2011 Top Ten List
By Frank Peters
It’s that time of year; it’s time for a Cycling Safety End-Of-Year Top Ten List. Here’s how I rank them:
#10. Attending the League of American Bicyclists’ Annual Summit in Washington, DC where I heard New York’s Janette Sadik-Khan introduce the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, but it was Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer who continues to echo in my ears, “You shouldn’t have to burn a gallon of gas to get a gallon of milk.” Earl’s also famous for saying, “Half of all car trips are within a 20-minute bike ride, and 25 percent of car trips are within a 20-minute walk.”
Janette and Earl with Andy Clarke.
#9. Platinum Boulder. I spent Spring Break in Boulder; it was my first visit and I made the most of it. Besides 300 days of sunshine, this ultimate bike-friendly city has off-road bike paths that criss-cross the city and took me way out into the suburbs. My interview with Bikes Belong’s Tim Blumenthal has turned out to be one of the most popular.
#8. Boston Bike Ride. The day before the Angel Capital Association’s Annual Summit this Spring, I organized a bike ride around Cambridge and the historical sites of Boston. This modest little ride attracted bicycle enthusiasts from Auckland, London, Brussels, Melbourne, Philadelphia and several locals, too. It was a blustery, cold day that only got colder, but as the conference approaches for this spring I’m hearing from many who are eager to do it again.
#7. Big rides. I turned the 64-mile OC Gran Fondo into a 90-mile door-to-door outing. For me and riding buddy Dan Murphy it was a warm up for the ultimate ride, the 111-mile El Tour de Tucson on Nov 19th.
#6. Seattle, Palo Alto, San Francisco & Portland: I traveled up and down the coast to interview biking advocates. Peter Lagerwey helped design Seattle’s Bicycle Master Plan. Joyride author and Alta Planning President Mia Birk did the same for Portland in the 90s. Palo Alto Bicycle’s Jeff Selzer and former Stanford Bike Planner John Ciccarelli entertained me on my last trip to the Bay Area.
#5. Going multi-modal. My summer jobs in college were spent on the Boston & Maine Railroad as a Gandy dancer, a track worker, but that was a long time ago. This year I’ve put quite a bit of time into planning train travel with bikes and although my 4th of July trip was less than a total success, I would later put it all together on a trip south to San Diego to visit my mother in assisted living. I regret I won’t be making this trip again; after a long illness she recently passed away.
#4. Meeting Pedaling Revolution author Jeff Mapes. I saw the book review in the New York Times and ordered a copy, then for whatever reason I let it sit, but once I picked it up it changed my life. In preparation for the interview I made many notes, then left them in my hotel room, but the time together was memorable. Listen to Jeff tell of his research leading up to the book; it might make you a bike advocate, too.
#3. The CA Bike Summit: This long weekend in Little Tokyo packed a big punch. Not only would I meet many of the most effective bike advocates in the country, like BikingInLA’s Ted Rogers, Alliance for Biking and Walking President Jeff Miller and soon to be featured here, Randy Neufeld, Director of the $10Million SRAM Advocacy Fund, I’d come home with a new understanding of best practices in advocacy. Fellow bikeNewportBeach blogger David Huntsman changed his vacation plans to attend as well. Together we brought back many good ideas for improving bike safety here in Newport Beach. Probably equally valuable was meeting fellow advocates from all across the state; it was great comfort to hear of their progress — it made whatever setbacks we may feel here locally seem irrelevant to the inevitable progress that cycling advocates are making in many forward thinking communities.
#2. Nine days and 436 miles on the Erie Canal: It would be my first bike tour and the relatively flat terrain of upstate New York had its appeal. My touring companion Kent Issenberg was also touring for the first time; our 45-year friendship virtually guaranteed a happy outcome. The trip was sensational! The excitement of a new journey every day combined with the friendly people we met along the trail, the gorgeous scenery and the tranquility of the canal itself turned this expedition into an exceptional long distance ride. We learned a lot in the process which I hope we will apply to next summer’s encore.
The Erie Canal
#1. The Newport Beach Bike Safety Committee: What else could take the #1 spot? Yes, it’s very important, but it also ranks as number 1 in frustration, too. Let’s look at the objective measures: miles of bike lanes added: 0; miles of bike paths added: 0; number of bike racks installed: 0; closing down the streets for an LA-style Ciclivia: couldn’t make it happen. You name the score and this committee likely earned an F. The highlight of ignominy came mid-year when these City Council appointed bike advocates voted against painting Sharrows on Coast Highway through Corona del Mar. The Committee’s charter has expired, but will likely be renewed and I’m in favor of an extended term. There’s an opportunity to add some fresh blood to the committee, as I pointed out at last month’s meeting — just on the objective measure of attendance, there are two committee members who failed to attend even 50 percent of the meetings. Hopefully, an updated committee will include dedicated advocates who will find the time to attend; the City Council need look no further than the audience of these meetings to find committed and knowledgeable cyclists to replace the two delinquent members. So, if I find so much to fault this committee, why does it take the #1 spot? The issues are so important that even if progress is negligible, it brings City leaders together to discuss safety improvements. This committee has proven me right when I compare it to football as “a game of inches,” but it’s the best hope we have to achieve real progress. I’m optimistic that Mayor Nancy Gardner will find the political will to do more than just build consensus in the community, and that together with this committee, she will implement much needed infrastructure improvements. Let’s face it, the pace of change can only accelerate.
Happy New Year! Get on that bike and feel like a kid again!
A member of the 2009 Newport Beach Task Force on Cycling Safety, Frank Peters founded bikeNewportBeach.org and writes about his cycling adventures at cdmCyclist.com.