Simple changes in cities increasing bicycle safety

octalogo2Bicycle advocates concerned about bicycle deaths were told Monday authorities are already “collecting low-hanging fruit” to solve bike safety challenges, according to The Voice of O.C.

At a workshop in Irvine, Orange County Transportation Authority officials told dozens of activists of initial successes, writes Nick Gerda. Irvine saw a 27-percent reduction in traffic collisions involving bicycles from 2012 to 2013 with the city on a similar track this year, said city police Lt. Tom Allan, after simple outreach programs.

  • Irvine City staffers visit schools to educate teenagers about safe routes to schools, and have held 11 bike rodeos to teach bike safety to children.
  • Irvine law enforcement officials said they’ve had success with diversion, in which they allow youth cyclists who get tickets to take a safety class instead of going to traffic court.

Others listed similar small changes that are yielding results.

  • Orange County sheriff’s Deputy Mike Matranga encouraged cyclists to call cities and report issues such as cars cutting off bikes or driving too close so officials can locate problem spots.
  • Newport Beach biking activist Frank Peters pointed to bicycle-based police as being able to show drivers how bikes behave on the road.

Veggie Biking readers can read the lengthy Voice of O.C. article at: http://www.voiceofoc.org/county/article_83722070-c50b-11e3-8b94-001a4bcf887a.html

Goodbye! “Share the Road” confusing drivers

sharetheroadNOTFrom the Institute of Transportation Engineers Pedestrian and Bike Council Spring 2014 Newsletter.

“Share The Road”: It’s practically the national motto of cycling advocacy in the United States.

It’s the cycling “message” on license plates in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

But not in Delaware. In fact, as of last November, just the opposite.

In November, the Delaware Department of Transportation announced that, effective immediately, Delaware would stop using the MUTCD-approved “Share The Road” plaque (W16-1P). More, the department would also start removing all “Share The Road” signs currently installed in Delaware.

How did the state’s cycling advocacy group Bike Delaware react to the announcement that Delaware’s department of transportation was abandoning “Share The Road?” Were there howls of outrage and a letter writing campaign to protest? Actually, Bike Delaware just said “Goodbye ‘Share The Road'”.

Despite its ubiquity and apparent iconic status, it turned out that “Share The Road” is actually an example of common ground between traffic engineers and cycling advocates. We both hated it and for the same reason: its unresolvable ambiguity.

For traffic engineers, with our many years of experience with traffic control devices, “Share The Road” is yet another example of “feel good” signage that placates an interest group but has no safety benefit and adds useless and distracting clutter to the visual landscape.

For cyclists in Delaware (and elsewhere), “Share The Road” had long been interpreted as a sign primarily directed at motorists. Cyclists thought it meant something like “Motorists: be cool.” But for many motorists, “Share The Road” is often interpreted as a sign primarily directed at cyclists and meant something more like“Bicyclists: don’t slow me down.” But we finally realized (after years of pointless yelling back and forth between cyclists and motorists, both yelling “Share The Road” at each other!), that “Share The Road” not only doesn’t help, it actually contributes to conflict and confusion.

“Bicycle May Use Full Lane”

In Delaware, our important task now is to figure out the warrant for the “Bicycle May Use Full Lane” sign.

Perhaps the biggest point of conflict between motorists and cyclists is when cyclists “take the lane” (e.g. cycle in the middle of a travel lane on narrow two lane roads with double yellow lines and without any shoulders). This can sometimes make motorists traveling behind angry. But there is a solid reason that cyclists sometimes ride like this.

Riding at the right hand edge of a travel lane is an invitation for cars behind to pass. That’s fine. But where a double yellow line also exists, it is very easy for a motorist to interpret the combination of the cyclist at the right hand edge of the lane and the double yellow line separating her lane from the lane of oncoming traffic as an invitation to pass in the travel lane. But on roads where the travel lanes are only 10 or 11 feet, this is a potentially catastrophic misunderstanding. The only way for a motorist to safely pass a cyclist when the travel lane is that narrow is to (at least partially) exit her travel lane (into the lane of oncoming traffic).

This type of situation is an example of where the Bicycle May Use Full Lane (and shared lane pavement markings) can both help. The sign delivers a clear traffic control message that makes an ambiguous and confusing traffic situation clearer – for both motorists and cyclists. It’s a big, big improvement over that other sign…what was it called again?
wilson_luszcz-240x177
James Wilson is the executive director of Bike Delaware. 
Mark Luszcz is the chief traffic engineer of the Delaware Department of Transportation.

School Bicycle Rodeos promote love of bikes

anaheimbikesafetyposter

EDITORIAL

For the Veggie Biker and many an older California sprocket jockey, Bicycle Rodeos at our elementary schools are how we learned to use bicycles for everyday getting about.

The Veggie Biker’s wife, who was educated in Missouri, still remembers Robert Louis Stevenson–Right, Left, Stop. However, our children, educated in Oklahoma, had no bicycle rodeos–or any other training. They learned bicycling astride a 16-inch bike pointed downhill with dear old dad puffing alongside. They have bikes, but do not use them for daily transportation.

Education through Bicycle Rodeos not only promotes bicycle safety, it promotes love of bicycles.

We can do something about this. With the new emphasis on active transportation–bikes, buses, trains and sneakers–we can add the bicycle rodeo to our school’s curriculum and the city’s active transportation program.

The U.S. government-sponsored program is already in place. We just need to promote it locally. We just need to volunteer.

 

OCTA hosts BikeShare dedication, Earth Day Celebration

octabikesharededicationFROM ELECTRONIC PRESS RELEASE

The Orange County Transportation Authority will celebrate a green way to get around at the OCTA BikeShare system dedication and Earth Day Celebration 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. April 22 at the parking garage across Harbor from the Fullerton Transportation Center and Metrolink Train station.

OCTA asks citizens to “join us as we thank our partners and hear from OCTA’s Chairman and CEO in moving forward with the project.”

In addition, the event web site promises prizes and savings.

Win!

In honor of Earth Day and National Bike Month (May), we also invite you to test ride our bikes and be entered into a drawing to win an iPad Mini, an annual BikeShare membership, or a GIRO helmet!

Save!

As an added bonus, anyone signing up for an annual membership during the month of May 2014 will receive a 20% discount! For more information on pricing or how BikeShare works, visit: www.octa.net/bikeshare.

Event Details
April 22, 2014
9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
SoCo Fullerton Parking Structure
150 W. Santa Fe Avenue
Fullerton, CA 92832

Those wishing to attending are asked to RSVP. (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3BQXGWD?j=60989079&e=vbuck@fullerton.edu&l=1307058_HTML&u=1106801965&mid=96936&jb=0)

BikeShare is a system of rental bikes placed about Fullerton and other cities by Bike Nation USA so commuters may renat a bike at one place, using a credit card, and ride to another for a low-cost daily or monthly membership. BikeShare aims to have 15 such locations in Fullerton.

Open Streets National Summit, L.A. CicLAvia April 4-6

ciclovialogoWhen the Veggie Biker stood on a curb in Bogota, Colombia, in 2002 watching gaggles of bicyclists hurry by on car-forsaken streets, he had no idea what Ciclovia was, or that a version of it, CicLAvia, would come to Los Angeles some day.

CicLAvialogoSunday, April 6, long stretches of streets in Los Angeles are closed to cars from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and bicyclists of all sizes and abilities can wheel freely down the middle of boulevards.

OpenStreetsProjectlogoOn the same weekend, April 4-6, The Open Streets National Summit meets in Los Angeles Friday through Sunday to promote bicycling in America.  For $365 one can participate in three-days of discussions about the future of bicycling.

The Open Streets National Summit writes it will have “featured sessions for both novice and experienced Open Streets organizers, led by experts from the Open Streets Project, CicLAvia and other local organizers.

  • Building a coalition of supporters
  • Outreach to key community partners and stakeholders
  • Marketing and branding
  • Choosing a route
  • Sponsorship and fundraising
  • Organizing and recruiting volunteers
  • Evaluating your initiative”

One may view the full agenda here.

“The weekend will also contains plenty of time for participants to network with one another,” Open Streets writes, “while attending CicLAvia on Sunday afternoon.”

 

O.C. Bicyclists meeting Wednesday to lobby Fullerton

Fullerton Sharrow LogoFrom Vince Buck, North Orange County Bicycle Advocacy Coalition (NOCBAC)

North Orange County Bicycle Advocacy Coalition members are tentatively scheduled to meet on Wednesday, March 12, to plan their presentations of bicycle issues to the Fullerton City Council March 18.

NOCBAC will meet in Davis Barber’s office at 7 p.m. on the top floor of Villa Del Sol, 305 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton. Pizza will appear (contributions appreciated), but it is BYOB.

The Fullerton City Council will hear a report on bicycle issues in Fullerton at their March  18 meeting. This is a good opportunity to address the council of one’s concerns. There is the feeling that the city is currently  at a standstill in spite of a potentially supportive council. A good  turnout of articulate advocates (e.g. you) is  important. It is important bikers who have never appeared before the council come so the Council does not view the usual suspects.

The following is a rough draft of a letter Buck Vince hopes to send to the city council. These issues and any others members believe are important will be discussed at the NOCBAC meeting. The idea is to create a list of three to four items to emphasize.

Vince Buck’s rough draft of his letter. He invites bicyclists to contact him to add projects to this list.

First, staffing. Recently our mobility coordinator, who served as staff to the City of Fullerton Bicycle Users’ Subcommittee and who was responsible for bicycle developments, left for a position in Riverside. Currently that position remains unfilled.  I would like to see that position occupied by someone who is committed to moving bicycle policy and infrastructure forward; and who will be listened to.

octalogo2I am also concerned that in the past few years we  have missed out on a number of funding opportunities. Orange County Transportation Authority  distributed over $15 million to 30 different projects county-wide in the last two cycles. Only one applicant was unfunded and some money was left on the table.

Brea, La Habra and Anaheim all were successful applicants. Brea has received nearly $8 million for a single project from a variety of sources including OCTA. Costa Mesa received approximately $2.25 million from OCTA for five projects including trails, bike racks, a signal and educational efforts. Even though it was known that much of OCTA funding in the 2012 cycle was earmarked for the 4th supervisorial district (because a “connectivity study” had recently  be concluded here) Fullerton did not apply for any of this money.

In fact Fullerton did not apply in either year. And another year is approaching. We need a knowledgeable person to write grants.

In addition to staffing and funding, I would like to see action on the following:

  • Wilshire bike boulevard. There is strong neighborhood support for this but little forward movement. We have obtained a planning grant, but this will take time to complete and the project could easily and inexpensively  be started on a trial basis. Several residents of this neighborhood have asked me when the proposed bike boulevard will be put in place. This and similar routes are critical to the success of the bike sharing program.
  • St. Jude/Rolling Hills Class I bikeway link. This link has been on our bikeways plan for some time and will connect Valencia Mesa/Youth Way to Rolling Hills. It is a critical part of our north Fullerton bikeway network and it is essential that this be included in the Bastanchury widening project. This should be a prime candidate for an OCTA grant.
  • Brea Creek/ Malvern Class I Route along the flood control channel from  Basque to the city line. This is a project that has the support of County Flood Control but the ball is in the city’s court. This is another link in the Valencia Mesa/Rolling Hills route that would extend across the entire city.
  • Courtesy http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/sharrows.htm

    Courtesy http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/sharrows.htm

    Sharrows (see attachment). Sharrows are used on bicycle routes where there is not sufficient room to install a Class II route.  They are now  widely used throughout the world. Locally, I have seen sharrows in Long Beach, Newport Beach, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Diego. Jay Eastman drew up a draft policy for Fullerton, and the BUSC has discussed specific locations with Mark Miller. Sharrows are low cost and have a high impact. We need staffing  to move this forward.

  • Signage. There are Class III routes that have been on the plan for decades for which no signage has been installed . Also signs are missing on previously signed routes, such as Valencia Mesa and Wilshire. Jay Eastman reported to the BUSC that it would cost $3000 to replace those signs but that a line item was needed to fund that.

The above is a compendium of low-cost and high cost items.  We can and should move forward with the high visibility low cost items and apply for grants for the more expensive items.  I would also encourage the city to start thinking about the possibility of a bicycle pedestrian bridge over the  57 freeway at Madison, which is on the bicycle plan (which will relieve some of the growth pressure on the CollegeTown neighborhoods),  and the bicycle route along the UP right of way; but these are not as immediate as the above mentioned items.

There are individuals in important positions who can help (e.g. Shawn Nelson, Sharon Quirk-Silva). And I believe  that our council is the most supportive we have ever had in Fullerton, but it needs to make clear that safe bicycling is a priority.

Vast leaps forward are taking place in other cities across the nation from Long Beach to New York City . We need to join this movement and make our city more livable, more energy efficient and a more desirable place to live.

Los Angeles Marathon “Fun Ride” Replaces “Crash Race”

Photo by Mikey Wally via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Mikey Wally via Flickr Creative Commons

The Veggie Biker always wanted to be a tail-end Charlie on the Los Angeles Marathon “Crash Race.” But today, everyone was tail-end Charlies as the City of the Angeles lost its nerve and issued a permit for a “fun ride.” KPCC-89.3 has the story.

Whatever, race or fun ride, who does not want to be there?