Community Commentary Opinion

Retribution on Bike Coalition Board

It is truly alarming to realize that one of the largest obstacles to better bicycling infrastructure in San Diego County comes from organized cycling clubs who effectively dominate local bicycle advocacy groups like the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition.

If we want more people to bike, this needs to change.

Recently, I publicly advocated for protected bike lanes, which are lanes that physically protect bicyclists from speeding cars. Within a few short weeks I was rejected for a board position on the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition because of it.

The gist of my speech before the Encinitas City Council was that the perspective of the “vehicular cyclist” (the notion that bikes are vehicles and should use the roads just like a car) is ineffective at attracting a substantial number of users other than the “bold and fearless” riders. Physically protected bike lanes are shown to both increase ridership and reduce serious injury.  That’s not just my opinion; it’s supported by numerous traffic engineering studies.

But for a small, vocal contingent of road cyclists, mixing cars and bikes together works for them. These “roadies” don’t want to slow down for beach cruisers, kids, nearby pedestrians, dog walkers, strollers, or anyone else who may be inside of a protected bike lane. This is also the group of riders who like and support “sharrows” (painted symbols on the roadway indicating that “bikes may use full lane”).

I am (or rather, was) a member of the advocacy committee of the Bicycle Coalition. My ideas about the benefits of protected bike lanes did not sit well with several influential members of the group. When the vote came in for six new candidates to the board last Wednesday, I was the only one rejected.  I’m generally a well-spoken and committed advocate for cycling with as good or better credentials than the other candidates. I was rejected because I advocated for protected bike lanes and the vehicular cyclists in the group were out to punish me for it.  It was retribution for my public advocacy, pure and simple.

It saddens me that the Bike Coalition is so heavily influenced by a contingent of people with such a narrow, self-interested and shortsighted view of cycling infrastructure.  Unless the forward-thinking members of the Coalition can somehow sideline the hard-core vehicular cyclists among them, they are at risk of becoming irrelevant in the emerging political and social landscape of San Diego.  Groups like Circulate San Diego and the Climate Action Campaign are taking the lead by advocating for infrastructure that will actually increase the number of people biking and walking. It’s time for the Bike Coalition and road cyclists in general to embrace changes that increase the inclusivity and desirability of cycling for all types of riders, not just those in lycra.

Jeremy Blakespear

Encinitas

4 comments

Judi Tentor November 5, 2019 at 10:22 am

Jeremy Blakespear, BikeSD.org would absolutely appreciate your voice on our board. I left the County Coalition for the reason you cited – the strident voice of the vehicular cyclist. I still encounter that dismissal of the necessity of protected lanes from the board of the County Coalition. Recently at a Caltrans BPAC meeting, a County Coalition board member indicated that protected lanes were for children but not him. BikeSD.org fights for protected infrastructure, join us.

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Serge Issakov November 5, 2019 at 11:00 am

Mr. Blakespear was not rejected for his views. There is nothing novel or unusual about his views on advocacy, facilities, protected bike lanes, encouraging more cycling, etc. Many Coalition board members share his views, including new ones accepted at the recent election where he was not. And it was not retribution. He was rejected for his apparent inability to argue and disagree with others respectfully. He was the only one who spoke at the council meeting regarding the Cardiff bikeway project who was insulting and hostile to others. And he’s perpetuating that approach here. That’s why people did not want him on the Coalition board. And that’s the only reason.

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Jim Baross November 5, 2019 at 2:18 pm

I voted not to accept Jeremy Blakespear as an SDCBC Board member for his lack of appropriate demeanor at the Cardiff bikeway public discussion. His ability to participate with the SDCBC Advocacy or other committees continues if he chooses.

Some facts should clarify why people who can successfully use a bicycle “vehicularly” – lawfully, see CVC 21200 – are skeptics about the benefits for bicyclists from what Mr. Blakespear calls “protected bike lanes.”
1. There are four classifications in California of types of Bikeways.
One type being recommended at the Cardiff forum/City Council meeting is the “Class IV Separated Bikeway” (there are no classifications nor design guidance for “protected bike lanes” in California). The Class IVs are to be separated from the roadway by some type of vertical barrier; parked vehicles, concrete K-rail, plastic pylons, etc. qualify as such barriers. The Separated Bikeway is to be used exclusively by people bicycling, no pedestrians.
Another classification of Bikeway that was discussed is the Class I Multi-Use Bikeway (MUP). Many people still call these Bike Paths. Class Is are often designed for shared use between people bicycling and people on foot but always excluding motor vehicles. The sidewalk around Mission Bay is a (too narrow) example of a MUP. (Ebikes and scooters may or may not be allowed.) Where there is a lot of pedestrian activity it is best to provide sidewalks to separate pedestrians from the people bicycling.

Mr. Blakespear can be said to be accurate when he states, “These “roadies” don’t want to slow down for beach cruisers, kids, nearby pedestrians, dog walkers, strollers, or anyone else who may be inside of a protected bike lane.”
First, if Mr. Blakespear is advocating for Class IV Separated Bikeway, non-bicyclists are to be prohibited/excluded – problem solved? No, not for people walking, skating, running, eager to get between the beach and their cars, etc.
Second, many “roadies” are bicycling on their way to work or school or for exercise, or otherwise have good reason to want to be able to travel quickly without endangering themselves or others unnecessarily. Who wants to have to delay their travel unnecessarily? The “roadies” are now using the roadway’s Bike Lane (Class II) and wish to continue to use the roadway to be able to avoid potential conflicts with pedestrians and others using and/or crossing the proposed bikeway.

Some people (“Roadies” too) spoke up for encouraging attractive choices for everyone’s Active Transportation and/or recreation desires. Installation of a bikeway-type that encourages people that are new to bicycling to use a bicycle for transportation or recreation should not diminish or discourage people from bicycling that are using bicycling now. Yes, “roadies” don’t want to slow down for beach cruisers, kids, nearby pedestrians, dog walkers, strollers, or anyone else who may be inside of a protected bike lane.” Replacing the exiting Bike Lane (Class II) with either a Class I MUP or a Class IV Separated Bikeway will have the effect of reducing the ability for any people bicycling to use the roadway – motorists will be likely to harass people for bicycling on the roadway outside of the obvious and expensive adjacent but separated bikeway.

Installation of a Class I or Class IV bikeway should include installation in the right-most through travel lane the Shared Lane Markings (Sharrows) and, if still necessary, the official sign [bike image] May Use Full Lane.

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Stephan Vance November 5, 2019 at 7:16 pm

As the chair of the San Diego Bicycle Coalition Advocacy Committee, I am move to take issue with one thing Jeremy stated in his commentary. The cycling clubs are indeed outspoken members of the Bike Coalition, but they do not dominate the Coalition’s policies. The Bike Coalition enthusiastically supports bibcle infrastructure improvements like the facilities proposed on 30th Street in San Diego’s North Park and on Hwy 101 in Cardiff. We proposed the design modifications fornthe Cardiff project that ultimately were adopted by the City Council. And we will continue to advocate for better bicycle infrastructure that is well designed because it will attract more people to riding bikes.

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