Thursday, February 25, 2010

MUNI Story

There has been a big focus on MUNI lately. The MTA will be voting on a variety of fare increases and service cuts tomorrow. The Mayor negotiated some concessions from the union leaders to help ease the budget deficit, the Union promptly voted the givebacks down. Are we headed for a meltdown?


Tonight I was riding back from Caltrain, after barely missing the SECOND Caltrain collison of the day (an AM collision with an abandoned car on the tracks, and a PM suicide). While I dodged the Caltrain fiasco, I managed to get a flat tire in the Mission. I decided to walk from 26th/Valencia to 24th/Valencia giving me the option to just hop on the 48 bus so I could just fix the puncture at home.

Arriving at the intersection, I checked NextMUNI. Next bus - 51 minutes. After that? 51 minutes. Then 66 minutes, and 66 minutes. Great. I settled down to fix the flat.

Shortly thereafter I saw a bus coming down the street. I threw down my tire levers in disgust, then was more disgusted to see it was only a Google Shuttle. I got back to work as I chatted with my buddy Scott Crosby who was getting off the Google Bus. I had removed the old tire and was starting to work on checking the tube when I heard another bus. This time I barely flinched as it was an Apple shuttle. THe middle of rush hour and 2 private buses without a MUNI bus - and either none to come or NextMUNI on the fritz.

Now with a pile on the ground of old tube, new tube, tire levers, wheel, etc... I looked back and Voila! - 48 Quintara. Amazingly there was only one bike on the rack, but my own bike was in pieces. I quickly cobbled everything together and hopped the bus home.

I checked Routesey. Next bus to 24th and Dolores - 41, 41, 56, 56 minutes.

Guess the 48 is getting in on the meltdown early.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Holey Bagel

I stop most mornings at Holey Bagel not because they are Holey-er than you, but because they have the best bagels in San Francisco.

This morning, I went in and a man I believe is the owner asked me about my bike. Well, he didn't ask me about my bike, he asked about biking.

"Let me ask you a question. When you ride your bike, do you have to follow the rules. If you don't can you get a ticket?"

"Of course you can get a ticket"



"I see they are making a lot of the bike lanes for the bikes to ride in"

"Yes, it's good"

"Yes, that is good, very safe. Do you have to ride in the bike lane, or if you are not can they give you a ticket?"

"No, you don't have to ride in the bike lane"

"WHAT? Why not?"

"Because most of the time you have to go around a car double parked in the bike lane"

"WELL, THAT'S DIFFERENT. When there is not a car in the bike lane, you have to ride in the bike lane".

"No, you don't. There could be a pothole, you could be passing a bike, there could be any number of reasons you need to ride in the traffic lane".

I omitted "For example, I will be pulling out of the bike lane to run into the Bagel Bakery for a bagel from now on". Of course, there is no bike lane on Townsend Street where the Bagel Bakery is, but hopefully there will be soon

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Whole Foods Noe Valley Bike Parking Update.

Apparently there are more racks. Not sure if they are new.

> Hi John,
> Thanks for your feedback and ideas regarding the bike racks. I'm not
> sure if you noticed the additional bike racks that we added since
> opening. We have 14 more spots on the right side of the lot by
> Bernie's Coffee shop. We also partnered with the SF bike coalition,
> who just installed four more spots on the sidewalk out front. I love
> seeing so many customers and Team Members biking.
> Parking is another challenge for sure. We outgrew our tiny lot the
> moment we opened! I spoke with the parking attendants today to
> review some different approaches to managing traffic. I think we
> came up with a good method. We are committed to keep trying until it
> gets as smooth as it possible.
> We look forward to seeing you soon!
> Sincerley,
> Melanie Holt
> Store Team Leader
> Whole Foods Market
> Noe Valley
> 3950 - 24th Street

I asked for a sign indicating "more bike parking on North side of lot" near the front.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bike Parking Problem at Noe Valley Whole Foods Persists

While we are down the parking meter that was turned from a parking meter into a 24 hour loading zone in front of Whole Foods, the MTA has installed the two bike racks at the same location! Net 2 spots - of course they are out on the street instead of close to the store. Sorry to not have a picture of the new racks, I'll try to scare one up, I was operating without my trusty iPhone and had to borrow my Mother's phone for a few pics on our trip around stroller valley. Incidentally, I can now see how some people get really annoyed at the stroller brigade, watching my Mom drive the SUV of strollers, our BoB, through Noe Valley. I was freaking out in the Whole Foods that she might take out a few thousand dollars of wine - she was like a bull in a china shop. Say this for cyclists - we've trained ourselves to be inherently aware of our surroundings. But I appreciated the company, as did Liam.

Anywho, I did get two photos.

First, the obligatory shot of the 4 Whole Foods racks - packed to the gills.

While I sat outside as my mother munched on some snacks and fed Liam some organic Rice Milk (he's sick and dairy was exacerbating his runny poop, but the Rice Milk ran through him amazingly fast, I have never seen so many super saturated diapers) - I saw only 2 bikes turn over. Apparently the cyclo-set had some serious power shopping going on in Whole Foods - so much for the argument that you can't carry a lot of groceries on your bike. I jest, certainly this included employee bikes, which is cool, unless the bike racks are terminally full and the cyclists start to impede upon the most important, entitled class in Noe Valley...

I speak of "The Dogs", of course. The eye-hook this bike is locked too is for leashing your dog outside the store. Whole Foods is even kind enough to put out a water bowl. You can see poor Audrey's leash haphazardly connected to the leash loop, as she cowers in fear under the bike. WF has 4 of these things, the other three were occupied by another bike and 2 pit bulls. We decided to go with this one.

As another cyclist pulled up and looked forlornly at the full rack, I said "I'll watch it for you" as he leaned it up at another dog spot. I said "We need more racks here". He said "I'd sign the petition".

I don't think it needs to be a "petition", but please email the store manager if you give a crap - here is the contact form on their website

Hwy 101 Crossing: Ringwood Avenue pedestrian bridge Menlo Park

For the Highway 101 crossing project.

The Ringwood Avenue pedestrian bridge over Highway 101 in Menlo Park is a passage known only to the locals and a few intrepid explorers. Herein I describe this passage for the benefit of science.

This bike / pedestrian crossing is about midway between Willow Road and Marsh Road and is, in my opinion, a much nicer choice over those road crossings. It connects the Belle Haven neighborhood in "East" Menlo Park with the Flood Triangle neighborhood, and is a vital connection to Menlo-Atherton High School for students who live on the (nominally) east side of 101. Here's the view of this bridge from the west side of 101.

Menlo Park pedestrian overpass

For commuters, it's a handy way to cross from the Bay side of 101 to the Caltrain side of the freeway. Typical destinations on the Bay side might be the Sun Microsystems campus or the biotech companies in the industrial parks between Marsh Road and Willow Road in Menlo Park. I've seen people headed to the Menlo Park Techshop use this bridge as well. The entire area bounded by the railroad tracks, Hwy 101 a and Willow Road is mostly residential with lots of four way stops (that are ignored), speed bumps, and other traffic calming measures to prevent cut through traffic.

From the Bay side, I usually ride to the bridge from Willow Road on Hamilton Avenue. Hang a left on Market (jogging around the center divider), then through the traffic circle to the bridge. I sometimes ride down Ivy Drive as well. Google Maps shows a discontinuation on Ivy Dr at the elementary school, but there is pedestrian and bicycle access across there (even if people usually have their cars illegally parked on the access ramps).

View Larger Map

From the Caltrain side of Menlo Park, access is via Ringwood Avenue which runs north (or east or toward the Bay) from Middlefield Road. There's a 5 way stop (that everybody runs, so watch yourself) at Ringwood and Bay Road -- continue straight on Ringwood which becomes a very quiet residential street. Ringwood deadends at the Hwy 101 sound wall -- the pedestrian bridge is on your right.

Hazards are minor: The chicanes at the bridge entry ramps are a pain in the neck. There's often broken glass on the bridge itself. The melanin averse among us sometimes describe Belle Haven as "sketchy," but I've never encountered any problems with my nearly four years of daily, year round bike commuting across this neighborhood. The same goes for several of my cycling colleagues (men and women) who use this bike bridge.

As an FYI, this bridge is supposed to be destroyed and replaced when Caltrans widens 101 by adding a lane between Marsh and Willow. Residents in Triangle Flood repeatedly petition Caltrans and the city of Menlo Park to not replace the bridge during this project; so far Caltrans and Menlo Park have pledged for bridge replacement, but it's important to keep on top of this.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Non Malicious Motorist?

I rode this AM from Redwood City Caltrain to work, starting by going up Jefferson.

As I came down towards Canada, there was a truck that did a strange sort of stop/shuffle move, I slowed because "who knows what sort of stunt this guy will pull". As I rode by, he stuck his head out the window and pointed down the hill and started to say something. I figured maybe he was telling me there was a wreck up ahead, or maybe a cop at the Jefferson/Canada intersection.

Later, at work, I heard from Michael Gaiman that he had spotted Cadel Evans out on the road today. I kicked myself because I was this close to riding with him this AM, and even closer to riding backwards on Canada to meet him at 92, in which case I would have shared in the ProSpotting.

I started to think about this whole thing, when I made the decision to turn left, it was in part because there was a reasonably strong rider headed that direction. Of course, there was a small group of 4-5 riders going North, but I wanted to get to work. This got me to thinking.... then when I saw this video of Cadel on Alpine, mentioning that he had done the PV AM ride, which ends just about the time one would need to get to Canada/Jefferson...

via gregmgomez2010

Looking at the jerseys and setups, and recalling the gruppo headed North on Canada...

I'm pretty sure the crazy motorist was telling me "Hey dude! The world champion is RIGHT THERE!!!!"

Well, they're not ALL out to get you...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Crossing Highway 101 - University Avenue Palo Alto

For the Hwy 101 Crossing Project.

The affluence of Palo Alto is walled off from East Palo Alto by U.S. Highway 101. University Avenue is the only way to cross directly from one realm into the other. East Palo Alto has a big box development near University Avenue with the big regional IKEA store, a Home Depot and a Mi Pueblo Market (located where the Circuit City used to be).

40,000 vehicles funnel across Highway 101 on University Avenue every day. The video below was shot as I crossed going north (from Palo Alto to East Palo Alto).

Crossing Palo Alto to East Palo Alto (northbound - toward the Bay).

University Avenue between Middlefield Road in Palo Alto up to the Highway 101 onramp is bike laned. To avoid the "right hook," I recommend staying left of the right turn lanes going into the onramp and keeping in the straight through lanes. Take the lane as necessary to avoid getting clipped, especially when you're on the bridge where the shoulder is very narrow.

View Larger Map

Once you cross to the north side of the bridge, the onramp for northbound Highway 101 is on the right. Again, position yourself for straight through and watch out for right hooks.

Once across the bridge and immediately after the northbound 101 onramp, a lot of traffic will turn right onto Donohoe for access to the Big Box stores, especially in the evening. Unless you're going to IKEA, again position yourself for your destination to reduce the chance of getting right hooked by that traffic.

Crossing East Palo Alto to Palo Alto (southbound - away from the Bay).

If you have Javascript enabled in your browser, below you see the view on University Avenue just before Donohoe Street. If necessary, rotate the view so you're facing in the direction of traffic.

View Larger Map

You lost the bike lane about 100 yards back, but the lane is still wide enough to share at Donohoe. Many motorists turn right at Donohoe to access northbound Hwy 101, so be on your toes. Immediately after Donohoe there's the Highway exit ramp with a fast merge onto University.

There's a very narrow sidewalk on this side of University, but I recommend staying off of it - pedestrians are common and there's not enough room to pass safely on the sidewalk itself.

After you cross the bridge, a striped shoulder opens up. Be prepared to merge left into the straight through lane -- that shoulder goes to the right of the right turn lane at Woodland Avenue. A high volume of traffic makes that right turn, and you want to be on their left.

After Woodland, it's clear sailing on very smooth and wide bike lanes all the way to Middlefield Road in Palo Alto. Good luck and God bless.