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Thursday, February 12, 2009
  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.”

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Saturday, January 17, 2009
  Cyclists to ride in budget protest
By Alison Chaiken 
From the Mountain View Voice:

. . . 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.

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Monday, October 06, 2008
  Caltrain hits truck in Burlingame
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.

Train hits truck

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.

Photo by "AlienVenom".

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Thursday, October 02, 2008
  Caltrain bikes on board: Compare and contrast
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.

See also today's WIRED Autotopia post on Caltrain's bikes on board program, which links to Cyclelicious.

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.

Crowded Caltrain bike car

Murph just sent this UPDATE: Caltrain to explore more bikes on board.

For more transit news -- including Caltrain electrification and BART to Santa Clara County -- see recent posts at VTA Watch.

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Monday, August 25, 2008
  San Jose works to increase bicycle commuting
By Yokota Fritz 
San 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.

Cyclist on Santa Clara Street, downtown San Jose California
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.

Summer the FAST cyclist
“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.

Kyle on his Specialized bicycle near downtown San Jose California
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.


Monday, August 11, 2008
  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.

Caltrain Mountain View

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.

Thank you to Murph for this news. Related:

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008
  Norcal bicycle blogs that you read
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.

Here are the blogs you mentioned:

Elsewhere in California

  • Somebody mentioned that Commute By Bike covers cycling as transportation in the South Bay, and that's because I'm a contributor there.

  • Somebody also mentioned C.I.C.L.E., which is a very good resource that I follow in Los Angeles.
There are, of course, several others in Northern California and elsewhere around the Golden State. Feel free to post links to your favorites and your own blogs in the comments!

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Thursday, March 20, 2008
  Santa Clara County bicycle fatality locations
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.

View Larger Map

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.
Read the full article in the San Jose Mercury News.

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Thursday, February 28, 2008
  Universal Studios: Not In My Back Yard
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."

Read more in the Los Angeles Times, with discussion also at LAist.

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Friday, January 04, 2008
  Windy in Santa Cruz, Bay Area
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.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007
  Air Quality District says 'Drive a Car'
By Yokota Fritz 
Here's a memo from the San Francisco Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), which is tasked with improving air quality in the SF Bay Area:

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?

Read more about this Bikescape.

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.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007
  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.

Full bike car

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?

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007
  California Safe Routes becomes law
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!

To view the updated SR2S Guidelines and Application, please visit the CALTRANS Safe Routes page.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007
  Palo Alto bicycle culture
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?
Tom Kabat

In this photo from the Ellen Fletcher Bike Blvd Gratitude Ride, we see Palo Alto dentist, Jan Krieg, on one of his Secret Mountain Labs bikes.

Dentist Jan Krieg

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.

Jobst Brandt

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.


Thursday, October 04, 2007
  Bay Area bike commuters
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.
Emily and her pink cruiser

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.
Aaron's 2006 Masi Speciale Fixed

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.
Bike commuters in San Jose

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.
Palo Alto bike parking


Wednesday, September 12, 2007
  Mass market fixed gear bike
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 and his fixed Triax

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.


Thursday, September 06, 2007
  Caltrain nixes WiFi
By Yokota Fritz 
After Caltrain demonstrated wireless Internet access in a proof of concept last year, Caltrain received two proposals for providing WiFi. Unfortunately, Caltrain's Joint Powers Board has had to reject those proposals as too expensive and too restrictive. Bummer.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
  Transit General Manager drives to work
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.

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Monday, August 13, 2007
  Henry Cowell State Park mountain biking
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.

Towering Redwoods
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.

More information:

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Friday, August 10, 2007
  Bay Area bicycle news
By Yokota Fritz 
Traffic 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

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Monday, May 21, 2007
  Caltrain bicycle survey
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.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007
  Useless ride stats
By Yokota Fritz 
My muse today is Fixed Gear Cycling, who titles most of his posts "Useless Ride Stats" and then writes about interesting parts of his ride.

Today was Bike to Work Day in the San Francisco Bay Area and I did not keep close track of the statistics of my morning bicycle commute. In round figures, though:
  • Miles: 25, give or take. In metric that's 40 km.
  • Time: 2 hours, more or less. That's about 8.2 in metric "centidays."
  • Breakfast stations visited: 7.
    • City officials met: 3. One in Sunnyvale and two in Palo Alto.
    • Coffee cake consumed: 3 pieces.
  • Cyclists seen: Well into the hundreds. Perhaps even 1000.
    • Extracycles: 2.
    • Bike Fridays: 2.
    • Ordinaries / Boneshakers / Highwheelers: 1.
    • Art Bikes: 1.
  • Cheapest gas price I saw: $3.49 for regular unleaded.

Photos will be posted later tonight, I hope. I bought a new camera and it takes some micro-USB connector that I don't have handy.

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Monday, May 14, 2007
  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.

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Friday, April 27, 2007
  Real news on Critical Mass
By Yokota Fritz 
Look what happens when the media shows up: They report on what actually happens instead of depending on hearsay like professional gossip columnists do. What they found is the usual peaceful ride, although it was much larger than usual.

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.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007
  2007 Sea Otter Class videos
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.

Watch the videos at DeltaVelo.com.

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Friday, March 02, 2007
  San Francisco Police to enforce cyclist sidewalk prohibition
By Yokota Fritz 
Thank you to Sasha for pointing this out.

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.

From the Chronicle.

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Thursday, March 01, 2007
  Caltrain fare increase
By Yokota Fritz 
Caltrain 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.

Caltrain also announced a change to seven southbound morning-commute train departure times. See changed San Francisco departure times here.

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Friday, February 16, 2007
  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.

San Francisco resident Jim Greer compares this idea with ZipCar and brings up some good points:

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.

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