Friday, February 12, 2010

City Leaders Think of Bikes as Toys

So, I went down to City Hall the other night (riding in some of the heaviest weather I've seen in a long time) to comment on the updated Bicycle Master Plan. I was the only commenter on the matter (where were you, cyclists of Riverside?), and I suggested that the City consider a bicycle facility of some kind on Central between Victoria and Riverside. I doubt it'll make its way into the plan, as these plans are often laid out years ahead of time, and Central in that vicinity is your typical squeeze-as-many-lanes-as-possible car-sewer. However, I noticed something during the presentation that Public Works conducted bicycle counts in November- this is actually pretty impressive, as it's sometimes hard to get places like Los Angeles to do bike counts. However, the locations where they counted are informative:

Victoria Ave. at Jefferson, and the Santa Ana River Trail at Tequesquite. For the uninitiated, these are the two main recreational bicycle facilities in Riverside. Don't get me wrong, I love the SART, but it's not exactly a fantastic transportation tool. Nor is Victoria- the bulk of the south side of the city is on the other side of some very steep hills. The City went out to see how many cyclists were on the roads, and they picked the spots where they would find recreational cyclists.

I am a utility cyclist. When I'm on a bike, it's because I'm going somewhere. That's not to say I don't enjoy riding- I enjoy it quite a bit more than driving- but 9 times in 10, I'm cycling for transportation. This is the sort of cycling that we need to promote. This is the sort of cycling that will actually solve problems like car dependence and climate change. I'm not out to denigrate recreational cyclists here, but I am always struck by the fact that I see these guys parked up at East Coast Bagel (where many rides end), loading their bicycles into their pickup trucks and SUVs. Their cycling does not reduce car trips- in fact, it generates them. The City needs to tailor its bicycle transportation system to meet the needs of people who are actually riding for transportation.

On the bright side, it appears that "the cycling community" understands this, and bicycle counts this Spring will be conducted at the two locations above, but also on Canyon Crest at MLK, Magnolia at Adams, University at Iowa and Third at Chicago. Perhaps this will demonstrate and quantify the demand out there for clean, green transportation.

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