Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Riverside now thinking about being bicycle friendly

The City of Riverside, at the end of last October, received yet another award. With the way the City spits out award press releases these days, Riverside residents and press seem desensitized to them, as this has received no coverage from the local press, but this is an award that actually matters. Riverside is now on the League of American Cyclists' list of Bicycle-Friendly Communities, as a Bronze-level community. This award recognizes the City's recently-renewed commitment to building bike lanes, the formation of a bicycle advisory committee, and the construction and maintenance of the Santa Ana River Trail. (It's too bad that the City can't force the construction of the rest of the trail through to the OC section- hopefully the county will get on that.) Congratulations to Riverside for being the first BFC in the Inland Empire.

The Bicycle-Friendly Communities award is designed to encourage local governments to continue improving cycling conditions in their communities. As of right now, many cycle lanes seem to disappear when extra auto lanes are required on city streets- see Central at Victoria, or 14th at Chicago. Both go from two lanes + a bike lane to 3 lanes without, with no warning. The City has an interactive map of bicycle pathways (the apparent source of the map I posted earlier) which shows a very massive proposed network of bicycle lanes, including all the way down both 14th and Central. Of course, when looking at proposals like this, you have to keep in mind that there are several competing interests in government, and the proposals of other offices may come in ahead of the bicycle plan, especially in the near future.

I also want to point out that bicycle safety education is one of the LAC's criteria for this award, and Riverside seems to be lacking in this area. While the RPD does, in fact, offer bicycle safety courses, the target of these courses is immediately apparent from even a cursory glance at their site. They offer bicycle training to children. The FAQ section on bicycle laws refers almost entirely to how children are expected to ride their bicycles. This is a very clear message- bicycles are second-class transportation choices, suitable for children until they reach 16 and can get their drivers' licenses. Notably, they offer no educational materials for drivers to learn how to interact with bicycles. We have made strides in bicycle-friendliness in the past years, but we have a long way to go.

P.S. Hi Mom!

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