Archive for category city planning

CHP announces new fines for cyclists

The California Highway Patrol has announced plans to introduce penalties for cyclists who use a cellphone while riding. The fine – $20 (before additional fees) is for first-time offenders. Repeat offenders would face fines of $50 for each incident.

The new penalties were outlined in a bill that was approved by the state Senate on Monday, April 25th. The bill also increases penalties for drivers who use a cellphone while driving. They could face fines of more than $500 for repeat offenses, once fees have been tacked on to the basic fine. The bill was introduced during April’s National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

As cellphones become ubiquitous, it is not unusual to see cyclists pausing to retrieve a ringing phone from a pocket while they cruise along city streets. Motorists have been doing the same for many years, often with tragic results.

But the bill has its opponents among cycling advocates, who maintain that cyclists need greater protection, not more restrictions, when riding on the road.

“This is only going to be one more obstacle for someone who uses their bicycle for transportation.” Said Tani Walling, a bike shop owner from southern California. “Everything about how our streets and sidewalks are set up favors cars.”

Every year, law enforcement hands out tens of thousands of citations in California for drivers using cellphones to talk or text while driving. Over 18s are required to use hands-free devices, while under-18s are prohibited from using any kind of phone while driving a car.

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Troubled Elk Grove mall site donates dirt for bike park

A new dirt-bike and BMX park in Elk Grove will be constructed using tons of dirt from the stalled Elk Grove Promenade mall site. The bike park, the first of its kind in the south Sacramento area, will be located on the western edge of the Elk Grove Regional Park, replacing the Green Diamond softball field, which will move eastward inside the park.

The Consumnes Community Services District approved plans to spend $365,000 on the new park, awarding the contract to Parker Landscape Development, Inc. The donation of dirt from the mall site will save the district an estimated $200,000.

“This is going to be a quality park…the design really reflects the needs of the cycling community.” Said local dirt-bike park advocate Keith CoBen in the Elk Grove Citizen.

The 2.4 acre park will feature a series of challenging jumps, mounds and pathways, many of which were designed by local cyclists. Bike park specialist Hillride also contributed to the overall design. Volunteers are on hand to see the park through the construction phase.

The new park is scheduled to open in August, 2011.

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The Cost of Owning A Car

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Your bike path is unconstitutional

In case you missed it DC Streetsblog did an interview with Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) that included this gem:

SB: I was just in an EPW Committee hearing and there was some talk about the fact that some small amount of money in the reauthorization historically gets used for things like bike trails. Some people think that’s waste; some people think biking is a mode of transportation. What do you think?

DH: I don’t think biking should fall under the federal purview of what the Transportation Committee is there for. If a state wants to do it, or local municipality, they can do whatever they want to. But no, because then you have us mandating bike paths, which you don’t want either.

SB: But you’re OK with mandating highways?

DH: Absolutely, yeah. Because that’s in the constitution. I don’t see riding a bike the same as driving a car or flying an airplane.

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Bike sign mistake cost’s city thousands

To become a more bike friendly city, Oklahoma City, took part in posting signs to tell drivers to share the road with cyclists.
At the end of last year they began to install the signs only to find out they weren’t in compliance with new federal language on signage. In essence, they left out an important word…

“The signs say ‘use full lane.’ The new signs will say ‘may use full lane,'” explains Oklahoma City Councilman Bowman.

Also, the city council recently learned the city ordinance needed some work as well due to it currently making it difficult to prosecute drivers not giving cyclists enough feet of space.

All in all, a good effort to improve the well being of cyclists in Oklahoma City, tough, at a price tag of $18,000.

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Proposed Lake Natoma improvements may impact trail

The City of Folsom has decided to proceed with plans to redevelop a portion of the waterfront near the historic district – a move which could impact trail access for cyclists. The proposed improvements, which will cost almost $1 million, would provide a 2,400-foot walkway joining the popular shopping areas south of Lake Natoma with the edge of the water. New boat launch facilities are also planned for the lake.

It is unclear how the proposed development could impact cyclists on the trail, but current plans involve the construction of a pedestrian walkway from Gold Lake Drive, adjacent to Lake Natoma Inn, directly down to the waterfront. Such a walkway would interrupt the bike trail as it currently exists, although cyclists are generally forced to exit the trail at this point in order to continue up to Beal’s Point, or cross the lake at Lake Natoma Crossing.

The improvements have drawn widespread support from local businesses, but environmental protection and trail advocate Stephen Green of the Save the American River Association has condemned the proposal, “The project would be totally incompatible with the existing natural area”, he wrote, in a letter addressed to the City of Folsom last November. Green’s concerns are important to note for cyclists, since the existing trail – which enjoys steady use throughout the year – has been sensitive to surrounding riparian habitats. Green has vowed to fight the proposed redevelopment in court if necessary.

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Treating bikes like cars: will California follow New Jersey?

A proposed bill making its way through the legislature in New Jersey would require all bicycles in the state to be officially registered through the DMV. Could a similar law be passed in California?

Assembly Bill 3657, introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, creates a legal obligation for bicycle owners to file paperwork with the Department of Motor Vehicles. Registration is renewed every two years, or when a bike changes ownership through sale or otherwise. Owners who fail to register their bike will be subject to a fine, as is currently the case for owners of motor vehicles.

In California, where cycling is popular, no such regulations exist, and cyclists are free to use the public highways in accordance with local restrictions (most freeways are off-limits to bicycles).

Whether or not the New Jersey bill is passed, it raises interesting questions about the rights of cyclists on the nation’s roads. In California, while cyclists theoretically enjoy the same rights as drivers of motor vehicles, the reality is that bicycle-users are second-class citizens on the roadways, and law-enforcement does little to protect riders or prevent abuse by drivers. Indeed, a great many roads do not have adequate cycle-lanes. Where lanes exist, they are frequently used as on-street parking spaces by ignorant drivers who unfortunately enjoy the legal freedom to do so.

If California introduces such a bill, perhaps it would include new protections for cyclists, such as enforcable rights to occupy the roadway without fear of harm, intimidation or assault by drivers. Perhaps the license fee will generate adequate revenues to fund protected cycle paths, alternate routes and secure bicycle-parking. Would the passage of such a bill exclude bicycles used exclusively on cycle-paths such as the American River Parkway?

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more than just a culture shift

I read a lot about cycling culture in the US and the growing popularity of cycling as transportation. Everybody seems to be asking what it’s going to take to become more like a certain European city. Building a community of cyclists is the first step, sure, but next we need start using that community to improve city planning.

But Copenhagen cyclists have benefited from decades of pro-bike planning decisions, while US urban planners must overcome a century of energy politics and urban policy designed to promote vehicle use.

“There was an enormous American economic engine built around the continuing expanded use of the automobile,” said Prof Owen Gutfreund of the urban affairs faculty at Hunter College in New York, and author of Twentieth-Century Sprawl: Highways and the Reshaping of the American Landscape.

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