Archive for the ‘News’ Category

My hit and run on Mabury Road

March 18, 2018

Location of my hit and run today around 2 p.m. Heading west on Mabury Road (Google Maps photo).

Hit and run accidents expose the coward in all of us. I was taught that if you make a mistake, own up to it.

I’m just happy to be alive these days, especially after my own hit and run accident around 2 p.m. at the intersection of Mabury Road and King Road in San Jose.

I don’t remember much, just a car speeding away as I lay on the pavement trying to gather my senses. A concerned citizen advised that I stay down.

It was good advice. I didn’t know what could be wrong, and I hit my head. I’ve trashed three helmets now.

After a few minutes, I got up and felt well enough to talk to the 911 operator. “No ambulance!”

The police arrived, as did the fire department. I had road rash on my left elbow and left leg. Long-sleeve jersey and tights trashed. I must have hit well, because nothing is broken, although I’m sore.

My bike looks like it’s OK, scuffed up brake levers and brake pedal. The firefighter advised that I not ride home, and he’s right. I rode a mile to a location where I could easily get a ride.

I had a smartphone that survived, so I could call, and I had an old driver’s license on me. They’re useful for carrying on your bike, especially since all the information is current for me.

Today I was going to complain about people who trash Mount Hamilton. I alerted the county about the illegal dumping. I guess “trash” is the operative word for my day.

What’s wrong with our world when people see fit to trash beautiful Mt. Hamilton?

Berd spoke might be the “wheel” deal

February 18, 2018

Berd spokes are made from a polymer, strong and light. Berd photo.

Ninety-nine percent of new technology isn’t new and it isn’t an improvement, but the Berd spoke might buck the trend. The jury is out.

Berd, based in Minnesota, specializes in polymer technology. I’d bet a few employees used to work for 3M.

The spoke looks like a piece of string, literally. It’s called PolyLight, a marketing term. Whatever it is, it isn’t steel or carbon-fiber.

I’m drawn to it for two reasons: 1) it works with today’s hubs and rims and 2) wheels using Berd spokes absorb road shock better than steel-spoke wheels. They’ve been approved for use in international bicycle racing.

Looking around, I found a wheel with three-cross configuration using Onyx hubs, which look like they have traditional drilled holes, standard construction.

I don’t know if they’re more durable than DT spokes, which I consider the best in the business. If these spokes turn out to be as goods as advertised, I’d consider rebuilding my wheels and giving them a try.

Mt. Hamilton road repair completed

January 19, 2018

A retaining wall near Crothers Road on Mt. Hamilton is officially complete.

Last year Mt. Hamilton Road underwent two big repairs, the slide just before the descent to Grant Ranch Park, and at Crothers Road, just completed.

The Crothers Road retaining wall work didn’t close the road like the big slide farther up, but it was a hassle nonetheless.

That’s not bad for road repairs considering all the rain we had last year. The recently completed repair on Skyline Boulevard just east of Castle Rock State Park cost a whopping $30 million.

There’s going to be some offices built on the McCarthy frontage road near the gas-fired power plant and Coyote Creek. That brings back memories when Jobst Brandt and I took this route on one of his really long Mt. Hamilton rides.

We started from his house in Palo Alto and went over to Livermore, then back on Calaveras Road. We found our way on Hwy 237 picking up frontage roads where possible. There was a big fruit stand at this location. That ride will never be repeated.

At the Hwy 237 frontage road near Coyote Creek and Hwy 237, new office buildings are going up.

Jobst Brandt calendar raises $110 for open space

December 12, 2017

Your contribution added $110 toward open space in the Bay Area through POST.

Yesterday I donated $110 to Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) to go toward its mission of preserving open space and farmland in the Bay Area.

Thank you to all who donated with the purchase of the 2018 Jobst Brandt tour of the Alps calendar. Jobst was a long-term contributor to the land-preservation fund founded in 1977, based in Palo Alto on High Street in the same building as Wheelsmith bike shop. Back in the day.

I may make this an annual event to go toward the POST cause. Recently POST preserved beach property at Tunitas Creek, a location where many cyclists pass by on their rides up and down Tunitas Creek Road.

One of their campaigns is to create conservation easements on private property, something the freewheeling, adventuresome Brandt advocated.

China pedals toward Copenhagen lifestyle

December 1, 2017

A 7.6 km bicycle skyway opened recently in Xiamen, China. (Dissing+Weitling photo)

It comes as no surprise to me that China now has the world’s longest elevated cycle path at 7.6 kilometers. The world’s most populous country also happens to have the world’s worst traffic, so you can bet the country will be the champion of transportation alternatives for years to come.

Dissing + Weitling Architecture, a company based in Copenhagen (of course), sold China on the concept and design of the futuristic bike path.

Denmark has similar structures, but not nearly as long.

Lest we forget our bicycle history, the California Cycleway opened in Pasadena in 1900. It was supposed to be six miles long, but only 1.3 miles was ever built. The bike craze ended and that was that.

California Cycleway in 1900. (Wikipedia)

Judging by what I’m seeing on YouTube, China’s elevated bike path is being used, maybe more out of curiosity than anything else at this point. There’s also an elevated bus road next to it.

The cycleway is located in Xiamen, population 3 million, a port city about 300 miles north of Hong Kong.

Mt. Umunhum’s popularity puts cyclists in peril on Hicks Road

November 24, 2017

Hicks Road at Guadalupe Reservoir in 2010. Need shoes?

UPDATE, Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017: I rode Hicks today to see if Black Friday was an anomaly. It looks like it was. Not as much traffic today. Still much more than a weekday, with 44 motor vehicles observed in about six miles mid-day. There’s only about 125 parking spaces on all of Mt. Umunhum. If it does get crowded on a summer weekend, that could be an issue. Who wants to drive all that way to find there’s no parking?

Imagine my surprise riding Hicks Road today as car after car whizzed by on the narrow road with no shoulders bound for, no doubt, Mt. Umunhum summit.

Was there a Black Friday sale underway at the summit? I can’t think of any other reason for so much traffic. Now that the summit is open and this Friday being a semi-holiday, it makes sense. I didn’t find any planned events in New Almaden that would cause traffic.

If this is going to be the pattern going forward, then cyclists must avoid riding on Hicks Road weekends starting at Camden to the Mt. Umunhum junction. I’m guessing the New Almaden side of Hicks will have less summit traffic.

It’s really sad to see yet another country road turned into a Laguna Seca training course.

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) needs to take responsibility for managing traffic to the summit. There should be a car limit and registration for access, similar to what is happening at the popular Muir Woods National Monument.

While I’m on the topic, why doesn’t MROSD/county/state arrange for a shuttle bus service on weekends to the more popular parks in the Santa Cruz Mountains? I’d wager that half the traffic on weekends is generated by well intentioned mountain bikers and hikers out to enjoy park land.

Road diets and protected bike lanes the new norm

November 22, 2017

Tantau Avenue and Apple HQ looking north. Will employees ride bikes to work?

While I don’t think road diets and protected bike lanes will make much of a dent in the way people get to work, those who do ride bikes today will not be complaining about changes coming down the road.

Local residents (read Nextdoor) were up in arms about the road diet that went into effect on Hedding Street in November between Coleman Avenue and Winchester Boulevard in San Jose.

Some people who contributed their thoughts favored the change, but most were against it. The main argument — and a valid one — is that too few cyclists take Hedding and the road change would have little effect.

On Nov. 14, from 6:43 a.m. – 9 a.m., I conducted a traffic count of bicycles and pedestrians at the Hedding – Park intersection in San Jose. Here’s the result:

Hedding – 30
Park – 27

Hedding – 21
Park- 52

The transportation/housing problems we face today are systemic and a road diet for one street isn’t going to make much difference. However, it certainly does make the pedestrian’s walk and the cyclist’s ride safer. I noticed minor backups on Hedding eastbound, but it was hardly apocalyptic as characterized by some who posted comments. By 9 a.m. there was no traffic to speak of.

Apple backs protected bike lanes

Now Apple is pumping $1.8 million into Cupertino city coffers for protected bike lanes on Stevens Creek Boulevard. With their spaceship HQ about to open, they must be nervous about its affect on commuters.

Over the years I’ve slowly changed my thinking about protected bike lanes and multi-use trails from neutral to all-in. It’s the best way to reduce the number one objection to bike commuting — dangerous in traffic.

The plan is to head west from Tantau in phases. Details have yet to be worked out.

I’ve long advocated greater commitment by corporations for supporting non-auto commuting. They should flat out pay employees to ride to work, as well as cover bus and train expenses. The use of corporate buses is a step in the right direction.

As far as systemic changes, we need to see more people living close to work. City governments are doing their part now by requiring sufficient housing near business parks. Our sacred American way of life– single-family homes — is a big part of the problem. European and Asian communities don’t have them. Concentrating populations makes commuting by bike and public transit less of a burden without urban sprawl.

In the meantime, our governments are doing their best with what they have to work with. They look to the bicycle. It’s a fantastic machine, no doubt, but making it the commuter silver bullet is asking a lot.

San Jose completes Hedding Street transformation

October 17, 2017

West Hedding after restriping. Bike lanes for all.

There are now bike lanes the entire length of Hedding Street in San Jose, East and West. That’s good news for the handful of cyclists that use the road, not so good for motorists. At least that’s the sentiment on the Next Door website, Santa Clara neighborhood.

On my ride today, I noticed a few more stripes need to be added between Coleman Avenue and Winchester Boulevard, but that’s about it. Hedding has been squeezed down to one lane each direction, with a center turn lane.

Santa Clara resident motorists can breathe easy. There is no plan to do the same to Pruneridge Avenue, which links up with Hedding at Winchester. Santa Clara’s road diet effort on Pruneridge between Pomeroy and Tantau was not well received, although I’m not aware of any plans to return that stretch to two lanes each direction.

I rode Hedding both directions on my way to the always enjoyable Alum Rock Park. I saw a total of five bikes on Hedding, although it was between 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. when there is little traffic to speak of — cars and bikes.

The spirited discussion on Next Door leaned heavily toward the motorist’s viewpoint, which makes sense. Most people drive cars, not ride bikes. I can appreciate where they’re coming from. They perceive the change as anti-car, reducing lanes and increasing congestion.

The same reaction happened on East Hedding when the road diet went into effect several years ago. That debate boiled over on the pages of the San Mercury News, Roadshow column. Over time people quit complaining and moved on, finding a different route to work or putting up with the hassle. The problem with finding a different route these days is that ALL roads are congested at rush hour, including side streets.

Riding on Hedding you get a look at life in Silicon Valley, up close and personal. The good and the bad. I rode past houses bordering the Rose Garden, an enclave of wealth and privilege where multi-million dollar homes are the rule. As I continued east, the scenery changed from tree-lined streets and stately homes to industrial and lower/middle class housing. A homeless man talked to himself as he sat on the sidewalk outside the Santa Clara County Clerk Recorder’s Office.

Farther along, a deranged elderly man struggled in his wheelchair against the efforts of his homeless friends trying to help him.

I wondered what kind of clientele would frequent a newly furbished hotel at the corner of Hedding and 13th Street. I wish them well.

Hardscrabble would be the operative word in this neighborhood, where people scrape out a living making minimum wage. The depths of despair came into view as I turned the corner onto Mabury Road, the detritus of a homeless encampment scattered about. The fence has been repaired, but for how long?

I continued through more industrial hodgepodge, riding next to the busy Hwy 101, and then turned left, crossing over the now placid Coyote Creek. The new Berryessa BART station stands empty, ready to open next year, many hope. I wonder what traffic will be like when it opens, when Apple HQ opens, when more and more new businesses near Hedding kick into gear?

Finally, I entered a place of refuge in the Valley — Alum Rock Park. As I stopped for water I noticed a sign plastered on the wall. Due to budget cutbacks, San Jose has to reduce maintenance. At least they’re not closing the park.

I rode on and passed the concrete abutments of a past achievement in public transportation — an efficient, practical light rail that was the pride of Santa Clara Valley in the late 1800s. Of course, it was ripped out along with all the other light rail when Detroit took over.

Looking back on the ride, two areas of improvement hit home: the 880 underpass and the railroad overpass near Coleman. I never enjoyed riding there as traffic zoomed by at 45 mph or more. The bike lanes did wonders.

I don’t know what will become of our car-centric world, but there’s no doubt in my mind it’s unsustainable. I’m not saying bikes are the answer. I’m not sure there is an answer. Maybe the autonomous car will be our savior, but I’m not betting on it.

In the meantime, just like the patrons of our public golf courses, I’ll be one of the few making the most of the bike lanes while they’re still here.

Traffic in a Manila suburb. And we’re complaining?

Jobst Brandt Tour de Alps 2018 Calendar available now

September 4, 2017

A 2018 calendar with images of Jobst Brandt’s rides through the Alps is available now.

UPDATE: We have decided to donate 100% of 2018 calendar profits to Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST). Jobst Brandt donated generously to POST and other conservancies during his lifetime. (To date, 11/26: $110)

For anyone who knew of Jobst Brandt and his epic rides through the Alps, you won’t want to miss this 2018 calendar (including January 2019).

It has 18 photos taken between 1960 and the late 1990s, some never before published. Others were turned into posters for sale in the Palo Alto Bicycles catalog during the 1970s-80s.

All photos come from the Jobst Brandt photo collection, but obviously images of him were snapped by his ride partner at the time.

The 28-page calendar (8.5 x 11) is printed on demand. Important U.S. holidays are dated.

Because the calendar is sent by mail, you’ll need to give a shipping address and provide payment details to Magcloud. Cost is $7.60 (shipping not included, but runs about $5).

Proceeds will help defray the considerable expense of scanning Brandt’s thousands of slides. Thanks to Richard Mlynarik for scanning the transparencies.

A preview is available on the Magcloud website.

Viva CalleSJ on Sept. 17 returns streets to the people

August 29, 2017

Shiloh Ballard, SCVBC executive director, recognizes Ed Solis for Viva CalleSJ success.

I can imagine the reaction from the police when San Jose parks and recreation superintendent Ed Solis submitted a request to shut down six miles of streets in San Jose for a recreational event in 2015.

Most other public agencies also balked, but Solis persevered. He saw first-hand the success of a similar “Open Streets Project” held in Guadalajara, as well as San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Solis built a coalition of the willing, including the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SCVBC). Solis was recognized by the SCVBC for the San Jose event at its annual bike summit held in August.

Viva CalleSJ, as it’s called, now in its third year, expects more than 100,000 participants to join in the fun on streets between Japantown and Lake Cunningham Park.

Solis said that in addition to allowing people to get out and exercise safely, this is a social experiment in bringing residents together from all walks of life. Looking at the photos of smiling faces cycling, walking, skateboarding, and more, I’d say the results make it worth the effort and occasional inconvenience.

Viva CalleSJ will be held on Sunday, Sept. 17, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.