No surprise here.
Both Calbike and CABO responded to Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of a bill that would have legalized sidewalk riding on any street without adequate bike lanes.
And needless to say, they came out on opposite sides of the issue.
Calbike, aka the California Bicycle Coalition, decried the veto, arguing that sidewalk riding may not be the best choice, but it’s sometimes the only safe one.
“Is sidewalk riding ideal? No,” said Jared Sanchez, policy director for CalBike. “In a perfect world, most streets would be Complete Streets, with safe facilities for all modes of transportation. But that’s not the reality today, and it will take years to transform every dangerous roadway in California into a safe route for biking. In the meantime, people on bikes must, at times, travel on streets with fast traffic and no bike lanes. By vetoing this bill, the governor has taken an action that will lead to more deaths and injuries of people on bikes.”
While CalBike agrees with the governor’s assertion in his veto statement that building better bike infrastructure is the best way to provide safe spaces for people who ride bikes and that the state has moved in the right direction to create more protected and connected bikeways, infrastructure for safe biking remains woefully inadequate.
Meanwhile CABO — the California Association of Bicycle Organizations — applauded the governor’s veto.
An open letter from Alan Wachtel, Government Relations Director for CABO, pointed out the dangers of bicycling on sidewalks, both for bike riders and pedestrians.
While my organization and I appreciate the author’s intent to improve bicycle safety, this bill would instead have exactly the opposite effect. It would encourage dangerous bicycling habits, and it would constitute a huge step backward in the goal of routinely accommodating bicycle travel everywhere in the transportation network. Unfortunately, the author’s office has repeatedly declined to meet with us even to discuss these issues.
Under existing Vehicle Code §21650(g) (which I helped to draft), bicyclists may already ride on sidewalks everywhere, unless prohibited by the code or local ordinance. AB 825 would eliminate that local power unless the adjacent roadway includes a designated bicycle facility, except for last-minute amendments that provide complicated exceptions meant to protect pedestrians (but that are inadequate to do so).
But AB 825, despite being promoted as a bicycle safety bill, would, on the contrary, also be more dangerous for bicyclists. It relies on and actively perpetuates the misconception that the only safe places for bicycles are designated facilities and sidewalks.
This may be the rare instance where they’re both at least partly right.
CABO is correct that bikes don’t normally belong on sidewalks, where they pose a danger to pedestrians and an increased risk to bike riders, despite the perception of safety.
But it’s also true that a sidewalk can provide a refuge from dangerous roadways lacking safe infrastructure — especially the typical suburban California stroads, where riders often have to contend with speeding drivers exceeding the already high speed limits.
It’s also demanding too much to expect an inexperienced bike rider to take the lane on a busy street filled with impatient and distracted drivers.
It’s unreasonable to ticket someone for putting their own safety ahead of any local restrictions under those, or similar, circumstances.
Or to expect someone on a bicycle to always know when they’ve crossed from one city where sidewalk riding is allowed, to another where it’s prohibited, particularly when the restriction isn’t posted.
Then there’s the problem the bill was originally drafted to address, where police too often use sidewalk riding restrictions as a pretext to stop and search, or merely harass, people of color.
I always encourage people to ride their bikes in the street, both for their own safety, and that of people walking on the sidewalk.
But I understand if they choose not to, as I have myself for short distances, or when faced with dangerous situations on the street.
And penalizing them for making that choice is wrong — as was Newsom’s veto of the bill.
Besides, we all know sidewalks are really just parking spots for entitled drivers.
The get it.
An editorial from the Los Angeles Times called out California’s transportation policies, arguing that the state’s highway spending doesn’t match it’s climate promises.
Then again, that’s what we’ve come to expect from the auto-centric Caltrans, despite its repeated commitments to Complete Streets and active transportation.
Two recent reports highlight the discrepancy. Regulators have warned that the state needs to slash the amount of miles people drive 25% below 2019 levels to help meet 2030 emission reduction targets. But traffic and car dependence has increased in recent years, according to a report from the progressive advocacy group NextGen Policy.
It’s no surprise why: California continues to spend the bulk of its transportation dollars to maintain and expand car-centric roads and freeways. Instead of doubling down on the existing system that makes it inconvenient and unsafe to travel by bike, foot and transit, California should be spending the bulk of its transportation funding to remake the urban landscape so people have real choices in how they get around.
But that’s not happening. Of the state’s primary transportation funding programs, just 19% of the money has gone to projects that help reduce the need to drive, such as building out bike lanes, sidewalks, rail service, electric buses and affordable housing near jobs, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council. These programs are in such demand that the state is regularly forced to deny funding to highly rated pedestrian and bicycle projects.
It’s worth reading the whole piece, because they’re right.
Caltrans continues to flush massive amounts of funding down the highway widening toilet, addicted to the never-ending chase to fix traffic congestion while fueling induced demand.
And like any other addict, the only solution is to quit.
It looks like Amazon’s Prime Days, which concludes today, is the bike world’s new October Black Friday.
- Lifehacker highlights the sale’s best bike gear, from ebikes to wheel light kits.
- Cyclist offers their selections for the bike bike deals. Although as a British magazine, some things might not be available in the US, or for the same price.
- Bike Radar examines the best deals on Garmin and Wahoo bike computers.
- Singletraks looks at the best sales for mountain bikers.
Road.cc pits a $15,000 superbike against a $430 find from Facebook Marketplace to determine how much speed money can actually buy.
And concludes that it does make a difference, but not as much as you might think.
The war on cars may be a myth, but the war on bikes just keeps on going.
A Cambridge, Massachusetts newspaper says a court heard rehashed arguments in yet another lawsuit fighting the city’s separated bike lanes, after the city has already won preliminary injunctions and subsequent appeals in two similar cases.
A Streetsblog op-ed calls out a proposal supported by a majority of New councilmembers to license all ebike riders, which would create a bureaucratic nightmare and discourage ebike use, while ignoring the lackluster infrastructure and unsafe work standards at the root of the problem.
New Yorkers rode their “little bikes” last night in protest of the mayor’s derisive comments about being able to ride their “little bikes” safely thanks to him, at a time when the city’s bicycling deaths are up dramatically.
West Hollywood sheriff’s deputies reported three collisions involving pedestrians last month and four involving people on bicycles, while stating that enforcing the city’s restrictions on sidewalk riding is a low priority; it’s legal to ride on the sidewalk on any WeHo street without a bike lane.
Chinese ebike maker Velotric is offering discounts up to 20% to students, staff and faculty at UC San Diego, while the campus expands bike lockers and protected bike lanes.
San Marcos is getting a new eight-acre bike park, including a pump track, perimeter trail and jump lines for beginner, intermediate and advanced riders.
The campus police chief at UC Santa Cruz warns students about the growing bike theft problem at the school, while offering tips on how to keep your bike safe.
Electrek applauds Seattle’s cute little electric bike lane sweepers.
Denver drivers can’t seem to figure out how a traffic diverter works, continuing through on the wide bike lane instead of following the really big arrows on the street directing them to turn. Although the city deserves a lot of the blame for leaving enough room in the bike lane for cars to enter.
A 28-year old Denver man is nearly 8,000 miles into an effort to visit every US National Park in the Lower 48 states on one continuous bicycle trip; so far he’s made it to just 19 of the 51 parks on his itinerary.
A writer for Kansas’ Rider University student paper describes how a bright blue bicycle took him from an awkward 16-year old kid stuck at home during the pandemic, to a bike-riding man about campus.
This is why we need to ban right turns on red lights. A Kansas driver was caught on video slamming into a bike rider, who had waited until it appeared to be safe before crossing in a crosswalk with the light, and was right hooked by the driver after riding off the curb.
Road diets in Philadelphia led to a 34% decrease in fatalities on the city’s recently constructed Complete Streets.
Abandoned bikeshare bikes continue to litter a South Carolina town after the city’s provider shut down last spring.
A member of Britain’s Conservative Party says he will continue to call for a mandatory bike helmet law in Parliament, despite his own party repeatedly rejecting the proposal.
The mayor of Manilla’s Quezon City returned from a trip to Copenhagen, vowing to use the Danish city’s bicycle-friendly infrastructure as a role model to make her town the bicycling capital of the Philippines.
An Aussie bike advocacy group condemned video of an “entitled” SUV driver crossing the double yellow lines to pass both a bike rider and a second driver who was patiently following the bicyclist waiting for a safe opportunity to pass.
Belgian pro Nathan Van Hooydonck says he immediately knew his cycling career was over when he was nearly killed in a car crash after suffering a heart problem while driving; he retired after waking from a coma and being fitted with an internal defibrillator to correct any future cardiac arrhythmia.
And why just ride on rubber when you can put the rubber to the rubber?
Be safe, and stay healthy. And get vaccinated, already.
Oh, and fuck Putin