9 posts from month 02/2012

Samantha Ollinger, bikeSD.org

San Diego has a great climate, but what's it like for riding a bike? Last week I decided to find out for myself, so I packed the family and the fold-up bikes onto Amtrak for a 4-day visit. I wasn't there long when Jeff Miller of the Alliance for Walking and Biking called, "Would you like to meet Sam Ollinger? She runs bikeSD." She's an accountant who quit her job to commit herself to bike advocacy, so she's dedicated. Listen in to hear all about the San Diego cycling scene. Show ... Continue Reading


It's Jeff Miller on the phone, "I can't believe you're calling me right now!" "Seeing some news?" He cajoled. Luckily I had woken up from a much needed nap just a few minutes prior — I had spent a few moments reading, as I often do as I wake up. There was big news bubbling to the top of Google Reader: the League of American Bicyclists, the Alliance for Walking and Biking and Bikes Belong had just announced a merger into a single, more potent, bike advocacy group. As I saw the ... Continue Reading

CdM’s Newest Driver

I just came home from the DMV; my 16½ year-old son just got his drivers license. You've been warned.

"Why do you look so nervous?" the driving instructor says with a jolly smile as he approaches our car. "Because I'm a lousy driver." My son seldom graces his discussions with similar humor at home. "I like lousy drivers; I hit them in the head with my clipboard." I know this is going to work out just fine, but as a parent you worry, right? My wife was astute enough to prepare a Driving Contract and the night before the test gives a parent some leverage. Download a copy; it's got a lot of good guidelines spelled out. I signed it first, then prior to going out for the evening I went upstairs to change. While I'm still thinking about how great it is to have him at least acknowledge many of these fine details; I think of one more — that he consider all trips to RiteAid, Ace Hardware and Albertsons as walkable and not an excuse to drive a half mile. When I return to the kitchen and share this new insight he's delighted to tell me he's already signed the contract. It's hard to stay a step ahead of teens. My dad was a great driver. Of course, we all think we're good drivers. That's the joke at Traffic School, "Raise your hand if you think you're an above average driver?" Not many think of themselves otherwise. My interview with Carjacked! author Anne Lutz Fernandez confirms this self image bias. But dad was good at teaching me to drive, so one goal I've had is to be as good while instructing my kids. Life doesn't always work out the way you hope though. My constructive criticisms became instant arguments and little instruction occurred. But as a dear friend once said, your children will listen, even if you don't think they are. My particular emphasis of proper driving behavior has focused on consideration of pedestrians. ... Continue Reading

Bike Medium, Episode II

I've had another dream... Last month I wrote about my interview with the City Council regarding my application for the Newport Beach Bike Safety Committee; read "Listen In". The gist of that post was that my interview hadn't happened yet, but I wrote as if it had — I can report back to you that my actual interview this past Wednesday was amazingly on-script. It was like I knew the answers to all their questions... This capability of predicting the future, I think I'm increasingly prone to ESP, or call it intuition, because starting around the holidays I got Apple TV and since then I sit mesmerized by the TV show Medium. Yes, it's low-brow culture and part of me is reluctant to admit I love the show, but the whodunit aspect of each episode really grabs me. As a result I'm already into Season 5, which is a big investment of time on the couch. Is the intuition Allison Dubois is famous for rubbing off on me? You be the judge. I'm not seeing dead people, but I do seem to have a knack for predicting the future of the new Bike Safety Committee. ... Continue Reading

Bold Face Names Attend Sunset Soiree

Bike advocates from across Orange County gathered last night for a Sunset Soiree in support of the Orange County Bicycle Coalition. Co-host and OCBC Executive Director Pete Van Vuys invited the assembled to contribute to the non-profit and by the end of the evening $3,000 was raised to support better biking in Orange County. I knew from experience that when you host a sunset event in February you spend a lot of psychic energy hoping for a warm, dry evening. The weatherman delivered in ... Continue Reading

A Walkability Audit with Dan Burden

Ever been on a Walkability Audit? Neither had I, but when it was suggested that would be a good time to meet Dan Burden, I couldn't resist. And San Diego is a lot closer than Port Townsend, WA — his home base. You may recognize Dan from his prominent role in Road Diet, the Streetfilms short. "A road diet is anytime you take any lane out of a road," Dan explains. This clip was featured at last month's Bike Safety Committee meeting; it was a big hit. That's when I knew I had to ... Continue Reading

Commission Recommends Clean Air

In Newport Beach last night a divided Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission voted to recommend to the City Council the removal of all beach fire rings. It was a raucous session with several residents interrupting Commissioner Roy Englebrecht at one point as he proposed converting the wood burning fire rings to natural gas; the clean burning fuel would remove a major concern of the residents: the airborne carcinogens in the smoke. Trying a different tact, Commissioner Anderson implied that without a full scientific inquiry, the residents' complaints of ash sticking to their patio furniture might prove to be the rubber from tire wear, as an investigation of the area surrounding the John Wayne airport apparently once found. These subterfuges would not deter the majority of the Commission members who voted 4 to 3 to send their recommendation to the City Council: complete removal of the fire rings.

Wave goodbye? Pallets are particularly poisonous when burning

... Continue Reading

The Fire Rings Delusion

On a cold night, most people consider a well-tended fire to be one of the more wholesome pleasures that humanity has produced. A fire, burning safely within the confines of a fireplace or a woodstove, is a visible and tangible source of comfort to us. We love everything about it: the warmth, the beauty of its flames, and—unless one is allergic to smoke—the smell that it imparts to the surrounding air... I am sorry to say that if you feel this way about a wood fire, you are not only wrong but dangerously misguided.
Just this week UCLA neuroscientist and author Sam Harris published his "Fireplace Delusion". It comes at a good time; just as the Newport Beach Parks, Beaches & Recreation Commission is set to review the beach fire rings. As a cyclist, I'm gulping air as I pedal around town. I'm riding for my health and often ride the coastal routes, thinking the air is cleaner there. I've lived here 14 years and as I do the math I wonder to what extent I've shortened my life by breathing smoke-filled air from the Big Corona fire rings. There are 27 of these smoke-belching fire pits just a hundred yards from my home. No pity for the poor people who live at the beach, you say? The carcinogens from these wood burning rings float all over Orange County, poisoning us all. ... Continue Reading

Ride up the Coast

Most days I sit at my desk for too many hours. Sound familiar? But his week was different; I was ahead of schedule on my projects. That gave me time to ride.

It's a beautiful morning at the Balboa Is ferry

My goal would be to ride 100 miles this week. Most people would add a little variety to their rides, but lately I keep heading in the same direction — across the ferry to the peninsula, the pier and on to Huntington and Sunset Beach. I'm not stuck in a rut; it's just so beautiful. And it's fun to ride off-road where there's lots of people.

Then, here it comes — I love to see the ferry sans autos!

The ferry without cars

Soon I'm on the peninsula where I notice a new facade to Back Alley Bicycles; I go closer. The peninsula has the highest mode-share, which means more people ride bikes here than anywhere else in Newport Beach. There are many bike rental stores here, so the competition keeps prices low. The flat terrain is ideal for riding a beach cruiser. ... Continue Reading