Archive for November, 2011
When I talk to people about bicycling in Newport Beach, of which I do a lot, I’m usually telling them how much I enjoy and benefit from it. Yes, both the talking and the cycling.
But I am often asked why cyclists “ride on the road” as opposed to in the bike lane. There are several answers for several situations:
- The first involves the absence of a bike lane altogether. Most Newport Beach roads do not have dedicated bike lanes. And sometimes where there are bike lanes, they mysteriously and inexplicably disappear. For example, San Joaquin Hills Drive has dedicated bike lanes from its southern terminus at Newport Coast Drive all the way down to Spyglass Hill. But, at Spyglass Hill, the bike lanes disappear on both sides of the road. If you are familiar with the downhill side of the road, you know there is a white line painted on the right hand side starting a few hundred yards down the hill. Many people assume the right side of that line is a bike lane. In fact the white line on the right is the “fog line” which marks the edge of the road. The area to the right side of that line is the shoulder of the road. Cyclists are allowed, but not obligated, to use the shoulder. And as you can see in the following Google Maps link, the shoulder there is often filled with parked cars (in violation of the City’s ‘No Parking’ signs). So cyclists can’t ride in that shoulder.
- But, when there is a dedicated bike lane, sometimes it is unsafe due to hazards such as the steel plate truck ramps, sandbags and rocks seen in the next three photos and due to hazards like that described in this related article. These photos were all taken yesterday (11.16.11) on the downhill side of MacArthur Blvd, south of San Miguel, heading toward Corona del Mar:
Riding from Newport Beach to Long Beach this past Sunday, pedaling westbound on the Coast Highway before Prospect Avenue, I was pleased to see that a large orange road construction trailer was actually up off the road where it would not pose a hazard to cyclists:
I had complained to the City’s Bicycle Safety Committee about these signal trailers blocking bike lanes in Newport Beach on several occasions, and while I had not received anything other than a “we’ll look into it” in response to my complaints, I thought that maybe the placement of this trailer on the sidewalk was the result of a new policy.
So, imagine my frustration when, on my eastbound return journey, on the opposite side of the street, while riding in this bike lane:
While reassured by these:
I ride straight into this message trailer:
The trailers are exactly opposite each other on West Coast Highway. On the westbound side, whoever placed the trailer managed to get it up the curb to the sidewalk and out of the way of traffic. But on the eastbound side, even though there is a much wider sidewalk (possibly twice the width of the trailer), it was left on the street – completely blocking the bike lane.
How does that happen? Wouldn’t common sense say that if the trailer can be placed out of traffic lanes, especially the bike lane, it should be? And obviously it was done on the other side of the street…so why not on both sides of the street?
Here’s what it looks like with cyclists and cars passing (apologies for the lo-res BlackBerry video):
Pretty scary, isn’t it. Look how low the safety margins shrink because of the placement of that trailer. Based on the volume of cyclists I saw on Pacific Coast Highway within a few miles in either direction Sunday morning, I would estimate that several hundred cyclists ranging from children to the elderly (and everyone in between) passed this trailer.
By the way, the trailer warned that there was road construction ahead, which may or may not have been a hazard, but certainly not the hazard the placement of this trailer created.
(In case anyone is wondering about the collateral issues: yes, the first cyclist legally merged from the dedicated bike lane to the outside shared lane before the dark sedan squeezed past him in the same lane; yes, the motorist failed to reduce his speed according to California’s basic speed law before unsafely passing him in the same lane; and yes, the second group of cyclists were completely within their right to be in the center of the number two lane – and therefore there is no reason they should not be side-by-side…)
All it would take to completely eliminate the hazard is to put the trailer on the sidewalk.
Would more cyclists visit Newport Beach and stay over night if they knew of certified bike-friendly hotels?
An overnight on a bike can be lots of fun; it combines a little getaway with a bike ride — something different to break out of the routine. Maybe the overnight ride turns into a passion for touring — that’s the idea behind Jim Sayer’s Bike OverNights.
Which Newport Beach hotels might qualify as bike-friendly? And what does bike-friendly mean?
Soon after my September Erie Canal tour, my pal Kent suggested La Route Vert in Quebec for next year. According to Cycling in Quebec, it’s made up of 4,000 km of bikeways criss-crossing Quebec, mostly flat and ideal for touring. This guide book has certified 300 tourist accommodations. It’s easy to qualify, so I’m proposing these guidelines for Newport Beach hotels:
- A covered and locked location to store your bicycle at night.
- If there is a restaurant service, your nutritional needs will be taken into account and you will be offered generous portions of fruits and vegetables and high-carb meals.
- A pump and tools for making minor repairs.
- Information about local bicycle repair centers, bicycle rental outlets and tourist information offices.
Kinda begs the question: what tools should be included?
A multi-tool, of course, even though we each carried one.
I’m glad they call out the pump — none of our hotels or B&Bs along the Erie Canal had one — it compelled us to visit every bike shop along the route. Yes, we carried a hand pump, but it’s hard to top off by hand; I think we damaged one valve stem — it had to be replaced.
A citrus-based chain cleaner and a few rags would’ve been heavenly, especially since the crushed-granite tow-path alongside the canal made a mess of our chain and derailleur. What else would you expect to see at a bike-friendly hotel?
Jason Bausch is a Southern California cyclist who has been a very competitive racer for a number of years and recently lost a kidney to cancer. A riding colleague of mine at Velo-605 alerted me to a charity ride for Jason’s benefit this November 25 (the day after Thanksgiving), leaving Surf City Cyclery in Costa Mesa at 9am.
The ride will follow Pacific Coast Highway through Newport Beach, Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach before turning around at Dana Point and returning northward. On the northbound leg, to make sure you burn off ALL of your Thanksgiving calories, the ride will take in a significant climb east of Laguna Beach and descend Park Avenue.
Pre-register here to make a donation toward Jason’s medical bills, and to sign up to ride for a good cause.
All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
I’m gonna keep this in mind — it’s important to know where you are on the curve.
I don’t know if Schopenhauer rode a bike.
In the last half hour of the CA Bike Summit in downtown Los Angeles I met Bill Haas of the Pacific Coast Conservation Alliance. We were both a little tired at this point.
Perhaps because of my fatigue or maybe just because it was the last thing I heard, I remember well what he shared, “This is the best conference I’ve ever attended.” It made me pause; could I imagine a better, more informative 3 days at anything I’ve ever attended? It was an overwhelming event for many. The quality of the speakers, the time spent in small groups digging into meaningful topics, the commitment of the attendees, the number of cities and coalitions represented, their news of progress in achieving greater bicycle ridership — it all added up to an inspiring experience for me.
I heard from people in Santa Barbara, USC, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles and Long Beach (of course), San Luis Obispo, San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Sacramento, San Jose, Huntington Beach, UCSD — committed bike advocates from all these locales are dedicated to improving conditions for cyclists. It’s easy to imagine that, no matter how long things take here at home, we will succeed in creating infrastructure improvements, educating our youth, slowing traffic, making the case to business districts that cycling is good for the bottom line — all this will happen in our lifetime, because the alternatives are so bleak. Our dependance on fossil fuels and the automobile have damaged our communities and imperiled our health.
Jeff Miller of the Alliance for Biking and Walking, I still can’t forget his opening remarks where he used time-lapse PowerPoints to show the incredible increases in obesity over the past 20 years. His map of the lower 48 was turning from green to yellow to red to brown to black to reflect greater percentages of obesity by state. Then the map slides to half size so a map of bicycle ridership by state can be shown, side by side — the correlations are obvious: Our dependance on automobiles is ruining our health and the bicycle can be the way to dig ourselves out.
I suggested to several new friends that although the breadth of information was so great, I needed to focus on the few things I would bring back to focus on. In the days and weeks ahead I hope to share just what those pearls will be. Look forward to bikeNewportBeach’s first public meeting where we’ll invite you to bring your ideas forward.
As I look back at the Summit I have a few memories that will stick with me. Sunday’s closing pep rally by Safe Routes to School’s Deb Hubsmith — that woman had us all cheering at the end of her high-octane delivery. Then there was lunch across the street at Philippe’s French Dipped Sandwiches, a classic LA lunch scene that this day had 2 TV camera crews present to film the crowd’s reaction to the imminent Conrad Murray verdict. It will come as no surprise that I ended up in front of the camera, and with just enough forethought to compare an involuntary manslaughter charge to that of killing a cyclist — I probably ended up on the cutting room floor. Then, back to Bill Haas — he told me of this cool retro bike shop, CoCo’s Variety on Riverside Drive, “Not too far away,” and the vintage Peugeot he found. I Googled the place and David Huntsman gave me a lift; we were both curious. This was the first bike I saw as I stepped out of the car, this vintage Specialized might be perfect for my son off at school. His bike was stolen last spring and he rejected the idea of a new shiny bike that would attract unwanted attention; this bike would perfectly blend into Santa Cruz’s culture. So if he comes home for Thanksgiving as planned, I’ll have to give it up.
Those assembled here are passionate about cycling.
Unlike other projects and infatuations I’ve sample over the years, this bicycling interest is different; there’s an inevitable momentum behind this mission — these advocates are committed and clear — they will succeed in getting more people on bikes and making the experience safer.