Archive for the ‘News’ Category

San Tomas Falls shows its splendor

March 2, 2014

San Tomas Falls on the creek trail finally had more than a trickle on Feb. 28.

San Tomas Falls on the creek trail finally had more than a trickle on Feb. 28.


We finally had some rain. It was enough to put some life into San Tomas Falls on my ride home from work.

It might even turn the grass green on Mt. Hamilton. Last week’s Mt. Hamilton loop revealed one wildflower until Livermore. I’m not exaggerating.

Uvas Reservoir reveals old road

February 20, 2014

The pre-1957 Uvas Road is visible from the current road.

The pre-1957 Uvas Road is visible from the current road.


Imagine that, the old Uvas Road, buried in 1957 with the creation of Uvas Reservoir, has revealed itself.

It was much closer to the creek than it is today. Some of the old, narrow bridges are also visible.

The reservoir is essentially empty. Water from the reservoir recharges the area’s aquifers.

Hedding Street bike lanes a symptom of class warfare

January 5, 2014

Hedding Street bike lanes are a symptom of class warfare. I think they're just fine.

Hedding Street bike lanes are a symptom of class warfare. I think they’re just fine.


As I checked out Hedding Street bike lanes today to see what all the fuss is about, I reflected on a recent editorial by Jordan Michael Smith for the Boston Globe called
“Conservatives’ new enemy: Bikes”. I’d throw in more than a few so-called liberals as well.

Smith’s article is a must read for anyone who cares about bikes because he raises issues that go well beyond Hedding’s seemingly harmless bike lanes and a dash of green paint. Some Americans don’t like having their roads taken over, even if it is for a greater good. They see anything that disrupts their commute as downright evil.

Smith puts disgraced Toronto Mayor Robert Ford front and center as someone capitalizing on hatred of cyclists. That’s how an admitted crack cocaine user got elected mayor. He had support from commuters living in the suburbs. Ford doesn’t restrict his hatred to bikes. He also thinks public transit’s light rail is a “pain in the ass.”

Bikes have been hated by a vocal segment of the public ever since they became popular in the late 1800s. It’s a good thing the Wright brothers didn’t let that get in the way of their inventing air travel, using bike parts.

The battle is happening here: On Sunday, Gary Richards, Mr. Roadshow, of the San Jose Mercury news issued the top 10 hot spots for Bay Area commuters and Hedding Street bike lanes made the bad list at number five.

But back to Hedding Street and those hated bike lanes. They go from Guadalupe River to Hwy 101. The rub is that a lane of traffic had to be removed both directions and in place a turn lane was added. I think center turn lanes are safer, although when two cars going opposite directions want to turn left at the same location, it’s not so good. What bothers me about two-lane roads is when a car turns left and has to wait. Traffic stacks up and anyone stuck behind the turning car knows how dangerous pulling into the right lane can be.

I don’t ride on Hedding daily, so I’m not one to comment on the problems it has created for commuters. I have to believe what they tell the Mercury News though. It stinks.

In a year the San Jose City Council will revisit the Hedding bike lanes. Maybe by then commuters will have found better ways to get to work.

Hedding offers a convenient east-west corridor for bicycle traffic. The decision to choose Hedding for a bike corridor was not haphazard. I use it whenever I ride through San Jose, along with Taylor Street. While I can live with or without bike lanes, in the scheme of things they’re a minor annoyance for even the most ardent car commuter.

Not everyone has a fancy job and can afford to drive a fancy car. There are those whose only transportation is by bike or bus or light rail. They’re that class of people who do the dirty work that nobody else wants to do. Or they’re starving students. No, they don’t fill our city streets, but they’re out there using those bike lanes. Let’s give them a break.

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail extension opens in January 2014

December 24, 2013

San Tomas Aquino Creek  Trail reach 4 (part one) will open in a couple of weeks.

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail reach 4 (part one) will open in a couple of weeks.


For those who ride by the San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail extension from Cabrillo Avenue, there’s finally some progress to report. The contractor provided its plan to complete all the outstanding items needed to finalize the project.

According to the city of Santa Clara, work will be completed within 15-working days starting on January 2, 2014. The trail would be open shortly after the work is completed once the city has inspected and accepted the work.

Take short showers, and pray for rain

December 22, 2013

A winter's day in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The stuff of dreams.

A winter’s day in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The stuff of dreams.

Today could be described as one of those event-filled rides you dream about. Under clear skies that included, for the first weekend in a while, clean air, I headed up Hwy 9 from Saratoga.

Right off the bat I was pleased to see road crews have widened the shoulder in many locations. Or am I just imagining? They also put up the new “bikes can use full roadway” signs.

I’m so accustomed to riding here that I don’t pay much attention to the road. Anyway, they put out some straw-filled dividers and sprayed green stuff. I think it’s all about erosion control, but feel free to chime in.

Someone at Caltrans has a benevolent view of bikes on Hwy 9. Nice widening and greatly appreciated.

Someone at Caltrans has a benevolent view of bikes on Hwy 9. Nice widening and greatly appreciated.

On Skyline the wind picked up and so did the temperature (mid-50s). I met Brian and we headed off on our ride. Trail conditions couldn’t be much better, although they might benefit from a little more rain.

As part of our volunteer trail maintenance duties, we removed a downed tree. It was decidedly bigger than the photo indicates. It took us a good 20 minutes to muscle it off the trail. Brian hacked away with his portable hand saw, having forgotten once again to bring his Oregon 40V PowerNow CS250E chainsaw.

Doing our part to keep trails open and safe.

Doing our part to keep trails open and safe.


On the way home I checked out Stevens Creek Reservoir to see what happens when it doesn’t rain for two years in a row. It’s pretty much a mud puddle.

I think Jerry will be declaring a water emergency after the Chistmas holidays. I hope you don’t mind a dead lawn and 5-minute showers. Lawns should only be allowed in England.

Maybe we don't get drinking water from Stevens Creek Reservoir, but it tells the story. Mega-drought.

Maybe we don’t get drinking water from Stevens Creek Reservoir, but it tells the story. Mega-drought.


Finally, I stopped by to see the new Cupertino Bike Shop at McClellan Road and Stevens Canyon Road. It looks like it’s still weeks away from completion, but be sure to visit Vance Sprock and dog Daisy when the shop opens. Local residents are fortunate to have three outstanding pro shops within three miles of one another: Cupertino Bike Shop, Chain Reaction Bicycles, Bicycle Outfitter.
Cupertino Bike Shop's new home on Stevens Canyon Road at McClellan, opening soon.

Cupertino Bike Shop’s new home on Stevens Canyon Road at McClellan, opening soon.

Upper Alpine Road repaired

December 15, 2013

Upper Alpine Road (dirt) has been repaired.

Upper Alpine Road (dirt) has been repaired.

A friend told me the upper section of Alpine Road that had a washout has been repaired, so I checked it out. It’s about a half-mile down from Page Mill Road in the “freeway” section.

Eons ago there was probably a washout in this same location and San Mateo County repaired it by widening the road. The culvert plugged up again and washed out a year or so ago. In wet years this ravine has a decent flow, but since the Great Drought it hasn’t seen much water.

I’m told Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District made the repair, even though the road is still under the jurisdiction of San Mateo County. But don’t hold your breath that the county would do anything to fix Alpine Road.

The “road” is in the best shape I’ve seen it, all things considered. It’s a far cry from what it was in the late 1980s when it was graded for the last time and there weren’t any washouts. The bypass trail is still an insult to cyclists. Elite mountain bikers and hikers (not than anyone hikes here) wouldn’t think so though.

Invisible bike helmet a Swedish invention

November 10, 2013

My helmet after a crank failed while I was sprinting.

My helmet after a crank failed while sprinting.


I predicted airbag protection in my 2008 futuristic story about using trucks as wind breaks on freeways. I think that will come to pass as well, but not in my lifetime.

Now some women in Sweden have developed an airbag helmet that wraps around your neck. That may be fine in Sweden where it rarely gets above freezing, but not elsewhere.

Still, it’s a start and they’re on the right track.

Peters Creek Trail – still there and not much changed

November 10, 2013

 Nice day on the Bay Area Ridge Trail near Hickory Oaks Trail.


Nice day on the Bay Area Ridge Trail near Hickory Oaks Trail.


I haven’t ridden Peters Creek Trail single-track in Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District for about a million years, so today was as good a day as any to see what it’s like.

Starting at Grizzly Flat the trail descends on a hillside over some rocky sections and then smooths out entering the trees. It’s part old road and part single-track for a mile or so before reaching Two Moon (Green Scum) Lake and Jikoji Zen Center. Having ridden here since the mid-1980s, I can say the trail/road is in about the same shape I remember it. There is ongoing trail maintenance.

We saw a gaggle of hikers and some cyclists, and everything was Kumbaya. Most cyclists in this area know there are hikers, the trail is not steep, so they are well behaved.

I’m not sure what was going on with the air quality, but it smelled and looked like a forest fire had turned the air smoky. I think it was the inversion combined with people using their fireplaces.

Speaking of fires, residents in the mountains from Pescadero to Half Moon Bay area may feel they’ve been burned when they find out they’re going to have to pay fire protection of $150 a year per building on their property, according to the Half Moon Bay Review. The State of California says it needs to make up a Calfire shortfall somehow.

Enlightened government – Marin Municipal Water District

November 5, 2013

Pine Mountain Road descent to Kent Lake.

Pine Mountain Road descent to Kent Lake.


Water districts are no friend of cyclists around these parts, except in Marin County. The Marin Municipal Water District takes an enlightened approach to managing its 18,000 acres.

No doubt they realize that trying to keep people out is a lost cause when Marin County residents’ backyards border district land, so they make the best of it.

There’s plenty of bike riding. Not to be missed — Pine Mountain Road and San Geronimo Ridge Road. Of course, there’s also the railroad grade up Mt. Tamalpais. We’re talking Shay locomotives, so the grade can be 8 percent. It’s no wonder the mountain bike got its start here.

San Jose, San Francisco disappoint
The same cannot be said for the San Jose Water or San Francisco water departments. They must own stock in a razor-wire company.

After decades of public pressure, San Francisco finally allows people onto the peninsula watershed overlooking Lower Crystal Springs Reservoir, but it’s docent led. I find this description particularly offensive describing Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail. “Because of environmental restrictions within our fragile ecosystem, groups must be accompanied by a volunteer trail leader.”

Marin County’s watershed isn’t fragile?

San Jose Water Department, in business since 1866 and publicly owned (listed on the NYSE), is even worse. They took over the South Pacific Coast right of way at Aldercroft Heights in 1947 right under the noses of Santa Clara County officials.

The right-of-way runs through a narrow canyon cut by Los Gatos Creek between Aldercroft Heights and Wrights Station Road. It’s one of the more spectacular roads you could ever hope to visit, but today it’s off limits with high fences and frequent guard patrols. Paranoia runs deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

MROSD – from Vision Plan to ballot measure…maybe

November 4, 2013

Mindego Hill off Alpine Road. Will it ever be open? How about Big Dipper Ranch nearby? I've seen plenty of cow pies in the East Bay Parks. They don't have a problem with public access and open range.

Mindego Hill off Alpine Road. Will it ever be open? How about Big Dipper Ranch nearby? I’ve seen plenty of cow pies in the East Bay Parks. They don’t have a problem with public access and open range.


If you think the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD) has a hidden agenda for its well-managed Vision Plan, you’re entitled to that opinion. I don’t believe that’s true because MROSD strictly adheres to the Brown Act, making available its finances and meeting notes on its website.

Few people attend MROSD meetings, so unless you go to the effort and look at the website, you’re missing out.

Ballot measure
After looking around I noticed that the District is moving closer to a funding measure on the local ballot, which was reported by the San Jose Mercury News (7/14/2011).

At the Sept. 25, 2013, meeting they contracted with George Gary Manross, Ph.D., who owns Strategy Research Institute (SRI), to monitor their vision plan. Manross was contracted by Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST) to conduct a benchmark study to assess likely voter opinion regarding the District’s Vision Plan and related themes, as well as the feasibility of placing a successful funding measure on the local ballot in the near future.

Should the District move forward with a ballot measure, it would retain SRI’s services for writing the ballot language, as well as handling the data management and statistical analysis of District public surveys. Manross is an influential figure in California politics, according to Wikipedia. He predicted Chuck Reed would win the race for mayor of San Jose against Cindy Chavez (I could have predicted that one).

Property tax increase?
The bulk of the District’s revenue — 73 percent or about $30 million — comes from property taxes, with the rest from “transfers in” and “other.”

We all want open space, no denying that. How much the public is willing to pay for it when it’s off limits to humans is another matter.

POST received about $13 million in 2102, $16 million when you add interest and other commitments, which isn’t bad for a non-profit that keeps a low profile.

Now if only we could enjoy the land instead of just looking at it on a map.

Next up, at least there’s one enlightened water district…


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