Bicycle nuts driving local traffic issues

Sept. 14, 2012

Katy Grimes: Most of us recognize that California government is out-of-control. The state Legislature has just passed another 700 new bills, many of which add new regulations, restrictions on individual liberties, and “fees” on taxpayers and business.

 

Closer to home, local governments regularly ignore the will of the citizens, and push through projects on behalf of special interest groups.

In Sacramento, one example of this has been an ongoing battle in my own downtown neighborhood.

The City of Sacramento, run by mostly arrogant liberals, has been trying to ram through approval of more bicycle lanes on very busy streets and major arteries of auto travel.

In Sacramento, Freeport Blvd. is a north-south artery going all the way from tthe most soutthern point of Sacramento County into downtown. It is also the old Highway 160, which was one of the only main arteries throughout the county.

21,000 autos traveling on it dail, according to the city.

Freeport Blvd. is a heavily traveled street and frequently backs up in the downtown areas. The city, in its infinite wisdom, has tried several times to close one of the auto traffic lanes in order to add bicycle lanes to either side.

Commuters, neighbors and businesses on Freeport Blvd. have fought this nutty idea. Except  for a small group of bicycle zealots, this project has a tremendous amount of opposition. But it keeps springing back to life.

The irony is that the old neighborhood that Freeport Blvd. runs through has other perfectly safe streets for cyclists and bicycle commuters. But the zealots and city politburo want to turn Freeport Blvd. into something that it is not. There is no real need for this, other than too keep a bunch of unnecessary city planners busy with a new project.

Bicycling on this street is not safe, and never will be. There are too many businesses and too many cars. When I am on my bike, because I have a stong sense of survival, I avoid riding on Freeport Blvd.

Reality

Neighbors have participated in the city-sponsored surveys, and voted down the bike lane expansion on two different occasions. So the City of Sacramento has tried a new tactic — they now claim that as part of the resurfacing project for Freeport Blvd., they are proposing adding bicycle lanes.

The utopian bicyclists, who unabashadly state that there should not be autos on the roads, keep finding ways to keep this project alive. The only thing keeping the city from doing this hhas been the budget. Sacramento has a wicked budget deficit, and cannot justify this spending.

But the reality is that most bicyclists are not commuters–bicyclists are mostly pleasure or recreation riders. Sacramento is not Europe, but the utopian nuts keep comparing California cities to European cities, where tiny cars and bicycles are a necessity.

The City of Sacramento acknowledges that traffic patterns will change should the bike lanes become a reality, but they don’t care. Ressidents in the area are concerned that with one less auto lane, many of the 21,000 daily cars will be forced onto the residential streets. And in this old, established neighborhood with houses from the 1920’s and 1930’s, the streets are not boulevards and cannot handle thousands of additional cars.

But the zealots do not care. The bored city planners do not care. The city “leaders” do not care — they have an agenda, and are determined to win at any cost.

24 comments

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  1. Tom Tanton
    Tom Tanton 14 September, 2012, 07:46

    don’t the bicyclists know that with no cars on the roads, there’d be no road tax to pave the roads? Be careful of what you wish for bicyclists…

    Reply this comment
  2. Queeg
    Queeg 14 September, 2012, 08:00

    Your choices slowly being taken away due to overcrowding and the slow down in infrastructure growth.

    Spending on people/social programs a magnet for more people and social programs.

    But the weather is great and cap and tax will be needed for all….

    Reply this comment
  3. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 14 September, 2012, 08:32

    Tyranny of the minority. And not just bicyclists. Everywhere you look.

    And don’t get me started on “city planners”. Four – and more often 6 – years of college classes based on utopian fantasies. Yet another field ruined by over-professionalization. What started out as a few common sense rules (No, you cannot build a dynamite factory next door to a church) has morphed into yet another wasteful and often pointless bureaucracy.

    Reply this comment
  4. Queeg
    Queeg 14 September, 2012, 08:56

    The bike was here first…..typical Republicans doing that Manifest Destiny thingee…..remember the Indians were here first.

    Buzz off..bikes rule!

    Reply this comment
  5. David Huntsman
    David Huntsman 14 September, 2012, 09:35

    Wait, at what point did the “special interest group” of motorists make the false assumption they had the exclusive right to safe passage on the public right-of-way? This article betrays a serious lack of understanding of the basic nature of roads.

    Reply this comment
  6. Commuter
    Commuter 14 September, 2012, 10:00

    Let’s see – both a High School and city college also on that stretch of road. Those two things alone would warrant the addition of bike lanes AND a reduction in vehicular traffic. I’ve lived in that neighborhood too. This is a good idea.

    Reply this comment
  7. Labann
    Labann 15 September, 2012, 06:01

    Code of Federal Regulations requires bike-ped-wheelchair accommodations. States without plans are routinely fined. Better that CA and TX, states that lead nation in non-motorist fatalities in numbers and per capita, stick with anti-bike sentiments and return millions to national coffers? No, smart legislators are enacting bills to appease, yet equal infrastructure remains decades away. USDOT spends $20,000/motorist for every $1 on ADA compliance, bike lanes, and sidewalks combined. Roads are publicly shared space for use by anyone who conducts themselves in a civil manner, not motorists alone. Motorists are the bad actors in 4.3 million accidents each year. Blame your DOT, not small footprint cyclists, for traffic snarl.

    CalWatchDog and PRI are just conservative plants licking boots of Big Oil. Don’t be fooled by phony opinion shaping for profit.

    Reply this comment
  8. Susan
    Susan 15 September, 2012, 11:46

    “CalWatchDog and PRI are just conservative plants licking boots of Big Oil. Don’t be fooled by phony opinion shaping for profit.”

    Oh, brother! Hilarious. As a regular reader and occasional comment-poster I can guarantee you that I NEVER ONCE thought of “Big Oil” or of “licking the boots of Big Oil” while participating in either activity.

    Reply this comment
  9. Muriel Strand, P.E.
    Muriel Strand, P.E. 16 September, 2012, 07:53

    hm. i have been hearing for many years from advocates of local control, but i have yet to meet any that aren’t using that term to actually mean republican/libertarian control. as someone who actually supports true local control, based on actual respectful discussion between a complete set of interest groups (of which motor vehicle advocates are but one), i also note that radical reform of the u.s. constitution will be required to transition to a government of relocalization/local control, including reversing federal precedence over states and state precedence over counties and cities. also required will be reforming the tax structure so that most of our taxes will be allocated to cities and counties and the least to the national government.

    few libertarians/republicans seem to understand how unsustainable our fossil-fuel economy is; for people to be able to compete with cheap fossil fuels, gasoline would have to cost about $800/gallon (based on the fact that a strong adult can generate about 1/10 hp for an appreciable length of time and 1/4 for short bursts). bicycles are far more efficient than motor vehicles, and nudging traffic patterns to make them more welcome on the roads is a very sensible policy. (btw, freeport blvd ends where it splits into 19th and 21st, definitely south of “downtown.”)

    remember, our true needs are: clean air and water, healthy food, snug shelter, and plenty of sleep and exercise. motor vehicles are not on that list, and do not appear to be an efficient way to produce these needs. it is very unfortunate that conservatism has come to mean retention of infrastructure and technology that is actually relatively recent rather than return to the truly conservative and thrifty ways of living that characterized life before coal and oil. socio-biologically speaking, females are the conservative gender and males are the opportunistic gender. so any definition of conservatism that is favored by men more than by women is automatically philosophically suspect.

    Reply this comment
  10. Mikey
    Mikey 16 September, 2012, 08:19

    “The irony is that the old neighborhood that Freeport Blvd. runs through has other perfectly safe streets for cyclists and bicycle commuters.”

    My dear Ms Grimes:

    Certainly there is great irony here, but it is not where you see it.
    Your choice of and use of the term “zealot” left me chuckling. Thanks.

    I can always use a laugh in an election year.

    Yours respectfully,
    Just another bicycle zealot

    Reply this comment
  11. Gerard
    Gerard 16 September, 2012, 11:31

    I’m a motorist, motorcyclist & bicyclist… to the idiot telling cyclists that only car drivers pay for roadbeds: rubbish. All of us pay both Federal and State taxes, and the traffic infrastructure draws from that. The additional road taxes in fuel costs are to partially defray the costs of damage to said roadbed that occur when typical autos or light trucks use the roads. Moreover, legally, the public roads ()

    Reply this comment
  12. Gerard
    Gerard 16 September, 2012, 11:35

    Public roads are public right of way, and autos are one of many proper usages: bicycles, motorcycles, pedestrians (i nthe correct spaces) are all equally valid, legal road users.

    Get a clue

    Reply this comment
  13. Peter
    Peter 16 September, 2012, 13:24

    As an engineer who has actually read the analysis for this project, I wish to caution readers that this posting inflames rather than informs. For example, the blog says the City’s analysis says “traffic patterns will change should the bike lanes become a reality, but they don’t care. Ressidents [sic] in the area are concerned that with one less auto lane, many of the 21,000 daily cars will be forced onto the residential streets.”

    The analysis shows that by and large the traffic patterns remain the same, and the City reports examples that other cities that have undertaken similar projects and traffic patterns remain essentially unchanged.

    The experience of other cities also shows that crashes drop by one-third.

    Conflict statement: I live in this neighborhood and several friends’ children attend schools along this roadway. I wish for them to remain healthy and happy.

    Reply this comment
  14. Plumas
    Plumas 16 September, 2012, 13:47

    You’ve picked a poor example to support your point of view here. Freeport Blvd. dissolves into 19th and 21st streets at the north end of this project, and both of those streets work quite well with bike lanes similar to what is proposed. As someone who often bikes and drives through this area, I can testify that the restriping is called for. It will help and it will take the terror out of biking through these blocks.
    In fact, I can’t think of a single project in Sacramento where the “Bicycle Nuts” haven’t made things better for everyone.

    Reply this comment
  15. novaks47
    novaks47 16 September, 2012, 18:21

    Only bicycle riders would complain about a situation that they CHOSE to be in. They CHOOSE to ride on streets that are less than ideal for riding, then complain, and demand changes be made. That’d be like me complaining that the twisty roads I commute on are “unsafe” due to the curves, so the roads should be straightened out, or a separate straight road added parallel to the mountain road.

    Here’s an idea : if you are not comfortable riding in a certain area, don’t ride there. Why should we waste money adapting areas to YOUR liking, after the fact? I used to pedal, and never once did I complain about cars being on the road, or getting too close, or any other nonsense. Sure, there’s some really bad drivers out there that are a danger to you, I get that. But those same fools are a threat to everyone. If you pedal, deal with it. It’s part of riding. Just like when I ride my motorcycle, I expect to have people pull blindly in front of me, cut me off, and try to change lanes while directly next to me, just to name a few. All part of riding. “Where’s my special motorcycle lane on the freeway….WAHHHHHHHH!” Seriously, suck it up or stick to where you feel safest.

    Reply this comment
  16. Queeg
    Queeg 17 September, 2012, 00:21

    You want Europe….you are getting it….limitations….less choices….no growth…..

    Reply this comment
  17. Susan
    Susan 17 September, 2012, 08:35

    Wow, this is odd. Twenty years ago, or even ten, would you have ever thought that an innocent activity like bicycle-riding, of all things, would one day produce activist blocs of unpleasant and narcissistic adults who bully their fellow citizens to get what they want? How did this happen?

    Reply this comment
  18. Dave
    Dave 17 September, 2012, 09:25

    @novaks47. If you don’t like driving your car on Freeport where you have to worry about children walking or biking to school, try another roadway. There are *two* freeways about a mile to each side of Freeport where bicycle riders aren’t allowed. Use those!

    Seriously, though, this is not about *bicyclists* trying to get their way. It’s about everyone else who might like to ride a bicycle — that’s a good thing, right? — but chooses not to because it’s unsafe. They deserve the opportunity to transport themselves in a way that supports their own health, their community’s economy, and the nation’s independence from global oil companies and their dictator/terrorist friends.

    Now, sometimes, even those reasons aren’t enough to make a big change to a roadway, but in this case, the proposed change will have almost no impact on motorists’ convenience. Practically none. So how can you possibly oppose it? I know you don’t mean to hate, but it comes across that way, as if you hate people in the neighborhood who are seeking a minor change for safety and health. Please reconsider your position and support this neighborhood safety improvement, or at least don’t complain about it since it basically won’t affect you. Please. Thanks in advance.

    Reply this comment
  19. F. Prieto
    F. Prieto 17 September, 2012, 19:29

    I am a motorist, a bicyclist, and a pedestrian and happen to live in this neighborhood and use Freeport regularly. I also sent 2 children to McClatchy High School on this stretch of Freeport and one to City College, and in spite of the fact that all of us use our bicycles fairly regularly – as well as our cars – never felt safe having them bike to work. I happen to be a physician so also see the consequences of this: an epidemic of obese and soon to be Diabetic kids & adults who will bankrupt us all. Contrary to the nonsensical assertion that this process is an example of government that “regularly ignore(s) the will of the citizens”, this was something driven by citizens wanting a safer street for their neighborhood. The traffic engineers have estimated that at peak hours, this may increase auto transit time down this stretch of Freeport by as much as ~ 45 seconds. Ms. Grimes, if that is really a major factor in your life, you really need to slow down.

    Reply this comment
  20. Mikey
    Mikey 17 September, 2012, 19:36

    @novaks47….let’s meet for coffee. I have an idea that would make me feel safer.

    Your friend,
    Just another bicyclist
    (but trying to deal with it)

    Reply this comment
  21. BikeCommuter
    BikeCommuter 18 September, 2012, 07:49

    I am a conservative libertarian and I will never vote for Obama, Brown or any other liberal/socialist. However I am a bike commuter because that is what I do and I don’t like any infrastructure wonks forcing bicyclists off of the road by building and designing streets that are unsafe for both bicyclists and pedestrians. I don’t believe in government subsidies for any fuel or energy source – be it oil, solar, or whatever. I believe in free markets. My bicycle is cheap (but it used) and runs on my energy. We need roads for motor vehicles as our lives depend on it. Anyone who disagrees wants us to return to a caveman existence. But libertarians like me, who are not understood by liberals who can’t think outside of the box, believe in personal liberty and the freedom to choose a personal mode of transportation. I choose bicycling.

    That is a long way of saying I support the efforts to reconfigure streets to add bicycle lanes.

    Reply this comment
  22. Doug Thompson
    Doug Thompson 18 September, 2012, 16:12

    The relative safety of adjoining or parallel streets is no argument for Freeport Boulevard to remain dangerous. The businesses and schools along Freeport should be accessible by all modes, not just motor vehicles. Sorry if Ms. Grimes would be slightly inconvenienced by not being able to cruise up Freeport as fast as she wants to. For those who choose another way to get there – and there are plenty of us – reduced speeds coupled with bicycle and pedestrian facilities are a matter of life and death, not inconvenience.

    Reply this comment
  23. Sac citizen
    Sac citizen 19 September, 2012, 12:53

    Car nuts want to deny others use of streets

    This opinion piece is wrong in so many ways, it’s hard to keep track.

    First of all, Freeport Blvd is not downtown. It’s in a residential/commercial neighborhood. The particular segment in question has a community college, a high school, a park, a light rail station, a senior residence, a bike shop, other businesses and homes along it.

    Changing Freeport to make it safer for all users is supported by the college, the high school, businesses and residents.

    Streets don’t exist exclusively for motorists. They are for everybody, including those too young and too old to drive. And including those who choose not to drive for environmental, health or economic reasons.

    Those who don’t drive want to go to the same places as those that do.

    What is correct in this tirade is the statement that bicycling on Freeport is not safe. However, saying that is never will be safe is an opinion without a solid basis. The street can, and should be, safe for everyone who wants to use it.

    Reply this comment

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