For those of us who used to ride our bikes in the Bell Gardens storm water drains, this seems like a bicycle event we should not miss. However, I will. Just wait’ll next year, homies!
It was ugly.
The high-dollar, black sedan pulled up behind me. The driver laid on his horn scaring me and causing me to swerve. The car then swooped to my left and up next to me. He rolled down the window and began shouting, “Get off the road! Bicycles don’t belong here. There’s no bike lane here!???
I yelled back. “You’re wrong. You’re supposed to wait until I get by. You don’t know the law.???
It got uglier.
We were in the north-bound entrance to Interstate 5. I was churning up the overpass and he was trying to enter the freeway. Most bicyclists fear freeway ramps where CalTrans just abandons us in a no-man’s land of accelerating cars.
Finally, he hit the gas, cut hard right in front of my bike and zoomed down the freeway ramp.
That was the second incident between a bicyclist and a car during my ride to work today. A bicyclist was riding properly on the right side of Commonwealth in Fullerton. He changed lanes safely, crossing traffic and entering the center, left-hand turn lane. He was turning into a strip mall.
A car behind him just had to honk at him for no reason.
What we have here in Orange County is a potentially fatal failure to communicate.
My Orange County Transportation Authority representative, Gail Eastman, asked this Veggie Biker to write a letter about the problems he observes commuting about Orange County. But, I also need a blog post this week to keep up my “Likes,??? so I am writing the letter as a post.
I have received similar (but not as violent) abuse from drivers of all descriptions. And I have observed bicyclists of all descriptions doing totally stupid things.
Most people, like the man today, appear to think bicycles should only be in bike lanes or, if there are no lanes, on the sidewalk. Few bicyclists are aware that one must ride with traffic—even on the sidewalk. Few bicyclists, and certainly no drivers, are aware several cities ban riding on sidewalks. And few pedestrians on a sidewalk want to get hit by a bike averaging 17 miles per hour.
But wait! There’s more! Bicyclists text while riding, nearly running into other bikers. I have seen this not just once, but several times.
And few if any drivers know they should check for bikes when opening car doors. Twice I’ve had drivers just stand there, zombie-like, unable to understand why I should be upset they almost “car-doored??? me.
And I was car-doored by a truck that stopped in the left lane, and the passenger jumped out into the bike lane. He hit the door. I didn’t.
I believe much of the stupidity comes from the fact the California drivers’ test has only two bicycle questions, none relevant to anything above.
OCTA has a legal obligation to teach Orange County drivers and bikers California laws. The campaign has to be in English and Spanish. Most bicyclists with whom I commute appear to be poor immigrants.
I suggest the rear of every OCTA bus should have large posters that cars can read. “Yes, bicyclists can do this!??? The posters would show bicyclists riding properly in the street or making left-hand turns, as examples.
The right sides of busses should be devoted to messages for bicyclists. (I do understand, that ad revenue pays many of the bills.)
As I noted in another post, riding in the older cities of North Orange County is just a series of missed opportunities to die. (I could not believe when I rode through Irvine Friday just how nice urban biking can be with a choice of trails and really wide bike lanes.)
Our OCTA representatives, including Ms. Eastman, are very concerned about the last mile problem. How do people (and Orange County is getting older every year) get from the train station and bus stops to their final destinations?
I suggest Marshrutkas. These yellow mini-busses zip around Ukrainian towns following a set route, but not set times. They can stop anywhere to get as close to anyone’s apartment as possible. It’s a “swarm??? of public transportation. Forget the big hogs that flex in the middle; Give people little busses that totally flex. (Using bicycles to haul supplies, instead of using large trucks, is how General Giap won the Vietnam War.)
The Metrolink gets better every day. I no longer drive to Los Angeles in the mornings. But it is the devil to go from North County to South County in the mornings—or to go anywhere in the middle of the day.
We need more trains going opposite directions at more times.
My wife retired because she no longer wanted to waste up to four hours of her life each day in the Orange Crush. She needed a train that left Fullerton at 6 a.m. and arrived in Tustin by 6:45 a.m. She could easily walk the two miles to her office—plus earn exercise points. She worked a 10-hour day, four days a week. But the trains stopped running northward before she could walk back to the station at night. And, as in North County, South County busses, are much slower than just walking or biking.
Our OCTA representatives are caught in a chicken-and-egg quandary. We voters must get on board the entire concept of mass transport, not just a bus or train.
I can’t solve this one. But I believe I can solve the problem of public ignorance about bicycling. Let’s just do it!
This Public Education program cannot wait until next year. People are dying for it. Really, It’s getting ugly out here.
Only nine out of 90 people surveyed at the University of California Irvine Active Transportation Forum Oct. 17 raised hands to indicate they believe bicycling is safe in Orange County.
Host, Barry Ross, chairman, Alliance for a Healthy Orange County, told the audience of many suits, fewer blue jeans—and about three bike helmets, “That’s why we are here.???
Some 200 politicians, government professionals, and pushy political activists eventually attended during the all-day forum. They want the California Car Culture to make room for walking and bicycling. Conversations were punctuated by such terms as “Complete Streets,??? “multimodal,??? intermodal,??? “last mile,??? “political will,??? and “wellness corridors.???
Complete Streets is not just a concept. Assembly Bill 1356, the Complete Streets Act, is a 2008 law.
In English, beginning January 2011, AB 1356 requires any local California government to write transportation plans that make sure all people can get to where they are going as easily as drivers of trucks and cars, whether they walk, bicycle, or use public transportation.
AB 1356 targets “pedestrians, bicyclists, children, persons with disabilities, seniors, movers of commercial goods, and users of public transportation.???
Governor Jerry Brown signed a second law Sept. 25, 2013. Senate Bill 99, the Active Transportation Act. consolidates funding of the Bicycle Transportation Account (BTA), the Recreation Trails Program (RTP), The Environmental Mitigation Program (EEM) and Safe Routes. It creates a single Active Transportation Program to promote bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, reads the analysis by California Parks and Recreation Society.
Among the citizens AB 1356 and SB 99 want to help are kids who cannot walk to school safely. Rye Baerg, Safe Routes to School, said 15 percent of urban congestion is parents dropping kids at schools. Pollution and congestion measurably drop when schools are out.
Baerg said Complete Streets projects begin with widening sidewalks, removing poles in the middle of the sidewalks and creating better street markings. He cited the city of Lancaster as a Complete Streets project. In the downtown and nearby neighborhoods, there are no stoplights, no stop signs. The design of streets psychologically encourages drivers to slow down.
On the other hand, Rock Miller, Stantec, said, Costa Mesa is a place where Complete Streets occurred by accident,. Stantec is an urban planning company with over 200 locations across the United States. Costa Mesa has the highest rate of bicycle commuters in all Orange County—2.8 percent. Costa Mesa never had a bicycle campaign. Its historic infrastructure encourages growth of bike use.
Currently, Miller said Irvine, like most Orange County communities, requires Miller to drive a car just to go from his Irvine office on one side of a boulevard to the Starbucks on the other side.
When 60 percent of people in a community believe bicycling is safe, Miller said, the community will develop a bicycle culture. Sharrow lanes, marked by the bike-and-chevron logos, encourage bicyclists to ride in the center of traffic lanes. It is shown sharrows change driver behavior almost immediately for the better without a public education campaign.
More bicycles do not equal more accidents; Just the opposite. However, he said, in public meetings, 30 percent of the public consistently oppose complete street designs by citing the worst-case accidents that have occurred in the current, poorly-designed environment.
Bikes compete with cars’ efficiency for up to 3 miles of travel. However, Miller said, data is only available for commuting. No one has measured recreational bicycling.
He said complete-street design even makes for better storm water management.
But it all takes political will within a community.
KidWorks in Santa Ana is starting with the children, Ava Steaffens said. KidsWorks organizes CycLavia-like events in Santa Ana in which, for an evening, streets are closed and children and adults can ride freely. It is creating an understanding of what a bicycle-based lifestyle could be. KidsWorks also has workshops on bike repair and safety.
Latino Health Access is addressing obesity in Santa Ana by creating walking and biking exercise programs. Gloria Giraldo said not only does California have freeways without people, but it has city streets without people. Her group is using a model from Guadalajara, Mexico, which was influenced by the City of Bogota, Colombia. The Veggie Biker observed how Bogota closes major streets on Sundays. Then residents fill the streets with bicycles in what is probably the original CycLavia.
Latino Health Access hopes to turn neighborhoods into wellness corridors using the Complete Streets program.
Giraldo said 25 percent of Active Transportation funds must go to disadvantaged neighborhoods. Economic development maps are used to identify these areas. Giraldo said there is much work to be done in SoCal. “Biking to work is seen in The O.C as what poor people do.??? She sees the political agenda being set with one citizen at a time, one street at a time.
Complete Streets improves the health of everyone, said Baerg. Curb extensions reduced pedestrian injuries by 44 percent in New York City. Walkers and bikers have fewer sick days. Businesses make even more money because walkers and bikers spend more money in local stories.
Complete Streets “is a complete culture change. Engineers are used to old ways,??? Baerg said. They are dedicated to traffic flow, not transportation of people. For example, they resist pedestrian buttons that stop traffic immediately when pushed.
And city governments and their electorate are equally resistant. They make emotional decisions and then look for the facts to support the decisions, said Charles Gandy, Livable Communities. The Austin native, who has moved to Long Beach to work on the Long Beach Active Transportation Project, said there are three kinds of cities: Bell Weather, Band Wagon and Backwater.
Cities wanting to develop economically are competing internationally with Bell Weather cities such as Austin, Denver and, yes, Groningen, The Netherlands. Band Wagon cities that just imitate some ideas are in danger of becoming Backwater cities.
He noted young workers are not interested in driving. Cities must focus on serving them. “Long Beach is not boutique city,??? Gandy said, but it is considered a Bell Weather city because it serves young workers.
Companies are leaving Orange County, Gandy said, because young, skilled workers don’t want o work in car-centric O.C.
There are other benefits to being a Bell Weather. Just by separating bicycles from cars, Long Beach cut car crashes 50 percent.
Pauline chow, Safe Routes to School, said safer streets are not just nice. Twenty-five percent of traffic deaths and 10 percent of traffic injuries are to bicyclists and pedestrians, people who make only 16 percent of the trips.
The Orange County Transportation Authority is worrying over success, said Charlie Larwood. By embracing Active Transportation, there is an increase in bicyclists using buses and trains. There is a shortage of bike racks on busses. Twenty-five percent of people riding the busses bicycle the last mile to their destinations. Larwood said OCTA is trying to add secure bicycle racks at bus stops.
Even more critical is the statement by a panelist that in a decade, 20 percent of Orange County residents will be over 65 years of age. OCTA speakers said they are very concerned how these less-active citizens, who may no longer drive, get from their homes to the busses and Metrolink.
OCTA is also backing a proposal to add bike lanes in front of all schools and reducing the car lanes to one in each direction. OCTA wants to make children walking and riding bikes to school more attractive than parents driving.
Pamela Galera, Anaheim city planner, said the city’s goal is to reduce driving inside the city by 120,000 miles per day. And reducing school drop-offs will help make the goal reachable.
“We are not going to build any more freeways in this area,??? Hasan Ikhrata, Southern California Association of Governments, said. “That’s over.???
But the car is not going away, either, another panelist said.
Frank Peters, bicycle advocate and publisher of CDM Cyclist, denounced “traffic sewers??? such as the Pacific Coast Highway. Designed by 1950s traffic engineers just to move cars, it now must be redesigned as a complete street.
Creating political will for Complete Streets and Active Transportation is a hard challenge, said Los Angeles Bike Coalition executive director, Jennifer Klausner. Every time a project crosses a political boundary, cities fight over the details.
But equally challenging, Klausner said, is “bicycle tribalism. They don’t talk to each other. They want different things.???
Ross said he dreams of a Second Annual Active Transportation Forum in 2014. It appears Orange County politicians and advocates will probably need it to sort out a healthy future.
Link provided by Carlo Ritschl, Denver, CO, bicycle commuter
Orange County is not going to be truly friendly to bicycling by adding a 30 miles of bicycle trails or some bike racks. It takes decades of commitment.
Like most places in the world, the fault lies not in Orange County politics, but in is original design. But Groningen, The Netherlands, offers one vision of perfection for which the county can strive as it hosts the Active Transportation Forum at the University of California Irvine tomorrow, Oct. 18.
Starting out as a castle town in which houses could sprawl beyond the walls easily, the town’s concentrated population of 190,000 gave a liberal government the opportunity to design a bicycle town, beginning in the 1970s, reports The Atlantic Monthly.
“Groningen is the result of very specific policy decisions made a generation ago, which built on the city’s existing advantages,” The Atlantic Monthly reports. The Active Transportation Forum is an attempt to catalog those advantages and build upon them.
The result of 40 years of focused bicycle policies is that half of all trips in this city are by bike. The average person makes 10 bikes trips per week. One can still own a car, but why?
Anticipation for locally-grown strawberries has sprouted in the mind of the Veggie Biker.
The Gamboa Berry Farm planted seedlings this week in its field on Stanton, north of La Palma, in Buena Park. There was no one around on my earlier-than-usual bicycle commute to ask how long we have to wait for a sweet bite of a ripe berry.
Like-minded people are gathering to chart Orange County’s embrace of walking and biking. And you’re invited, if you RSVP.
Politicians, city planners, traffic engineers and bicycle and pedestrian activists are scheduled to introduce themselves to each other at the Alliance for a Healthy Orange County Active Transportation Forum Oct. 18.
The professionals and activists are doing more than shaking hands at the gathering, subtitled, “Complete Streets and Active Living for Orange County!” The flyer reads organizers intend the forum to “identify challenges and opportunities, share best practices and develop priorities for Active Transportation as a region.”
The all-day Friday forum is being held at the University of California Irvine University Club from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There is a free lunch if you give the required RSVP.
Veggie Biking has registered to attend and intends to report the conference live on @veggiebiking.
Below is the agenda:
9:00 a.m. Registration
10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m. Opening Remarks, Oladele A. Ogunseitan, PhD, MPH, Professor of Public Health, UC Irvine
10:10 a.m. – 10:15 a.m. Welcome, Barry Ross, Chairman, Alliance for a Healthy Orange County (AHOC)
10:15 a.m. – 10:25 a.m. Active Transportation Recognition Awards
10:25 a.m. – 11: 25 a.m. Panel 1: Why Complete Streets
This panel will showcase recent research on complete streets, best practices and identify the opportunities and challenges today and in the future at the local and regional level.
Panelist: Rye Baerg, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, America Bracho, Latino Health Access, Rock Miller, Stantec
Moderator: Leah Ersoylu, Ersoylu consulting
11:25 a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Keynote Speaker: Charles Gandy, Livable Communities Inc., is a nationally recognized consulting firm focused on community design, trail planning and design, bicycle and pedestrian advocacy, and creating charismatic, vibrant and economically successful communities.
11:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Networking Lunch
12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. What is the future of Complete Streets and the pathways to implementation?
This panel session, will discuss areas of common ground for implementation for all modes of transportation that are safer, more livable and sustainable for all users. The panelist will also provide input on who must lead the charge in redefining the function of streets. Lastly, the panelist will discuss support in developing and adopting new guidelines to support complete streets.
Panelist: Hasan Ikhrata, Southern California Association of Governments, Ryan Chamberlain, California Department of Transportation, District 12, Charlie Larwood, Orange County Transportation Authority, Moderator: Victor Becerra, UCI’s Community Health Action Network for Growth through Equity and Sustainability (CHANGES)
1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Break- Out Sessions
1. Advocacy at the grassroots level with Community Members and Elected Officials
Panelist: Frank Peters, Newport Beach Advocate, Ava Steaffens, Kidworks
Moderator: Sergio Contreras, United Way of Orange County and Councilmember, Westminster
2. Connecting the dots with Engineers and Planners for Complete Streets
Panelist: William Galvez, Acting Public Works Director, City of Santa Ana, Pam Galera, Planner, City of Anaheim
Moderator: Brenda Miller, PEDal
2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Funding and the Political and Public Process for Complete Streets
This session will discuss the challenges and how to build public and political support for Complete Streets. Additionally, this session will provide information on new funding sources like Cap and Trade and financing strategies to pay for new infrastructure and programs.
Panelist: Councilmember Tony Petros, City of Newport Beach, Councilmember Gail Eastman, City of Anaheim, Jennifer Klausner, LA Bicycle Coalition Moderator: Pauline Chow, Safe Routes to School National Partnership
3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Closing Remarks- Vision for Active Transportation in Orange County