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Category Archives: Issues & Infrastructure

Bike Signal SUCCESS! Patience is a Virtue

If you ride a bike on city streets you probably have encountered it: the traffic signal that rudely ignores you. So you wait for a car to arrive or drag your bike out of the lane and onto the sidewalk to push the pedestrian button. You complain to the city and they say they’ll fix it. Then one day six months later, on your same old commute home there it is–marking exactly where bikes need to wait to trip the signal. Patience is a virtue.

Bike Signal Loop

Location: Wright Avenue at N Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Path SUCCESS! Opening the Gates in Palo Alto

When I was a young girl, almost all of us kids rode bikes all around the neighborhood while a few hotshots flew by us on motorized mini-bikes. So when cities created bicycle-and-walk-only trails and passageways, it made sense that they put up barriers to keep out the fast and loud motorized bikes and their hotshot riders.

But here it is, 40 years later and few kids ride mini-bikes. Yet the tightly-spaced gates remain, annoying people on bikes. Like me. I’m pretty good at weaving through gates, even on my big Dutch bike, but this pair on the south side of Palo Alto had me putting a foot down every time I passed through (and cussing to myself too).

Secret Passage Before

I never expected the gates to be suddenly opened. A few weeks ago I was riding home from shopping trip to Palo Alto and they were completely gone, not just widened for easier access. Thank you, City of Palo Alto!

Secret Passage After

This unexpected improvement was timed perfectly for my latest project, a map of “secret passages” for a story on Bike Fun, my new blog for the Mountain View Voice. The Google map was surprisingly easy to create and in just four days the map already has over 150 views. I guess these passageways won’t be so secret for long.

Location: Between Duncan Place and Creekside Drive in Palo Alto, California, USA

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Charting New Commuter Routes for Bike to Work Day

The heat was on last weekend, just in time to kick off the outdoor festival season. But instead of riding over to the A la Carte and Art festival in downtown Mountain View, Dick and I rode across town to REI to represent the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC) at REI CycleFest. In addition to working with government and businesses for improved bike facilities, SVBC also provides education and encouragement for riders through programs like Safe Routes to School and Bike to Work Day, which is coming up this Thursday.

REI CycleFest

Bike to Work Day is the kickoff of the biking season for casual riders, who will dust off their bikes, pump up the tires and dig out a messenger bag for a bike commute to work. For people who ride every day, Bike to Work Day can lack excitement. It’s just another work commute, albeit with a few more riders out on the road and a chance to get a free muffin or banana along the way at an Energizer Station.

For Dick and me, REI Cyclefest was a perfect way to help people jumpstart their riding. The other booths had gear covered, so we spent most of our time pointing at the bike map talking about where to ride: efficient, low-traffic routes to work or stores and scenic, quiet routes for fun. About half the attendees were neighborhood and bike path only riders, while the rest were comfortable with on-street routes. All were looking for new options.

Dick Gives Route Ideas 3

First it was a couple from East Palo Alto that was curious about riding across the bay on the Dumbarton Bridge. Then it was a double century rider looking for a cross-valley route to Mt Hamilton east of San Jose. Then a woman in her 70s who sees the Guadalupe River Trail from the freeway but can’t find a trail entrance. Then a teenage boy from Palo Alto who loves roam the gravel levees in the Baylands–how far they could take him?

For all the rhetoric about why people don’t ride, I think what limits cycling is how many nearby places there are where people feel comfortable riding. People love bikes, but if they don’t have a good route to work or school, or they have to load bikes on a car for every social ride, they won’t ride as much. It all starts with the route.

Do you find yourself doing same old rides? How do you find new routes or ideas for places to ride?

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Bike Rack FAIL: Hide and Seek on Castro Street

What good is bike parking if you can’t find it? I’ve visited this small retail plaza in downtown Mountain View for over 15 years. With no bike rack on the sidewalk out front, I’ve always locked up to a sign post or tree. The other day I stopped at the dry cleaners and found a bike rack, hidden behind the azaleas. I don’t think it’s new.

Bike Parking Stair Entrance

If the dry cleaners had an entrance was on Castro Street like the other shops, instead of only an entrance from the back parking lot, I would have never found the inconspicuous rack facing Church Street. Who knew?

Location: Castro Street at Church Street, Mountain View, CA, USA.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Path Revisited: The Little Trailer That Could

Remember those chicane fences on the Stevens Creek trail I wrote about a few months ago? I got a comment from Andrew who didn’t agree with my assessment that the fences were wide enough apart: “Try getting through these easily on a cargo bike,” he said. He has a point. I don’t have a cargo bike so I can’t say it works.

But I DO have a bike trailer, so I decided to test the trailhead fences on the way home from a Costco trip.

Ready to roll.

It was my first cargo grocery trip and I didn’t hold back at Costco, buying big and heavy items like toilet paper, dishwashing soap and bulk food items. Everything I would never dream of buying with just panniers.

I learned a lot more than whether the trailer could navigate the chicanes. I learned that an empty trailer is an unstable beast, that typical bike parking doesn’t work for trailers, that the angle of a curb cut can make or break you, and how hard it is to accelerate when you’re dragging 70 pounds of cargo. It was eight miles of hard work.

Did the trailer work on the chicane fences? Yes, much better than much of the ride.

The chicane fences on Shoreline Creek Trail: no problem!

To all you parents out there who haul kids and gear like this every day: you are truly amazing! Those eight short miles and four overpasses were more tiring than 40 miles of rolling terrain on my road bike.

Have you ever ridden a cargo bike or a bike with a trailer? What did you notice that was different?

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18 Comments

Posted by on March 25, 2013 in Around Town, Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Path SUCCESS! Bollard Be Gone

A round of applause for the City of San Jose! In less than a week after reporting this bike path hazard, poof! the bollard is gone. Kudos go to Yves Zsutty and his San Jose parks team who manage the city’s extensive trail network. They investigated it immediately, determined the bollard wasn’t needed, sent a removal crew out quickly and kept us informed at every step through twitter. That’s service! (And it’s not the first time either)

Bollard Be Gone 2

Location: Guadalupe River Trail at Hwy 880, San Jose, California, USA.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on March 8, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Path FAIL: Oh, Bollards!

They stand like sentries at trail entrances, guarding paths dedicated to people on foot or on bikes from the intrusion of motor vehicles. But bollards can be a hazard to more than cars when placed improperly, like this one that mysteriously appeared on the Guadalupe River Trail at the Hwy 880 undercrossing. Woe to the unsuspecting bicyclist rolling along at full speed who hits this iron guard standing in his or her path!

Guadalupe Bollards

Location: Guadalupe River Trail at Hwy 880, San Jose, California, USA.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Lane FAIL: Hack of a Bike Bridge in Sunnyvale

Little known fact: I have a degree in Computer Science and worked as a software developer for 12 years. It’s why I moved to Silicon Valley right after I graduated. As a software developer, I aspired to only create elegant solutions where the code flows naturally to meet the requirements for the software’s necessary functions.

As often as not, new requirements were thrown in after release that didn’t fit the existing structure. With no time to change the structure, I was forced to make a workaround, a kludge, a hack. It killed me every time because I knew that a kludge that solves the problem at hand has the potential to create bigger problems down the line.

Like this bike bridge, which provides a critical connection between Yahoo!, NetApp, Juniper Networks and Lockheed-Martin offices and their employees’ homes. A great idea, but it’s a hack in so many ways.

Moffett Park Bike Bridge FAIL 2
Yes, that’s a guard rail in the bike lane forcing you into traffic with a stop sign that drivers often blow through.

What bothers me most about this bridge is the wide, unused lawn on the other side of the road. If this were a freeway project, that land would have been appropriated to make a better interchange. Sadly, cities often shoe-horn bike projects to save money and everyone–on bikes, on foot, and in cars–are stuck with a hack.

Location: Borregas Bike Bridge at Moffett Park Drive, Sunnyvale, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Lane FAIL: Construction for the America’s Cup

The America’s Cup is sailing into San Francisco this summer and the city is scrambling to get its waterfront ready. When Dick and I took our anniversary bay cruise on New Year’s Day we saw the preparations firsthand.

Americas Cup SF

Construction spread from the piers across the sidewalk and into street. Since it was a holiday, no one was working and yet the bike lane was blocked needlessly. Couldn’t they move the signs closer to the curb before they went home? Such a small thing, but so considerate to the streams of people that ride there every day.

Embarcadero SF wide

I was back in San Francisco the other week to meet with our ad agency and cruised the Embarcadero again. The workers were on duty, construction was in full swing, and the bike lanes were still out of order. And I was left wondering what the waterfront would look like after the America’s Cup sails away.

Location: The Embarcadero near Piers 9-29, San Francisco, California, USA.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Bike Rack FAIL: Bad Rack Redux at Hobee’s

First I complained about the rickety, useless bike rack at Hobee’s in Mountain View. Then I was (mostly) pleased to see they had installed a new rack. On Sunday, we discovered an ill-placed, immovable garbage can that blocks the walkway when bikes are parked. A complete FAIL that makes bikes look like the problem.

Hobees Rack 1
There’s barely room between the bikes and the garbage can for walkers, and no room for the family with a child in a wheelchair that walked up just as we finished locking the bikes. We slid the bikes over to let them pass.

The good news is that when I reported it to the manager, she came out and looked carefully at the situation and agreed it was a problem. Anyone willing to guess what their solution will be? Will they move the garbage can, move the bike rack or removed the rack completely?

Location: Hobbee’s on Central Expressway at Rengstorff Avenue, Mountain View, California, USA.

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 9, 2013 in Bike Lane FAIL

 
 
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