My cholesterol numbers were too high; I was dieting, but not losing weight.
A friend suggested I get on a bike and my cholesterol numbers started dropping, but more than that, it was fun! Picture my typical route: Bayside Dr to the Balboa Is ferry then onto the beach boardwalk and beyond; it’s scenic, quiet this time of year, and safe. Newport Beach is a great place for cycling.
Even though our community is well suited for cycling, just the weather alone, we’re part of an automobile-saturated society. It wasn’t long before my wife of 36 years started riding with me; lunch in HB is a popular destination for us, but it only took a couple of negative interactions with motorists to sour our outlook. There’s a lot of road rage out there and it’s often aimed at cyclists. There has to be a way to enlighten the driving public, because a safer, calmer riding experience will bring more cyclists out and the more that come out the more the driving public will learn to share the road and a virtuous cycle begins.
Then tragedy struck, then again, and again; not crude language and rude gestures, fatal consequences. Newport Beach has had 7 fatalities in 5 years; that’s too many. When the City proposed a Bike Safety Task Force I jumped at the chance to serve. I’d soon learn that contributing ideas was easy, many cities have a head start on us and some have detailed documentation for every kind of bike lane and bike rack. Plagiarize is the advice I often hear; find something someone else has already solved then find a way to implement it here, like the Sharrows on Bayside. It’s simple, little more than a plan and a bucket of paint, but Bayside’s Sharrows convey the key message: motorists must share the road with cyclists.
More improvements will follow, some quickly, others more deliberately. But what if we could get more people involved, could more community support speed up the pace? Does anyone besides the spandex crowd care about bike safety on Coast Hwy through Corona del Mar? I knew there would be support for more rapid change because I see great improvements occurring in the cities I’ve visited this year: Barcelona, Austin, San Francisco, Portland, Montreal, (not Istanbul), Boston and New York have all made huge gains accommodating cyclists. If NYC can find the will, to buck the trend of ever more motorists, to dream of a more sustainable future then change here, at home, must be possible, too.
It wasn’t my idea to start blogging on cycling safety; I give credit to a new friend who suggested, “why don’t you interview Charlie Gandy?” That opened my eyes; I could talk to advocates in bike safety, get them to share their stories. How did they galvanize public opinion, handle merchant concerns and make, in the case of Long Beach, dramatic improvements in cycling safety? And could those approaches work here? So I started cdmCyclist to feature these interviews, news and commentary.
Join me, please; share your opinions on these posts and perhaps together we can share a new vision of urban life where people matter more than motor vehicles.
Get on your bike and feel like a kid again.