Recently, after a friend was injured while riding his bicycle in northwest Bakersfield, I sat with his mother in the hospital. “When is enough, enough?”she asked when I spoke with her in the waiting area of a local emergency room.
Her son was suffering from a broken collarbone, broken arm, broken leg, a fractured vertebra and was waiting to see if he had a punctured lung. This was every mother’s worst nightmare, though I’m happy to say he is expected to recover.
“He is more than just a kid on a bike with tattoos and long hair. He is a good musician and caring person,” his mother said. He’s a keyboard player, and his band recently played at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. He will play again, but it will be a while.
During my half-hour visit with his mother at the hospital, she expressed her desire to see our community become more educated about roadway safety issues.
She expressed worry about the high speeds and lack of consequences for these far-too-frequent tragedies.
And she’s right: Our citizens need — no, they deserve — a safe transportation system for all roadway users.
We at iBikeKern.com and Kern Active Transportation, along with our partners at California Bicycle Coalition, California Walks and the California Safe Routes to School partnership, rolled out Vision Zero Kern recently.
Vision Zero is based on a Swedish street safety approach which treats all traffic deaths as inherently preventable.
The Vision Zero campaign is now a national and statewide campaign to reduce cycling and pedestrian fatalities to zero within 10 years. We have a lot of work to do locally, as Bakersfield is coming off of a record year with 37 bike and pedestrian roadway deaths.
To achieve this, we will use education, enforcement, encouragement and evaluation programs throughout Kern County.
The program will begin in the spring and continue through the fall, repeating yearly and allowing for measured growth and improvement. Licensed educators, both young and old, will use League of American Bicyclists and America Walks curriculums to educate our citizens.
In addition to saving lives and improving our quality of life, creating a safer roadway experience can provide many financial benefits to our community, such as reduced health care and transportation costs and increased discretionary income.
Improving the safety of our roadways for all users is a cure for what ails us here in Kern, particularly in metro Bakersfield. State-leading obesity rates, poor air quality, high poverty levels, low educational levels and deteriorating roads are hallmarks of Kern.
The Kern Economic Development Corporation tells us there is a lack of 24-34 year-old engineer types to fill the jobs we need in Kern for our agriculture and petroleum industries.
Sixty-five percent of the people in this age group want to live in communities that have a solid, active transportation system. These types of communities have centrally located shopping and entertainment centers easily accessible by biking or walking.
Let’s take Kern County and metro Bakersfield to this next level of success and sustainability. Join with your community and civic leaders in embracing our active transportation needs.
You can learn more about the Vision Zero Kern project at iBikeKern.com or visit our Facebook page. Show your community and Kern County that you want zero cycling and pedestrian fatalities by 2025.
Zachary A. Griffin of Bakersfield is a bicycle advocate and licensed cycling instructor. Community Voices is an expanded commentary of 650 to 700 words. The Californian reserves the right to edit all submissions for length and clarity.
When I was mayor of Charlotte, NC, I helped oversee development of a Complete Streets approach to transportation that included motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, wheelchair users, transit passengers, and the businesses that lined the city’s streets. I also was mayor when the Charlotte Center City Partners launched Charlotte B-Cycle, the largest urban bike-sharing system in the Southeast.
Cities and towns across the country are taking steps to make biking an option for their residents, but we have a responsibility to make sure that it’s a safe option, too. Because, even though NHTSA reports national total crash fatalities at record lows, bicyclist and pedestrian deaths have not followed suit.
I didn’t tolerate it as mayor of Charlotte, and we certainly won’t stand still at DOT and allow this crisis to build up over time. As I told the enthusiastic bicycling advocates yesterday at the 2014 National Bike Summit, our roads should be safe; they should be easy places to travel, no matter how we’re traveling on them.
Traditionally, bicycling has not benefited from federal transportation investments. But in the past few years, our TIGER program has invested more than $150 million dollars in projects that have helped improve bike networks across the country.
We’ve built bike lanes and paths in Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. We’ve constructed a network to link cyclists with downtown Indianapolis. And now, we’re looking forward to doing more.
Yesterday, we announced the details of President Obama’s $302 billionproposal for American transportation, and we made sure that this plan increases resources to step up bicycle and pedestrian programs and the resources we need for our public transit systems, which are important connections for people who walk and ride bicycles.
This is about transportation–about people using their bikes to get where they need to go.
In fact, the League of American Bicyclists released a report in 2013showing that about 1/3 of bike trips are taken by people who make less than $30,000 per year. In many communities, people are riding bikes because that’s how they get to work. So this isn’t just an issue of recreation; it’s an issue of equality, bringing people together, expanding the middle class, and helping people who are trying to get into the middle class. It’s an issue of making sure, when someone’s only or best option to get to work is a bike, that they have an option to ride it, and ride it in safety.
In a nation with as rich a history of meeting challenges as ours, we can be for bikes and other forms of transportation at the same time. And the President’s transportation proposal shows us how to do that.
Superheroes were spotted late yesterday afternoon assembling across from Union Station. Could it be another X-men sequel? Nah.
Yesterday was March 4th, the only day of the year that actually forms a sentence. At least when it’s said out loud. Since that two-word sentence is an exhortation to walk, Los Angeles Walks celebrated the day by taking to the streets.
The March Forth Pedestrian Day of Action was a somewhat light-hearted way to take on some very serious issues.
L.A. Walks has reviewed car-ped crash data and identified several areas around Metro stations where there are large numbers of both pedestrians and collisions that harm them. Last October, the organization staged superhero interventions in Hollywood and MacArthur Park areas; yesterday’s walk signal in the sky drew the heroes downtown. In downtown L.A., Recent LAPD stings of scofflaw driver behavior… never happened. Volunteers gathered at street corners outside of Union Station and later the Red/Purple Line Civic Center Station.
L.A. Walks Steering Committee member Alexis Lantz emphasized that L.A. Walks volunteers weren’t out to stop traffic, but just to keep pedestrians safe from cars making illegal right and left turns in front of pedestrians. In addition to stunts like yesterday’s, Lantz mentioned that L.A. Walks is taking on bigger policy changes, including ending “right turn on red.”
It shouldn’t take a superhero to get across the street safely, but it looks like may take some heavy-lifting to realign local street policies and practices to value pedestrian lives over car through-put.
A few more action shots after the step, er, jump.
Let’s take Kern County and Metro Bakersfield to this next level of success, sustainability. Join with your community and civic leaders in embracing our Active Transportation needs. You can learn more about the Vision Zero Kern project at iBikeKern.com or visit our FB page. Show your community you want to Vision Zero Kern County cycling & pedestrian fatalities by 2025!
Join the Vision Zero Kern movement, follow us on FaceBook!
Pickup your Vision Zero Kern supporter T-Shirts at our on-line store. $20 for safer streets in Kern Co. for all users!
Watch local Mountain Biker Gareth, G$, Feldstien compete in the opening round of the US CUP Pro XCT. Round one was outside Austin Texas, called the Mellow Johnny’s Classic it featured the best pro mountain bikers in North America. Geoff Kabush, Max Plaxton, Todd Wells & Jeremiah Bishop to name a few of the past present and current National Champions. Temperatures were in the 80′s for the 6laps the pro’s raced making it a hot race for those from the Northeast.
Last week Gareth took the win at our local Foothill Mtb race, see how he does on his first National Cup race!
Cannondale Factory Rider outsprints Kabush and Wells for the early season win
Max Plaxton (Cannondale Factory Racing) opened the USA Cycling US Cup Pro Series at the Mellow Johnny’s Classic with victory in the elite men’s cross country mountain bike race on Saturday in Dripping Springs, Texas.
The young Keegan Swenson (Cannondale Factory Racing) surprised his elders by leading out the first lap at a blazing pace. Swenson’s efforts created a lead group of about a half dozen riders; a chase group pursued the leaders but never could close down the gap.
Unfortunately, Swenson’s luck ran out when he flatted on the far side of lap 2 of the six-lap race. That left Plaxton, Geoff Kabush (Scott-3Rox), Todd Wells (Specialized), Jeremiah Bishop (Sho-Air/Cannondale) and Derek Zandstra (Scott-3Rox) as the leaders.
Freshly back to elite racing, Sam Schultz (Sho-Air/Cannondale) was putting in a strong ride and had worked his way up to sixth place when he also flatted three and a half laps into the race.
The fireworks began on the last lap, and Plaxton launched his winning attack on the final main climb, then held off fellow Canadian Kabush by two seconds at the finish. Wells followed in third another eight seconds later.
It was Plaxton’s fourth-ever victory at the Mellow Johnny’s Classic.
“Texas is good for me! It’s great to start off this season, my first with Cannondale Factory Racing, and this great new series with a win!” said Plaxton, post-race.
Bishop and Zandstra could not match the pace of the top three on the last lap and fell back a bit, blown by their first big national-level race effort of the season. Bishop rolled in alone to claim fourth place while Zandstra held onto fifth place.
Payson McElveen (Richard’s Rainwater MTB Racing) put in the break out performance of the day. The young privateer finished an impressive sixth place.
After round one of four of the USA Cycling US Cup, the series standings match the results of the initial race. Plaxton leads the series ahead of Kabush and Wells.
The USA Cycling US Cup presented by Sho-Air Cycling Group series will continue with round 2, a UCI Category HC race at Bonelli Park in California on Saturday, March 15.
|1||Max Plaxton (Can) Cannondale Factory Team||1:28:00|
|2||Geoffrey Kabush (Can) Scott-3Rox Racing||0:00:02|
|3||Todd Wells (USA) Specialized||0:00:10|
|4||Jeremiah Bishop (USA) Team Sho-Air/Cannondale||0:00:25|
|5||Derek Zanstra (Can) Scott-3ROXRacing||0:01:07|
|6||Payson McElveen (USA) Richard’s Rainwater MTB Racing||0:01:45|
|7||Benjamin Sonntag (Ger) NoTubes Elite Racing||0:02:35|
|8||Spencer Paxson (USA) Kona Bicycles||0:02:41|
|9||Alex Grant (USA) Team Sho-Air/Cannondale||0:03:05|
|10||Russell Finsterwald (USA) SRAM- Troy Lee Designs Race Team||0:03:30|
|11||Kris Sneddon (Can) Kona||0:04:05|
|12||Ryan Trebon (USA) Team Sho-Air/Cannondale||0:04:12|
|13||Troy Wells (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:04:23|
|14||Adam Morka (Can) WFP Coaching / Trek Bikes||0:04:28|
|15||Hector fernando Riveros (Col) Scott-RotorUsa KOM marketing||0:04:43|
|16||Carl Decker (USA) Giant||0:05:07|
|17||Jason Sager (USA) Backcountry.com||0:05:20|
|18||Casey Williams (USA) Whole Athlete/Specialized||0:05:38|
|19||Rotem Ishay (Isr) Team Jamis Bikes||0:05:44|
|20||Mitchell. Hoke (USA) The Pro’s Closet – Stan’s NoTubes MTB||0:05:59|
|21||Tristan Uhl (USA) 787 Racing||0:07:38|
|22||Ryan Woodall (USA) The Pro’s Closet – Stan’s Notubes Mtb Team||0:07:41|
|23||Chris Baddick (GBr) Red Ace Organics||0:08:05|
|24||Billy Melone (USA) Riverside Racing||0:08:18|
|25||Antoine Caron (Can) Specialized Racing Canada||0:09:10|
|26||Bryan Alders (USA) Marin Bikes Factory Team||0:09:32|
|27||Menso De Jong (USA) Team Clif Bar Cycling||0:10:15|
|28||Jack Hinkens (USA) Penn Cycle Trek||0:10:26|
|29||Keck Baker (USA) Champ Sys/Cannondale/C.B.C/Battley Harley||0:10:30|
|30||Cole Oberman (USA) RareDiseaseCycling.org||0:11:09|
|31||Elliot Reinecke (USA) Velo Hangar FOCUS bikes||0:11:30|
|32||Miguel Valadez Ortiz (Mex) Valle Congelado||0:11:43|
|33||Michael Hosey (USA) Soulcraft||0:11:46|
|34||David Vaughn (USA) ZiaVelo||0:12:17|
|35||Carson Lange (USA) VooDoo Racing||0:13:21|
|36||Joseph Maloney (USA) KS Energy Services/Team Wisconsin||0:14:14|
|37||Tom Sampson (USA) adigga racing||0:14:42|
|38||TJ Woodruff (USA) backcountry.com||0:14:54|
|39||Drew Edsall (USA) Pro’s Closet / Stan’s No Tubes||0:15:38|
|40||Gareth Feldstein (USA) Team Muscle Milk/NP Bikes/Cannondale||0:16:02|
|41||Skyler Taylor (USA) Bear development team||0:16:36|
|42||Brady Stewart (USA) Chain Link Racing||0:17:33|
|43||Jordan Kahlenberg (USA) Giant Northeast Pro Team||0:17:52|
|44||Keegan Swenson (USA) Cannondale Factory Racing||0:18:11|
|45||Rocky Gingg (USA) Momentum Endurance/Cycle Progression||0:18:28|
|46||Braden Kappius (USA) Team Clif Bar||0:19:21|
|47||Kalan Beisel (USA) Giant-Tuff Shed||0:19:27|
|48||Wohlschlaegecraig (USA) Giant||0:19:39|
|-1lap||Timothy Rugg (USA) Battley Harley-Davidson|
|-1lap||Garet Steinmetz (USA) Ethos|
|-1lap||Pete Macleod (USA) Bar Fly / Blue Hills|
|-1lap||Dan Wolf (USA) Pro Tested Gear|
|-1lap||Brian Barrow (USA) The Peddler Bike Shop|
|-1lap||David Flaten (USA) Giant North East Off Road|
|-1lap||Madison Matthews (USA) Toasted Head Racing / GU Energy|
|DNF||Kerry Werner Jr. (USA) BMC project Dirt presented by KMC|
|DNF||Cameron Jette (Can) Scott-3ROX Racing|
|DNF||Sam Schultz (USA) Team Sho-Air/Cannondale|
|DNF||Alex Meucci (USA) Bent’s Cycling and Fitness|
|DNF||Martin Cox (USA) Super Cool Bike Shop|
|DNF||Sepp Kuss (USA) BMC project Dirt presented by KMC|
|DNF||Ryan Geiger (USA) Tropix-FRM Factory Race Team|
|DNF||Ernie Watenpaugh (USA) Jack Daniel’s|
|DNF||Alex Wild (USA) Trail Head Racing – Specialized|
|DNF||Andrew Dahlheim (USA) Bio Racer Speedwear|
|DNF||Steve Tilford (USA) TradeWind Energy/Eriksen Cycles|
|DNF||Ignacio Torres (Mex) Turbo Mexico|
|DNS||John Nobil (USA) bear valley bikes|
|DNS||Scott Henry (USA) Cycle Progression|
The deadline to introduce new bills to the California legislature was Friday, so a slew of new legislation is currently being assigned to committees for hearing. Some of them are so-called “spot” bills, as in “hold a spot in line for me, bub,” containing a bare minimum of information, with the plan being to shape them in legislative discussion. All of them are likely to be amended before reaching a vote, and they must go through two voting processes (one in each house) before being passed on to the governor to be signed. Meanwhile, they give some clues about what our lawmakers are thinking about.
Here are the bills in play that could potentially impact livable streets.
Vulnerable Road Users Law: Asm. Marc Levine (D-San Rafael) introduced A.B. 2398, which raises the fines charged when drivers cause injury to “vulnerable road users,” defined as pedestrians, bicyclists, and people using farm equipment and riding horses. The bill is loosely modeled on an existing law in Oregon, but the fines in this bill are minuscule, and sanctions don’t include the community service or required license suspension of the Oregon law. Also, both laws depend on how the police assign responsibility for crashes — a significant flaw. For more on the Oregon law, seethis interesting discussion from a Portland bike lawyer which predates its enactment, but could offer some guidance as the CA bill moves through the legislature.
Bicycle Tax: Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) has proposed S.B. 1183, which would allow local jurisdictions to set a tax on bike sales. Funds from the tax would go towards trail improvement and maintenance. Cyclelicious got this right, pointing out that while bike tax proponents argue that the tax would provide “political credibility that cyclists pay their way,” this is a “bankrupt excuse of an argument,” since road infrastructure is disproportionately bankrolled by non-drivers through general taxes.
Redefining Electric Bicycles: Asm. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) put forward A.B. 2173, which would define electric bicycles with motors that are limited to a top speed of 20 mph as “low-speed” electric bikes, and allow them to ride in bike lanes and on bike paths and trails.
The East Bay Bicycle Coalition’s Robert Prinz is concerned that the wording of this bill may allow a loophole for Specialized’s new “turbo” e-bike, which can go up to 28 mph. “What we’re trying to do is calm traffic, not get bikes to speed up to car speeds,” he says. “There’s a big difference between a crash at 20 mph and a crash at 28 mph, especially for a cyclist.”
Cycle Track Standards: A.B. 1193, from Asms. Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Mike Gatto (D-L.A.), is still alive from the last legislative session. It would require Caltrans to define and establish design standards for a new type of Class IV facility for bikes: physically separated, buffered bike lanes, or “cycle tracks.”
A couple of alternatives: Caltrans could just follow the advice in the recent SSTI report and adoptNACTO design guidelines, which already include a section on cycle tracks, rendering the bill moot. Or, with the right amendments, this bill could be the vehicle for that report’s recommendation to eliminate Caltrans’ oversight of bicycle facilities in the state. Stay tuned.
School District Planning: School districts have separate planning departments with their own methods and priorities that don’t always mesh with those of their surrounding communities. A.B. 1179, introduced by Asm. Raul Bocanegra (D-Pacoima) last year, was an attempt to merge school district planning into regional planning efforts.
Last year’s bill was gutted in discussion. This year’s iteration is reduced to creating a spot for the Superintendent of Public Instruction on the Strategic Growth Council, which is the interagency group charged with figuring out how to meet the state’s climate change goals. California needs much stronger efforts to bring schools into regional planning processes than this, since schools have such a big influence on where people choose to live.
School Zone Violations: In the Senate, Sen. Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) introduced S.B. 1151, which would double fines for traffic violations near schools and use the proceeds to fund the Active Transportation Program, under whose umbrella Safe Routes to Schools Programs are funded. This would make fines for traffic violations in school zones equal to those in construction zones.
Carbon Tax on Fuels: A bunch of bills want to control how revenue from cap-and-trade is applied (see below), but none directly address the market mechanisms used to control greenhouse gas emissions except for Darrell Steinberg’s (D-Sacramento) proposal to replace cap-and-trade with a carbon tax, S.B. 1156. Cap-and-trade is scheduled to apply to fuels starting next year.
Money from Cap-and-Trade: Senators Ricardo Lara (D-Long Beach/Huntington Park), Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), and Assemblymember Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) have each introduced bills that designate a specific use of cap-and-trade funds: S.B. 1204 (Lara and Pavley) would fund the technological development of zero emission trucks and buses; S.B. 1122 (Pavley) would designate funds for regional Sustainable Communities Strategies and the Alternative Transportation Program; A.B. 1639 (Grove) would clarify that the intent of the legislation is to use the funds specifically for cost-effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
Many of these bills will transform in the hearing process, morphing and perhaps combining until the very last minute (hopefully with as salubrious effects as S.B. 743‘s last-minute amendments last year).
Streetsblog will continue to track and report on these bills and other legislation affecting the state’s transportation and livability landscape.
SEAL OUT THE COLD Waxmonsky never leaves home without a waterproof, windproof shell: “I can bike in a single wool layer, plus that jacket, down to minus-2 degrees.” For colder temperatures, she wears a balaclava and sometimes even ski goggles.
STAY LOOSE You’re more likely to fishtail on wet road. “Your bicycle wants to stay upright, so just keep pedalling and relax,” Waxmonsky says. If you hit a sketchy patch, keep your weight centred, don’t brake or try to steer out of it, and roll through it.
AVOID THE BEATEN TRACK The tar is usually the easiest part to pedal on. So avoid any metal surfaces like drains and fire hydrants and the white/yellow painted lines which are like riding on ice in wet weather. If you do topple, Waxmonsky says, your extra clothing will help cushion your fall.
Another year, another decline in per capita driving. For the ninth year in a row, the cumulative distance Americans drive is down, adjusting for population, according to new data from the Federal Highway Administration. Total driving by all Americans has fallen about 2 percent since 2007 — or 7 percent per capita — and is lower than it was in 2005.
But a decade of stagnant driving came and went without major adjustments at most state departments of transportation — the agencies responsible for spending tens of billions of dollars in federal transportation funds each year. The typical state DOT still makes decisions based on models that assume driving will continue to grow forever. The result is billions of dollars spent on unnecessary roads.
But there’s some positive news on that front this week. At long last, according to the research team at the State Smart Transportation Initiative, some states are starting to adjust their traffic projections to better reflect reality.
Chris McCahill at SSTI writes:
Maryland is an example of this trend. In 2009, the state’s long-range plan projected statewide VMT [vehicle miles traveled] growth of 2 percent per year through 2030 [pictured above]. The plan dismissed the recent decline as a temporary consequence of high fuel prices and the economic downturn, asserting, “there is no clear evidence that Marylanders will continue to drive less in the future.” However, in its updated plan released just last month, the agency has left out projections entirely, declaring that “a return to strong annual VMT growth is unlikely and per capita VMT [...] is actually decreasing.” A handful of other states have either dampened their projections or shifted their focus toward VMT reduction goals and transportation demand management efforts.
McCahill says most states are still projecting that driving will start rising steadily again soon, despite mounting evidence that the recent decline signifies a long-term trend. But some are starting to see the writing on the wall.
States that have adjusted their traffic projections include Washington and Illinois.
“Washington made a pretty good effort to revise their travel demand model in 2008. Their forecasts have been much better in the time since,” said McCahill. “They still predict a little less than 1 percent growth per year.”
Illinois, meanwhile, “kind of dampened their projections a little bit,” he said. Five years ago the state was predicting traffic would rise 2 percent per year. Now the state is predicting 1 percent annual growth.
Those are the best examples McCahill could offer, after a comprehensive review of state DOTs’ long-range plans. And it’s worth noting they still assume higher rates of traffic growth than what’s been observed in recent years.
Many states, McCahill adds, haven’t even updated their long-range plans since driving began to decline almost a decade ago.
Angie Schmitt is a newspaper reporter-turned planner/advocate who manages the Streetsblog Network from glamorous Cleveland, Ohio. She also writes about urban issues particular to the industrial Midwest at Rustwire.com.
by Clarence Eckerson, Jr. on February 24, 2014
This one-day mini film takes a look at NYC’s newly formed transportation advocacy group, Families for Safe Streets, and the press conference they held for their first public gathering on the steps of NYC’s City Hall steps.
There was plenty of emotional testimony given by the families of loved ones who have perished due to traffic violence on the streets of New York City. In fact, many of the people are likely familiar to Streetfilms viewers since they’ve been in past videos reaching back seven or eight years. Thus, we dug in to the archives to emphasize just how long some of these families have been asking for safer streets.
As you may be aware, Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced the beginning steps for his ambitious Vision Zero Plan. While most of the members of Families for Safe Streets support the mayor, they would like to see many of his initiatives instituted immediately with timetables set for certain goals.
Clarence Eckerson, Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He’s never had a driver’s license and never will.