Pedaling with a Purpose

Since it’s January, aren’t we all thinking about exercising more? Sitting around less?

My wife has been saying that even exercise of only a few minutes, done several times a week, is good for me; so she’s been reading. I deserve such encouragements because I’ve been sitting in front of the computer too much lately, which wasn’t part of my plan for this new year. So after Monday’s rain I’ve taken myself out for bike rides — to Gelson’s, to the Post Office, to Peets Coffee in CdM Plaza and today, to lunch at the Shake Shack in Crystal Cove.

View from the Shake Shack

In all cases I’m pedaling with a purpose, like to mail a letter, or to meet a new friend over coffee; I find this so much more fun than what I had been doing, that is riding all over Orange County and beyond, racking up the miles. Yes, it’s good exercise to ride that far and wide and I needed to train for El Tour de Tucson, but these days I just want to ride for pleasure, to integrate the bike into my lifestyle. Like riding to meetup over coffee…

Earlier today I met a friend at Starbucks; to get there I take the Goldenrod Bridge. Ok, it says footbridge. We’ve all walked it, but now there’s something new.

Yes, it says Footbridge

Like the recently installed “Go Around” sign on Coast Hwy. What’s the problem with bikes?

Me? I ride over the bridge and the other day when I first saw the sign, before I could stop to take a photo my momentum took me onto the bridge and I had to slow to meet two oncoming cyclists. It turned out to be Planning Commission Chairman Michael Toerge and a friend; we stopped to chat then got moving again as pedestrians came along and wanted to pass. All this bike riding, slowing, stopping and making room for pedestrians happens quite naturally, so why the sign? Cut Toerge some slack, there isn’t a sign on the other side of the bridge, er footbridge, but I imagine it’s coming real soon. Makes me think there’s someone at City Hall begrudgingly agreeing to post the wayfinding signs, but insisting on zingers like “Walk Bikes on Bridge”. This isn’t a sign, pun intended, of a forward thinking, alternative-transportation oriented, safe cycling city; if it was I’d have seen signs like these in Long Beach.

And if I needed any further signs of how the City stands on bicycle awareness and safety issues, all I had to do was sit in on Monday’s City Council Planning Meeting. Besides the Council, all the department heads attended. A 9-page, double-sided handout covered every project from Marina Park to revitalizing Lido Village. Upon close examination, I discovered not a drop of ink was spilled, nor one word spoken on bicycle safety, or pedestrian safety for that matter. Zip. I’m probably not alone in wondering: What’s the point of commissioning a new Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee when there’s such a tepid commitment from city leaders on the subject? And it’s obvious after this meeting — there’s little room on anyone’s plate for new projects. I started feeling a little discouraged, then I remembered: it’s a game of inches. It’s gonna take time.

It’s January and the weather’s great, I’m gonna get on my bike and pedal to my 1 o’clock meeting at Peets.

Comments

comments

2 Comments

  1. Comment by Alejandrita:

    Matt,Recissions of bike funds are a problem here and might have esomthing to do with this, but many of these innovative facilities are being built with local dollars, not state or federal. This has helped those communities avoid having to get around stodgy rules in facility manuals like the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. The new National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) guide should make it easier to get innovative facilities built using federal funds. And this lack of innovation certainly long predates any recent budget cuts or current administrations. That said, there is definitely an opportunity for the current political leaders to jump on the protected bike lane bandwagon. I think they don’t do so because they honestly don’t feel they have broad-based political support for such projects. As I mentioned in the post, even the cycling community is very fragmented. If we cyclists can’t get together to advocate for more funding, the political leadership surely won’t go out on a limb to find money for cycle tracks.I suspect this has more to do with the electorate (us) as it does with those in office. It may have esomthing to do with our history of our economy relying so much on heavy manufacturing and the inability to let go of that old economy and that view of ourselves and embrace the new economy. Madison has less of an issue with that than the rest of the state because it has always had a different economic base. These are just my thoughts and hunches.

  2. Comment by Laguna Streets:

    There’s always push-ups. Drop what you’re doing right now (reading this) and give me 50! It’s good for upper-body strength and relieves that guilty feeling too.