News and Links from San Diego and Beyond

  • The biggest newsworthy item is the passage of the Federal Transportation Bill which was then subsequently signed by President Obama. The bill had an unrelated companion to ensure its passage, the election year hot button topic of keeping student loan interest rates low. The bill will now be the law for the next 27 months expiring on September 30, 2014. The new bill is interesting because it cedes control of transportation dollars to states, a nice victory for the Republican party which in turn allows states the ability to opt out of receiving federal transportation dollars, if they so choose. The good news is that this allows state-wide advocates to work to ensure that priorities to vulnerable road users are not forgotten, but the bad news is that in states without effective advocates a lot of gains made during the previous two decades in offering transportation choices will be lost. The really awful news is the elimination of  funding for the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which serves as the Safe Routes to School clearinghouse setting back gains made over the last few decades. So while our own Senator Barbara Boxer claimed that the new bill was not damaging, many advocates and other elected representatives remain unconvinced.
  • We’ve had many cyclist deaths lately, a couple that were unforeseen and others that could have been mitigated if we had actually had forward thinking leaders envisioning a better future for their constituents. Our local law enforcement agency has instead chosen to divert attention and resources to sidewalk riders rather than becoming advocates calling for a safer transportation network that will benefit all.
  • Washington Avenue is terrible for walking and biking and a new Mission Hills based group is working to make this key east/west route safer and more pleasant.
  • Scofflaw cyclists, that group of of riders who have elevated status in the eyes of our press and are more powerful than any other demographic and nearly always serve as a convenient distraction from the real problem on our streets, are a tiny problem.
  • Speaking of scofflaw cyclists and the source of transportation woes on our city streets, our own Chris Taylor conducted an informal survey on a recent Saturday. At 28th and Beech he noted that of the 50 vehicles, 11 came to a stop at the stop sign. Of the 39 who did not stop, 6 drove right through the stop sign (without pausing). Taylor continued his informal survey on a recent Sunday at 30th and Upas, at an intersection that has a 4-way stop. Taylor noted that out of the 50 vehicles, 11 came to a stop. Of the 39 who didn’t stop, 2 went right through the stop sign.
  • Savannah Russell sent us this story that reveals that the best possible way to get justice in a hit-and-run is probably to document your experience and then hope the authorities take action.
  • Hotel Circle North was supposed to get wider bike lanes, in February. Councilmember Gloria excitedly tweeted a photo of the new bike lane over the past weekend that indicates that perhaps with the budget cuts our City staff is missing measuring tape since part of the bike lane is in the gutter. Riding on a bike lane that is mostly in the gutter is not only unpleasant, but also dangerous as the gutter tends to accumulate roadside debris. The good news is that Hotel Circle North has been repaved so riding outside the bike lane is not as unpleasant as it used to be. I have contacted Alex Bell, Communications Advisor to Councilmember Zapf, to have the city restripe the bike lane to be wider than it currently is and have suggested removing the unnecessary middle turning lane.
  • While Councilmember Gloria may become a reluctant Traffic Engineer in his quest to understand his bicycling constituents’ needs and address them, he is also working to ensure that our police department becomes more bike friendly with his recent donation of bicycles to our Police Department which will “assist in the mission of protection and service to residents, business owners and visitors to the neighborhoods served by the officers and volunteers.” The funds were from the Councilmember’s budget savings. Now that’s fiscal responsibility!
  •  The recent Velo-City conference shed light on some transportation treatments that you may have suspected all along, “protected bike facilities are clearly the best, and they should be used in nearly all arterial street situation