Bicycle Kitchen confidential
Co-op gives advice on pedaling to future SN&R office
The Eco-Warrior Princess sat down with Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen volunteers to learn about their Oak Park bike co-op, which opened in June of 2006 to promote bike maintenance, safety and self-sufficiency (see “Two wheels, one planet”). But when the conversation turned to bike policy and advocacy, the EWP decided to tap the volunteers for information that might later come in handy when SN&R moves into the building we’re renovating on Del Paso Boulevard. We hope that staff members will choose to bike to work—the building’s proximity to the American River Bike Trail was a big reason why we selected the building in the first place—and here’s our thinking: The more conducive the city of Sacramento is to bicycling in general, the better it’ll be for us.
How has the biking scene changed in Sacramento in recent years?
Chris Dougherty: You definitely see more people on bikes nowadays, especially in the Midtown and first-ring suburbs. Sacramento’s a great place to commute on a bike. It’s flat. We have great weather. We have fairly decent infrastructure for cycling.
Jeffery Rosenhall: The city of Sacramento does a pretty decent job of bike infrastructure. But there are areas where you pass into an unincorporated part of the county and a bike lane drops or the whole shoulder of the roadway drops, and there are a few examples where that happens the other way. There are continued efforts to get routes meshed together so gaps are filled. So if you wanted to bike from here to Elk Grove or Natomas, you could, without going significantly out of your way or putting yourself in harm’s way.
Owen Howlett: There are processes constantly happening with municipalities where they’re looking at design standards, policies, particular route configurations and corridors, and few people are aware of that. For cyclists to get better facilities, they need to show up at [public] meetings and say stuff. Otherwise, it won’t happen.
What are examples of good cycling cities?
Dougherty: We have the only platinum-certified city in the region, which is Davis.
Howlett: A lot of the bike-friendly cities are demographically rich cities. It’s kind of reverse logic. People who don’t have the money could best use bikes for transportation, but it’s all the rich folks who want to go out and wear their Lycra who push the facilities. It comes down to policy. Bike facilities and good bike design need not cost anything. [Cities] just have to have the will to do it.
Dave Dave: Sacramento likes to ride on its artists and now kind of on the bicyclists. The city thinks this is cool—we did all this on our own. If they floated us more opportunities, I think we could do some really good things.
Rosenhall: It’s frustrating when people complain about cyclists’ rights or cyclists being in the way, saying it’s my tax dollars, this is my road, you’re not paying for it. Well, we all pay the same taxes, and we all have the right to the road. If I’m biking, I want my couple feet and I want my courtesy and I want to be left alone, and drivers should know that me riding my bike is one less car in front of them on their way to work.
Why is there a fear about bicycling?
Howlett: I think it’s cultural. People are told in this country that riding is dangerous and laws are set up to get bicyclists out of the way. With city policies, there’s still talk about separating cyclists from traffic to keep them safe, and it all feeds into this general culture of fear. When I teach bike education, I try not to talk about safety because it’s just not a big deal. But it’s what people are totally hung up about.
Gary Lee: I stick with my brother’s advice when I started riding motorcycles: A lot of drivers say they can’t see you. No, they see you. You’re having fun, they’re not. They want to hit you, avoid them at all costs. I’ve ridden that way for my whole life and it’s served me well so far.
Rosenhall: Be completely aware of everything around you and make everyone aware of you. Part of that is being predictable and not darting in and out, being in your part of the road. Make eye contact, don’t just assume.
Dave: The police are very adamant about people having lights on their bikes at night. We did a program where we gave out 500 lights.
Howlett: The police are also enforcing not riding on the sidewalk. Bike advocates support the police upholding bicycle laws because it makes it clear that a bicycle is a piece of traffic like anything else. It’s in the roadway where it should be.