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longbeachcyclists.com » 2009 » April

BTA Opposes Bike Registration Bill

This isn’t NEWS in the late-breaking sort of way, but rather if-you-haven’t-read-it-it’s-news-to-you sort of way. Bicycle registration is a particularly poor subject with me, not because I’ve ever been hassled for not having one, or because one of my bikes was stolen and never returned – but more so because I hear a lot of stories from folks on the topic.

I hear the broken english from the Latin-descent dishwasher that needs his $80 WalMart bike to get around, but has it confiscated and a fine of more than $100 issued because he couldn’t make it to the local fire house on the weekend between the hours of 9am-12noon.

Or the Vietnamese woman that uses her bike to cruise up and down alleyways as she digs recyclables out of the trash – her bike was licensed, and stolen. She didn’t have the little yellow registration paper, but she knew her name, knew the make/model/color of the bike. She went to the police and asked them to look up her info in the registration database – the police didn’t know what database she was referring to.

There was also the 60-something cyclists that met up for a group ride and were rounded up and cited for various things, including not having their bikes licensed.

Recently the LAPD Police Chief recommended the disbanning of the bicycle license law.

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BTA Opposes Bike Registration Bill

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance opposes bicycle registration and other annual fees on bicycle ownership because:

• The net revenue realized would not contribute significantly to the construction and maintenance of roads and the ancillary facilities necessary for complete streets,

• The cost of registration would discourage bicycling – a clean, healthy and sustainable transportation alternative, and

• Bicyclists already pay more than their share of road costs through other taxes.

Past efforts to require bicycle registration and the experience of other communities have demonstrated that the net proceeds, after deducting the administrative costs, of bicycle registration programs are minimal. Discussions of these proposals during prior legislative sessions have demonstrated that bicycle registration is not a viable method for funding transportation facilities. Most other states and communities with registration programs have discontinued them for this reason.

Bicycling provides a clean, healthy and sustainable alternative mode of transportation. The costs of providing facilities to accommodate and encourage bicycling are minimal in comparison to the value derived by reducing the impacts of our present reliance on motor vehicles for transportation. Rather than discouraging bicycling by requiring cyclists to pay even more of the costs imposed by motor vehicle operation, policy makers should be exploring ways to make bicycling safer, more convenient, and accessible for all citizens.

Many proponents of bicycle registration hold the erroneous perception that motor vehicle operators pay the costs of their use of the transportation system through gas taxes and that bicyclists do not pay their fair share of road construction and maintenance costs. In fact, the gas taxes paid by motorists are not sufficient to pay these costs. Property taxes and a variety of other fees that are levied without respect to the mode of transportation used by the taxpayer provide the balance of the road construction and maintenance funds. Bicyclists actually contribute more through these fees than the costs attributable to their use of the transportation system.

Do you have your bike licensed?

Are we Bike Friendly yet?

A recently received letter from a bike commuter in Long Beach:

On Sunday morning, I got on my bicycle to ride to the Farmer’s Market. I was riding down 2nd Street in Belmont Shore – in the right lane, in lane, with traffic – a right that is provided to me by California State Vehicle Code #21202 (and which also happens to be the safest place for a cyclist to travel) – when a moron of a man in a black SUV came up behind me honking, screaming and cursing me as if I was the devil incarnate and the root of all evil in the world.

Fuming over this encounter, I began to realize that the 20 or so other cyclists around me were riding on the sidewalk, in the gutter, in the wrong direction – or just about any of the other ways you could ride that would get you killed. And, it dawned on me that it’s no wonder this moron man in the SUV didn’t understand that I was riding where I was supposed to ride – because so few other people on bicycles ride in a correct and safe manner.

What’s the answer here? Let’s start with some education programs – for drivers AND cyclists. Let’s put in bicycle facilities that illustrate that cyclists belong in the street and that don’t continue to reinforce the mistaken notion that bikes be relegated to the sidewalk and beach path. Let’s stop pissing away people’s tax dollars on one-time festivals and actually do the hard work that it takes to make Long Beach the bicycle-friendly town that city representatives claim they want to create.

Hummer Assaults Cyclists…Police let him go…WTF?!

Another great post from Gary Rides Bikes! He’s on a roll. How is it people in a Hummer can run into a group of cyclists and be let go? With the police allegedly saying “If it had been me with my family in that car, I’d have done the same thing, and I carry a gun in my car.”

The Real Width of a Bike Lane

An excellent post from Gary Rides Bikes. This is the first time I’ve ever seen this visual presentation of a bike lane, but it is awesome in showing the actual usable space!

A Happy Biker

Press Telegram
Friday’s Letters to the Editor
Posted: 04/16/2009 11:05:25 PM PDT

A happy biker

I am really happy to see the city and community trying to make Long Beach a more functional community by seeing the need to accommodate bicycling into the transportation culture. As gas prices continue rising there will be more and more citizens turning to bicycling for primary transportation as well as using public transport.

About four years ago I borrowed a folding bike from a friend thinking it might be a way to exercise without damaging my aging joints (I’m becoming a geezer sort of person) and easy to store in a condo. My wife was very afraid for me. She expressed fear for the bicyclists she passes on the streets and could not get past the image of my death by auto.

My bike lending friend talked to me about the principles of riding with traffic and that, if done correctly, could give me the bicycling flexibility and utility I craved. I was really skeptical at first.

Eventually, I took a bike safety class session. Since then I feel safer on the streets than I could ever have imagined starting out.

Some drivers may be irritated but in three years I have been honked at only once seriously (he wanted me to levitate since there was nowhere for me to go). I try to show consideration and either keep up or give opportunities to pass. I give right of way, am courteous to drivers and practice normal driving conventions. I have never been yelled at, that I have heard, at least.

My closest call was with a driver on the phone who I think did not “see” me because I was clinging to the right side of the road instead if the traffic lane (before I took the safety class). I have had numerous close calls with other bicyclists shooting off of sidewalks, riding against traffic, coming out of the night without lights or even reflectors. I have seen cyclists do rude and dangerous things that make me sympathize with angry car drivers (I drive cars too). By far most car drivers have been either neutral or friendly and considerate. Maybe they’re just afraid of hitting a geezer and that’s fine with me.

I would encourage any responsible city official to commit to riding a bike and riding the bus to work one day per week. (It might even be a good campaign strategy.) Only then can they really understand the meaning of the various issues needing attention.

Hooray for all the inputs from everyone. I hope someone writes something every day encouraging or complaining. Non-automobile transportation will be a bigger issue in the near future than one might imagine.

Byron A. McBride
Long Beach

Bike Touring!

The season is upon us. Thousands of cyclists from around the US are preparing to embark on two-wheeled adventures everywhere. Here are some snaps from some Long Beach cyclists that did a little bicycle exploring here in Southern California. It doesn’t have to be far off or exotic to be an adventure!

BikeFestaGanza!

Bicycling photographer, Russ Roca, shares some snaps from the Long Beach Bike Fest.

BikeSnobNYC on Separated Lanes

Bikesnob is not usually associated with bicycle advocacy in the normal sense, however he makes some interesting observations about recent bike infrastructure in New York. For the original post, click here. Emphasis added.

I’m a bike lane fan. As I’ve said before, I’m happy to ride anywhere on the street, but the bike lane is my “comfy chair” and as such I like that they’re there. So when the protected bike lanes started appearing, I was pleased to see them. But then I tried them out. First of all, the bike lane itself also incorporates the left-hand turn lane for motor vehicle traffic. This means that, instead of just going around traffic that’s waiting to turn left as you would on an old-fashioned street, you’ve got to wait at your very own bicycle-specific red light. Sure, it’s not a big deal if you’re not in a hurry, and it’s probably a good thing for people who are uncomfortable riding in traffic and need traffic signals to tell them what to do, but it is a bit frustrating nonetheless.

More irritating though are the factors they almost certainly didn’t account for when they designed these lanes, such as bike salmon. I have noticed a significant uptick in the number of bike salmon in these lanes, and it’s clearly because they feel much more comfortable salmoning without the presence of cars. (“bike salmon” a.k.a “wrong way cyclists”). In that sense, I suppose the cars were bears, and now that the salmon’s natural enemy is gone the salmon population is exploding. And I like bikes, but I do not want to live in a world of salmon. Moreover, it’s one thing to encounter a salmon on an old-fashioned street; it’s quite another when you’re trapped with them in a lane that’s only about ten feet wide.

The other thing they clearly didn’t account for is that non-cyclists would also annex these protected bike lanes. It’s like the sidewalk is the 19th century United States, the new bike lane is the western frontier, and suddenly all the pedestrians have been smitten by Manifest Destiny. However, instead of saddling up their horses they’re leashing up their dogs. Here’s a typical sight along the Trail of Terriers:

BikeSnob makes some astute observations on bicycle facilities from a bike commuter’s perspective.

1)Some bike facilities actually make it slower and more cumbersome for a cyclist to get around. Since separate bike facilities put cyclists within a turning conflict with vehicle traffic, the cyclists NEED the separate signal to keep them from left turning cars, something that wouldn’t be needed for a cyclist familiar with safe riding practices in traffic.

2)There is no such thing as a one way bike lane. All bike lanes become two way bike lanes. The “bike salmon” that BikeSnob refers to are wrong way cyclists. Because of the added sense of “protection” within separate facilities, some cyclists have a tendency to treat the separated facilities as a free for all (for example, our beach trail during the summer).

3)There is no such thing as JUST a bike lane. Inevitably, pedestrians will use it. Pedestrians with strollers, with dogs, with other pedestrians. This increases the chances of cyclist/pedestrian collisions and even pedestrian/vehicle collisions.

Bikesnob is not a militant vehicular cyclist. He’s just a practical cyclist. A bike commuter. He likes bike lanes when they’re there (and when they’re done correctly). And yet, even he can point out (and with quite a wit) common problems that occur with separated bike facilities when compared to just riding with traffic.

Bicycles and the Law

Our friend, Colin Bogart, from LACBC put up a great post recently regarding bikes and that thing that prevents us from descending into a total state of nature…the LAW.

Here’s a juicy excerpt, but be sure to read the whole insightful post here.

First, California Vehicle Code 21200 clearly gives cyclists the right to ride in the roadway. This bit of information is sometimes a surprise to non-cyclists and is important to remember. CVC 21200 means that a cyclist has just as much right to use the street as any motorist behind the wheel of an automobile (except for locations like freeways where bicyclists and pedestrians are prohibited). So, on a given street where bicycles are not prohibited, a cyclist has just as much right to roadway access as any motorist.

Second, there are special conditions that apply to cyclists. This is because cyclists usually travel at a speed that is slower than the motorized traffic on the road. This is addressed in CVC 21202 which basically says that a cyclist must ride as far to the right as “practicable”. The word practicable is used intentionally and is quite important. It essentially means that a cyclist must ride as far to right as he/she can, but only to the point that he/she can do it safely. CVC 21202 also addresses the situations when cyclists can ride further to the left in order to remain safe. These situations include avoiding hazardous or dangerous conditions on the road, when passing another cyclist or vehicle moving in the same direction, when turning left, when approaching a right-turn only lane (and the cyclist is going straight), or if the lane is too narrow to share with a motor vehicle. Cyclists can also ride on the left side of a one-way street. This section also comes as a surprise to many non-cyclists (as well as to some cyclists).

April 2009 Bike Inspection Day At CSULB

Hi All!

We seem to be liked at CSULB. In fact, who wouldn’t like cycling advocacy volunteers giving away free stuff AND free bike inspections? I would like me too. Thanks Students and faculty for another wonderful turn out today; our discussions were lively, educational and political (just what LB Cyclists like) In case any of you were wondering…our next FREE Bike Inspection Days will be on April 21 and May 13 in front of the Bookstore on the grass. (11am to 2pm)

Feel free to contact any of us that were there today: Myself, Shawn, ‘Big’ Josh, Kevin, Allison, and Travis through lbcyclists@gmail.com

Thanks again!

Bernadette