Caltrans hosted an all-day training class in Irvine yesterday, the Understanding Bicycle Transportation Workshop. It was well-attended, about 50 advocates, planners, Caltrans Ops types, even the CHP was in the audience.
Dan Gutierrez is the instructor and he integrates a lot of video into the session. It’s entertaining! He’s gone out camera-in-hand with other bike advocates to record bike riding’s best practices and he’s come back with quite a bloopers reel.
He’s an engineer’s engineer — he knows the CVC inside and out and will answer your question off the top of his head citing chapter and verse. He knows the ins and out of safe cycling, too, and he demonstrates various challenging road conditions and the safest way for cyclists to navigate them. His message to the Caltrans road designers is so valuable, because he speaks their language. He comes across as quite the authority.
But Dan’s also an unabashed vehicular cyclist – he’s never met a green lane he likes. Separated or protected bike lanes that are all the rage in many cities today, just don’t cut it with Dan. He doesn’t hide the fact that he’s no longer a LCI; he’s severed his relationship with the League of American Bicyclists over their support of cycle tracks and other protected bike lanes. That seems a shame. Too few times in life have I ever come upon the single, right answer — for me there are many shades of gray. Not so for Dan — when it comes to safe riding, he wants everyone to get out there in traffic.
Riding in traffic like a vehicle is fine once you’re a competent adult cyclist — Moms and kids won’t be joining the party though. This approach to infrastructure design (read It’s Time to Stop Building Black Diamond Bike Lanes) is why we have abysmal mode-share here in Southern California. Given another decade or two, vehicular cyclists might be successful in adding another single percentage point mode-share, but that’s too slow for most of us.
When I ask bike advocates in Platinum Portland what they’re focusing on to take their mode-share numbers to the next level, their response is short and sweet: cycle tracks.