SURPRISE: I’m all in favor of bicycle licensing

bikepl8Let’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 →

Reducing, or not even getting, tickets

Police on bicycle in San FranciscoBig changes afoot for traffic violations for cyclists.

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.

By Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg: Nancy Pelosi derivative work: Tktru (Mayor_Ed_Lee.jpg) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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 (], via Wikimedia Commons

11 year old speaks about cycling to school

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.

Again with the tax nonsense

idiotic_pollSomehow 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


San Francisco all abuzz about Idaho stops


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 →

Just be nice…

Photo by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious
Photo by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious

There is a scene in the movie Roadhouse where the main character is telling the bar staff at a rather rough bar to just “be nice.” If you haven’t seen it – it is a classic. Go watch it. If you have, stop rolling your eyes at me…

Anyhow, it struck me today how great the advice from this scene is for all of us bicycle commuters out there. There is far to much confrontational thinking where none is needed. Sometimes it is motorists thinking we are complete asses, and sometimes it is us assuming motorists are complete asses just out to kill us. But I had three separate incidents in the past two days that have turned me back on to the idea of “just being nice.” Keep reading →

Is cycling a sign of gentrification?

Living in the city of San Francisco in 2015, you are constantly confronted with issues of class struggle and gentrification.  In most parts of the city the rent you’d pay for 1 month in a 1 bedroom apartment could buy you a functional used car elsewhere in the country (or one hell of a nice bike). I also happen to live in a neighborhood that was, until recently, one of the most affordable (relatively) in the city. As a predominately African American community, this puts the area directly in the crosshairs of everything potentially bad about gentrification and displacement. Lots of new people moving in, demanding change. Lots of established families that have been in the neighborhood for generations feeling pushed out both socially and economically.

It is against this backdrop that I came face to face with an issue that at first seemed completely unfathomable for me: for many, cycling is a sign of gentrification. Keep reading →

Washington State Still #1 According to Report

600px-WTO_protests_in_Seattle_November_30_1999Ahhhh Washington. The state where white cops spray pepper spray at white protesters. Birthplace of Starbucks, popularizer of flannel shirts, and home to some wicked volcanos (And this post is going out just days before May 18th coincidentally.) And despite the persistent yet very inaccurate impression that it rains there non-stop, it has spent 7 consecutive years on top of the list of bike friendliest states published by the League of American Bicyclists. Keep reading →

Do you know exactly who the highways were built for?

15pr34-1“Hey – do you know who the highways were built for?!?!”

It has always been a source of contention in the debates over how to allocate road space. “Roads are made for cars,” “Motorists pay the taxes that build our roads,” and “Why should I have to pay for infrastructure for cyclists” are among the many complaints that are made about the allocation of transportation funds in our municipalities. I’m going to avoid the tax issue for the moment (planning on a much longer post about that in the future.) Besides, many others have taken this issue on already.

I would like to address the idea of who roads were actually built for. And interestingly enough it would seem that the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS) has some thoughts on the matter themselves. Keep reading →

Another bike month is here

Ah the month of May….

The flowers return from a long winter’s absence (if there is any water left), the sun is appearing (if it actually every went away), fans flock to baseball games (if allowed) and numerous employees are encouraged, berated, bribed and pressured into throwing a leg over a bike to get to work. That’s right folks – May is bike month. And while I’ve made fun of it before, you gotta love it.

I will say this though. My current hometown of San Francisco definitely seems to embrace the event whole heartedly. Sure, many of the local bicycle advocacy groups continue to use fear of death and dismemberment as their primary means to gain political power and thus “improve cycling.” But despite what some might like to say, this city is pretty damn supportive of cyclists.

Which has lead me to be a whole lot less cynical about this particular May as compared to every bike month prior. What have I really noticed? Well, aside from folks weaving all over the bike lane at 10 miles per hour, unstable on the bike they haven’t ridden since last May*, I’ve noticed something a lot more wonderful. Clusters of folks with bikes , pulled off on the sidewalks and out of the way, smiling, chatting. Phrases like “Oh – you rode today too?” and “Oh hey – what a great bike” flowing forth from smiling lips.

Ah the month of May.


For the record, I have no problem getting stuck behind these folks. I would never want to deny anyone the joy of rediscovering the simple pleasure of riding a bike. I just may chose NOT to upload that particular commute to Strava….