Archive for the ‘history’ Category

Portola Valley, California is a wealthy town nestled in the hills of the Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. With an average median income of $244,000 per year, it’s the sixth wealthiest community in California with the ninth most expensive housing in the nation.

Alpine @ Portola, Portola Valley, CA

It’s also a great place to ride. Residents of Portola Valley and nearby Woodside perpetually complain about the weekend traffic jams as hundreds of road cyclists pass through their towns. When the wealthy residents of this area (including the CEO of my employer, who also happens to be the fifth-richest individual in the world) ask San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks to intervene, the sheriff listens.

They can’t legally keep bikes off of California roads, so they harass them with nuisance tickets because safety in the hopes that the cyclists will go somewhere else. Large groups of a dozen or more people will be pulled over at once and motorcycle officers write citations for all the cyclists. Some of tickets — especially those for supposed violations of CVC 21202 (California’s keep far to the right law) — are routinely dismissed by the court. Others are bona fide violations, especially when cyclists roll through the stop sign as they make the right turn at the T-intersection from Alpine Road onto Portola Road.

Sure, cyclists should obey the law. The selective nature of these enforcement actions, however, really grates on the people affected. Cyclists are routinely ticketed, motorists are routinely let off the hook.

In case you doubt the assertion that everybody breaks the law on Alpine at Portola, I invite you to view this brief video from Slonie. Unlike the two cyclists shown in the Streetview image above who have their feet down at the intersection in spite of the complete lack of cross traffic, every one of the drivers in this video fails to come to a complete stop at the stop sign.

So how about it, Sheriff Munks? When will you begin to write tickets to these motorists?

Turkish President Abdullah Gul (wearing the dark track suit) rides a bicycle before the start of the Presidential Bicycle Tour, in Ankara, April 11, 2014.

Photo: ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images

Today is the deadline to file my (and your) U.S. Federal tax returns. I filed some time back. For purposes of full disclosure, I’ll reveal that I netted a whopping $86 from affiliate sales and advertising on this website in 2013. Woo hoo, I’m rich!

Bicycle news, links, etc below the photo of the 70-year-old roleur passing me on the infamous 16% grade on “A” Road into Laguna Seca near Monterey, California last weekend.

17% grade

Bike To Work Month / Week / Day is coming up in many areas of the United States. For the San Francisco, we’ll do this on Thursday, May 8. Janet instructs us in the No Sweat Way to Bike to Work in the Mountain View (CA) Voice.

IKEA branded cargo bikes?

[Ad] A singlespeed fat tire bike available online for only $300.

Full suspension fat bikes from Salsa.

Bike Hugger reports from Sea Otter.

Andrew Boone’s focus on the Pacific Coast of San Mateo County, California continues in this discussion on county highway funding and transportation alternatives.

Bikes For the Rest of Us on the Xtracycle Edgerunner.

A profitable bike share program in Boston.

I obviously don’t publish this blog to make money. I hope the contents herein encourage you to personal advocacy in your region. If you need to buy bicycle supplies and books online, however, I do appreciate a click through to my Amazon affiliate store.

Via Streetsblog comes this look at traffic volumes in Minneapolis before and after bike lanes are installed.

Minneapolis measures AADT [Average Annual Daily Traffic] on the same roads every few years, so we have data from before the bike lane installation (in 2008 or 2009, depending on the road) and after the installation (in 2012). We found that each road seemed to have about the same traffic volume after its bike lane was installed. Running a statistical test across all 10 roads confirmed that there was no difference in AADT before and after the installation of the bike lanes.

There’s discussion about the level of congestion on the roads in question, but to sum up: removing lanes from over-capacity roads in Minneapolis doesn’t result in congestion.

I made a similar point about Hedding Street in San Jose, California earlier this year:

In 2012, the city of San Jose proposed a traffic calming 4-to-3 lane reduction for Hedding Street, an important east-west arterial that carries 16,500 vehicles per day. The Transportation Research Board Highway Capacity Manual shows three lanes is plenty for that kind of traffic volume, although the city did predict increased congestion during the peak commute at a couple of intersections.

Below are images of Hedding Street looking west before and after the road diet. Note the almost complete absence of traffic in both instances. Both photos were shot at about 9 AM on a weekday.

Hedding Street San Jose

Hedding Street green bikeway San Jose

San Jose DOT have a traffic count planned for Hedding Street so we can see before and after numbers, but a quick look shows that traffic volume is essentially unchanged since the green lanes were added, while travel times have increased on the order of seconds, and only during the 45 minutes at the morning and evening commutes when there’s actually any traffic on Hedding. For 22 ½ hours of the day, traffic still proceeds nearly unimpeded down the length of Hedding Street between 1st Street and 17th Street.

Those few seconds of extra travel, however, resulted in a brief political storm for those running for mayor of San Jose. Suburban candidate David Cortese says that calming traffic and improving safety and livability for the residents along Hedding is evidence of an “out of touch” administration. He believes the city should have retained 200,000 square feet of real estate — that’s four and a half acres worth of right-of-way — for the six percent of the day when it’s needed for automotive traffic, just so Cortese could save five seconds on his 15 minute commute from his home in Evergreen to his office at the County administration center. Can you say government waste, boys and girls?

Our next twice-monthly social bike commute that we call the San Jose Bike Train takes place this Wednesday, April 16, 2014. We depart 8 AM from Diridon Station for points north (towards the Bay and North San Jose) along the Guadalupe River Trail.

San Jose Bike Train is a casual, social, low-speed group ride. All type of people with all types of body shapes on all types of bikes wearing all types of apparel are welcome. We often stop for coffee at Bel Bacio Caffè along the way.

About half of the usual group peels off from the trail to Technology Drive next to San Jose International Airport. Another group turns off at River Oaks Parkway for destinations in Santa Clara.

If you’d like to join us along the way, I’ll post the ride to Glympse!SanJoseBikeTrain the morning of the ride. If you’re on your way to Diridon and running a couple of minutes late, ping me on Twitter or leave a note on the San Jose Bike Train Facebook page.

Malcolm Dougherty, who manages the largest state department of transportation in the United States, encourages his workers to “consider swapping out your car trip for a bike ride” for Bike to Work Month in May.

Every style of bikes are available to demo as the Sea Otter Classic wraps up today. The standout this year: fat tire bikes from numerous vendors.


Shown above is On One’s Fatty with their new hot pink “Floater” four inch tires.  I overheard this brand ambassador tell her colleague that this was the first time people paid more attention to the product than to her.

Another unique fat bike is the electric assist LebowskE from Felt Bicycles.


The LebowskE is among several bikes at Sea Otter with the Bosch power system for bikes. Instead of a hub motor, the motor is in the bottom bracket for better weight distribution.

The Sea Otter Classic finishes today at Laguna Seca east of Monterey, California.

Gravity bikes isn’t my scene, but I had to mention these French downhill machines from Cavalerie Bicycles utilizing the Gates carbon belt drive and a bottom bracket gearbox.

cavalerie falcon with gates carbon belt drive

Shown is the Cavelerie Falcon, a 200mm downhill race machine utilizing the Effigear gearbox. That’s a no-dish light weight fixed gear hub on the rear wheel; the gearbox freewheels at the bottom bracket. It’s really weird to stop pedaling but you see the drive belt still moving.

Claimed benefits: weight is focused on the middle of the bike instead of to the rear for reduced unsprung weight and superior ride dynamic.

You can see this bike at the Sea Otter Expo this weekend at Laguna Seca near Monterey, California at the Philthy Bikes booth. Philthy of Philadelphia are importing these for the USA market.

You can demo any of hundreds of bikes during Sea Otter. Stop by if you have a chance.

It’s time for a California bicycle legislation update. There’s been some action on a handful of bills that might impact bicycling in California, and we’ve already seen a couple of gut-and-amend bills that added to the list of legislation I’m tracking.

Santa Cruz Bike Party Friday June 21 2013

  • I’ve already mentioned the euphemistic amendment for the proposed bicycle tax.
  • AB 2398 – Vulnerable Users Law: has seen no action since introduction. It currently sits in the Assembly Transportation Committee. This law would impose extra fines when a vulnerable user — defined as pedestrians, highway construction and maintenance workers, people on horseback, people “operating equipment other than a motor vehicle including, but not limited to, a bicycle, in-line skates, roller skates, scooter, or skateboard,” and people operating or using farm tractors — is injured due to the unsafe operation of a motor vehicle.
  • AB 2055 — Bicycle pupil instruction: State law apparently authorizes school districts to only allow “any local law enforcement agency” to provide bicycle safety instruction to public school students. I think this means school districts in the city of San Jose have been breaking the law, because many of their bike safety programs are run by a city program called Street Smarts. In Santa Cruz, a local non-profit does bike safety education programs at the schools. AB 2055 would allow school districts to also invite “other public agencies that provide bicycle safety instruction” to provide bicycle safety education at school.

    San Jose School Safety program van

  • AB 2707 — Extend allowable size of bus front racks on Los Angeles buses: State law says front-mounted bike racks on city buses cannot extend more than 36 inches from the front of the bus. This apparently limits rack selection to those with a capacity for two bicycles. Every year for the past couple of years we’ve seen legislation allowing exemptions for specific transit agencies. In 2013, it was Sacramento. Before that, exemptions were enacted for AC Transit and Gold Coast Transit. Now it’s LA County MTA’s turn. I think the state legislature should quit messing around and just extend the length to 40 inches statewide. AB 1684 provides essentially the same exception for North (San Diego) County Transit buses.
  • AB 2389 extends the state Safe Routes to School program for another year.
  • AB 2054 – Electric skateboards in bike lanes: I mentioned this one previously and speculated that it was a placeholder subject to further amendment. The author indeed introduced significant changes to this bill: AB 2054 would allow the use of motorized skateboards in bike lanes and on bike paths, as long as the motor produces less than 1000 watts (!). It’s currently in the Assembly Transportation Committee.
  • AB 1922 – Greenway Development and Sustainment Act: The lifeless concrete channel featured in so many Los Angeles car chase movie scenes is the Los Angeles River. Efforts are underway by Los Angeles County, the city of Los Angeles, and the other cities the river passes through to create parks along the river and restore some of the natural habitat that existed before the Army Corps of Engineers paved it all over. AB 1922 will help enable some of those efforts and defines a greenway, in part, as designated for non-motorized transportation.
  • AB 2653 – Transportation finance: This bill redirects “non-Article XIX” (referring to the state Constitution) funds from the Transportation Debt Service Fund and allocate these funds to the STIP (44%), SHOPP (12%), and cities and counties (44%). AB 2653 would also direct all of the 17 cent excise tax that was added to gasoline sales as part of the Gas Tax Swap to cities and counties for local street and road projects. These funds would be allocated based on the HUTA formula whereby 50% of the funds are allocated to cities on a per capita basis, and 50% is allocated to counties based on 75% on the number of registered vehicles and 25% on the number of county maintained road miles.
  • SB 834 – Sustainable Environmental Protection Act: aka yet another attempt at CEQA reform.

The California Bicycle Coalition includes these and a number of other bills on their legislative watch list for 2014.

Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, poses with a special edition Tour de France Boris bike. The 101 yellow bicycles represent the 101st Tour de France, which begins July 5 in Leeds, England.

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