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Saturday, July 25, 2009
  Santa Cruz County railroad to enforce track trespass rules
By Yokota Fritz 
The Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railroad right of way is a very popular corridor for cyclists and walkers to travel between the city of Santa Cruz and Henry Cowell State Park, Felton and beyond into Santa Cruz County. Big Trees management has always been supportive of cycling in Santa Cruz County and took a very relaxed attitude about cyclists riding along the railroad, but junkies using the right of way for their activities are forcing Big Trees to protect their right of way.

Because they say trespass enforcement must be applied equally to everybody (huh?), railroad officials this weekend handed out warnings informing cyclists and walkers that they will begin to cite people for trespassing soon.

Props to Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz president Mark Davidson.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009
  2009 Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge Scotts Valley California
By Yokota Fritz 
Who's coming to visit my town for the Santa Cruz Mountain Challenge this weekend? Are you doing the 100 mile or the Metric?

The last day to register is Wednesday, so do it quickly if you haven't signed up yet.


Monday, July 20, 2009
  Santa Cruz Fixed Gear Freak
By Yokota Fritz 
I've never been to Bicycle Shop Santa Cruz aka "Fixed Gear Freak" before last weekend. There are a couple of other shops that are closer and more convenient to me, but half the kids I talk to in the South Bay with fixed gear bikes tell me they got their conversions from this shop, so I checked it out and talked with the owner, Eric, for a little bit.

Eric the Fixed Gear Freak Santa Cruz.

Eric saw the market for fixed gear conversion bikes fairly early. When he first looked at it he figured out pretty quickly he couldn't make money spending $25 on a junk Univega, spend $125 cleaning it up and converting it only to see people willing to pay only $50 for the bike.

But then the market for fixie conversions started picking up, especially after the cruiser bike market "fell of a cliff," says Eric. "Back then you couldn't get a cheap track frame," he says, "and a lot of people noticed that these old bikes have horizontal dropouts. But the big bike shops wouldn't touch this stuff."

Good Used Tires $5

For many bike enthusiasts, it seems like simple work, but Eric tells me that word got around about his little shop on Mission Street. "People came from all over just to buy my bikes. I had two ladies from Seattle fly into San Francisco, rent a car and drive here to get bikes. They picked out their frames, we built them up overnight, boxed them up and they flew back to Seattle the next day."

The one thing you notice about the shop is the amazing selection of Velocity rims hanging from the ceiling like so much eye candy.

Peugot 53 cm

The Yelp reviews are interesting -- people either absolutely hate them or love them. The complainers either complain about the service (seemingly at or below par for many other bike shops, though I found Eric and Chris to be friendly and open in spite of a busy weekend), or the prices are too high for old 70s & 80s bikes. My opinion: $600 for a tarck bike conversion does seem a tad high, but there's a market for their wares, and not everybody is willing or able to do their own conversions. Think $120 for the frame, $120 for wheels, another $200 for other assorted parts, and at least another $150 in labor and their profit margin starts to look a little thin.

Bicycle Shop Santa Cruz seems to cater a lot to the UCSC college crowd. They're located at 1325 Mission Street about halfway between Bay and Laurel. And as you can see in the first photo of Eric, they don't just sell tarck bikes and accessories!


Tuesday, February 17, 2009
  Bike Girls Santa Cruz
By Yokota Fritz 
More Santa Cruz bike people, this time of the female gender.

Santa Cruz girl on bike

Venus and her colored bike

Santa Cruz Bike People

Santa Cruz Bike People

Santa Cruz Bike Girl


  Bike Boys Santa Cruz
By Yokota Fritz 
Here's my obligatory Tour-free post: Photos of Santa Cruz Bike Boys. Enjoy!

Santa Cruz Bike People

Santa Cruz Bike People

Tim O'Neil and his rickshaw

Tarck Bike Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz Bike People

Coming next: Bike Girls Santa Cruz!


Saturday, January 24, 2009
  Santa Cruz bike bridge
By Yokota Fritz 
About one hundred people showed up on a rainy Friday afternoon for the dedication of a new bike/pedestrian bridge that crosses the San Lorenzo River adjacent to Highway 1 in Santa Cruz, California.

Pedestrian bridge grand opening

New Bridge, Santa Cruz San Lorenzo River Path near Highway 1
Highway 1 becomes of limited access highway with no pedestrian or bicycling allowed just east (nominally north) of River Street. This new bridge provides an important connection allowing walkers and cyclists access across the San Lorenzo River without traveling down to Water Street. This is a bridge I'll certainly use, giving me quick and easy access to downtown Santa Cruz, the beach and the Boardwalk that allows me to avoid Ocean Street traffic.

The bridge is located where the San Lorenzo River Path ends just short of Highway 1. The plan is for this path to eventually extend underneath Highway 1 and connect to River Street / Highway 9 past The Tannery area.

Elsewhere in Santa Cruz, the city plans to raze Bicycle Trip Bike Park to make way for more beach parking. This popular BMX park located across from the Santa Cruz Wharf was always planned to be a temporary facility.

BMX riders and fans of the park would like a permanent home at Depot Park in Santa Cruz, but they need your support by showing up at these important meetings:
  • "Friends of the Bicycle Park" meeting, Wednesday January 28, 6 PM at the Civic Center.
  • Parks and Recreation Commission meeting, Monday February 2, 4 PM in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.
  • City Council meeting, Tuesday, February 24, 7 PM in the City Council Chambers at City Hall.
The Bike Park was designed and constructed through private donations and volunteer labor, so all they're asking for is a permanent home at a city park.


Thursday, December 04, 2008
  Santa Cruz cycling and the Tour of California
By Yokota Fritz 
The Santa Cruz Local Organizing Committee for the Amgen Tour of California attracted a fair number of enthusiasts in the full lycra kit, but most of the people who showed up on bike were people interested in cycling for transportation.

Tim Bustos
Tim Bustos of Ecology Action at the Amgen Tour of California Santa Cruz organizing committee press conference.
The title bike shop sponsor, for example, is The Bicycle Trip in Santa Cruz. While they sell to the high end enthusiast market, The Bicycle Trip is also very actively involved in promoting cycling for transportation Santa Cruz. They sponsor Bike Smart, a youth bicycle safety program that encourages and empowers youth to use bicycles for transportation. The Bicycle Trip also runs the Bike Shop @ School program, which teaches Santa Cruz public school youth how to repair and build bicycles at the high schools.

Bicycle Trip manager Aaron Jacobs told me that he believes sporting events such as the Amgen Tour of California and personalities like Lance Armstrong encourage people to get on their beach cruisers and ride. "It's a great cycling event for the community," said Jacobs. "Santa Cruz has great cycling culture and is really suited to host the Amgen Tour of of California because it's such a great place for cycling."

Utility cyclist advocate Tim Bustos also attended the press conference in Santa Cruz. Tim was the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the bicycle friendly city of DAvis, California. Today, he is a program specialist for Ecology Action, an environmental consultancy in Santa Cruz. Although Tim gets around on a very practical Raleigh Sojourn as he wears ankle straps, he believes the Tour of California is good for utilitarian cycling. "Bicycle racing elevates cycling in the public eye," says Tim. He looks at Italy as an example of a nation where all cyclists benefit because of the passion Italians have for the sport of cycling. "The Italians drive like maniacs, but they take cycling seriously so they watch for cyclists on the road. They don't want to run down a national hero."

Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty
Santa Cruz Mayor Ryan Coonerty announces route details of the 2009 Amgen Tour of California.
The Santa Cruz committee are still organizing transportation options, and because Stage 2 will take place on a holiday weekend the expect as many as 20,000 visitors to Santa Cruz on Presidents' Day. When asked how fans should get into Santa Cruz to watch the race, Santa Cruz committee chairman Matt Twisselman had a three word answer: "Ride your bike."

A shout out to:
I'm moving tonight and this weekend, but I'll try to get the detailed street map of the route in Santa Cruz posted sometime. Here's a cellphone snapshot of the paper map if you want to try to figure it out yourself.


Sunday, October 05, 2008
  Bicycle friendly businesses in Santa Cruz County
By Yokota Fritz 
Five of the 19 businesses that either made the League of American Bicyclists' list of Bicycle Friendly Businesses or their Honorable Mention list are located where I live in Santa Cruz County, California. They include: Read more: Bike friendly employers abound in Santa Cruz County.

See also San Francisco Bike Blog: Bay Area Companies Recognized as Bicycle Friendly Businesses.


Friday, October 03, 2008
  Bicycling in the San Lorenzo Valley
By Yokota Fritz 
The San Lorenzo Valley Press Banner published a story about the walking and cycling conditions along State Highway 9 in Santa Cruz County.
For San Lorenzo Valley residents between Boulder Creek and Felton, Highway 9 is the primary — and sometimes only — option to reach businesses and school by foot or bike. But the two-lane highway is not especially pedestrian or cyclist-friendly.

Blind curves, areas with mere inches of shoulder, falling mountain debris, low-light conditions, inexperienced tourist traffic, drunken drivers and speeders are some of the reasons the road can be a hazard to pedestrians’ health.
The article mentions a possible trail alongside the Big Trees & Pacific tourist railroad that runs between Santa Cruz and Felton. The railroad right of way already a popular bicycling route between Santa Cruz and Felton -- I know people who commute daily along the tracks from the Santa Cruz Mountains into Santa Cruz.


Friday, September 05, 2008
  Man bites dog.
By Yokota Fritz 
Dateline Santa Cruz, California.

1. Motorist and cyclist get into argument.
2. Cyclist kicks car door.
3. Motorist gets out of car and assaults cyclist, hitting him on the head with a broom handle.
4. Cyclist, defending himself, pulls out a knife and stabs motorist.
5. Cyclist rides away on his cruiser bike.
6. Police on manhunt for the cyclist, who they name as a suspect in the crime of, umm, defending himself I guess.
7. Okay, maybe the knife was a bit much.
8. But if I'm a Latino on bike in Santa Cruz, is it really a good idea to wait around for the police to sort out who started the fight?

Santa Cruz Sentinel: Man stabbed on Santa Cruz west side.
KSBW News: Bicyclist stabs driver.

In other news, Man bites dog.


Friday, August 08, 2008
  Bay Area bicycle and transportation news
By Yokota Fritz 
Urban Costume Karaoke Bicycle Brigade: Tomorrow in Dolores Park.

Santa Cruz rail line to be purchased. The Santa Cruz Regional Transportation Commission agreed yesterday to pay Union Pacific $14.2 million for the 32 mile stretch of railroad from Davenport to Watsonville. County residents already use the railroad right of way for bicycling and walking, and Union Pacific has apparently been worried about liability, while enforcing their property rights results in criticism from the community. The county plans to establish and rail trail along the railroad while operating a recreational rail service along the corridor. The rail trail will become part of the Monterey Bay Sanctuary Scenic Trail Network. Union Pacific currently runs three freight round trips each week on this branch line.


Chinese Acrobats at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. Watch acrobats perform at the Beach Bandstand area of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Sundays through Thursdays until August 21. Shows are at Noon and 3pm Monday through Thursday, Noon and 6pm on Sundays. Their gig includes tricks with bicycles. Shows are free.

Caltrain updates, etc.

The Caltrain Joint Powers Board met yesterday. Some quick notes.
  • Some 20+ cyclists showed up to give their input on the Bicycle Master Plan. Caltrain staff proposes adoption of the plan (which doesn't address capacity), but JPB directors seem to "get" the idea now that capacity should not only be maintained, but even expanded.

    San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has taken the lead among Bay Area bicyclist advocacy groups in pushing Caltrain to adopt a plan that better services bicyclists. SFBC published their own Caltrain bike plan online (PDF), as well as a rebuttal to Caltrain's bike program FAQ.

  • SF Examiner looks at the issue of charging extra to bring bikes on board Caltrain. “I’m not crazy about that idea,” Caltrain boardmember Jerry Hill said. “We want to encourage people to use their bicycle, and during peak commute is when people need transit. Many people who ride bicycles don’t have the luxury of having other forms of transportation and I don’t think we should penalize them for doing the right thing.”

  • In other business, the JPB voted to increase Caltrain fares after public hearings. While Caltrain reported record ridership of nearly 12 million riders from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008, increasing fuel prices impact Caltrains operating budget. "Even though the ridership is up," says JPB vice chair Don Gage, "it's still not enough to keep up with the rising gas costs."

  • Peninsula cities don't want High Speed Rail and are joining a lawsuit against the California High Speed Rail Authority. Boo to them.

  • VTA Watch examines the proposed 1/8 cent tax to bring BART to Santa Clara. Hurray to Palo Alto councilor Yoriko Kishimoto, who speaks out against bringing BART to San Jose.

  • A 'suspicious device' was reported at the parking garage next to the Sunnyvale Caltrain station late Wednesday night. Officials closed the garage to public access and the Santa Clara County Sheriff closed the Sunnyvale Caltrain station at 10 PM. Caltrain established a bus bridge between Mountain View and Lawrence Avenue. At midnight the bomb squad determined the 'device' was not dangerous and allowed people access to their vehicles in the garage. Caltrain operated normally the next morning.

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Friday, July 11, 2008
  Highway 17 Bikes on Board -- no changes
By Yokota Fritz 
Bikes on Board the Highway 17 Express bus service was on the agenda this morning at the Santa Cruz Metro Board meeting. People Power director Micah Posner attended the meeting and spoke on behalf of cyclists who use the Highway 17 service.

Five bikes on the bus / Highway 17 Express San Jose to Santa Cruz
Because of input from cyclists as well as the drivers' representative, Bonnie Moore, and Metro General Manager Les White, several board members asserted their commitment to allowing bikes on board when it's reasonable to allow them on board.

Because of capacity issues, the board and others attending also discussed ways to mitigate the problems that are now occurring with crowding on the Highway 17 service. In addition to the existing folding bike subsidy in Santa Cruz County, the board also talked about things like a bike sharing program and additional bike storage capacity at the Santa Cruz Metro.

Les White mentioned that there are currently three openings on the citizen Metro Advisory Committee, and that cyclists are not currently represented on that committee. MAC meetings are one Wednesday a month at 6 PM. Contact People Power in Santa Cruz if you want to be on that committee.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008
  Santa Cruz Highway 17 bikes on board to be banned!
By Yokota Fritz 
The Highway 17 Express bus service from Santa Cruz & Scotts Valley to San Jose is operated by the Santa Cruz Metro Transit District (Metro). Metro's policy when the bike racks are full is to allow bikes on board in the handicap seating area if there are no handicapped passengers. Bikes are not permitted in the luggage compartment underneath because the compartments can't "accomodate both bikes and luggage" according to Metro, although the luggage compartments are used very rarely.

The Highway 17 bus service has been filled to near capacity on many trips over the last few weeks as more commuters and day trippers use the relatively inexpensive service to travel over the hill. With this increased use comes more bikes on board. Santa Cruz Metro received one customer complaint about those displaced from the handicap seating to make room for bikes on board.

In response to this complaint, the Metro Advisory Committee voted unanimously to change Metro policy and prohibit bikes on board after September 2008. The Santa Cruz Metro Board must still approve this policy.

I've alerted People Power Santa Cruz and have phone calls to the Santa Cruz Metro board and staff about this. As soon as I get a response and find out what to do about this I'll post an update.


Sunday, June 22, 2008
  Santa Cruz: King Street bikeway meeting
By Yokota Fritz 
The city of Santa Cruz is studying the possibility of enhancing King Street as a bicycle route and an alternative over Mission Street. King Street is a residential collector running approximately parallel to Mission Street from near High Street in the north/east to Swift Street at the south/west.

View Larger Map

King has a 25 mph speed limit; actual speeds range from 25 to 29 mph. While King is a favored bike route today, traffic volume is heavy enough and the road narrow enough that motorists must frequently wait to pass cyclists who take the lane on King.

On Wednesday, June 25th, the city will host a public hearing to discuss the draft King Street Bikeway plan [PDF]. The meeting starts at 7pm and will be held in the Police Department Community Room at 155 Center Street in Santa Cruz.

On the agenda will be three options for King Street. People Power Santa Cruz supports two of the options and opposes the third.
  • People Power supports option 1, which is placement of five foot bike lanes to enable motorists to operate independently of bicyclists in the same direction. This option requires either the removal of parking on one side of the street, or widening the street to make room for the bike lanes.

  • People Power Santa Cruz also supports option 2, which is making King Street a "bicycle boulevard" by reducing motor vehicle traffic volume with traffic calming features such as barriers that allow bikes through but not cars. Diverting 5000 vehicles per day from King onto neighboring streets will increase already heavy traffic volume on the adjacent streets. I can anticipate heavy opposition for this option from residents on neighboring streets.

  • People Power opposes an "option 3", which is really a part of Option 1 in the draft plan. This is a daytime only parking prohibition along King Street. Parking is prohibited during the day -- this parking area becomes a clear bike lane for cyclist use. In the evenings, cyclists use King Street like they do today, by taking the lane. The planners state they see this "option 3" as an interim solution until funding can be obtained to widen King Street for bike lanes.
Other elements of the draft plan include discussion of door zones, removing stop signs to encourage more cyclists on King Street, "encouraging safe lateral positioning" (aka "taking the lane") through the use of sharrows and other pavement markings, signs on Mission to inform cyclists of a "Mission Street Bypass," and encouraging caution by motorists by removing the centerline on King.

Read the Santa Cruz King Street bicycle route draft plan here [PDF].


Friday, June 20, 2008
  I pity da foo who steals bikes
By Yokota Fritz 
Seen at the Santa Cruz Bike Church.

Mr T and bikes

I've also finally uploaded some of my photos from last week's Wildcat to Flickr. Click here for the photos.


Monday, June 16, 2008
  Santa Cruz Wildcat 2008 photos
By Yokota Fritz 
Josh Muir, owner of Frances Cycles in Santa Cruz, organized the Santa Cruz Wildcat alleycat race that took place last weekend. The Wildcat featured all of the traditional alleycat things -- checkpoints, spoke cards, scavenger hunt, a total disregard for traffic laws and personal property, etc. -- as well as some uniquely Santa Cruz features: probably 2000 feet of elevation gain, redwood forest singletrack, rock gardens, deep beach sand, a lighthouse and a river ford.

I was DNF -- I made it to the checkpoint in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, where we had to carry our bikes and gear through the San Lorenzo River before skipping a rock. The next checkpoint was at the top of the U-Conn trail, but I had to meet my family at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk in a half hour so I handed my ice cream off to another rider and cycled down into Santa Cruz.

I'll have my photos from the Wildcat later this week, but click on the photos above for a wonderful set of portraits taken from the UCSC trails.


Friday, May 23, 2008
  Santa Cruz fire evacuations
By Yokota Fritz 
Several hundred people living in the Santa Cruz Mountains have been forced to evacuate their homes as over 3,000 acres of dry woodland burned overnight. It's good see people are leaving their homes with the things that are important to them.

Photo from the San Jose Mercury News.

All the smoke in the air made riding my bike this morning a little tough. I went slow to keep myself from breathing hard.


Thursday, May 22, 2008
  Santa Cruz approves "Bikes In Lane" signs for Mission Street
By Yokota Fritz 

State approval required before signs installed

Santa Cruz council approves "Bikes In Lane" sign for Mission Street
In a meeting last week, the Santa Cruz City Council unanimously voted to request "Bikes In Lane" signs to be installed on Mission Street, where two cyclists were killed by passing traffic over the past eight months.

Local cycling advocates, traffic engineers, and officials agree that Mission Street is too narrow to share safely, especially with the heavy truck traffic that travels down the road. The city's hands are tied, however, because Mission Street is California State Highway 1 and is under the jurisdiction of Caltrans District 5. Caltrans originally refused to install anything besides "Share the Road" signs, but after People Power Santa Cruz asked for state Assembly Member John Laird's assistance, Caltrans relented and agreed to install signage that the city of Santa Cruz considers more effective.

At the meeting, the decision to make was between three different signs: an advisory "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" sign that's becoming more common in California, a yellow "Watch for Bicycles Using Lane" sign proposed by Caltrans, and the "Bikes In Lane" sign that was approved by the council. The Santa Cruz police department opposed the "May Use Full Lane" sign but supported the "Bikes In Lane" sign.

Mission Street sidewalk cyclist
This cyclist rides on the sidewalk alongside Mission Street near Bay in Santa Cruz, California. While the sidewalk is empty on the mid morning when I took this photo, pedestrian traffic is typically heavier on the weekends and other times when traffic is high on Mission Street.

Bill the cyclist Bill of Boston rides his heavily laden bicycle down the middle of the lane on Mission Street in Santa Cruz, California. One citizen at the council meeting said cyclists should use the sidewalk. Riding on the sidewalk, however, does nothing to protect cyclists from right hook collisions.

Several traffic engineering experts explained how to improve the safety of bicycling on Mission Street. John Ciccarelli of the Bicycle Technical Committee of the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices explained that the "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" will likely be in the 2009 edition of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices published by the Federal Highway Adminstration. The MUTCD is the standard used by all U.S. transportation departments for their road signs -- it's the reason all stop signs in the United States are red octagons with white letters with a standard size and standard height.

Santa Cruz police chief Howard Skerry said they may ticket cyclists who in their view impeded traffic, regardless of any signage installed by the city. If bicyclists did not agree with that interpretation, he invited them to let the courts decide the matter.

Bob Shanteau spoke after the CHP and noted that the California Vehicle Code for impeding traffic only applies to 2 lane roads, not 4 lane highways such as Mission Street. "As long as the lane was too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to share side by side,' says Shanteau, "then the bicyclist was allowed to take the full lane."

"People have been taught since childhood to stay out of the way of cars, and that two bicyclists in Santa Cruz had followed that advice and they were both now dead. We need to make sure that never happens again," Shanteau continue as people in the council chambers applauded him.

Selection of non-standard sign may hinder final approval by state

While the engineers and advocates wanted the Bikes May Use Full Lane signs, the city voted for the "Bikes In Lane" sign instead. People Power Director Micah Posner said, "In the end not that much different. Having the sign will really improve the campaign to encourage awareness. It's about informing cyclist and motorist and it's about cyclists asserting their rights. These signs will be a big step forward."

Posner expressed some exasperation about the police department's threat to ticket cyclists who "impede" traffic. People Power has already gone to court on behalf of ticketed cyclists and "we beat it in court based on California Vehicle Code."

Caltrans still must get approval for the proposed sign from the California Traffic Control Device Committee, which meets next week. Because the city of Santa Cruz endorsed the untested "Bikes In Lane" sign over the standard "May Use Full Lane" sign, state approval is uncertain. The city council approved the Bikes In Lane sign thinking that Caltrans could get them installed this summer, but their selection of a non-standard sign will possibly mean a delay until this fall at the very earliest.

More: Thank you to Micah Posner and Bob Shantaeu for the details.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008
  San Lorenzo Valley Critical Mass
By Yokota Fritz 
Over 500 cyclists participated in the 4th Annual Rail and Trail Day on Saturday, May 17 2008 to celebrate rail and bike travel and support local efforts to create a 31 mile trail along the Union Pacific rail corridor that runs along the Santa Cruz coast from Davenport to Watsonville, California.

The cyclists met at Santa Cruz Depot where they loaded bikes, trailers, and other gear onto a train chartered from the Roaring Camp Railroad. Adults and children had fun as they talked and shared snacks on the ride up the San Lorenzo Valley through redwood groves to the Roaring Camp depot near Felton. After they got off the train and unloaded their bikes, they cut over to the Henry Cowell State Forest visitor center parking lot and lined up for the ride down Highway 9 from Felton back to Santa Cruz.

Fish Taco
The purpose of the ride is the drum up support for a proposed rail trail along the Santa Cruz Coast. The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Agency has agreed to purchase the rail right of way from Union Pacific, but funding is not available. According to Friends of the Rail Trail (FORT), the county can use Proposition 116 funds, and to get those funds the county must implement public transportation service along the corridor. Ride organizers encouraged participants to contact the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission to express their support for the coast railroad acquisition.

Micah Posner, director of the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy group People Power Santa Cruz, joked that there wouldn't be a "5th Annual Rail Trail Day because we'll have our trail by then!"

My children and I had a great time on this ride and we topped it off with a visit to Marianne's Ice Cream on Ocean Street afterwards. Yum!


Monday, February 04, 2008
  Crazy bus passenger
By Yokota Fritz 
Santa Cruz metro bus crashed into hill - taken from A whacked out bus passenger on the 91 commuter express between Watsonville and Santa Cruz, CA grabbed the bus steering wheel and crashed the bus into the adjacent hillside in Santa Cruz County.

The unnamed passenger saw his girlfriend's car in -- get this -- a suspected DUI accident on the side of Highway 1 south of Santa Cruz. He demanded to be let off immediately, but when the bus driver told the passenger he would be let off at the next exit, the passenger grabbed the steering wheel and steered the bus into the hill. The passenger was arrested almost immediately, I'd guess by law enforcement officers who were already at the scene of the earlier accident. What a piece of work. Read more in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

I had a nice quiet ride home on my commuter bus this evening :-)

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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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Thursday, January 03, 2008
  Santa Cruz short bar green fixie
By Yokota Fritz 
I'm pretty sure I saw the fixed gear bike described here just a couple of weeks ago. I might even have a photo of this bike around somewhere.
The bike is a silver and green road bike with short handle bars and no brakes with black tires and green rims. The main bar is wrapped with green and black checkered material.
This is from a news report of a cyclist death. It was a hit-and-run -- a FedEx driver apparently hooked the cyclist and possibly didn't even know about the collision.

Update: The kid who died was a student at San Francisco State, home with his parents over the holidays. Lucian Gregg was apparently going downhill on his brakeless fixie when he struck the FedEx truck. What a shame. East Cliff Drive at the site of the collision is fairly steep and narrow; a sign is posted along this section of East Cliff Drive for cyclists to take the lane.

Bikes May Use Full Lane


Wednesday, January 02, 2008
  SF Bay Area: rain Rain RAIN RAIN. And wind, too.
By Yokota Fritz 
This is for all of you bicycle commuters who neglect to check the weather forecast (and you know who you are) -- three storms systems are barreling down from Alaska with two to four inches of rain forecast in Santa Clara valley and up the Peninsula into San Francisco beginning Thursday at noon. On Friday, 20 to 30 mph winds gusting to 50 mph are expected throughout the Bay Area and coastal areas. Up to ten inches on rain is expected in the Santa Cruz Mountains (where I live) over the weekend, with snow falling as low as 2,500 feet.

bicycling in the rain
As the storms move east over the Sierra Mountains, the snow is expected to fall in crippling volumes. "They could see up to eight to 10 feet [of snow] by Sunday," Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Anderson. "It's going to be a major winter storm with white-out, blizzard conditions, winds up to 100 miles per hour on the peaks and around 50 miles per hour down on Interstate 80," he says.

Although big swells are expected through the storms in Santa Cruz, surf conditions will be too choppy for it to be any fun.

Before you break out the bikes for your commute to work on Thursday morning, break out your rain gear.

Photo: "Cycling through the rain" by Annemiek van der Kuil. With expected high winds, an umbrella is not recommended this week.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007
  Santa Cruz surf
By Yokota Fritz 
This video shows what the surf looks like right now where I live. To keep it on topic, you can see some cyclists toward the end of the video :-)

My Santa Cruz surf photos are here on Flickr. Most are of my son's middle school surf team. The surf team coach sent an email to the team this week telling everybody to keep out of the water this week. The current surf report tells us the waves are a little more manageable today.

I see quite a few folks carry shortboards under their arms while biking to the beach. A few others have sidemount surfboard racks. I also found this DIY surfboard rack made from PVC pipe. I don't believe I've ever seen anyone haul a longboard by bike, though photos on the web show that it's doable.


Monday, October 01, 2007
  Wi Fi on Highway 17 Express bus begins December 2007
By Yokota Fritz 
The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that Hwy 17 buses to go wireless. I ride the Highway 17 Express bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose on my commute. This will be nice. Santa Cruz Metro operates this service with funding from Santa Clara VTA, Amtrak, and probably the California Air Resources Board. The Wireless Internet grant is supposed to encourage more commuter use of the Highway 17 Express bus, although all of the commute-time buses are already full.

In other news, I saw the aftermath of this bad wreck on Sunday afternoon. Traffic was backed up from near the summit all the way past my home in Scotts Valley seven miles away for the entire afternoon, and in the late afternoon the backup stretched all the way around to Highway 1 almost to Soquel Drive in Santa Cruz.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007
  Santa Cruz, herbicides, and the county road budget
By Yokota Fritz 
Santa Cruz County (where I live and ride) banned the use of herbicides by county workers in 2005. The result is that 600 miles of county-maintained roads (where I ride) are overgrown with poison oak, thorny blackberry and invasive scotch broom.

It costs about $3,000 per mile to mow down the weeds while herbicide spraying costs about $140 a mile. Only 45 miles of road was mowed last year, leaving roadways plagued with overgrown weeds. Guess where these weeds grow? Yep, into the edges of the roads and beyond, exactly where I want to ride my bicycle. Along some roads, the weeds are so high you can't see down the road.

Some farmers, in the meantime, have taken matters into their own hands by mowing and applying herbicides along the right of ways around their fields.



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