Don’t Blame Bike Activists For B Street

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Photo of a trailer that protrudes into the bike path along B Street
Photo of a trailer that protrudes into the bike lane along B Street

by Tim Starback

The following is a copy of a letter to the Davis City Council:

It’s time to rip that Band-Aid off of B Street. No more delays or community meetings.

The problem is not between “bike advocates” and those wanting to preserve parking. The problem is you.

From the few residents of B Street who attended the community meeting Tuesday night, it’s my impression that they were equally frustrated about the lack of communication about parking and green waste containerization.

When the possibility of permitted side-street parking was presented as an option, this seemed to be a surprise to them, which drastically reduced their opposition. Strangely, this is something we’ve been talking about for months. Why was this not presented to them earlier?

It’s also not fair to blame the “bike activists” when all we are doing is reminding you about your own city goals and policies.

Specifically:

  • The Transportation Element of the Davis General Plan (p. 22) states “Where limited street space exists, priority should be given to non-motorized modes to protect the safety and comfort of these more vulnerable users.”
  • The Beyond Platinum Bike Plan adopted by council in 2013 specifically calls for achievement of a 30-percent bicycle mode share by 2020.
  • The Davis Climate Action and Adaptation Plan adopted by the council in June 2010 has goals to increase walking and the use of non-polluting forms of transportation, including bicycles. The transportation sector in Davis accounts for about half (47 percent) of local greenhouse gas emissions, so meeting the plan’s greenhouse gas-reduction goals will require a decrease in vehicle miles traveled — and a corresponding increase in cycling, walking or transit.

Let’s not pit one group against the other. Cite the city code, goals and polices you have in place now for your decisions. Not everyone will be happy with every decision you make, but if we stick to these goals Davis will develop into an even more amazing city.

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19 thoughts on “Don’t Blame Bike Activists For B Street”

  1. dlemongello

    Yes, it’s a tight fit to begin with, but every time I see that picture the first thing I think is the issue of parking on or over the line designating the motor vehicle parking limit should be a good place to start. Doing that should be citable, with a sign accompanying the law, something to the affect that “vehicles greater than X dimensions are prohibited and any vehicle parking on or over the limit line will be cited”. Of course parking on the sidewalk if your vehicle is too big to fit won’t fly either.

  2. Davis Progressive

    i like this letter.  when the council decided to use conflict resolution rather than attempt to impose a solution, i was a bit skeptical, but the power of conflict resolution is that it also focuses on the lack of leadership that comes from council.  i understand that the community got tired of council majority mentality, but i think we’ve gone too far the other way.  sometimes, decisions have to be made that piss people off.

  3. dlemongello

    The reason it has gotten to this point I think is that they don’t know what to do.  They don’t have any trouble “pissing people off” when they have a clear opinion.  On this both sides have a good point and I think they need to give a little for both, just like everyone with an interest needs to give a little too.  My opinion:  People should be able to park in front of their own home, but since space is very tight, there is no leeway for carelessness (look before opening your door, etc.) or if you have a LARGE vehicle, you’ll have to compensate for that.  Meanwhile, cyclists need to be super careful, but I think there is enough room, even though more room would be nice.  Just so everyone knows, I’m almost exclusively a cyclist.

  4. hpierce

    Funny.  Bicycle zealots convinced PW to stripe “no-go” zones next to the area using parking.  Reducing the effective width.  Now they cite that the effective width is too narrow, and therefore car parking should be banned.

    There really isn’t a need for the centerline stripe, north of Eighth.  It would be perfectly possible, and very reasonably safe, to remove the centerline, eliminate the “no-go” zones, and stripe bikelanes that could accommodate parked cars and bicycles.  It would also tend to reduce motor vehicle speeds.  But that wouldn’t satisfy those who believe cars should disappear from the face of the earth.  Recall that the current restrictions do not allow for on-street parking ~ 12 hours a day, 5 days/week.

    1. Alan Miller

      PW is Public Works.

      And speaking as a bike zealot, I love my Jeep, and lanes for it!

      The problem is bike infrastructure is decades behind, and in a collision, the bicyclist loses . . . so tilit more money towards bike infrastructure.  Eliminate the car?  Hardly!  That claim is plain weird.

      1. hpierce

        Yeah, I over-reached a bit.  However, removal of the centerline, losing the white “medians”, and narrowing the combined auto lane by widening the bike lanes could have a lot more beneficial results. The main roadway is significantly wider than it need be to safely handle two-way traffic, given the low volumes, and the high level of traffic in one direction at peak times.

        1. darelldd

          One of the reasons is that it was never brought up until… now. Another (and I’m only guessing here!) is that removing the centerline will not fly from a perceived safety and (city) liability standpoint. But hey, I’ve been surprised before.

          The reason that I personally would not want to see this plan happen is because it depends on a “Bike lane that can accommodate parked cars and bicycles.” And if that were easy and not very wide, we’d be set. But we already have an example of that very thing between 7th and 8th right now. The picture above points out one of the problems.  And what isn’t obvious is that a legally-parked car could open its door completely across the bike lane. To do this parking/bike lane correctly, the parking “lane” has to first be wide enough to contain the widest vehicles, parked 18 inches from the curb (otherwise, we start with the problem of having the vehicles legally spilling into the bike lane). So we are starting with a minimum 10′ parking lane to hold a legally parked automobile. Then we add at least 3′ of door zone “empty space” before then adding at least a 6′ bike lane (and note that this is still sub-standard, but I’m in a compromising mood). So now we’re a minimum of 19′ from the curb before we start with the general purpose (travel) lane. If we add one 11′ general purpose lane (the current width from 8-14), we’ve used 30′ for one direction of traffic, out of a total of 38′ of street. Taking the centerline away won’t quite make up the difference.

          The only way to fit parked cars and bike lanes in this corridor, is to make both facilities substandard (as we have right now). Yes, we can whittle away at all of those dimensions until it fits… and then we get the problem that we already have, and that we’re still trying to solve.

          And the circle is complete.

          (Note that this bit of reality has little in common with the concept of removing cars from the face of the earth.)

          We have a viable solution. We’ve had it for a long while. Few find it unacceptable, and most users of the corridor will benefit from the mild reconfiguration. I am convinced that a solution that makes everybody happy does not exist.

  5. darelldd

    Bicycle zealots convinced PW to stripe “no-go” zones next to the area using parking.

    This assumption is inaccurate.

    …those who believe cars should disappear from the face of the earth.

    Could you point to anyone who has ever said or implied this during these discussions? Safe transportation for one mode does not imply the elimination of another. There is no need to create conflict escalation. Pretty much the point of the article, actually.

  6. Michelle Millet

    Ideally B St would be wide enough to accommodate vehicular traffic, a bike lane, and parking spots wide enough to accommodate the largest vehicle legally allowed on the road. Clearly this is not the case.

    It is dangerous to have part of a parked vehicle blocking a bike lane, just as it would be dangerous to have a parked vehicle blocking part of a vehicular lane.

    If we can’t safely provide parking, bike lanes, and traffic lanes, then IMO we need to change the road configuration in a way that benefits the community at large.

  7. dlemongello

    In what world is there room for a parked car’s door to open completely and still not hit a passing cyclist?  I guess I am just too resigned to the world we actually live in.  That is one of the biggest hazards of cycling where cars park but what roads have that kind of space?  There certainly are as many bikes downtown as on B St., are they going to take out all the parking there too?  What is it about B St. that it should be the exception to other heavily used areas?   Cars do not need enough room to park 18″ from the curb just because that is the maximum allowable.  Vehicles that do not fit within reasonable lines drawn to share the space most effectively should be in violation.

    1. Barack Palin

      All this talk that we need wider streets even though I’ve often read that many Davis streets are too wide and have taken up valuable development area.  I agree with everything dlemongello wrote.  There’s no way to allow enough space so that every parked car’s doors can open free of the bike lane without banning parking on most Davis streets.

      1. darelldd

        >> There’s no way to allow enough space so that every parked car’s doors can open free of the bike lane without banning parking on most Davis streets. <<

        It is a happy coincidence that we all agree on this!

    2. darelldd

      >> In what world is there room for a parked car’s door to open completely and still not hit a passing cyclist? <<

      In a world where cars are not parked adjacent to bike lanes. That was the point I was trying to make.

      >> That is one of the biggest hazards of cycling where cars park but what roads have that kind of space?

      I’m happy that we agree on the hazard. When roads do not have the needed width for both parking and bike lanes, we have to figure out a way to make the road users safe. And we have done that in Davis before for the same reasons. Homes on part of 5th Street and 8th street have no street parking today, and haven’t had it for as long as I have lived in town.

      >are they going to take out all the parking there too?<<

      I can’t speak to that. But I see no reason to avoid making B street safer just because we may not be able to make other places safer right now. The discussion here is how to make B street as usable and safe as possible – for all residents. It would seem silly to leave B street sub-standard just to match other sub-standard streets in town. Note as well that downtown streets are slower than B Street, and they are not all arterials as B Street is. Downtown streets do not tie together several schools and libraries and recreational venues – places that kids frequent. Where there are no bike lanes in downtown, we have used sharrows to let everybody know that bikes belong out in the middle of the general use lane. There is also no green waste in the core downtown area. All of these things makes the two situations quite different. Every street and every locale is different, and needs to be addressed for its unique needs.

      >> Cars do not need enough room to park 18″ from the curb just because that is the maximum allowable.  Vehicles that do not fit within reasonable lines drawn to share the space most effectively should be in violation. <<

      Should be in violation, I agree. However, the CA Vehicle code does not agree with us. It is not in violation to park 18″ from the curb, obstructing the bike lane. Please look at the trailer parked above in the bike. that trailer could be 1.5′ further into the bike land and still be parked legally. As it is now, it is as close to the curb as possible.

      Our public roads are paid for by all of us, and they are for all of us to use. And we need to figure out how they can best serve our community. Sadly, we have to do that all within a framework of existing widths, laws and normal human behavior. Or what I call the world we actually live in.  🙂 We have a chance to make things better here. We should not squander it. Nobody enjoys or benefits from substandard facilities.

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