parking Plan." The draft version of Caltrain's Bicycle Access and Parking Plan is now available online. Previously, you had to be on the Silicon Valley Board of Directors to see this plan.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition response to this proposed "Access and Parking Plan" highlights the lack of any thought at all to increase capacity on board. At a recent Caltrain Joint Powers Board meeting, several train riding bicyclists spoke up to the Directors on the need to increase bike capacity.
By Yokota Fritz
On the survey, I asked what northern California bicycle blogs you visited. Personally, I think of NorCal is the region north of the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, but in common usage the SF Bay Area and even the Monterey Bay area are included -- I see a lot of Nor*Cal logos on trucks and surfboards around Santa Cruz, for instance. For Cyclelicious I'll use the common usage because, frankly, there aren't that many people in Chico, Redding, Eureka and Arcata, California.
By Yokota Fritz
The San Jose Mercury News created this Google Maps map showing the location of bicycle fatalities over the past decade in Silicon Valley. Click on the markers to see details about the location and victim.
The related article notes that many crashes (not necessarily fatalities) occur on six stretches of road: El Camino Real near Stanford Avenue, Palo Alto, nine crashes; Arastradero Road near Foothill Expressway, Palo Alto, 17 crashes; El Monte Road near Foothill Expressway, Mountain View 10 crashes; McLaughlin Avenue near Story Road, San Jose, 15 crashes; Snell Avenue near Blossom Hill Road, San Jose, 15 crashes; and Austin Way near Highway 9, Saratoga, 11 crashes.
The intersections nearby are high-traffic areas and popular with cyclists. Many of them are near schools and colleges. When drivers cruise through these spots, CHP officer Todd Thibodeau said they have to realize where they are, as well as what is going on in front of them.
"You've got to be aware that it is a bike route," he said, and be on the look out for cyclists.
In about 20 percent of crashes, drivers slide over the double-yellow or other dividing lines and strike cyclists.
By Yokota Fritz
Politicians and cycling advocates in Los Angeles want to extend a bike path along the Los Angeles River to provide a relatively flat, straight, low traffic bike route from the San Gabriel Valley into downtown Los Angeles. Jennifer Klausner, executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, said the bike path potentially offers the chance to give cyclists a way to get across the city without dealing with streets.
"The beauty of the river path is that it's basically flat and separated from the road for people who want a quieter ride and don't want to hump it over a hill," she said.
The blocker: Universal Studios, which owns property along the Los Angeles River, doesn't want a bike path there.
"We have some very important, high-profile production companies that are located along that road as well, and security is a concern," says Tom Smith, senior vice president of West Coast real estate for NBC Universal.
LA County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky counters, "The fact is that we have a public bike path along some of the most expensive and reclusive properties along the ocean -- from Will Rogers [beach] to Torrance. I don't think it's a mutually exclusive proposition to have a bike path and a secure studio in the same location."
By Yokota Fritz
The moderate rain is causing some local flooding, but the wind is causing some real problems. The announcer during the radio traffic report marveled at the almost complete absence of bicyclists in San Francisco this morning while she reported which SF Muni lines are closed because of weather. The ferries also aren't running today. 40 mph winds in some areas gusting to 100 mph might have something to do with that.
There are tree branches and palm tree husks all over the roads. Here's a photo from Santa Cruz this morning.
Coastal flooding, power outages, overturned trucks, bridge and road closures, transit shutdowns and fallen trees are making things a little more challenging than usual. If you're out in this on a bike, avoid the power lines; they hurt. Flying twigs in the face hurt too.
The memo from Human Resources officer Michael Rich informs employees:
It has come to the attention of the human resources office that some employees may be riding their bicycles in the course of their work duties. While biking to work is an option that the District supports, employees are not to ride their bikes in the course of their work duties.
"The potential for serious injury is much greater riding a bicycle than driving a car in the event of an accident. Until further notice, employees should not ride their bicycles in the course of performing their work duties.
This isn't some kind of hoax, is it? Who distributes paper memos anymore?
Update: Mark Stosberg received a response from Mike Rich and posted it here. Mr Rich writes, in part: "When it came to my attention earlier this year at our employees were riding their bicycles in the course and scope of their employment, it raised a concern because it is something that we were not aware was occurring and that we had no program set up for." If the Air Quality District needs a "program" for every work activity, I don't think it sounds like a great place to work.
Caltrain: Cyclists turned away as ridership surges
By Yokota Fritz
From the San Jose Mercury News:
It's 5:15 p.m., rush hour at Caltrain's Hillsdale station in San Mateo. Among the dozens of riders arrayed across the platform to catch the northbound "Baby Bullet" express train, the most watchful are the bicyclists.
They're hoping they don't get turned away.
Ridership is soaring amid high gas prices and global warming fears. The bicycle program is a well-established hit, with about one in 15 Caltrain riders bringing their wheels on board. Caltrains are getting so crowded at peak commute hours that not everyone's bike can fit on board. So when a Baby Bullet pulls out of the station, a handful of the rail line's most dedicated customers are left in the cold.
Read the full story in the Mercury News. I ride Caltrain daily on my commute and I'm amazed at how crowded the bike car remains. This morning, many of the usual riders were on the train in spite of the rain and cooler weather. I took the below photo in the summer of 2006 -- the bike car now looks like this in winter 2007.
The Highway 17 Express bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose also remains crowded, although in the winter I'm often the only cyclist. Now that we have WiFi, incidents like this 14 car pileup this morning means I sit longer on the bus hooked to the Internet.
If you take public transportation for your commute, are you seeing similar ridership increases in your area?
By Yokota Fritz
Late last week Governor Schwarzenegger signed CA AB57 Safe Routes to School!
Thank you to those who spread the word for reaching out to the Governor in support of this bill, which provides a framework for future funding and protects existing California SR2S funds.
$52 million is currently available for California State Legislated Safe Routes to School (SR2S) Funds. Application Deadline is November 16, 2007
Please spread the word that funds are available for State Legislated Safe Routes to School (SR2S) projects. These funds are not to be confused with Federal Safe Routes to School (SRTS) funds associated with SAFETEA-LU. Applications must be for capital projects such as sidewalks, pathways, bike lanes, traffic calming, etc. (with up to 10% available for non-infrastructure activities such as education, encouragement and enforcement). Only cities and counties are eligible to compete for these funds; please spread the word to Public Works Officials.
Approximately $52 million is available for two fiscal years worth of projects (06-07 and 07-08). The deadline for applications is Friday, November 16, 2007. Start preparing your grant applications now!
By Yokota Fritz
Martin Krieg is the inspirational and energetic man behind the National Bicycle Greenway and numerous other bicycling activities. He's got so many things going on that I can't keep up, but he manages to keep up with the bicycle goings on in his hometown of Palo Alto, California. Martin wrote up this report on some of the unique pedal powered machines in Palo Alto and kindly allowed me to reproduce it here in Cyclelicious.
Unwheeldy, a nine foot tall dicycle built by Dave Hershberger and Matthew Blain, is the only pedal machine we have seen anywhere that upstages our 15-person Busycle. To give you an idea of why this is so, you have absolutely got to WATCH this short 30 sec video of it doing 360's!! For more fun, WATCH this 30 sec video of Unwheeldy being built during the summer of 2007.
And who can miss Palo Alto City engineer, Tom Kabat, one any one of the unusual bikes he creates from throw aways at his Boyland Wooden Bikes factory?
On a different note, how many of you know that legendary author, Jobst Brandt, the man who wrote the timeless book The Bicycle Wheel, (now in its 3rd Edition) lives and rides here? In his late 60's, he is still a non stop two wheel powerhouse. Car Free, he thinks nothing of riding to and from Mt Hamilton and all of its back roads as well as Santa Cruz, Watsonville and San Juan Bautista and back in day. This guy is awesome.
So keep your eyes peeled Ellen, we're trying to keep up with you. Toward that end, how many people know that Ellen Fletcher manages the north county wide bike parking program? Not only does she administer it, including recruiting volunteers and making sure their shifts are covered and that they are fed as well as hydrated, etc, at age 72, she brings them all the supplies they need. On a bike! In her trailer can be found folding tables, chairs, signs, raffles prizes, and all the other things one needs to turn an empty piece of asphalt at a Stanford football game or area festival, etc, into a protected compound for bikes.
By Yokota Fritz
I've been commmuting by bike for a about 20 years, but nowhere have I seen more regular bike commuters in the U.S. than in the San Francisco Bay Area. Even though mornings have been chilly lately, I still see several dozen bike commuters every day. Here's a sampling of photos just from yesterday and today.
This stylish young woman is Emily, who regularly commutes in Menlo Park on this beautiful pink cruiser. I told her I love her pink bike. "I love my pink bike, too!" Emily exclaimed.
This is Aaron on a Masi Speciale Fixed. I ran into him at San Jose Diridon Station. Up to 32 bikes can be loaded into Caltrain's bike cars, which have been packed with bike commuters like Aaron all summer. Aaron reads Masiguy's blog.
Here are some of those Caltrain bike commuters walking through the access tunnel to the station exit at San Jose Diridon station. I see five cyclists in this photo. You'll see a big variety of bikes, gear, and bags on Bay Area bike commuters.
This is one of the bike racks at the Palo Alto Caltrain station. Palo Alto also features secure, indoor parking at the Palo Alto Bikestation.
By Yokota Fritz
Triax is a brand of Dynacraft bicycle sold at Target stores in the United States. Retail price is $150 but it's often on sale for half that, and you can find them at flea markets for even less.
It's a junky, ugly road bike, but if you're looking for something cheap and functional it's not a bad bike to commute on. The only problem is that the components are cheap junk. They're difficult to keep adjusted, but if the components fail or fall apart, the dérailleur hanger is long and nearly horizontal, making the Triax Crimson road frame a decent platform for a fixed conversion on the cheap.
Carlos here converted his Triax bicycle to fixed gear. I love the Jesus picture in place of the headbadge on this bike.
Because the components on a Triax are so junky, converting to fixed is probably a good idea. Upgrading the wheels and tires and replacing the drop bars with those bullhorns makes the bike a little cooler, though it's probably overkill. Those bars are possibly worth more than the frame. The wheels certainly are. Carlos rides brakeless with flat platform pedals.
Carlos doesn't speak English; I was surprised to see a recent immigrant Latino riding a fixed gear bike. In the Bay Area, many "fakengers" (like me) are comfortable white people with steady income.
Carlos obviously has some pride in the bike and he told me he built it up himself. I imagine the frame was probably acquired used with non-working components.
Those in the San Francisco Bay Area will recognize this photo was taken on a Caltrain bike car during the evening commute. Almost every person in this photo is a bike commuter.
By Yokota Fritz
Michael Burns is the General Manager of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. His annual salary is $290,000.
When he was recruited from San Francisco Muni in 2005, Burns elected not to move from San Francisco to the South Bay. Consequently, he has a daily commute of at least 50 miles.
Burns -- remember, he manages a transit agency -- uses his $9,000 annual car allowance to drive to work every day. Except on those days when he's fed up with the traffic -- on those days, he uses taxpayer money to pay for a room at the Holiday Inn near his office on North 1st Street in San Jose. He decides "it's too much" to drive home after experiencing "two or three horrendous commutes."
Here's a radical suggestion for Micheal Burns to avoid that nasty congestion on 101 or 280: take the train! He could even drive part of the way to someplace like Millbrae, which has a huge parking lot. From San Jose Diridon, he can hop on the light rail to his office, though it might be a little faster to use the DASH shuttle to 1st and then hopped on the LRT line. From the River Oaks Light Rail station, which is served by two LRT lines, it's a short walk to his office. He just has to walk across the big Park-and-Ride lot and he's there.
The last Caltrain train leaves San Jose at 10:30, so there's probably plenty of time to catch a train after those late night meetings.
By Yokota Fritz
I'm not much of a mountain biker, but the past few Sunday's I've ventured into Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in Santa Cruz County. The park's south entrance on Graham Hill Road is just 2½ miles from my front door, so I ride my bike there. The hiking trails are off-limits to mountain bikers, but bicycles are permitted on Pipeline Road, Rincon Fire Road, Ridge Fire Road, and Powder Mill Fire Road. Although these are called "roads," motor vehicle use is for authorized State Park vehicles only.
Pipeline Road is a paved multi-use path shared between cyclists, walkers, and equestrians. This road runs from the park's south entrance on Graham Hill Road in Scotts Valley to the Henry Cowell State Park visitor center near Felton. Brakes and low-gearing are handy for the steep sections at the south end of the road.
Powder Mill Fire Road is a short, wide dirt trail from Pipeline Road uphill to the park campground before ending at the Observation Deck. The observation deck is at the highest point in Henry Cowell and gives spectacular views down the San Lorenzo Valley into Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay.
Ridge Fire Road runs straight down from the observation deck to cross Pipeline Road. Ridge Fire Road between the high point and Pipeline is a steep downhill sand trap with monster water bars. I have difficulty negotiating this trail (i.e. it's not much fun either up or down) with my inexpert mountain bike skills. Beyond Pipeline Road, Ridge Fire Road continues as a nice, smooth dirt path with some leaf litter before it circles around to connect again with Pipeline Road.
Rincon Fire Road connects with Ridge Fire Road and winds steeply downhill to the San Lorenzo River. Most of this trail is somewhat bumpy dirt, though gravelly sections, steep turns and fallen trees across the trail add interest. Rincon Fire Road crosses the San Lorenzo River -- you must carry your bike and ford across the river -- where it continues steeply uphill to the park's southwest entrance on Highway 9.
While the scenery throughout Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is spectacular, for mountain bikers the Rincon Fire Road provides the best views, with close up encounters with redwoods and stunning drop offs into the river valley. The Redwood Cathedral along Rincon Road is beautiful circular arrangement of giant old-growth redwood trees.
To return into Henry Cowell from the Rincon Road parking lot, you can bike up Highway 9 toward Felton to the visitor center entrance, where you can get back to Pipeline Road. To extend your ride, the U-Con trail runs across Santa Cruz's Pogonip park to connect Rincon Fire Road with UCSC Mountain Bike trails and the spectacular riding in Wilder Ranch State Park along the wild and rocky California coastline.
By Yokota FritzTraffic demand management is a big deal at major events in San Francisco, where parking is at a premium. When locals go watch the San Francisco Giants play at AT&T Park, many of them take Caltrain and SF Muni right to the stadium. Bike Valet Parking provided by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is also heavily used. See the Streetsblog video of how it works.
Forbes Magazine reports on the how unhealthy our long commutes are. "It's a lifestyle choice," says David Rizzo, author of Survive the Drive! How to Beat Freeway Traffic in Southern California. "We put our health second. To have a big house, we're willing to put up with smog and a big drive. We sacrifice our longevity for short-term gains."
Warm Planet Bicycles has opened a new bike parking service at the 4th & King Caltrain station in San Francisco. The 1600 square foot facility is provided free to use and has room for up to 100 bicycles. See photos of the new facility in Jym Dyer's Flickr pool.
Longtime bicycling advocacy Alex Zuckermann died in his Berkeley home on Sunday. He was 86 years old. He founded the East Bay Bicycle Coalition 35 years ago to make the Bay Area more bicycle friendly and continued his advocacy until his death. For insights into his life and spirit, see these old letters from the San Francisco Chronicle:
Caltrain has begun a series of bicycle workshops as a part of the Bicycle Master Plan process. Each bicycle workshop is a one-hour tour at a Caltrain station with staff to discuss bicycle parking, bicycle access to and within the station area, and way-finding. To register, contact Celia Chung at (650) 508-6388 or chungc (at) samtrans.com. The schedule for remaining workshops are.
Station Date / Time Register By San Jose Diridon Tues 8/14 6 PM 8/9 Thu Redwood City Wed 8/22 6 PM 8/17 Fri Palo Alto Wed 8/29 6 PM 8/24 Fri San Francisco Thur 9/6 6 PM 8/31 Fri Hillsdale Tues 9/18 5:30 PM 9/13 Thu Mountain View Thur 9/20 5:30 PM 9/17 Mon San Mateo Tues 9/25 5:30 PM 9/20 Thu Sunnyvale Thur 9/27 5:30 PM 9/24 Mon
By Yokota Fritz
Caltrain -- the commuter rail service between San Francisco and San Jose, California -- is working on a new Bicycle Master Plan. Caltrain has posted a survey and asks commuting cyclists who take the train, as well as past bike+train users and potential bike+train commuters, to take the survey. Caltrain is evaluating their options and wants to gauge the response to potential changes. Among some of the possibilities mentioned in the survey:
Charging extra for bike car access.
Additional bike parking at busy stations.
Moving the bike car to the southernmost train.
Over the past two years, Caltrain usage has exploded to the point where commute-time trains are at capacity. Caltrain seems to want to encourage bike commuters to park their bikes at the train stations in order to relieve some of the crowding that's now occuring on the bike cars.
Santa Cruz: Wireless internet possible on the Highway 17 Express
By Yokota Fritz
Santa Cruz Metro, which operates the Highway 17 Express commuter bus service between Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and San Jose, is considering offering wireless Internet access to passengers. A survey on the bus will ask riders what they would like in WiFi service for the commute across the Santa Cruz Mountains into Silicon Valley.
Still, the reporting was hardly balanced -- they as much as admitted the press showed up hoping for a violent confrontation, and you can almost feel the disappointment in the writing that somebody didn't bleed tonight.
By Yokota Fritz
There's some great video coverage from the 2007 circuit and road races at the 2007 Sea Otter in Monterey, California this past weekend, much of it up close from the Pacific State Bank/Anderson Homes team car. Watch the Women endure nasty weather at Sea Otter, Daniel Ramsey win the mens circuit and Kodak/Sierra Neveada dominate in Santa Cruz.
After a protest organized by the Senior Action Network, San Francisco authorities announced they would step up enforcement of The City's ban on sidewalk cycling, which carries a $138 fine. Only children 12 years old and younger can legally ride their bikes on the sidewalk in San Francisco.
The Senior Action Network protested the presence of cyclists on sidewalks. "For years, pedestrians have been squeezed, shoved, intimidated and injured by bicyclists and motorists. The sidewalk is designated as a walkway, not a parking lot for cars or a bike lane for cyclists," said David Grant, executive director of Senior Action Network, which organized the event.
"Pedestrians in San Francisco have been killed and injured by bicyclists," said Michael Radetsky, injury-prevention coordinator for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Since 2000, he said, there have been three reported deaths and more than 20 people injured badly enough to need hospitalization.
I've occasionally been guilty of this crime, but I totally understand the walkers' viewpoint. I've also been nearly plowed into by rude cyclists on busy sidewalks.
By Yokota FritzCaltrain fares to go up 25 cents per zone. Starting Monday, April 2, Caltrain’s will implement a new fare increase. The new fares will increase by 25 cents per zone. There is no change to fares within a single zone. In June 2006, the Caltrain board voted to implement this increase to help cover escalating operation costs. Passenger fares cover approximately 40 percent of the cost to run the service.
Monthly passes for April will be sold at the new fare rate, even if purchased before the 2nd of the month. My two zone monthly pass goes up from $99.50 to $106.00. See the full fare structure here.
San Francisco to require bike rentals at bus shelters
By Yokota Fritz
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is taking bids to build 1,500 bus shelters. A unique requirement for the bids: Up to 20 of the shelters must have facilities for a new bicycle-sharing program the city is considering. From the Chronicle:
The bicycles would be part of San Francisco's effort to become the first major U.S. city with a government-backed bike-sharing program, something that has caught on in Europe.
For years, San Francisco has had a transit-first policy intended to discourage commuters from driving to work. That's resulted in fewer parking garages, higher parking fees and fines, and new bicycle lanes on scores of streets.
Now comes the next step -- making bikes plentiful and accessible, and available on the same up-front fee model as the city's car-sharing program.
Most people use the bus to commute. So all the bikes would be needed at the same time and place. And if you live close enough to a bus stop for this to be convenient, you’re less likely to need a bike anyway.
Cars are expensive and take up a lot of space. Bikes are cheap and don’t take up a lot of space. So having an elaborate system to rent them and track who’s using one seems pointless.
But then he read about a similar bike rental system in Lyons, in which he learned that 22,000 bike rentals occur daily. "I think something like this could work in SF," Jim concludes.
Jim, by the way, is a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and a member of ZipCar. He also owns Kongregate, an online gaming portal with Web 2.0 community features. Think of it as a Flickr or YouTube for video games.
California budget agreement eliminates transit funds
What!!! Okay I am a little confused didn't we just pass SB 375 that mandates better transportation and land use planning. It pushes smarter growth patterns that depend on transit and walkability to cut down on green house gases.
So now we won't fund the transportation. This is just like California, proposed great things but just don't fund any of it.
Anon: It's maddening, isn't it?
Cyclists to ride in budget protest
We need more of this kind of events! Just put yourself in the world of a child these days, put yourself in the head of a individual who doesn't have the chance to explore his or her own world. Someone who's bound to the car of the parents. Your mother brings you to kindergarten, later to school and then as a result of not knowing any better, as soon as you get the chance, you'll get the drivers license so you can continue the lifestyle you're used to. We need to provide alternatives, to provide opportunities!
Who wouldn't want to protect children from unnecessary slashing?
Caltrain hits truck in Burlingame
I was on the 312 train. There was a small thump and then all the lights went out and the train rolled to a stop. #&*(*@ We were told the train had "hit a truck". Then we were told the delay would be indefinite and we could get out and look for alternate transportation.
I had boarded in Millbrae so I walked up to ECR, waited for a bus, and bussed back to Millbrae where I just missed a southbound train going through (the 7:32??). Then, unsure about trying to catch another train and not knowing what the delays would be, I drove home and worked from home for three hours.
I finally completed my trip to work (in SUnnyvale) at noon. Ugh.
What I fail to understand is how we have this sort of accident so often. How is it that some people are so blindingly stupid?
Thanks for leaving your comment Vicki, and sorry about the headaches.
The train hits and truck and it's a "small thump": I think that's pretty amazing.
295 Bus has his idea to prevent this sort of thing. I don't know if it would fly or not.
Caltrain bikes on board: Compare and contrast
"Nearing capacity"? For serious?
Has Caltrain ever discussed the cost of building in more bike carrying capacity? Have they ever talked about how much it would cost to either purchase a new bike car or retrofit a passenger car for bike carrying? Or how many total riders the typical bike car carries vs. the typical passenger car?
I'd be interested in seeing that sort of financial analysis because it would tell activists if they need to convince Caltrain to overlook short-term expenditure for long-term goals or if they just need Caltrain to accept an immediately win-win proposition.
Chester, much of the anger by cyclists toward Caltrain is that they have done nothing to study what can be to increase bike capacity. The technical advisory group that wrote the draft for the Caltrain bike access and parking plan gave several of their own suggestions on improving bikes on board capacity, but Caltrain staff specifically removed those ideas before presenting the document to the Caltrain Board.
The Caltrain Board decided in their meeting today to investigate improving the bikes on board program, so that's a win.
Jennifer - yes, many of our transit systems in the Bay Area are now at capacity, and the new state budget that was finally approved this lsat week does nothing to improve the situation.
Those cars don't look very full of people, though. Or do they fill up later?
That was kind of hte point of that montage, to show how much more bicyclists use Caltrain versus non-cyclists. He's showing traffic from San Francisco, however. From the South Bay (where I ride from) there's a crush of non-cycling passengers, probably because we have parking lots.
they are all great views. I specially enjoyed the analysis by Holier than you. I dont use caltrain as a source of commuting but it looks like it could become a nightmare if actions and effectiveness are not done soon. crazy. - funny I had just posted a link, also about caltrain, in today's article by the SFchron a bit more focused on fashion tho... ;)
Thanks, Yokota. I had always wondered about it -- the least that could be done is to do a cost analysis. My vague personal suspicion is that there will be significant short-term costs but those will pay off in the long run by greatly expanding the potential passenger pool.
My name is Solly, I am a 6th grade student in Los Angeles.
I am on a team competing in FIRST LEGO League, which promotes science and technology for kids. This year’s theme is Climate Connections, and our team chose to study the connections between rising temperatures and car emissions in Los Angeles. Did you know that these two things both affect each other?
Our team needed to think of a creative solution for our topic. We found that a lot of car emissions come from people who drive a long distance to work every day, such as from Palmdale or Riverside to the downtown area. These areas have commuter trains called MetroLink, and our idea is to add a rail car for bikes only. This would encourage more people to leave the car at home, and get to work with bike and train.
We were surprised to learn that MetroLink has room for only 2 bikes per train car. The other LA train system is a subway called Metro that travels shorter distances. Metro is adding bike lockers at some stations, but this means you have to buy two bikes if you really want to stop driving the car to work.
In LA and other cities, train companies do not want to remove more seats to make room for bikes, because it would reduce their income. Passenger train cars are expensive and take a long time to get. So our idea is to take older rail cars that were used for something else, and make some changes to allow bike racks and ramps to get on and off. After parking your bike in this rail car you just go sit down in a regular passenger car. Adding these simple rail cars to the commuter train would not reduce income, and might even sell more tickets from all the people that could now take their bike to work.
We made several designs of rail cars that could hold between 34 and 80 bikes. We estimate that each bikes-only rail car could reduce 408 to 960 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year, if these commuters stopped driving 60 miles each way. This is based on 0.8 pounds of CO2 per mile driven.
We also researched to see if other parts of the world have tried this idea. Some cities in the US are adding more room for bikes by taking out seats, but this is going slow. Some cities in Europe have taken out most or all of the seats, with people standing next to the bikes, but this was on subways and different than our topic of long distance commuters.
If you have read all this, thank you very much, because another one of our assignments was to share our project with people who might be interested. Internet blogs are a good way for our team to try and share our work with a lot of people. Hopefully you like our idea, and please wish us luck in our competition.
Thanks Solly; your contest sounds very intriguing and I like your ideas. Do you know if your designs will be available anywhere on the Internet for others to view?
San Jose works to increase bicycle commuting
What does the rider making a vehicular right turn do about the rider RIDING into his line in the crossWALK?
We just steer around them.
That last photo of Kyle on the yellow bike is near Diridon Station, and the building in the background is the HP Pavilion AKA "The Shark Tank." There's usually heavy pedestrian, bike, bus, and car traffic going every which way around this area, so we just adjust and go with the flow.
I've been known to 'cheat' and use that crosswalk instead of making multiple turns across traffic just to get to or from Autumn Street or Stockton Street.
This is awesome. I live in downtown San Jose and commute using a combination of bike and bus. The proposed improvements would be very welcome and wonderful. Currently it is quite a pain to ride on main thoroughfares such as Santa Clara St without going onto the sidewalk. Looking forward to it!
Any chance that there will be similar connecting protected corridors to other nearby city centers, ie Sunnyvale etc? I live a mere 12 miles from SJSU, but it would take nearly 1.5 hours one way by bus. I'd bike, but there's no way I'm crossing 150 intersections with SUV's on their cell phone! I wish we could connect bike trails like in S San Jose.
Sunnyvale to San Jose can be tricky via bike depending on where you're going to and coming from. Light Rail is impossibly long, but the 522 bus isn't too unreasonable (though you might be hosed if the bike rack is full), and Caltrain is only a 10 minute ride.
Caltrain Bicycle Access and Parking Plan now online
for what it's worth, the SF bike coalition sent out a bike theft alert last week for that particular garage:
"Elsewhere in bike theft news, steer clear of the 5th and Mission Garage -- bike parking at this city garage has always been pretty sketchy, but lately thieves have been working double-time to swipe bikes parked here, sadly we've heard that entire racks full of bikes have been stolen. We're working on better, more secure parking at this key location, but until that happens you'd be well advised not to park your bike there."
Thx Calitexican. I missed that particular bulletin.
Why not register your bikes on the nes national database www.immobilize.net The police can check any property on the site. Once you have opened your account you can register any property on the site- FREE Also why not tag the bike. The RFID tag has an unique ID number which can be read with a scanner. visit www.immobitag.com and the ciost is around $25. Details of the btag, the bike and the owner go on the immobilize website. The bike is 10 times less likely to be stolen. There are 35 different sites in the UK where the police are tagging bikes to reduce the theft rate. Regards
Norcal bicycle blogs that you read
Thanks for the plug!
A sometimes bike-themed SoCal blog that I'm a fan of is The Militant Angeleno.
Thank you for listing my blog. I just wonder who referred mine to the survey.
I semi-regularly blog about my commuting and general biking in Sacramento. You can read it at www.damncyclist.com
Don't go leaving out my "Curtis in Bicycle Land" http://ccorlew.blogspot.com
WOOT! Thanks for the linkage!
Here's another new one:
Hey there - thanks for the pointer! - Cyclofiend Jim
Santa Clara County bicycle fatality locations
Has anyone done a similar map showing motor vehicle fatalities and/or pedestrian fatalities? This could go a long way towards determining where the roads need re-engineering or the vehicle statutes need tighter enforcement. Just showing one class of road user really doesn't give enough detail about what is causing the fatalities.
A similar map showing motorist fatalities over the past decade would be covered in those little markers. In Santa Clara County alone there are 12,000 collisions per year resulting in over 10,000 injuries and 100 deaths -- that's in a single year, while the map shows a decade's worth of cyclist fatalities. The leading factor in motor vehicle fatalities in the county is DUI.
Universal Studios: Not In My Back Yard
Back in the 50's my dad used to go messing down around in the LA river and sneak into the backlots.
Guess they weren't always so concerned about security!
NEed to get a few starlets and celebs in on this thing.
I have to agree with Universal on this. After all, you wouldn't want to make it easy for a bike rider to sneak in and get advance pictures of "You, Me and Dupree II".
Windy in Santa Cruz, Bay Area
That cyclist is a bad-ass. When I was riding home yesterday I was losing my breath to the wind and today it's far worse.
Wait, this is my first commute of the year! Perfect choice - I love riding in this stuff.
The Caltrain bike-car was pretty empty this morning.
Bonus: If the wind direction doesn't shift too much, should be a hella tailwind for my 15 miles back home later today.
Now you know what to wear helmets for ;-)
And maybe the styrofoam helmet can insulate against falling wires too.
Gazer, watch those limbs and the deep water!
I have some friends who told me the other day they're headed to Tahoe tonight. I told them "No you're not."
Darn, not much wind last night.
Left a little early to ride in the daylight (to see those limbs and estimate water depth). Mostly just a bunch of leaves on the ground.
The towns/residents appear to have cleaned up the major limbs very quickly. Bravo!
Air Quality District says 'Drive a Car'
This is not good but the situation in St Louis is worse: Cyclist told to get off the road and ride on the sidewalks by the Police for "impeding traffic". http://stlbiking.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=9812 It looks like local passivity is finally catching up with the apathetic cycling community. A bad situation is getting worse. Stay safe, Jack
Jack, I'd be interested to hear of any resolution to the Webster Grove incident that you mentioned.
...so is micheal rich simply ignorant or overly concerned by our litigious society ?...
...wow, gung ho in webster grove...
If your state or local jurisdiction has laws that allow cyclists to use the road (I don't know that this is a universally accepted principle), carry a copy of the appropriate documents so you can cite them to an officer improperly interfering with your right to ride. Do so politely, giving as full a citation as possible of the laws in question. That way, if the officer continues to harass you, you have the strongest possible position in any resulting legal or disciplinary action.
It has to happen at street level, on an incident-by-incident basis. Cyclists must educate themselves and then be ready to educate law officers and other road users.
New Hampshire and Maryland both published little digests of bike-related state laws. Check your own state for similar handy resources.
Carrying a copy of relevant laws is nice in theory but not effective. Showing these laws to police officers before, I've been told: 1) "I do not have time to read that", 2) "I am the law". 3) "I don't care what the laws says, I care about law enforcement".
The one I have yet to hear is "where's the proof that those words are the law".
Suggesting that it is the duty of cyclists to spend time and energy to educate law enforcement is too often self-defeating and a waste of time. Shameful but true.
Concentrate on riding safely, Jack
...i have to agree...cafiend's idea is good in theory but i'd even add another line to jack's dismissive list, "ya, well take it to court...you can discuss it w/ the judge"...
...oft times even a friendly cop will see your behavior as trying to show him up...despite your intent...
Caltrain: Cyclists turned away as ridership surges
One in fifteen???!!! During rushhour?!
-jealous in Chicago
When I take my bike on Caltrain (1-2 days per week on average) I regularly see bike commuters get bumped, both in the mornings and evenings. Ridership surges, yet Caltrain STILL only has ONE BIKE CAR PER TRAIN -- what gives?!?!?
Slightly better link to the car crashes that held you up this morning.
(Almost wrote 'accident', but I don't believe in that word when associated with car crashes anymore...)
As for CALTRAIN - I don't usually see passenger train-cars more than 50% full - because each passenger typically takes up two or more seats. That's far from being anywhere near capacity. Time to rip out the other side of the cab car to make room for 32 more bikes!
I love making people grumble by asking them to move their bags so that I can sit near the luggage area and keep an eye on my folder...
(Don't know about bullets - they don't hit San Mateo)
I'm in the Chicago suburbs going north and south along the Fox River. My bus route services mostly those who can't afford cars or those that get off at the train station going to Chicago. My bus has a 2 bike rack and about half the time I'm the only bike. Maybe twice I have seen a cyclist waved off because the rack was full. I haven't really seen much ridership increase in the past few months, but as it gets colder I'll ride both ways on the bus, instead of commuting 15 miles home on the bike.
I've updated the post by adding a photo of the bike car interior. The bike cars are provisioned for the exclusive use of cyclists, and there is always at least one bike car per train.
Jim, Caltrain wants to electrify the line so they don't want to buy additional equipment right now until they know for sure if electrification will ever happen, or if they're stuck with diesel for the next 20 years. I have seen the passenger bullets packed full during commute times.
Thanks for the link, Gazer. I guess the CHP info times out after a short bit. And thanks for the comments, all!
California Safe Routes becomes law
The idea that 90 percent should go to engineering solutions is bass-ackward, and it reflects the desire to segregate bikes, not welcome them. The SR2S program emphasizes the first three Es: education, events, and enforcement, with engineering as a final resort. We have a fine system of public rights-of-way in this country, they've just been tyrranized by automobiles.
Where I live, we have a local push to build a $500,000 bike path, which would force riders off of a perfectly good, low-traffic route so that people who "might ride, if we had a path" can dust off their bikes and hurt their delicate butts. If that half-million dollars were directed toward educating the public about cyclists' right to the road, and enforcing the rules for drivers who won't learn, we'd have a better situation all around, instead of a single bike path.
Still, I'm sure that 10 percent is a big pile of money, and I hope it will go a long way toward educating California's auto-addicted masses. Happy Trails, Ron Georg Moab
Hi Ron, and thanks for the comments.
The SR2S program with the highest participation in the nation is Longmont, Colorado, with 96%(!!!) of students at Columbine Elementary School walking or biking to school on the designated "Safe Routes" days. Longmont's is also the least expensive SR2S program in the state of Colorado. While other locations requested millions for facility improvements, Longmont requested (and received) a few tens of thousands for education and encouragent.
On non "Safe Routes" days, an average of 70% walk/bike now. This is a huge increase from only a handful of students who walked/biked just three years ago when we started the program. Nearly 200 cars lined up around the block and double parked to drop students off -- these days, there are only a handful of cars at that school.
Volunteers now hand out fliers to the holdouts who continue to drive. Parents who formerly drove their kids to school are now rabid supporters of SR2S in their neighborhood. They walk with their children to school, meet their neighbors, make new friends, and connect in ways they didn't imagine possible.
Hey, how about $$ for bike cops to escort kids to skool? Naaaaaaaaaaah.
Palo Alto bicycle culture
Bay Area bike commuters
The guy with the masi is styling. I'm jealous. I might have to reconsider my riding apparel.
I sometimes wear 'business casual' slacks like this guy, but rolled up halfway to my knees, partially to keep the chain grease off but mostly to show off my Sock Guy socks I usually wear ;-)
I think I'd like to meet Emily too!
I like the basket on Emily's bike. It is nice how it tapers a bit at the top. Probably keeps the contents nice and secure.
Mass market fixed gear bike
Sounds like he's one of the "invisible riders" liek Bicycling magazine's article described (almost made3 me subscribe, I tell ya)... CICLE snagged it at http://www.cicle.org/cicle_content/pivot/entry.php?id=809 tho' sometimes linking doesn't work (but if you google cicle and then do "invisible" search on their site, and look for "L.A.'s invisible riders" you'll find the article).
It's worth reading regular-like for that perspective. When it came out it was discussed and some people did some eyerolling about how those eople would buy cars if theyy could - which is still viewing it through "those people" lenses because my guess is there isn't a lot of time wasted on thinking "if I could, I'd get a car" (especially if licenses would have their own legal problems).
Fixies just kinda befuddle me. Since I can only engage my brain in one thing at a time, one-ness with a machine is an impossible dream...
You're right, Sue. I've long recognized that Latinos probably make up the majority of cyclists in America; I got the Denver area Bike To Work team to begin Spanish-language outreach, and the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition is now thinking about Spanish language outreach after I suggested it. I have the print edition of Bicycling -- it's a good article.
Most Latinos, however, don't ride fixed gear bikes. Many seem to ride discount store bikes or ancient 10-speeds recycled via the perpetual garage sales in Latino neighborhoods. The bike-riding Latinos I talk with view cycling as a poor-person activity and plan to buy a car ASAP because that's what you do when you have money.
Right now our bike coop ( www.thebikeproject.org ) is sort of trying to figure out whether discount store bicycles are worth working on or not. We've got both the poor-folks contingent and the very-temporarily and/or not-very-poor student contingent here that are looking for something cheaper than the bike shops, so it will be interesting to see which way the wind blows. One proposal has been to turn the discount bikes into fixies. (Local constabularies seem to be willing to send the coop their abandoned/confiscated bicycles after the wait period, most of which are "junk.")
Caltrain nixes WiFi
Bummer! Well, I'm not feeling so bad about signing that 2 year Sprint EVDO contract. Sprint EVDO mostly works OK for my Caltrain commute between SF and Mt View.
Transit General Manager drives to work
Imagine that...! I'm not surprised - but it does give a chuckle! He could also join the Ultramarathon Cycling association and get some really nice long commutes in. ;)
Mass transit and alternative commuting is for us poor unimportant folk.
Public transit is for everybody ;-) The CEO of Mattson Technology commutes by bike and train to commute from Tracy and Fremont. Mattson is a $500 million company that designs and manufactures silicon fabrication equipment. Other notable local bike commuters include Webcor CEO Andy Ball, Brocade Networks CEO Mike Klayko, Palm CEO Ed Colligan, IBM VP Mike Dean, Lockheed Martin VP Len Kwiatkowski and Specialized Bicycles CEO Mike Sinyard.
Santa Clara County Supervisor has also become a regular bike commuter this year and even blogged about his experience. He's become a rather vocal proponent of bicycle as transportation this year.
Chris, your blogger profile is "blocked" -- I can't view it. Can you point to a website that says who you are? Thanks!
I am pretty sure that Chris' comment was in jest. Still, I like that list of prominent bike commuters. Very interesting.
It is true that most people assume anyone who uses an alternative to the automobile does so strictly for financial reasons. It reminds me of when my son was in first grade. A neighbor kid told him that he must be poor because of the fact that his Dad rode a bike to work and his Mom walked him to school. My son pointed out to the kid that we lived in similar houses in the same neighborhood, so family must be poor too. I guess he could have been defensive and pointed out that we own 2 cars (we shouldn’t) but I like the explanation he chose much better.
Henry Cowell State Park mountain biking
Bay Area bicycle news
Caltrain bicycle survey
Useless ride stats
Santa Cruz: Wireless internet possible on the Highway 17 Express
Real news on Critical Mass
WHAT? Still NO Santa?! Unbelieveable.
2007 Sea Otter Class videos
San Francisco Police to enforce cyclist sidewalk prohibition
Caltrain fare increase
San Francisco to require bike rentals at bus shelters
Oh those SanFran happy campers are at it again, eh?
I am just trying to get Tulsa Transit to re-design the bus shelters to protect patrons, NOT the landscaping.
Most bus shelters expose waiting patrons to traffic noise, spray from tires slicing through curb-side water, and other unplesantries from moving traffic.
King County Transit, WA has a nifty idea: rotate the conventional bus shelter 180 degrees. DUH. What will they think of next?
I believe that Toronto has a similar program of bike share as you will find a small reference to in this post from Lauren's site.
I'll add this -- sad press about the Toronto Bike Share program.
Yep. Looks good on paper. But, if the market rejects it, it's TOAST. Say, how about try bike parking at the bus shelters?