Friday, December 3, 2010

Santa Rosa Junior College US 101 Bike/Ped Bridge in jeopardy

Santa Rosa has proposed a Bike/Ped overcrossing of US 101 near the Santa Rosa Junior College and Coddington Mall. There is a major destination on both sides of 101, and many residences on both side. In between there might as well be a brick wall. US 101 in Santa Rosa is a trenchlike barrier between the West and East. If you aren't in a car - good luck getting across, the freeway overcrossings are gnarly. I ride from our place in Healdsburg down to the bus depot at Piner/Industrial and have to cross 101 on Bicentennial. It's only mildly nervewracking - but I'm crossing it at 5:30 AM with almost no traffic. That's not when people go to Junior College.

The bridge was up for a vote recently, and passed 5-2. Well, really it passed 4-3, but one of the opponents voted for it in order to be allowed to bring it up for another vote in January, when new council members will be seated and the balance will tip the other way. You can read about it in the Press Democrat here.

Regardless of the "political shenanigans" - cancelling this project is just a bad idea. And I don't believe any talk of "It's a recession, this is a bad time". US 101 from Rohnert Park to Windsor has been under construction throughout the entire recession, none of these guys have gone into hysterics asking to delay portions of the project. "It's a recession, this is a bad time" is code for "Here is my excuse to delay it so hopefully it will go away".

This whole thing is very disappointing to me. Sonoma County is a very progressive area and a great place for recreational cycling. As a general rule it is also a good place for transportational cycling, with some good infrastructure in place. One of the thorniest spots is crossing 101 in Santa Rosa (don't get me started on trying to figure out how to get past Petaluma with any sort of rational ease). There are some crazy people out in the hills, but mostly very bike friendly. They certainly love the money that comes from all the people who come for the events - Wine Country Century, Levi's Grand Fondo, Vineman Triathlon. Santa Rosa has hosted the Amgen Tour of California every year since the event started.

So I fired off the following letter to the Santa Rosa City Council. Even if all of your bike rides start with taking your bike off of the roof of your car, you should care about this. The same mindset that is trying to kill this bridge is why there is a cop camped out at 84/Canada in Woodside or Camino Alto and Blithedale in Mill Valley, ticketing cyclists for rolling a right turn at a stop sign while motorists do the same and get ignored. If you're on a bike, you don't count. Though we will take your money, thanks!

Feel free to drop a line to the following people supporting this bridge and expressing you will support nearby places with a little more sense... like for example This Friendly Burg

Bike friendly on Twitpic,,,,,,

Dear Santa Rosa City Council -

While I am not one of your constituents, I would like to express my dismay at the rumored demise of the project for the bike bridge over US-101 at SRJC. I am frequently in Santa Rosa with my bike and your city can be tough to navigate due to the configuration of 101 - I typically cross on Bicentennial to get to the Piner Road Golden Gate Transit bus stop, and that crossing is not for the faint of heart - I fortunately have a strong heart and quick reflexes.

Others who choose to bike around your city - primarily your residents - may not be as bold as I am, and the proposed bridge would make your city a much safer and enjoyable place for all, but especially pedestrians and cyclists needing to make a crossing in that area.

What dismays me most about this possibility is this. I am a San Francisco resident and the owner of a Vacation Rental property in Healdsburg. I have invested a lot of time and money buildi ng a business and our primary constituency - a very lucrative one - is recreational cyclists. It is not uncommon for our guests to request that we try to get them a reservation at Cyrus in Healdsburg, and also to ask for other destinations, and we frequently send them to downtown Santa Rosa and Railroad Square. We also patronize these businesses ourselves - LoCoco's has fueled many a ride on Kings Ridge.

I do as much as I can to promote Sonoma County as a destination for cyclists nationwide, and as you probably can tell, I pale in comparison to your constituent Mr. Leipheimer. This population brings a lot of money into Sonoma County and I am a big flag waver in San Francisco and the Peninsula to ship that money into your county.

While I will continue to do so, if you are so short-sighted as to kill this invaluable project, I will have to recommend to my guests that they bypass your city. I will tell the 100's of friends that go to Levi's Grand Fondo, the Wine Country Century, and dozens of other cycling events, that they should stay, shop, and eat in Healdsburg or Windsor. The triathletes participating in Vineman should eat in Sebastopol. If Santa Rosa is hostile to cyclists, cyclists should not give Santa Rosa our money. Maybe Amgen is on to something.

Transportational cycling in Santa Rosa can more of a cycling challenge than Kings Ridge Road. That's a shame. You have the power to do something to fix that. I urge those of you against this project to reconsider your position.

Thank You

John Murphy - San Francisco/Healdsburg

Thursday, December 2, 2010

DPT going after cabbies parking in bike lane by Caltrain

Riding to Caltrain I had to (broken record) leave the bike lane to avoid cars parked in the bike lane, in this case the typical cab line overflow from the Caltrain cab stand.

Suddenly one of these cabbies whips out of the line into the lane I am now occupying, right in front of me. I swerve around and stop when I get past, blocking him. I grab my water bottle and start a Tim Lincecum when a sweet voice calls out "breathe deep honey - smell this rose". I turn to see a DPT officer with a rose extended and she says "smell the rose, it helps. I'm out here ticketing these people for blocking your bike lane."

I looked back at the cab and he was slinking down and giving me the I'm sorry. I decided after yesterday getting yelled at by the bus driver, why not smell the rose today. Thanked the PCO and went on.

Thinking it through - the cabbie had seen the PCO and was evading the ticket, which ended up being worse than just being in the bike lane. Wish I had figured it out immediately so I could have asked her "ticket him first".

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Incident with "First Student" bus 12/1/2010

Update sent to my supervisor and Avalos (D11 Supe), and School Board.

From Dufty

I'm sorry for this and am asking Chris Armentrout to make sure the right people see it ASAP


On Alemany around Mt Vernon, Jason, Signe and I were cruising along in the bike lane. There were three contractor trucks double parked in the bike lane, maybe there is a day laborer pickup spot there? Anyway, as we are merging out of the Bike Lane into the rightmost traffic lane I hear a honk from 30 or so yards behind us, close enough to hear but not close enough to startle. But what did startle me was a "First Student" bus that buzzed within a foot or so of us, fortunately before we made it to the double parked cars so we had a little room to veer away (I think, it happened pretty fast). We were going 16 MPH or so, the bus was almost certainly exceeding what I am pretty sure is a posted 35 MPH speed limit. There was zero additional traffic - the left lane was clear.

Of course, as is always the case, this allowed the bus driver to make it to the red light 50 yards in front of us much faster. As we pulled alongside I started scanning for the bus number and found it on the front of the bus - 215866. As I have learned - instead of looking first at the driver, I pointed at the number - indicating to the driver I didn't want a fight, I wanted to report him. He opened the bus door and started screaming at us.

Among his points - "YOU CAN'T LEAVE THE BIKE LANE" (not true - you are allowed to leave the bike lane to avoid obstacles, 3 pickup trucks generally count as obstacles). "I SHOULD CALL THE CHP ON YOU" (Alemany isn't in the CHP jurisdiction, SFPD could not ticket us but probably not ticket him, to me it was an unsafe pass but that's hard to quantify - nonetheless he was the one operating unsafely). Beyond that there was a bunch of rambling.

Mid 50's grayish hair, blue baseball cap with a logo of interlocked letters of some sort. Small sized bus.

He had decision points where he could have avoided incident. Seeing us signal and merge out he could have slowed until we passed the double parked cars (it really annoys me - the root cause of his "delay" is three double parked cars, not three bikes). He could have switched lanes. If he's lazy he could just move over 3-4 feet and given us plenty of room. Any argument that this was impossible is thwarted by the fact he had the wherewithall to take a hand off the wheel and honk his horn. And certainly that verifies - along with his statement "YOU CAN'T LEAVE THE BIKE LANE" that he had seen us, and he made a conscious decision to not accommodate us and thus endanger our lives for no reason.

He saw us, and drove right at us. Period.

Note that the "First Student" website pretty much starts with

First Student, Inc. is North America’s leading school bus transportation services company and responsible for safely transporting 6 million students to and from school every day.

Technically, I'm not a student.

Sad. This guy is a professional driver for an organization that 6 million parents (give or take) trust with their children, and he made a measured decision that he didn't care if he ended someone's life.

Just to add insult to injury, in Woodside we made a foot down stop at 84/Canada, watched a car cross from our left, then from our right, then we proceeded into the intersection and had to slam the brakes when another car proceeded from the left. Apparently our friends from the Woodside PD were in the bakery for that one.