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.

Everyday bicyclists await locally-grown strawberries

Land under the power lines in Orange County is among the last vestiges of agriculture in the county named for a fruit.

Land under the power lines in Orange County is among the last vestiges of agriculture in the county named for a fruit.

Anticipation for locally-grown strawberries has sprouted in the mind of the Veggie Biker.

The sprouts have been inserted into the slots in the plastic row covers. It keeps the dirt of the berries, cutting down on the preparation for market.

The sprouts have been inserted into the slots in the plastic row covers. It keeps the berries out of the mud, cutting down on the market preparation labor.

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.

Buena Park Police not told of 3-foot bike buffer

buena park police logo

There is no evidence Buena Park police officers have been briefed of the Sept. 16 enactment of the 3-foot bicycle safety buffer zone.

The question about Buena Park Police training in bicycle law arose after an incident on Crescent in which the Veggie Biker believes a car came much closer than three-feet to him. A Buena Park police car was driving just behind and to the left of the silver compact sedan during the incident.

A violation of AB1371 would be punishable by fines starting at $35. If unsafe passing results in a crash that injures the cyclist, the driver could face a $220 fine.

Corporal Andy Luong, public information officer and police training officer said he is aware of the law. However, he has sent out no information about the new law as part of his training officer duties. He said, in a telephone interview Monday afternoon, if he receives such information from the police chief, he will disburse it.

Luong said he was unaware of any modification to the California bicycle laws by the Buena Park City Council. Fullerton has a law banning bicycles on downtown sidewalks, for example.

The police enforce the California traffic code as it applies to bicycles, Luong said. He cited riding on the wrong side of the street and not wearing a helmet by people under 18 years of age as common tickets.

The city of Buena Park, it appears when one consults the Orange County Transportation Authority Map, has never accommodated bicycle commuters in the city. There are no bicycle lanes and no share-the-road streets shown on the map. Cities surrounding Buena Park show large networks of such accommodations.

Riding across Buena Park at twilight some days is a series of missed opportunities to die.

Yet there is no training even as bicycle commuting becomes more common. Luong said, “No special training on bikes I’m aware of.”

 

Will Buena Park enforce 3-foot bicycle buffer law?

Buena Park Police Dodge Magnum

Buena Park Police Dodge Magnum

There ought to be a way to Yelp police departments. This is as close as Veggie Biking can get.

Facts:

The Veggie Biker waved at a Buena Park policeman while bicycling west on Crescent, east of Beach. The shaved-headed officer glared back from behind his Foster Grants. His vehicle, in which he was making a u-turn in a side street intersection, looked like the Dodge Magnum above. Bad day?

A minute later, 9:36 a.m., the Veggie Biker was passed rapidly by a silver compact sedan, which was much closer than 3 feet. The new Bicycle Buffer Zone Law requires California drivers to stay at least 3 feet away when passing bicyclists.

AB1371 went into effect Sept. 16. The previous law required a driver to keep a safe distance when passing a bicyclist but did not specify how far that was. At least 22 states and the District of Columbia define a safe passing distance as a buffer of at least 3 feet.

As the silver compact was passing, the Veggie Biker saw the Buena Park police car one lane over, and just behind the silver compact. The Veggie Biker pointed at the speeding silver compact as the officer passed. However, the officer not only went on by, but ultimately passed the silver compact. He continued on toward Beach Boulevard where he waited for the light and made a left-hand turn. The silver compact made a right-hand turn.

The Veggie Biker is sure the officer will say he had more important things to worry about than bicycles. Or just did not see the violation. The silver compact driver will say he or she did not know about the law. All could be true., particularly the latter.

However, Buena Park City Council members have stated bicycles are a traffic hazard. The council has refused to create bike lanes, as one can tell by examining the current Orange County Transportation Authority bike trails map.

A telephone call to the number listed for the captain’s desk at the Buena Park Police Headquarters went to a secretary’s voice mail. Veggie Biking saw no reason to leave a message at this time. There is no email one can easily access on the BPPD website.

Questions:

Have Buena Park police been trained to enforce the 3-foot bicycle buffer zone law? Or do they reflect their leaders’ disdain towards bicycle commuting?

 

Strawberry planting cycle begins in Orange County

The strawberry fields of Orange County are taking shape. By February the Veggie Biker will be able to buy just-picked baskets of berries to take to campus for lunch.

The strawberry fields of Orange County are taking shape. By February the Veggie Biker will be able to buy just-picked baskets of berries to take to campus for lunch.

Strawberry season is coming.

In two weeks, the dusty, vacant strawberry field on Stanton, north of La Palma in Buena Park has been irrigated, shaped, treated with pesticides and herbicides, and covered in plastic. Next workers will poke small plants through holes the plastic . By February, the Gamboa Berry Farm should be selling boxes and boxes of strawberries, fresh-picked that morning as you bicycle past.