Archive for the ‘bicycling’ Category

Things didn’t exactly go as planned for Opening Day at the new Levi Stadium in Santa Clara. VTA light rail and Caltrain can not accommodate the crowds (even though a measly 9000 people rode transit to the stadium). The roads, of course, were total gridlock.

But at least you could bike there, right? One of the selling points of the location was the nearby San Tomas Aquino bike path. Stadium planners had boasted that cyclists could ride straight to the front door of the stadium. So I was stunned to read Richard Masoner’s blog posting that the trail actually gets closed for stadium events. How fucked up is that?

The reason is the TSA-style security perimeter. Here is how it was explained to the Santa Clara Bicycle Advisory Committee:

There apparently was some early thought given to making stadium access via raised and covered bridges to separate trail traffic from stadium traffic, but no need to worry about that, the trail will be fine. Besides, that would cost the stadium project a bunch of money and since it wasn’t going to be a problem, why spend the money?

Fast forward to today, and with the post Boston bombing, there will be row after row of metal detectors along the main Great America parking lot (like the whole length of that huge parking lot according to the photo they showed) to screen all the game attendees prior to entering the “sterile (i.e. secure) zone” of the stadium.

Oops, the bike trail passes right through the middle of the sterile zone. So it looks like either the trail will be closed basically all day long on big event days; 4-8 hours before the game until 4-8 hours after the game. Or trail users may be allowed to pass (on foot only), but only after going through security screening. Sounds fine in theory, but realize you’ll be trying to cross a stream of 70,000 tail gating fans pushing and shoving to get into the stadium while pushing your bike along in clip-less shoes for about a mile!

Apparently there is a grant application in the process for the city to get funding to modify the creek trail along the stadium area to run it under the existing and new foot bridges. Now the question remains as to why do we, the tax payers, have to foot the bill to fix the trail that we, the tax payers, paid to build because the stadium folks did not want to pay to put their foot bridges over the trail, that was already there, in the first place. Suffice it to say, the two guys from the stadium project got an earful and high tailed it out of the meeting once their presentation was over. And the high muckety-muck from the stadium project that was supposed to be there as well was suddenly called out of town the day of the BAC meeting that is scheduled 2 months ahead of time?

Still makes you think how cyclists rank in the grand scheme of things. If the stadium guys came along and said OK, we are going to need to close down a mile of Hwy. 101 for a year while we build the stadium, oh and we’ll be closing it down about 15 days a year during events; heads would be rolling. But, it is just a bike path, nobody will care.

And if you want to ride there on Tasman, good luck with that. The VTA removed the Tasman bike lanes to make room for the light rail.



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Here is another bicycle scare article, this time in the Daily Mail. These bicycle health studies are so ridiculous:

Middle aged men who spend nine hours a week on their bike are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, new research suggests. A British study of 5,200 cyclists is the biggest research project ever conducted on the health impact of cycling.

It suggests that cyclists in in their 50s who bicycle for more than nine hours a week may be up to five times as likely to receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

The team of scientists at University College London, found there was no link between cycling and infertility or erectile problems – an age-old health myth.

There were numerous problems with the study. Here is what the NHS website reports:

Despite these seemingly alarming results, regular cyclists do not need to panic – this type of study cannot prove increased cycling time leads to prostate cancer; it can only prove an association.

Also, the prostate cancer analyses were only carried out on fewer than 42 men, which is only a relatively small sample of men. With such a small sample, it increases the possibility that any association is the result of chance. Most experts would agree that the health benefits of frequent cycling outweigh the risks.

Even worse, the study “participants” self-reported through an online survey.

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The Beer Bike

Oh my gosh! Drinking while biking…and not even wearing a helmet.

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Representative Kevin McCarthy, the new House Majority Leader, is apparently an avid bicyclist:

McCarthy pulls on some ratty gym clothes, descends three flights of stairs and exits the building, where, when the weather is agreeable, he meets up with about a half-dozen other GOP members on their mountain bikes. Together they cruise along the Mall, past the Lincoln Memorial, across a bridge and along the Potomac River.

This will surely mean more bike funding from the Republican Congress, right?


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In December 2012, Dr. Fred Rivara gave an alarming TED Talk about the spread of bikeshare programs across the nation. This was a big problem, he argued, because bikeshare riders generally do not wear helmets. He predicted mass carnage as a result, and published a paper that purported to show a 14% increased risk of head injuries as a result of bikeshare.

But when the data in the paper was examined, it was clear that bikeshare had the opposite effect. Cities with bikeshare programs saw a substantial reduction in head injuries.

It is not the first time Dr. Rivara has cried wolf.

Beginning in 1989, he published a series of papers claiming that bike helmets reduce the risk of head injury by a whopping 85%. He is the original bike helmet alarmist. And while his papers were heavily criticized for their methods and conclusions, that did not prevent legislators from passing mandatory helmet laws.

But following passage of the helmet laws, a funny thing happened: There was no change in the rate of bicyclist injuries or fatalities. For example, a study of Canadian helmet legislation in the BMJ states: “we were unable to detect an independent effect of legislation on the rate of hospital admissions for cycling related head injuries.” A study of Australia helmet legislation (“No clear evidence from countries that have enforced the wearing of helmets”) made the same conclusion. Australia, by the way, is the most perfect laboratory for bike helmet effectiveness, because the entire country overnight instituted strict helmet laws. The fact that no effect was detected is astonishing, given Rivara’s claim that helmets are 65% effective against motor vehicle collisions.

When real world experimental data fails to validate a theoretical model, it means the model is wrong. Twice now, Dr. Rivara’s theory has failed in dramatic fashion. The fact that he refuses to give up his theory means he is nothing more than a crackpot.


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God I Hate TV News

Bike-to-Work day adding to congestion!?



(Posted in the Reddit bicycling forum)

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SFMTA Budget Priorities

There has been a lot of focus on Sunday parking meters in San Francisco (and rightly so). But an ever bigger concern is the anemic level of bike funding.

While the Chronicle is calling the SFMTA budget a “qualified win” for bicycle infrastructure, the outlook is grim. Just 2% of the budget would go toward bicycle facilities. That is less than the current bicycle mode share (3.5%), to say nothing of the city’s 20% mode share goal. It is also less than what other Bay Area counties are planning. For example, voters in Alameda County will be considering a transportation expenditure plan that would spend more than 8% on bike facilities.


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