People asked for years, “Do you ride to work?” It was an assumption; obviously, as much as I ride, I must be riding to work as well. I must be living on a bike. Until recently, that wasn’t the case; having two locations required frequent transfers of inventory, requiring that I have a shop van each day that I would load up with items needed by the other store, and Steve had one for product needed in Redwood City that was coming from Los Altos. We’d exchange vans several times per week, so basically I was stuck driving, whether I wanted to or not. Continue reading
Distracted driving continues, even as the CHP and local law enforcement claim they’re doing a big crackdown on it this month. In the photo shown here, you see a woman holding what looks like a pink-cased iPhone in one hand, sorta kinda driving with the other, as if somehow holding the phone in front of you is better than holding it to your ear. The reality is that this is probably the most-dangerous phone use of all, because she’s spending most of her time trying to figure out how to not look like she’s using a phone.
After seeing this, I felt compelled to get the message out to more than just our almost-daily-diary fathtful, so I emailed Gary Richards, aka Mr. Roadshow of the San Jose Mercury News-
Gary: I’m seeing an increasing number of drivers who believe that it’s OK to drive and use your cell phone if it’s in speakerphone mode and not held to your ear. I’ve attached a photo of someone doing that this morning. The relevant information is here- http://dmv.ca.gov/cellularphonelaws/
Q: Does the “hands-free” law allow you to use the speaker phone function of your wireless telephone while driving?
A: Yes, as long as you are not holding the phone.
Please remind your readers about this. If you have to hold your phone to talk on it, it’s illegal, plain & simple. Thanks!
I received a very quick reply from Mr. Richards, promising to bring it up in his column. –Mike–
Distracted driving is not something cyclists can live with.
Driven by our multi-tasking culture that has deemed our cars are simply 4-wheeled extensions of our work desk, our kitchen table and even entertainment center, distracted driving is unquestionably becoming worse.
Presently the law is *NOT* working, as you can sit at *ANY* intersection, anywhere, and in very little time see a number of people with phones to their ears. Easy pickings for law enforcement, if they decided to make it a priority. They (CHP anyway) claim it is a priority, but I think otherwise. A 2-officer operation could nab a huge number of offenders. For that matter, why do we have red light cameras but not cell phone cameras? True, they’d have to take a photo of every car, and a real live person would have to cull through them, but it would be a lot easier than having officers handing out tickets.
But given that it’s going to take time to change people’s attitudes while driving, what can we do in the meantime to avoid becoming a run-down-from-behind statistic? Some of it has to do with where we ride; I suspect that more-dangerous driving conditions are less-likely to see distracted drivers, because driving at those times comes closer to a full-time job. It’s when it seems like there’s little to do that people will be more-inclined to be stupid behind the wheel. Ironically that means that straighter roads and less-congestion are probably more dangerous to cyclists than we believe. Picture Canada Road vs Kings Mtn. I have yet to see someone yakking or texting on the phone on Kings (although I’m sure it does happen), but see it often on Canada.
I have questions, not answers. Bright flashing tail lights in the daytime. Good thing? Intuitively I think so, but at the same time I’ve come across a sea of flashing headlights (while riding) and found it distracting, and at some point I think distracting moves from being good (getting noticed) to being bad (taking your attention away from other things you should be seeing). Could just be a matter of how bright that flashing light is. But to effectively engage the attention of a distracted driver, is anything less than a laser pointed straight into their retina going to do the job?
I look forward to a discussion of these points, from two entirely selfish standpoints. First, I’m out there on the road myself. Second, I don’t want people to get scared away from cycling because it’s bad for business. Sadly, this is too serious a point to warrant having a smiley after it. –Mike–
I’ve filled in some details and added photos from our trip last week to the DC Bike Summit, where we lobby for safer and more-practical bicycle opportunities, including the important safe routes to schools program. It’s worth a re-visit. Thanks- –Mike–
Lots of people complain about how things are; some actually work very hard to make things better. The needs of cyclists are no different from anything else in this regard; there are literally many millions of active cyclists in this country, and potentially many times that who would be active cyclists if the infrastructure (roads & community layout) were better designed for safe commuting and recreational riding. Today Chain Reaction Bicycles is part of 120 dealers who, along with unpaid cycling advocates numbering several times that, are trying to make the United States a better place for bikes. 500 or so people looking out for many million. It’s likely that we’re very typical that way; a small number of people influencing very big decisions. The exception would be when the PTA is lobbying; we bring a small division, while they bring an entire army!
It works like this- Wednesday morning, 7:30am, my brother Steve, his wife Teri, my daughter Becky and I are supposed to be wide awake (on east coast time, no less!) and ready to go to “school.” We learn about the issues, we learn about the League of American Bicyclists proposed solutions, and we learn about the threats to programs already in place due to the severe budget cuts at the federal level. We have our choice of seminars to attend dealing with a myriad of policy and practical issues, many of which, on paper, look about as exciting as the most-boring thing you ever listened to on NPR. And they would be exactly that (boring) were it not for the fact that these issues touch the cycling community and yourself personally, and knowing how things work helps you to make a difference. At the end of the afternoon you meet with your delegation and split up assignments for meeting with the various congress men & women on the ‘hill, who you’ll be seeing the next day.
Wednesday evening you have your various fund-raisers and industry gigs to attend, including one from Trek bicycles at which I had my annual beer. Actually I passed on the beer this time and went for a gin & tonic, the only “mixed drink” I have any sort of taste for. That one drink was enough to get me through the next year (in my heaviest drinking days, I was probably up to 15-20 beers or glasses of wine… per year).
Thursday morning you put on your “Sunday best” suit, including having to do that top button on the shirt so you can wear a tie. That top button that makes you want to choke, a metaphor for what it feels like the first time you visit a congressional office on your own. Fortunately, that was several years ago, and it’s rarely the case that you’d be by yourself, especially in a state as well-represented by bicycle advocates as California is. Safety in numbers. Then it’s time to head to the Metro and storm the ‘hill!
We had an interesting day on the ‘hill. We met with Representatives Jackie Speier, Elton Gallegly, a drop-by with Loretta Sanchez’s office, talked with Anna Eshoo’s Legislative Director Casey Fromson, walked the halls a bit looking for anyone else needing help and then wished we’d booked an earlier flight out.
Jackie Speier started the day out on the fast track, as we were led from her office by her aide, down the hall a bit and adjacent to one of those very-important-rooms with lots of TV cameras and a young TV reporter primping herself to look something a bit more, er, stylin’ we’ll say, than her “Sunday best.” We’d stumbled upon the center of attention at the moment, the House emotional hearings on the supposed radicalization of Muslims in America and Jackie Speier was center-stage. We wondered how she could possible meet with us herself (tyically we deal with a legislative aide) in the midst of such a wild scene, but that she did, discussing in frank terms the difficulties faced by anyone asking the current Congress for anything. She looked and spoke a bit worn-down & beaten, but is most certainly a champion of more-livable communities that aren’t gridlocked and held hostage by foreign governments who have the oil that fules the flames of our desires.
Next stop was the cafeteria, and, since DC is a study of stark contrast, so would be my lunch. Bacon, ham & bleu-cheese pizza with carrot & celery sticks. We recharged our batteries and headed to the office of Representative Elton Gallegly. Let me tell you about Mr. Gallegly. He is an elderly, seriously-affable gentleman, wise in the ways of the world, very approachable, and very conservative. He’s very good friends with Representative Earl Blumenaeur, our most-reliable spokesperson in DC, has bought several hundred inexpensive bikes for kids at poor schools each Christmas, has a photo on the wall of he & his wife riding an cruiser tandem along the beach, and you’re thinking, OK, what’s not quite right here? Well, that’s when he tells you that he likes bike lanes but only when cyclists stay in them, and he’ll make us a deal, if we stay in our bike lanes he’ll stay in the car lanes, otherwise, he feels it’s only right that he drives in the bike lane.
He had a huge amount of respect for the 31 years that Steve and I have been in business, probably because he’s been in Congress since 1987. I made a point of thanking him for his support of HR4 (House bill #4), which repealed a requirement of the President’s healthcare plan that would have caused small businesses like Chain Reaction to have to spend a ton of extra hours each month to filing reports for every single vendor we spend more than $600 with, likely an unforseen consequence of something added to the plan to make sure that there weren’t businesses (identified by our cash outflow) that should be offering health care to their employees but weren’t.
His chief-of-staff was well-versed in the goings-on of the current battle over the funding level for transportation, and appeared interested as well as understanding the concept that cycling infrastructure was a relatively low-cost way of dealing with many issues. Either that or he figured that acting that way was a good way to get us to leave their office feeling good about the guy despite their actual intention to chop off funding for anything that isn’t fueled by oil.
OK, more to come, right now I’m just too zoned out, waiting for a delayed flight that will eventually get me home sometime around 3:45am. Not fun. (Added later- that was a pretty close guess; we were home around 3:30am. I later added to this piece on 3/18/11.) –Mike–
I was definitely more sensible when younger. There wouldn’t have been a chance in the world you could put me onto a red-eye flight. But these last few years, something’s changed, for the worse. I now look at a red-eye as an opportunity to get an extra day in, since my traveling is being done at night. What’s left out of this equation is the fact that sleeping is generally done at night as well, and I don’t sleep well on planes, so add it all up and you have me here in Washington DC, with my daughter, and it’s 10:33pm here (7:33pm back home) and I really haven’t slept since 7:45am yesterday. Dozed off slightly here & there during the movie on the plane (“Conviction” which actually looks worth watching under better conditions).
Presently, there are four of us here in DC, for the National Bicycle Summit (which I mentioned in a post a couple days ago). Steven and his wife Teri did the sensible thing, flying in today on a plane that left San Francisco at the remarkably-civil hour of 10am and arrived here at 6:30pm. Becky and I, on the other hand, boarded a plane last night at 10:30pm. Sort of. Well we did get on it, and then an hour later got back off, because of some sort of mechanical issue with the cockpit door, forcing us to switch to another plane. Eventually, just past midnight, we’re in the air, touching down at JFK (yes, you’re right, that’s in New York, not DC) at about 8:15am. Why.
Why indeed. Well, I’ve never been to New York before, and I’ve always wanted to go to the top of the Empire State Building, or at least I have ever since first seeing the movie “Sleepless in Seattle.” OK, those who really know me understand that probably my all-time favorite movie is “Robocop” which seems just a bit different. Don’t ask, because I really can’t tell you why movies like Robocop and V for Vendetta are my favorite genre but then have a weakness for certain “chick flicks.” Meg Ryan may have something to do with it.
I did resist leaving a teddy bear on the observation platform, and, by the way, it’s seriously crowded, not at all like in the movie. But it does have views to die for, and between that, Times Square, 30 Rock, seeing the ice skating rink that features prominently in so many (er, chick flick) films, visiting a friend’s shop, and seeing “Hello Delli” of David Letterman fame, it was a fun time. We did the subway thing, then did the train thing from Penn Station in New York to Union Station in DC. By the way, do not buy the “business class” seats on the regional Amtrak train. I did so, believing from their literature that that was the only way I was going to get electrical power so I could get work done on my laptop. Er, no. Upon exiting the train I checked out a “coach” car, and they get power too. And there’s virtually zero difference in seat comfort. And and and… ok, not done with this yet… it’s a lot more difficult using a laptop on a train than a plane because a train isn’t nearly as smooth, at least not what passes for trains in this country.
(Reprinted from the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition’s website, with my response below it)
Lunchtime parking usurps Woodside bike lane for holidays
Less than 2 weeks after new No Stopping/Parking signs were unveiled on Woodside Road (Hwy 84) west of the Canada Road intersection in Woodside, local merchants petitioned the town to allow lunchtime parking in the bike/shoulder lanes west of the Canada Corners plaza and Robert’s grocery. On November 16, the Town Council considered a draft resolution to request Caltrans to provide an exception to the No Stopping/Parking zone from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., seven days a week.
Isn’t it wonderful when a town will tell you, hey, go play in your own backyard, why are you riding in our town? While at the same time they have no problems creating congestion in ours?
If Woodside has a parking problem, they should require larger parking allocations for each business, and, heaven forbid, more asphalt. Like other cities in the area. Better yet, look at cycling as a solution rather than a problem and encourage residents to have their kids ride to school and the adults commute by bike to Roberts for their shopping.
Woodside isn’t putting in Ikeas or In&Outs or RadioShacks or CVS Pharmacies for their residents… the same residents complaining about cyclists invading their town have no problem making sure the place for those businesses in elsewhere, and driving on “our” roads and parking in “our” parking lots.
Woodside isn’t an island to itself. Nor is the world around it. Woodside benefits because they can use the infrastructure of local, more-congested communities for their needs, and we benefit from having a place like Woodside that’s remained an ideal place to ride because of that. It is not unreasonable to expect Woodside to bend a bit for cyclists to help keep that equation in balance. –Mike–
Me riding on a Saturday is as unusual as someone getting me out of the shop for lunch. One of those things that just doesn’t happen. One of those things that, when it does happen, is an indication that the universe is a bit out of place.
The universe is out of place. But by a lot more than just a bit. Today’s ride was a memorial for Lauren Ward, the cyclist who was killed 10 or so days ago at the Alpine Road/280 intersection. Mother of two high school kids, wife of Bob Ward, longtime cyclist, racer and customer of Chain Reaction. Good people. How could this have happened to them. Why them.
Why anybody? We still don’t know what happened, we still don’t know if it’s relevant that the driver of the truck had previously been involved with one other accident resulting in the death of a cyclist, we don’t know if it’s just bad luck that the truck drive had also been involved in a head-on in which a woman whose car had drifted into his path was also killed. A horrible thought that comes to mind is whether the odds favor any truck driver with enough miles under his or her belt being involved in such tragedy. I hope not.
What we do know is that there’s not much extra room in that intersection when you’ve got motorists in the right lane getting onto the freeway, a cyclist in-between and more cars to the left. Motorists are in the mode of thinking about the freeway they’re getting onto as their highest priority. That needs to stop. Motorists need to pay more attention to the cyclists they encounter, and that’s why we need a 3-foot passing law. Not just because we need more room, but because we need motorists to be seeing cyclists well ahead of them and be thinking about how they’re going to safely deal with them. Requiring 3 feet to pass a cyclist will almost always mean moving over in the lane, and while cars might not be too concerned with being injured from a collision with a bicycle, they’re certainly going to be slowing down and become more cautious when they have to deal with oncoming cars.
That’s exactly what I saw happen in France, where they have a 5 foot (1.5 meter) passing law! In fact, you could watch oncoming traffic move to their right as you approached, allowing the car passing you to have more room.
One of the biggest arguments against a 3-foot passing law comes from law enforcement and auto-associations (CSAA being one) claiming that there’s no way to measure 3 feet between moving vehicles, and thus no way to enforce it. And if law enforcement people can’t do it, how can you expect the average motorist to? Well guess what? That ambiguity is the reason a 3-foot law is going to make it safer for cyclists, because FUD (Fear, uncertainty & doubt) will likely make the motorists more aware of and cautious around cyclists that would otherwise be the case. It’s not going to be the 3 feet that matter, it’s going to be a feeling that cyclists are supposed to be traveling with an invisible protective zone around them. What’s not to like about that?
You can see more info about efforts to pass a 3-foot law in California here, and I’ve sent in the suggestion to California State Senator Joe Simitian. When you call or write your elected representatives, it does make a difference. Please consider supporting this effort and help make it safer for all of us out on the roadways.
Saturday, August 28th, the County Sheriff’s department ticketed approximately 25 cyclists for not properly proceeding through the intersection at Canada & Woodside Roads. It’s difficult to figure out exactly what transpired, but it sounds like a group of about 40 cyclists came to the intersection, the front of the group stopped until it was safe to ride through, and the rest followed. Tickets were issued because it’s illegal for a group of vehicles to do anything other than stop individually before going through a stop sign.
The story was reported in the Country Almanac and created a huge response. You can read the article and responses here. Below is my addtion to the fray.
People just don’t understand that we’re all connected, and need to look out for each other. On the return from my ride this morning, heading over the top of Jefferson, a car (seen in the photo) turned onto Jefferson right in front of me. It rolled right through the stop sign (this was at the side street adjacent to the new fire station), at a speed at least as high as what you might see a “bad” cyclist do. I was in plain sight. Did they not see me? Or simply expect that I wouldn’t mind? And yes, I deliberately blurred the license plate in the photo.