Archive for December, 2011

2011 Top Ten List, Part 2

Posted December 28, 2011 By Frank

Here’s the 2nd half of the Top Ten list.

#5. Going multi-modal. My summer jobs in college were spent on the Boston & Maine Railroad as a Gandy dancer, a track worker, but that was a long time ago. This year I’ve put quite a bit of time into planning train travel with bikes and although my 4th of July trip was less than a total success, I would later put it all together on a trip south to San Diego to visit my mother in assisted living. I regret I won’t be making this trip again; after a long illness she recently passed away.

#4. Meeting Pedaling Revolution author Jeff Mapes. I saw the book review in the New York Times and ordered a copy, then for whatever reason I let it sit, but once I picked it up it changed my life. In preparation for the interview I made many notes, then left them in my hotel room, but the time together was memorable. Listen to Jeff tell of his research leading up to the book; it might make you a bike advocate, too.

#3. The CA Bike Summit: This long weekend in Little Tokyo packed a big punch. Not only would I meet many of the most effective bike advocates in the country, like BikingInLA‘s Ted Rogers, Alliance for Biking and Walking President Jeff Miller and soon to be featured here, Randy Neufeld, Director of the $10Million SRAM Advocacy Fund, I’d come home with a new understanding of best practices in advocacy. Fellow bikeNewportBeach blogger David Huntsman changed his vacation plans to attend as well. Together we brought back many good ideas for improving bike safety here in Newport Beach. Probably equally valuable was meeting fellow advocates from all across the state; it was great comfort to hear of their progress — it made whatever setbacks we may feel here locally seem irrelevant to the inevitable progress that cycling advocates are making in many forward thinking communities.

Speaking on "Spreading the word" at the CA Bike Summit

#2. Nine days and 436 miles on the Erie Canal: It would be my first bike tour and the relatively flat terrain of upstate New York had its appeal. My touring companion Kent Issenberg was also touring for the first time; our 45-year friendship virtually guaranteed a happy outcome. The trip was sensational! The excitement of a new journey every day combined with the friendly people we met along the trail, the gorgeous scenery and the tranquility of the canal itself turned this expedition into an exceptional long distance ride. We learned a lot in the process which I hope we will apply to next summer’s encore.

The Erie Canal

#1. The Newport Beach Bike Safety Committee: What else could take the #1 spot? Yes, it’s very important, but it also ranks as number 1 in frustration, too. Let’s look at the objective measures: miles of bike lanes added: 0; miles of bike paths added: 0; number of bike racks installed: 0; closing down the streets for an LA-style Ciclivia: couldn’t make it happen. On the positive side: the meetings do start on time. Otherwise, you name the score and this committee likely earned an F. The highlight of ignominy came mid-year when these City Council appointed bike advocates voted against painting Sharrows on Coast Hwy through Corona del Mar. The Committee’s charter has expired, but will likely be renewed and I’m in favor of an extended term. There’s an opportunity to add some fresh blood to the Committee, as I pointed out at last month’s meeting — just on the objective measure of attendance, there are two Committee members who failed to attend even 50% of the meetings. Hopefully, an updated Committee will include dedicated advocates who will find the time to attend; the City Council need look no further than the audience of these meetings to find committed and knowledgeable cyclists to replace the two delinquent members. So, if I find so much to fault this Committee, why does it take the #1 spot? The issues are so important that even if progress is negligible, it brings City leaders together to discuss safety improvements. This Committee has proven me right when I compare it to football as “a game of inches”, but it’s the best hope we have to achieve real progress. I’m optimistic that Mayor Nancy Gardner will find the political will to do more than just build consensus in the community and that together with this Committee, she will implement much needed infrastructure improvements. Let’s face it, the pace of change can only accelerate.

See the first half of the Top Ten list.

2011 Top Ten List

Posted December 27, 2011 By Frank

It’s that time of year; it’s time for an end-of-year Top Ten list.

Here we go:

#10. Attending the League of American Bicyclists’ Annual Summit in Washington, DC where I heard New York’s Janette Sadik-Khan introduce the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, but it was Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer who continues to echo in my ears, “You shouldn’t have to burn a gallon of gas to get a gallon of milk.” Earl’s also famous for saying, “Half of all car trips are within a 20 minute bike ride, and 25% of car trips are within a 20 minute walk.”

Janette and Earl with Andy Clarke

#9. Platinum Boulder. I spent Spring Break in Boulder; it was my first visit and I made the most of it. Besides 300 days of sunshine, this ultimate bike-friendly city has off-road bike paths that criss-cross the city and took me way out into the suburbs. My interview with Bikes Belong’s Tim Blumenthal has turned out to be one of the most popular.

#8. Boston Bike Ride. The day before the Angel Capital Association’s Annual Summit this Spring, I organized a bike ride around Cambridge and the historical sites of Boston. This modest little ride attracted bicycle enthusiasts from Auckland, London, Brussels, Melbourne, Philadelphia and several locals, too. It was a blustery, cold day that only got colder, but as the conference approaches for this Spring I’m hearing from many who are eager to do it again.

#7. Big rides. The 64-mile OC Gran Fondo turned into a 90-mile door-to-door outing. For me and riding buddy Dan Murphy it was a warm up for the ultimate ride, the 111-mile El Tour de Tucson on Nov 19th.

#6. Seattle, Palo Alto, San Francisco & Portland: I traveled up and down the coast to interview biking giants. Peter Lagerwey helped design Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan. Joyride author and Alta Planning President Mia Birk did the same for Portland in the 90s. Palo Alto Bicycle’s Jeff Selzer and former Stanford Bike Planner John Ciccarelli entertained me on my last trip to the Bay area.

More to come…

National Joyriding Day

Posted December 26, 2011 By Frank

It almost slipped by un-announced — apparently, today was National Joyriding Day!

Well, if it wasn’t today I’m sure there are several runners-up contenders in the days ahead.

What am I talking about?
Traffic, congestion, “cars competing for asphalt” is how I recently saw it described in Suburban Nation; it seemed like everyone was out for a drive — so American!

I’m guessing this is what the 405 looked like.

But I spent my afternoon riding the boardwalk on the Balboa peninsula into Huntington Beach and back. You would’ve thought it was the 4th of July to see the traffic lined up for the Balboa Island ferry, on both sides; sitting there with their engines idling. Everyone was out for a joyride. To be fair, I saw more people on bikes today than I have since the 4th of July, too.

Help tilt the scales — get on that new Christmas bike and go for a ride. You’ll feel great and it may give you ideas for a New Years’ resolution.

Caltrans Appoints Cyclists

Posted December 23, 2011 By Frank

The CA Bike Coalition announced today two new positions have been added to the California Traffic Control Devices Committee. San Francisco bike planner John Ciccarelli and Bryan Jones, deputy director of Carlsbad’s Transportation Department will represent so-called “non-motorized” interests.

No Place for Pedestrians

Posted December 22, 2011 By Frank

Strolling through an Industrial Park

This is no place for a walk. This light industrial office park in Billerica, MA was designed for its employees to drive to work. No sidewalks and long distances from everywhere, these two pedestrians have to cross a big parking lot to get from one site to the next.

Boston’s Smallest

Posted December 21, 2011 By Frank

Comm Ave at Mass Ave

My Mother Mary

Posted December 19, 2011 By Frank

Mary Frances Peters

My mother recently passed away, after a long illness.

Many will remember my multi-modal train/bike trip to visit her this summer; check out Visit Your Mother.

Although she was born at home in Reading, MA, she was a great storyteller of Ireland and the old days. She was my original subject as I began my interest in oral history recordings. Many of the early recordings were not quite up to snuff, but this 2006 session turned out well.

Caffeine Achievers

Posted December 17, 2011 By Frank

Ride to coffee shops and other delightful spots
along the coast

Enjoying these short winter days with their cool temperatures?

It’s off-season here in Newport Beach and the crowds are gone, so get on your bike, buck the trend and take this coastal ride from the Crystal Cove Promenade to the peninsula. Winter skies cause me to reach for a cup of java and on this ride you’ll enjoy all the coffee and caffeine you can handle.

Not a coffee drinker? Then how about one of the original date shakes at the Shake Shack. Rose’s Donuts in Corona del Mar is a cyclist’s haven; you’ll want to linger here before pressing on to Balboa Island and a ferry ride to the peninsula.

Start here at Pacific Whey Bakery
in Crystal Cove

Park at Crystal Cove along Coast Hwy then choose between Pacific Whey or Starbucks for the first espresso. Pedal away exiting the parking lot via Reef Point Drive crossing Coast Hwy into Crystal Cove State Park.

It's a rare rainy day, so why not treat yourself
to a date shake at the Shake Shack

Follow the bike path west to the Shake Shack, a local landmark for sandwiches and the original date shake; enjoy the super view while you munch away. Continue on the bike path up the short hill and continue to enjoy the park; as you exit at Pelican Point Drive you’ll cross Coast Hwy and turn left for the sprint into Corona del Mar.

Your destination: super cozy Alta Coffee on the peninsula

Visit Rose’s Donuts for another treat then cross Coast Hwy again to ride along the ‘Flower’ streets of Corona del Mar. As you weave through the ocean-front neighborhood, take time to enjoy the views before you cross the Goldenrod bridge then turn down Carnation onto Bayside Drive.

Enjoy riding along Newport Beach’s first Sharrows on Bayside Drive. Turn onto the bridge at Marine Ave and pedal onto Balboa Island. Take your time, this is a fabulous neighborhood for exploring the many little shops and restaurants. When you’ve had enough, turn towards the ferry and cross onto the Balboa peninsula. Here you’ll find the beach boardwalk which will take you to the Newport pier and beyond. Continue past the pier turning on 32nd Street crossing Balboa and Newport Blvd’s on your way to Alta Coffee and the end of this route.

Credits: A tip of the hat to the original caffeine achiever, Charlie Gandy.

Download the map into Google Earth. Find other rides at bikeNewportBeach.
Distance: 9.75 miles, one way

Jeff Miller, the Alliance for Biking and Walking

Posted December 15, 2011 By Frank

We met at the recent California Bike Summit in downtown Los Angeles where Jeff had the distinction of giving the kick-off presentation, and now I know why — he electrified the assembled advocates and painted a clear picture of the challenges facing this country relating to health and our transportation choices. I had to get him on the Show.

Jeff Miller is the President/CEO of the Alliance for Biking and Walking based in Washington, DC. He wasn’t native to the Nation’s Capital; he’s from Maine, so what was it like making such a transition?

In Jeff’s presentation last month this slide had a big punchline for me. Notice the inverse correlation between biking and walking to work and obesity. Are we loving our cars to death? Obesity levels have tripled in the past few decades.

Think there's a correlation?

Save the date: September 10-13, 2012 — The Alliance for Biking and Walking will host The Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference in Long Beach. Join Jeff and me at this important event.

Listen to Jeff:

Thinking of a new bike for the holidays? While you’re in a holiday mood please consider a $15 gift to support the Alliance as they celebrate their 15th anniversary.

If I were Mayor…

Posted December 9, 2011 By Frank

We’re about to swear in a new Mayor. If I were the Mayor I would…

Proclaim 2012 The Year of the Bicycle:

  • Encourage all City and civic organizations, commissions and committees as they pursue their initiatives to consider cyclists needs.
  • Apply to the League of American Bicyclists for Bike Friendly Community designation; dedicate sufficient staff time and team with advocates to complete the application.
  • Promote the 4th of July Bike Parade on the peninsula to make it an even bigger success than it was last summer.

Adopt Complete Streets policies:

  • Direct planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation.
  • Commit to additional crosswalks at intersections serving City parks. For example, the two parks along Bayside Drive, at Carnation and at Jasmine, in Corona del Mar both need crosswalks.
  • Re-charter the Bike Safety Committee as a Complete Streets Committee, like Laguna Beach has done, to include pedestrian advocates, too. After all, cyclists and pedestrians have a lot in common — we’re both tormented by the automobile.

Create bike education messages to be inserted in utility bills.

Install secure bike parking, bike racks and lockers, at popular destinations throughout the City, including the new City Hall.

Enhance cycling safety on the Back Bay loop by restricting cars on weekends and adding way-finding signage for beach-bound cyclists.

Protect the sanctity of bike lanes by enforcing no parking restrictions.

Direct staff to begin plans to transform the old City Hall into a transportation hub by building a public parking facility to reduce traffic congestion on the peninsula. I’d offer a bike-share so tourists can explore the peninsula car-free then add bike lanes and Sharrows to provide safe routes to popular destinations like the piers and the Wedge.

Lastly I’d ride my bike to as many meetings as possible to set an example and to experience first-hand the challenges cyclists face on our streets.