Senate race for the 13th district in CA

1-      CA tried to pass a bill to put a $2500/- fine on injuring a person in a traffic accident. It was watered down until the fine was reduced to $25- at which point then Assemblymemeber Pedro Nava dropped the bill. Do you think there should be financial or vehicular penalty for injuring a cyclist? How would you as Senator enact such a bill?

2-      Senator Simitian wrote SB226 to provide California Environmental Quality Act exemptions to infill projects. The Office of Planning and Research has proposed active transportation and Vehicle Miles Travelled reduction as “environmental benefits” to justify the exemption. How would you quantify active transportation in future bills? Do you see measuring destination auto trips as a precursor to knowing non car trips?

3-      Right turn on red and red light running are major causes of crashes involving cyclists. Jerry Hill tried to water down the fines last year and this year the same bad legislation is back by Senator Simitian.  Like the fine for injuring a cyclist there is little support in the senate for preventing injury to a non driver. How would you change that?

4-      The Bicycle Transportation Account reverted back to $5M in 2006 despite demand for one hundred times that amount yearly from CA cities and counties. The state has since managed to go broke. Can you see increasing the account hundred fold using the California Air Resource Board’s green house reduction program of Cap and Trade since the program has to fund GHG reduction only? Do you see equity provisions that could apply to providing this funding to bicycling also such as poor people disproportionately not owning a car and involved in crashes?

5-      Congestion Management and Environmental Quality has programs for green streets which mitigate stormwater pollution, the largest component of which is brake liner and tire dust from auto traffic. Can you see defining green streets to include bicycle boulevards similar to Bryant Street in Palo Alto because of the certified reduction in auto traffic and the corresponding increase in bicycle traffic? Would a connected network of bicycle boulevards encourage you to bike to work?

6-      Rising gas prices have led to increased numbers for many public policy goals like increased transit, bicycling, reduced crashes, reduced air pollution, reduced imports, improved balance of trade, etc. Do you see a gas tax that benefits alternate transportation like Caltrain and bicycling as a means to continue improving public policy goals? Would you champion a dedicated three county gas tax for Caltrain?

7-      The majority of freeway overcrossings and bridges function as a barrier to bicycle travel. A few like Stevens Creek over 85, and Taylor over 82 are properly designed. Can you sponsor legislation that requires Caltrans to ensure all upgrades and new interchanges have full accommodations as their base design even if a trail or bike ped bridge is available nearby so as to avoid conflict with other alternative transportees?

8-      Instead of allowing neighborhood electric vehicles in bike lanes, where the speed differential can be dangerous to cyclists, can you pass legislation requiring that electric vehicle demand be handled by reducing the street speed to 20 mph because of collateral benefits like reduced air pollution and reduced wear and tear on the entire roadway?

9-      As redistricting reduces California’s influence in Congress do you see yourself leading sign on letters from the CA senate urging our California delegation to preserve enhancement dollars and programs like Safe Routes to School?

10-   Do you ride a bicycle? If no why not?

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Intersection lane widths

The largest number of bike crashes occur at intersections. Travel lanes for autos continue to the intersection. Often the turn lane is also marked with bots dots or dashed lines. Bike lanes however terminate ahead of the intersection. The engineering consideration is for shared space. However with vehicle speeds typically over 35 mph, multiple lane configurations which force irresponsible drivers to hold their position, the situation is quickly dicey.

Discretionary cyclists press left early to provide motorists with a predictable vehicle that they can plan around, often slowing down through the intersection, until they can pass once the bike lane resumes. But other cyclists endanger themselves by trying to share the space. The police typically take the side of cultured or perceived wealth, the motorist. The engineer has standards on his side. Between words and numbers the common traveller is unable to “leave and return unharmed and without fear by land (Magna Carta 42).”

In an ideal situation all marking should be dropped. The intersection as a clear space would be a common for all vehicles to be used at their discretion and caution. A land use allocation on modal footprints would imply that there should not be many intersections.

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The largest number of bike crashes occur at intersections. Docile cyclists using the available space on the periphery at the expense of their safety are impacted the most. The primary category is cyclist going the wrong way on the sidewalk. At the intersection they encounter, generally fatally, the usually fixated motorist. Crossing traffic draws the attention of the motorist; the docile cyclist is unaware of being in path of the fixated motorist who in turn is unaware of docile bike traffic going the wrong way. Result smoosh. The police in turn do not even site the motorist in most countries deferring to wealth.

So why are intersections not designed with docile cyclists in mind? Nine times out of 10 the designer is in this group. Because priority for motorists is the primary design consideration. Look at drivers- docile drivers primarily the elderly use larger heavier vehicles to shield themselves from their own inabilities to be agile enough in traffic. Yet roads generally work for them at the expense of docile cyclists.

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Modal footprints

Why don’t engineers look at destinations and how they are accessed? I’ve heard that travel has stayed constant at one hour from Roman times. In an hour a walker can access four or five destination if the land use diversity is on a 1/4 mile footprint. A cyclist can access the same number of destinations on a three mile footprint. Transit is complicated by arrival and departure times. But assume that the land use diversity is focused on a walkable footprint. Then one could access four or five destinations by bus and walking in an hour if the bus footprint was seven miles. Trains and walking could access four or five destinations on a 25 mile footprint- assuming cost and speed aren’t such great factors. Autos however are simpler if cost and health are ignored; like walking and biking but on 200 mile footprint. Currently this is the only design parameter utilized.

That’s why walking and biking are inconvenient and road space is a challenge. Unless you choose where you live there is 1.5-2x difference with driving. Worse transit with its fixed routes can’t stay up. Equivalent travel times to destination access by driving are 4-8x.

Land use diversity, destination density, and a modal footprint should be necessary design parameters to reduce the heavy human footprint on the biosphere.

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Road space

Shared spaces only work if all users have equal access and respect the mobility of other users. By not providing space on the road engineers force a hierarchy of users. Larger higher speed vehicles end up with priority by default. Discretionary cyclists take the lane, docile cyclists use the available space on the periphery at the expense of their safety and discreet cyclists skip cycling in favor of recreation. Engineers in turn end up with expectation to the road for drivers which feeds demand.

What have engineers done to design in access and respect?

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