Tag Archive for off-road bike paths

Bike law change #9: Require a bike lane or sharrows for any roadway with heavy bike traffic

Way back in the dark ages when I was just a fledgling rabble-rouser, my handbook of choice was the classic Reveille for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. (Highly recommended for anyone who want to learn how to leverage the system. Or just generally piss off the powers-that-be.)

As I recall, through the deep, dusty haze of memory, that was where I first encountered the story of a town struggling with a stubborn speeding problem. After trying everything they could think of to stop drivers from speeding, they finally stumbled on the one solution that actually worked.

They raised the speed limit.

Which, in a way, brings us to our next suggestion. Instead of putting bike lanes and routes where traffic planners — most of whom haven’t been on a bike past the age of 12 — think they should go, put ‘em where the cyclists already are.

Like PCH, for instance. Every day, hundreds, if not thousands, of riders brave heavy, high-speed traffic, turning cars and narrow, sometimes non-existent, road shoulders along the coast through Malibu, making this one of the most popular rides in Southern California. And yet, despite the near-constant flow of bike traffic, no one has made the slightest effort to accommodate cyclists or improve safety for riders, or the drivers they share the road with.

So lets insist that, for once, form follows function, and require that every city and county in the state study the bike traffic within its jurisdiction. And that they be required to accommodate bicycles on any street, road or highway that receives heavy bike traffic, through the establishment of bike lanes or off-road bike trails that follow the roadway wherever possible, or if not, by installing sharrows, along with Share the Road signs — or better yet, Cyclists Have Full Use of Lane signs.


Not unlike O.J.’s Simpson’s book If I Did It, Alex insists last week’s C.R.A.N.K. MOB did not happen, but shows photographic evidence of what might have happened if it did. A Portland State University study shows more people would ride if they had a safer place to do it. Down San Diego way, it finally occurred to someone that bike routes in different cities should actually connect to one another, resulting in a planned 500-mile network. An new Geowiki program at the University of Minnesota allows users to rate routes based on bikeability to create new user-defined bike maps. The Rails-To-Trails Conservancy has started a new campaign to double the Federal investment in active transportation — walking and biking, in other words.

Finally, it has absolutely nothing to do with cycling, but L.A.P.D. has a backlog of nearly 7,000 rape kits waiting to be tested — including at least 217 for which the statute of limitations has expired, meaning no one can be charged even if they offer conclusive proof of who committed the attack. And if that doesn’t piss you off, maybe it should.

Bike law change #8: Require regular police and maintenance patrols of off-road bike paths

It should be the perfect place to ride. Instead of fighting our way through traffic or dodging drivers who can’t seem to grasp the concept of a bike lane, an off-road, or Class 1, bike path should offer the perfect opportunity to just relax and enjoy a good ride.

But too often, it doesn’t work out that way.

While many of these paths meander through common public spaces such as parks, lake shores and beaches, others are hidden from view. Which means that any problems along the path will be hidden, as well, from massive cracks and potholes in the pavement, to ugly graffiti and criminal activity. Eventually, many cyclists decide they’re better off taking their chances on the streets — abandoning the alternate routes they fought so hard to get, and leading to further deterioration. Or forcing organized efforts — or somewhat less organized efforts — to reclaim them.

But it shouldn’t be up to us to reclaim the bike paths, any more that it’s up to drivers to reclaim the 405 freeway or Ventura Boulevard.

So let’s demand regular safety and maintenance patrols of all off-road bike paths, both by the local police and the appropriate maintenance agency, whether city, county or state — and require that at least some off those patrols be done by bike. Because as we all know, things look and feel completely different behind the handlebars than they do from behind the wheel.

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