RSS

Bike Lane FAIL: Painful Squeeze in Mountain View

Another busy intersection, another re-design, another vanishing bike lane. Caltrain wanted to keep cars from getting caught on the tracks when the signal turns red. The county engineers wanted to push more cars through the intersection. Too bad no one considered what happens to people riding in the bike lane.

Rengstorff at Caltrain

The county’s plan shoehorned in a second left turn lane, which meant shoving the right lane further to the right, squeezing out the bike lane and forcing bikes and cars into an unexpected merge. Caltrain may be happy and the drivers turning left may be happy, but the right lane is now a painful squeeze for everyone. Is it too much to ask the traffic engineers to consider bike safety along with rail safety and vehicle throughput?

When the plans for this crossing and the crossing at Moffett were presented to the city council transportation committee, I spoke at the meeting and complained. The city engineer basically said it was the county’s design and there was little the city could do. I knew the changes would be bad, but they’re worse than I expected.

Location: Rengstorff Avenue at the Caltrain tracks/Central Expressway, Mountain View, California, USA.

 
19 Comments

Posted by on June 23, 2014 in Bike Lane FAIL

 

Fashion Weekend Edition: Polka Dotty

They’re named after hop-skip rhythmed polka dance, but more commonly worn in fiery foot-tapping flamenco. A polka dot dress in red chiffon, a helmet to match and ballet flats inspire girlish fun, whether you’re skipping through the field, tap dancing on the sidewalk or rolling down the street with the breeze kicking up your skirt.

Polka Dot Dress Portrait

Too short for work, this dress from ModCloth is perfect for meeting friends or weekend errands on a warm day.

About Fashion Friday: Inspired by a 2011 Bike to Work Day challenge sponsored by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, this series highlights the broad range of “dress for the destination” bicycling fashions.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 21, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Riding the Bike Train

“Is that your kit?” the new guy asked. “No, it’s at home,” I replied. Fitting in on the bike isn’t how you look, it’s how you ride. And on the San Jose Bike Train, I’m quite comfortable taking the front and letting my cardigan fly.

20140618-151706-55026556.jpg
Photo by Richard Masoner of Cyclelicious, used with his permission.

About the Bike Commute Diaries: Launched in May 2012 for National Bike Month, this series explores the unexpected and surprising things I’ve seen and learned while bicycling for transportation.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

A Closer Look: Pretty, Pretty, Bike Pretty Satchel

Nothing completes (or destroys) an outfit quite like a handbag, and it’s a surprise any of them hold up to the challenge. They’re tasked with carrying so much: wallet, sunglasses, mobile phones, keys, lipstick, hairbrush, and to do it in style. Throw in the added challenge of attaching to a bike and the pickings are slim indeed.

So when a new bike-friendly bag comes along, it’s worth a closer look. And I was lucky enough to catch Melissa with her new Bike Pretty Satchel at the Pedal Power exhibit at the Los Altos History Museum.

Bike Pretty Bag  Portrait

Drawing from her experience working in the handbag industry in Italy as well as her experience as a fashion-forward cyclist, Melissa designed the Bike Pretty Satchel herself. In the case of this particular one, sewed it herself. The result is a fine leather bag with finishing touches like high quality clasps and reflective materials.

If you’re not up for the challenge of designing your own bag, the good news is that the Bike Pretty Satchel is now available for purchase on the Bike Pretty store on Etsy. If you’re interested, don’t wait. The model in deep burgundy red has already sold out. And you know better than to pass up a chance for a perfect bag.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on June 13, 2014 in Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Spotting: Madeleine’s Raleigh Twenty Folder

Before there were Brompton or Dahon or Bike Friday folding bikes, there was the Raleigh Twenty, manufactured from the late 1960s to the early 1980s in the UK. Like its modern counterparts, the Twenty was a hit with bike tourists and commuters combining a bike trip with a train, bus or airplane ride. Like vintage cars, there are active fan sites for the Raleigh Twenty. Sheldon Brown even owned one. That’s how bike geek cool they are.

But that’s not why Madeleine bought her Raleigh Twenty. It was simply a good deal on a basic bike to ride around San Francisco, and it came with the luxury of traveling under the radar of bike thieves. When her other bike was snatched cruelly from a bike rack, the thief left her Raleigh Twenty beside it resting in peace.

Madeline

Heavier than its modern counterparts with larger 20″ wheels, and sporting just three gears in its Sturmey Archer hub, you’d think it wouldn’t be the best choice for hilly San Francisco. But Madeleine loves climbing and her little coffee-brown Raleigh Twenty powers her up the steep grades just fine.

Location: Ferry Building Plaza, San Francisco, California, USA.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Bike Spotting, Cycle Fashions

 

Bike Commute Diaries: Losing My Nerve

It’s only one mile from the Caltrain station to my home but the first tenth of a mile has never been easy. At first I “took the lane” on Moffett Blvd, then I found some lower-stress alternatives that have their own issues. Tonight I headed down Moffett, but as soon as I heard the cars roaring up behind me, I pulled over. I can’t do it anymore.

Moffet Madness

About the Bike Commute Diaries: Launched in May 2012 for National Bike Month, this series explores the unexpected and surprising things I’ve seen and learned while bicycling for transportation.

 
16 Comments

Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

Caltrain, Bikes and 21st Century Choices

If you don’t know me in real life or follow me on Twitter you may not realize how much I spend at planning meetings in my city. It’s not fun, believe me. I’m there because the people who make important decisions have a hard time seeing things from non-Baby Boomer perspective. I speak up in the hope that a different point of view will be considered. Last week I was honored to be asked to write an opinion piece on Caltrain and bikes by the editor of the Mountain View Voice. Here it is, as it appeared in the May 23 print edition, now available online.

All it takes is a trip downtown at 6 p.m. on a weeknight to see the changes. Bikes overflow the racks on Castro Street and are locked to every available tree and post. Crowds of people cross Central Expressway on foot and on bikes with each signal cycle. The Caltrain platform teems with riders pushing their way onto trains that are standing room-only by the time they reach Palo Alto.

Caltrain Platform

This is not just casual observation either. Caltrain recently released the results of their passenger counts and triennial customer survey: ridership is at an all-time high with a 54% increase since 2010; ridership growth continues to strain capacity in peak periods; and all but one station saw growth. Caltrain sees this growth as a sign of continued economic recovery, as would anyone who fights workday traffic on Hwy 101 can attest.

Much of Caltrain’s growth comes from bikes. The number of people bringing bikes aboard has grown a whopping 121 percent since 2010, more than double the overall ridership growth rate. While the growth is partly due to Caltrain adding a second bike car to every train in 2011, bike-aboard ridership has continued to increase, up 19.6 percent last year. This year bike-aboard riders make up over 11 percent of all riders, making Caltrain the nation’s leader in bikes-on-transit.

Caltrain Bike car

And yet, despite a capacity of 80 bikes on most trains, people with bikes are still regularly denied boarding due to overcrowding, primarily in Peninsula cities from Millbrae to Mountain View. That’s how popular the service is.

What’s more, how people arrive and depart stations is rapidly changing. While walking to reach stations has increased modestly by 7 percent since 2010, taking transit (VTA, BART, Muni or shuttles) is flat at 4 to 7 percent. The most dramatic changes are that driving to and parking at stations has dropped by 24 percent and bicycling to the station is up 30 percent. And that’s just the last three years.

Crossing Central Expwy

So what does this mean? It means that some commonly-held assumptions that we’re too suburban to rely on walking, biking and transit, and that people won’t shift from solo driving, are wrong. People already are. In fact, 40 percent of Caltrain riders report they are car-free and that doesn’t include “car-lite” riders like me who own a car they rarely use.

Today’s transit-dependent riders are not low-income either. The average Caltrain rider makes $117,000 a year. Most riders are making a conscious choice to not drive that’s not simply driven by economics. It’s driven by a desire to escape wasting time driving in traffic.

Caltrain Beer

For Caltrain, it means recognizing that for many riders, bikes are the most convenient first and last mile solution, faster than shuttles for trips up to 3 miles when there’s congestion, and cheaper than car parking at stations, both for the rider and for Caltrain. It means ensuring that bike capacity of new electrified trains is at least 10 percent of total capacity. It means expanding bike share into office areas like North Bayshore and into popular housing areas like the Mission in San Francisco.

Bay Area Bike Share

For cities, it means not spending money on expensive parking garages that will bring more vehicles into congested areas, and instead improve walking and biking connections to existing and emerging office and housing areas like San Antonio Center and El Camino Real. It means implementing Transportation Demand Management programs (TDMs) like Stanford did, with incentives that go beyond shuttles to include benefits for people who take transit, bike, walk, carpool or drive at off-peak times. And consider charging for parking at office sites. It’s hard to compete with free.

Times have changed and people are showing they want options other than driving. How will we invest to support them?

In your city, is vehicle traffic heavier with the economic recovery? Is your city investing in bicycling, transit or widening roads to accommodate more cars? What would you like your city to do to improve transportation?

Caltrain Family Bikes

 
6 Comments

Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Issues & Infrastructure

 
 
Let's Go Ride a Bike

Adventures in city cycling

The Backpack Objective

Excursions of a biking and hiking homeschool family

Shop by Bike

How and where to shop by bike in Silicon Valley, California

The Empowerment of the Silent Sisterhood

The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Fix The Toaster

Nearly 32,000 Americans die in car crashes annually. 80% of car crashes are PREVENTABLE. If the TOASTER was killing that many people we'd think it was ridiculous. We'd un-plug it and say, let's Fix The Toaster.

chasing mailboxes

Bikes, brevets, commutes, runs. Washington, D.C.

Urban Adventure League

Exploring the urban environment through fun human-powered adventures, riding bicycles, and gawking at bicycles in and around Portland, Oregon, Cascadia

CARDBOARD BOX OFFICE

A world of film, a house of stuff.

Wanderlust

Exploring Europe by water

Ride On

Australia's most widely-read bike magazine

articulate discontent

a look at societal and economic influences on human systems.

Pedal All Day

Endurance Cycle for Macular Disease

sistersthatbeenthere

Just another WordPress.com site

Gas station without pumps

musings on life as a university professor

wife. mother. awesome girl.

Just another girl who used to be cool.

Why Bike

Tackling The Reasons You Don't Bike

Save Fabers Project

Save San Jose's Famed Faber's Bicycle Shop

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,872 other followers

%d bloggers like this: