Day in the life

Yesterday was Wednesday. A few things stuck in my mind, like when I got home and found a student’s email inquiry.

I love it when students say that talking to me is part of their assignment. They’re surprised when I reply right away. Anna at OCC asked,


What are the most critical concerns for cyclists regarding their safety on the road today?

Easy one — I didn’t have to think much…

  • Too many cars
  • Getting hit by cars
  • Distracted drivers
  • Poor or non-existent infrastructure
  • Hostile motorists

What did I leave out?

It was on the tip of my tongue because I had just come from the Corona del Mar Residents Association’s Annual Meeting. Me, Michael Alti and Lou Cohen, fellow members of the Bike Committee, shared a booth, a table really, to show off a bike map of the city. It showed a lot of new, proposed bike lanes.

Now the CdMRA meeting doesn’t attract many Millennials, more like Centenarians, so the feedback went along familiar lines:

I’d like to ride, but there are too many cars.

And the corollary: “I don’t think it’s safe.”

One woman stopped by to tell me that she loves to bike — at her home in Germany everybody bikes, same at her home in Florida. But not here. Made me wonder, all those homes…

My feeble rebuttals went like, “How about the beach boardwalk?”

I got a few begrudging concessions.

Then the topic of one-way streets in the Flower Streets came up. Motorists love the idea — they could drive without any concern of cars coming at them. Of course, this makes streets more dangerous for kids, grandparents and everyone in between that isn’t in a car. But the point is motorists want what they like — mindless motoring. The same reason why they hate roundabouts. Traffic circles and their hipper, new-age roundabouts — just ask anyone — motorists hate them because they have to slow down and really pay attention. That’s why Complete Streets advocates love them, because collisions drop and streets get safer for all users: kids, dogs, cyclists, even motorists.

Then this morning, Thursday: I owe my annual CdMRA dues, so even though I haven’t had coffee yet, I jump on the bike to go deliver a check. The monthly board meeting’s well underway as I slink in and slide a check across the table. Fortunately, Public Comments are next and I get to blather on about tonight’s meeting about the Back Bay.

A hand goes up; there’s a comment from the audience, but I have to wait while someone else says something on another topic. Then the focus comes back to bikes. About bikes on sidewalks, “I almost got hit.”

What can I say? As little as possible is what comes to mind, “Thank you.” Then the Chair pipes up, “I think we’ll write a letter to the Committee about bikes, and electric bikes now, too, on the sidewalk.”

Send me all your ‘bikes are a nuisance’ letters I’m saying in my head – hoping no one can hear. It was even harder to keep from wise-cracking, “Can you blame them?” Instead I just file it all away till I’m here at my confessional. The focus moves on to a review of last night’s meeting.

I know I’m a long way from home, bike advocacy-wise, when Barry Allen comments; he’s ruffled about last night’s Annual Meeting. According to him, he arrives a tad late, so there was no parking in the Sherman Gardens lot…

I had to park a block away and walk!

Straight-faced, he said it. No one else in the room gave any indication of anything but mutual indignation. I was stifling a guffaw. Imagine…

Time to get back on the bike.

I need a really long ride soon

I need a really long ride, soon