I love riding my bike. I feel quite comfortable riding on the streets of San Francisco, or the country roads of California’s central valley. From my perspective, what negative interactions I’ve had with cars have generally been due to simple mistakes – misjudging speed, not looking in the right rear view mirror when turning right, etc etc. I’m the guy that spend a lot of time complaining about how dangerous others make cycling out to be. I’m the guy urging everyone to stop the fear mongering.
But then someone has to be an asshole. And that can be just flat out scary.
One of my coworkers recently came back from Amsterdam. I just happened to pass him when he was talking to another coworker. He was showing him what I assume was a picture on his phone and stated
“See, ” said coworker 1, “they ride in a separate place. The bikes don’t even ride where the cars go.”
Coworker 2 replied “Why can’t we learn that here?”
I don’t think either of them are cyclists.
Changing one mind at a time…
After spending my night watching TED Talks on Netflix, I felt compelled to start today with a little preaching to the choir. Presenting Mark Martin.
To continue to explore the potential links (or perceived links) between cycling and gentrification, I thought it would be important to solicit unbiased opinions from outside of the cycling community. For this, I reached out to Rashawn, long-time resident of the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco (and the neighborhood inhabited by yours truly.) Below is a series of questions and answers via an email conversation. Rashawn’s perspective provides an extremely valuable outside perspective that all of us interested in bicycle advocacy and advancement need to consider. It can become quite common for advocates of any cause to find themselves constantly “preaching to the chior.” Only by actively soliciting, and taking the time to understand, the opinions of those that are outside our group can we truly find ways to expand the cause we are advocating for.
Note: Any links included in the below transcript were added by me (after the fact) to help provide context for those unfamiliar with the Bayview community, or items referencing what can reasonable be considered “local knowledge.”
JustAnotherCyclist: Thanks for taking the time to talk with me. Can you tell us who you are, and a bit about yourself?
Rashawn: I am a Black woman who has deep roots in Arkansas and Louisiana. My family began migrating to the Bay Area during WWII, drawn by the promise of opportunities in the shipyards and looking for a better life. My grandmother came here in 1945, and sent for her children (including my 10 year old mother) a few years later. My parents settled here following my father’s stint in the Army. I was born and raised in San Francisco, and have never lived anywhere else.
Let’s be clear what I’m talking about first. I’m not talking about a special license for people that would be required to operate a bicycle on the roads. As as been stated over and over, most cyclists are actually already licensed drivers. What I’m talking about is a license (or registration) on the bicycle itself. Yup. I’m actually 100% in favor of this. This will probably surprise some of the motorists that like to bring this up as a requirement or them to feel like they need to share the road with me.
And I will undoubtedly piss off some of my fellow cyclists. But let me tell you why… Keep reading →
In San Francisco, an ordinance co-sponsored by city supervisors John Avalos, Jane Kim and Eric Mar appears poised to pass. This ordinance will change stop sign violations by cyclists to the the lowest priority of the police department. Functionally, this will create a similar situation to the Idaho Stop law, but within the city boundaries only. In the state of California (unlike some other states) an actual change in the law would have to take place at the state level.
At this time, 6 of the 11 supervisors support the ordinance. Those currently in favor are Avalos, Breed, Campos, Kim, Mar and Wiener. According to KQED, supervisors Christensen, Cohen and Farrell are currently undecided
Supervisor Malia Cohen has not yet taken a position on the issue, said aide Yoyo Chan. “We are still continuing to hear from all perspectives,” Chan said in an email.
— “Majority of S.F. Supervisors Back ‘Idaho Stop’ Proposal for Cyclists” KQED.
That is the majority required to move the ordinance along to the mayor. However, support of Mayor Ed Lee is still unclear, and it would take a vote of 9 supervisors to override his veto should it occur.
This shift has come about in no small part due to a recent “stop in” demonstration on the famous Wiggle of San Francisco.
At the state level, there was another change. Governor Jerry Brown has signed a law creating a means to allow cyclists and pedestrians that have received a traffic citation to have their fines reduced by attending traffic school. These diversion programs would be set up and run by the local jurisdictions. This is similar to the system already in place for motor vehicle moving violations. As the BikingInLA blog points out, the provides more than just a reduction in fines. Instead, it creates a unique opportunity to educate. And there are certainly enough folks out there that could do with a little bit of that.
Ed Lee photo credit: By Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg: Nancy Pelosi derivative work: Tktru (Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
A recent Town Hall style meeting regarding the Rowana Road Diet brought some unexpected advocacy statements from a unlikely perspective – an 11 year old child. It is easy for many of us out there “fighting the good fight” to forget that not everyone that rides a bike to where they need to go is an adult.
Somehow I missed this one when it was posted, and it took one of Biking in LA’s great posts to bring it to my attention. Continuing this month’s trend of bashing media outlets, SFGate has given me more targets with their latest “weekly poll.”
Is it time for bicycle riders to pay to use the roads just as motorists do through vehicle license fees and gasoline taxes?
This assumption that our roads (the ones cyclists actually ride on) are funded entirely by gas and vehicle registration taxes is just plain wrong. In fact, it would be wrong to say that even a majority of the funding is coming from these motor vehicle specific sources.
The truth is, if you compare the amount of road surface I take as a cyclist, add in the amount of damage I do to the infrastructure resulting in the need for maintenance costs, and compare that with a car, you will find that as a cyclist I am not only paying my fair share, I am actually subsidizing the very group that is demanding increased taxes from me.
What Lois Kazakoff should have had in her survey was another line item:
No. Cyclists already pay more than their fair share. Instead, bicycle related products should be exempt from state sales tax to compensate for this disparity
Idaho – arguably one of the pointiest states in the union – is back in the news again. This time on the streets of San Francisco. More precisely on the bike route affectionately known as “The Wiggle.” This road has become yet another battleground in the war between local police departments, cyclists, the anti-cycling bias and those frustrated with what they perceive as persistently scofflaw cyclists.
However, this time the news was not about cyclists breaking the law. Rather, it was about a bunch of cyclists going out of their way to follow the very letter of the law. That’s right. It was a deliberate act of civil-OBEDIENCE. Keep reading →