Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Another bike shop squeezed out of Silicon Valley

February 25, 2017

Calmar Cycles is closing shop to make way for an apartment complex/retail.

Calmar Cycles is closing shop to make way for an apartment complex/retail.


Bike shops are the poster child for small business, but like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, they’re falling victim to this region’s high cost of living and, to a lesser extent, online buying.

James Lucas, president and owner of Calmar Bicycles located on El Camino Real in Santa Clara, announced the store’s closure in a press release dated Feb. 24. I stopped by the next day to buy some parts and find out more.

“Our landlord sold the building and it will be torn down for a mixed-use 151-unit apartment/retail complex,” Lucas said. Rather than wait around for an uncertain closing date, Lucas said, “I decided it was time to move on and look for something else. Sales have been flat for a while now.”

Ironically, it is the region’s healthy economy and desirability that caused Lucas to close up shop. “It’s too expensive to have a small business here,” Lucas said. In addition to the high cost of retail leases, housing is the most expensive in the country. Lucas said there’s only one way for a small business to make it here. “You have to own your building. And if you’re not in high-tech, it’s hard to make a life here.”

The online buying trend also hurts bike shops, but in a roundabout way. Lucas explained that while bike sales have not gone to online purchases, accessory sales have taken a hit. “That’s a problem because the healthy margins are in accessories, not bikes.” On top of that, the bike industry has been “eating its young,” by forcing bike shops to pay higher prices for accessories. Many shop owners have resorted to buying accessories online themselves rather than going through dealers.

For someone who has a long career ahead of him and one that might no longer involve bicycles, Lucas laments the loss of Calmar Bicycles. He said it was originally called Santa Clara Bicycles in the 1890s. Over the years the shop was called Rick’s Bikes and Desimone’s, a branch of the San Jose business.

He remains upbeat about his future. “I’m keeping all my options open.”

Calmar Cycles is selling all its inventory as it closes down.

Calmar Cycles is selling all its inventory as it closes down.

Cycling in this weather is for crazies

February 21, 2017

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail at Scott Blvd. I went back to cross at street-level.

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail at Scott Blvd. I went back to cross at street-level.


There’s no question that this winter’s rain tops the list for causing the most destruction to area roads. At least since I’ve lived here, 1977.

Just about all the main roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains have been damaged, some severely. Reservoirs are overflowing. Coyote Creek is a disaster. It’s hard to imagine the toll it’s taking on local residents. The creek is treated like an open sewer, which is why anyone exposed to the floodwater needs to wash down.

I was going stir-crazy, so I headed out despite the threat of rain, which did not disappoint. I checked out Saratoga Creek where it dumps into San Tomas Aquino Creek. It’s obvious Saratoga Creek has a lot more runoff than San Tomas.

I got as far as Scott Boulevard on the trail. It was flooded, but fortunately the road can be crossed at street-level. Old Mountain View-Alviso Road, also flooded.

Hwy 237 underpass, flooded. I watched as a rider decided he had to keep going, so he dismounted and walked his bike along the embankment. I had enough for the day.

Saratoga Creek at San Tomas Aquino. A lot of water.

Saratoga Creek at San Tomas Aquino. A lot of water.

All blogs ranked by popularity 2009 to 2017

February 9, 2017
Title

Jobst Brandt leaves behind memories to last a lifetime

32,069

Photo of the Week – Best Route to Santa Cruz

1,666

Shimano Pedal Overhaul

1,278

Loma Prieta Road defines open space

1,193

Microshift Gets into Gear

900

Bontrager Bar Tape Gets a Good Wrap

896

World’s Most Comfortable Mountain Bike Saddle?

880

Ritchey Break-Away Design a Study in Elegant Simplicity

743

Loma Prieta Road has a long history

733

Old Santa Cruz Highway – Paradise Lost

724

Empire Grade a cyclist’s Santa Cruz Misery Spot

714

PRODUCT REVIEW: Blackburn’s Atom SL cyclometer an affordable electronic
marvel

677

Reach 4 of San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail moving ahead?

667

Shotgun Bend claims another victim

659

My day in court

659

San Jose Track Racing Has History

649

A Cinelli Frame with Stories to Tell

631

Cateye INOU Explores On-bike Video

617

Redwood Shores Has its Oracle

602

Alps Memories as Fresh as Newly Fallen Snow

598

Ritchey Break-Away Making Inroads

541

Remember Campagnolo Pump Heads?

527

Lists: 10 Best Roads to Ride in the San Francisco Bay Area

522

Bike Commute Adviser: Mountain View Shoreline area

522

Highway 9 Speed Limit Reduced to 30 mph

510

Mt. Umunhum access down to this: Eminent
Domain

506

Machinists Turn Wheels of Progress

458

Steel’s the Word at Steelman Cycles

454

Adventure ride in the Ventana Wilderness

445

Summit Road a ribbon of endless dirt

444

Classic Names & Steel Bikes at Interbike

440

Squeal Like a Brake Pad

437

Jobst Brandt Memorial Ride brings back memories

421

Bikes hanging from rafters

406

Fixing that Crazy Creaky Handlebar

404

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail, Reach 3, Open

403

San Tomas Aquino Creek Bike Trail Closure

388

World’s best bicycle bell in the works

384

It’s never foggy in Pacifica

384

Gavia Pass memory

380

Best route to traverse Santa Clara Valley

365

Asphalt Bungle – the road to Bear Gulch is paved with bad intentions

360

Avoidable accident on Page Mill Road

354

Zayante Road a Hidden Gem in the Santa Cruz Mountains

353

New life for old Avocet Gelflex saddle

352

Bike Trailers for the Low-Tech

351

New Idria’s siren call leads to new
adventures in San Benito County

345

Peter Rich Remembers the Tour of California

344

Publications
to Inspire and Educate

336

Moffett Field Bay Trail — FINALLY

331

Gazos Creek Road never fails to delight

327

He rode to the moon and back

322

Tour of the
Alps – 1986

294

Remember Alpine Road!

291

How Long Will Your Bike Last?

290

Avocet: more than just a shorebird

286

Timbuk2 Bags Send the Right Message

282

Miles to Ride Before I Re-tire

280

The Force Who Rides

279

Bay Area Ridge Trail Expands Near Alum Rock Park

272

Lost my appetite for Michelin Optimum Pro tires

271

Open Space District gets the message – increase public access

266

Another cycling accident on Tantau

264

Butano Fire Road Airport Open for Business

262

Bike Facilities Mushrooming in the Valley

258

New Idria ride breaks tradition

258

Up and coming Brands: Linus and All-City

254

Ritchey Break-Away retrieved!

253

Cyclometers keep us honest

252

Been there done that: San Francisco Watershed inches closer to public
access

251

Joe’s Trail in Saratoga a Work in Progress

245

Frozen Freewheel Fun

243

Cyclists rattle the fence for opening the San Francisco Watershed

236

Official update on San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail extension

235

Buying a Bike

231

Bike Photos Capture Life Before Cars

229

Bikes and Components Put to the Stress Test

227

Mt. Hamilton by Bike in 1914 – Don’t Forget the Fying Pan

225

Road Sign
Sends the Wrong Message

225

Smith Creek on Mt. Hamilton Road Then and Now

221

Forest of Nisene Marks Park reveals a lost memory

219

Railroad trestle reveals a dark side of Los Gatos Creek

215

Excuses, Excuses! Flat Tires

215

Get a Charge Out of Riding an E-bike

211

Loma Prieta Beckons

210

Headset Headache Turns Into a Migraine

203

Vindication 34 years later

201

Mountains Behind Fort Collins Great for Cycling

200

Excuses, Excuses! Body Odor

197

So many ways…to mess up a hub

196

Sigma rear brake light gives warning

193

Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers

193

Sonora Pass when it was Dirt

192

Shimano PD M540 creak an easy fix

187

Greer Road Not Your Run-of-the-Mill Location

187

Wurr Road bridge a sign of the times

186

Slippery paint lines can cause a fall

184

Tour of the
Alps – 1985

183

Gravel Roads, Take Me Home

182

10 Most Memorable Rides

181

VDO MC1.0+ Review – April 24, 2008

179

Eventful Rides on Dumbarton Bridge

178

Faber’s Bike Shop Memories Burn Bright

178

Sony RX100 Lives Up to the Hype

176

Photo of the Week: Forest of Nisene Marks

174

If you want change at MROSD, you’ve got to vote

174

Elevated bike roundabout: Only in the Netherlands

172

Little Basin and Beyond

167

Mount Umunhum summit poised to open in Fall
2016

167

Veloro Bicycles Opening Doors in Redwood
City

166

Ultimate minimalist’s flashlight mount

165

Uvas Reservoir reveals old road

164

Some Tire Makers Sell Smooth Tires

164

Bike Gathering Supports Silicon Valley Advocacy

162

Way Back Machine and New Idria Ride

162

Adventure Rides in the Santa Cruz Mountains

158

Train Tunnel Could Solve Marin County Cycling Dilemma

158

Easy and Not So Easy Tire Mounting

158

Jobst Brandt Gears Up for Alps Slide Show – April 12, 2008

157

The Guys on the Bikes

155

Ups and Downs on Sheep Ranch Road

154

Once Upon a Ride…available now

153

Naming Roads in the Santa Cruz Mountains

152

Good Tire, Bad Tire

150

Continental Gatorskin rear tire lasts 5,400
miles

149

Shoes that Make Your Toes Curl

149

People need the “Freedom to Roam”

147

San Jose History Park Looks Back at Bikes

147

Hearst Castle by Bike – Dream On

146

Disc brakes slice and dice the peleton

146

A nightmare come to life — classic Nishiki stolen

145

Hwy 9 Speed Reduction Improves Descent

144

Silicon Valley Bike Festival celebrates local cycling

144

Far from the Madden crowd

144

Floodgates Open at Moffett Field

143

Custom-built Wheels Accompany New Bike

141

Mt. Hamilton summit around 1970

141

Curiosity Robot Arm Built by Litespeed

139

Mt. Hamilton backside road stories

138

Photo of the Week

137

Purisima Creek Road cuts through a heavily logged canyon

137

MROSD – from Vision Plan to ballot measure…maybe

134

Cargo Bikes are “Ram Tough”

133

Braking: front, rear or both?

131

Logging on Gazos Creek Road

131

Excuses, Excuses! Clothing Concerns

130

From Repack to Rwanda

130

Cyclist enters the fray with new clothing line

129

Hedding Street bike lanes a symptom of
class warfare

128

New Idria Ride Ends – May 4, 2008

128

Mt. Hamilton a tale of two climbs

127

Handlebar sprouts doodads

124

Puncture Vine Bites the Dust!

124

He Made a Business Out of Bikes

123

Cranky, Creaky Bikes

123

Bike Friendly Cities Named in the San Francisco Bay Area

122

More than you want to know about the science of bells

122

Safety concerns on Mt. Umunhum

122

Bicycle helmet bill – further study needed

121

“Idaho stop” the right way to go, but changing the law unrealistic

121

Are You Going to San Francisco?

121

A towering redwood memory in Big Basin State Park

120

A Mt. Hamilton and Quimby Road one-two punch

120

Mt. Hamilton by Bike: 1888

118

A road too narrow

118

Rideye offers “black box” evidence video

118

Why do riders say “CAR BACK”?

117

Photo of the Week: Purisima Creek Road

116

Urban Hip Take a Liking to Fixed-Gear Bikes

115

Catching Up with “Q”

112

Mt. Hamilton Road Race brings out the hammerheads

112

World’s Most Uncomfortable Bike Saddle?

112

Guadalupe River path paves the way to Alviso

111

Photo of the Week

111

What’s all this $50 grease stuff, anyhow?

111

Showers Pass Beats the Rain

110

New Bike Physics Blows Away Myths

110

Moffett Field Trail closed

110

Freedom Bridge spanning San Tomas Aquino Creek in peril

110

When the Merckx Wind Blows

110

Yet another bicycle helmet law heads our way

109

Old Pedro Mountain Road a recreational gem

108

50 Years in the Alps – April 22, 2008

106

Purisima Creek Trail – a culvert gone bad

106

Coast Ride avoids headwinds

105

Eucalyptus trees burn brightly

103

By law bikes are not vehicles

101

Bayland trails fall victim to government
shutdown

101

Cupertino Bike Shop Open on Stevens Canyon Road

100

Filoli Estate visit brings back cycling
memories

100

Personal freedom vs. safety obsession

100

2013 Alpine Road Calendar Available Now

99

Tightening the
Gordian Knot – Part 2

99

Take short showers, and pray for rain

99

Mushroom Ride Yields Fungi

98

Mt. Hamilton Road in 1900-10

98

A Stop Sign on Page Mill Road?

97

Hwy 9 widening makes progress

97

Big Basin Way is a highway, but not really

97

Hwy 236 repave makes for a ludicrous ride

96

About

94

Bike technology: More than the Ordinary

93

WD-40 quells the last creak

93

Flashlight or bike light?

93

Shimano CN6701 chain lasts about 4,000 miles

93

Photo of the Week: The Haul Road

92

Wacked Out Wireless World

92

Smug Cyclists? No Way!

91

Three Creeks Trail Hangs in the Balance

91

Quarry Park discovery in Saratoga

90

Haul Road has Wild Iris in bloom

90

Arastradero Road: Then and Now

90

Not All Bike Shops are Alike

89

All That Glitters is Not Gold

89

Photo of the Week: Coast Highway

89

Laurel train memories

88

Memories of a Bike Shop Owner – Part 2

88

Mag trainers a safe way to go

88

Wall of Shame

86

Memories of a Bike Shop Owner – Part 3

86

Leader 1 Takes the Yellow Jersey — December 2, 2008

86

Reynolds Road to nowhere

85

Peters Creek Trail – still there and not much changed

84

Rocking and rolling at the Tour de France

84

Are Your Favorite Trails Getting Rockier?

83

Mt. Hamilton Road 2013 Calendar

82

Mt. Hamilton Elk Make an Appearance

81

A Path for Progress in Santa Clara

81

Ultegra Cassette lasts 25,000 miles

80

10 Worst Roads in the San Francisco Bay Area

79

Steve Jobs Greased the Wheels of Progress

79

Mt. Hamilton a Cool Way to Go

79

May Use Full Lane – But Don’t

78

For Want of a Boot

78

Pedale Alpini gang resurrects a Jobst Ride in all its muddy glory

78

Interbike Trade Show Livens Las Vegas

78

Commuting in the Silicon Valley Triangle

78

Photo of the Week

78

Silicon Valley needs a transportation system like Zurich’s

78

Photos of the Week

77

Making a case for electric bikes in the Tour de France

77

An Appeal for Help

76

A Christmas wish come true

76

We live in earthquake country

75

Time for a new tire

75

Freehub upkeep needed for Ultegra FH-6700

74

Accidents accumulate with time

74

Upper Alpine Road repaired

74

Enlightened government – Marin Municipal Water District

73

Too much of a good thing

73

Drought update for the South Bay Reservoirs

72

Obstacle removed on Palo Alto bike path

72

Silicon Valley and traffic-light heaven

72

San Tomas widening a plus for cars, bikes, pedestrians

72

Nasty Reservoir Bypass Now a Memory

72

Tsk, Tsk, Tsk Shimano

72

Valentine’s Day Fun on Bryant Street

71

A Map of Bad Memories

71

What Signage Should be Added at Page Mill and Moody Roads?

71

Mtn Charlie tree a hidden gem

71

Mt. Hamilton History Reboot

70

Catch of the Day

70

Photo of the Week

70

When the levee breaks..

70

Summit Road a cool choice in July

70

Death of a Hub

69

Photo of the Week

69

Share Your Routes in Google Maps

68

Aptos Creek Road makes the grade

68

Something to Chew On: Bamboo Bicycles

68

Photo(s) of the Week

67

Bay Trail has a new surface

66

Big Sur Gets Surly – Part 3

66

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail inching to completion

66

Part 1: Finding the best commute route

66

Michelin Man: You’re off the hook

66

Hwy 84 reboot 30 years later

65

Pacific Coast Ride – What Else?

65

Photo of the Week: Santa Rosa Creek Road

64

Bikes vs. Cars coming to a theater near you

64

Airport frontage road closed for Super Bowl

64

Skyline Boulevard gives perspective

64

Big-city cycling is the pits — even in Paris

64

Tired Out

63

Signs and expressions stating the obvious

63

Skunk Ride

63

Predictable riding, and traffic planning, essential for safety

63

Photo of the Week: Glenwood Drive in Scotts Valley

63

San Tomas Aquino Creek Trail extension opens in January 2014

62

Eureka Canyon Road and Highland Way endure the rainy season

62

Pedestrian lights are for pedestrians

62

A (Beautiful) Monument to Waste

62

A Mad Max Future One Road at a Time

62

2017 Bay Area Bike Rides Calendar

61

Car-free riding in Silicon Valley

61

Redwood roads always in-Spiring

61

Access Denied at De Anza College

61

Dumb Bills of the Year and Catching Bike Thieves

60

Taming of the saddle creak

60

Accidents Will Happen

59

Distracted Driving (Cell Phones) Kills Cyclists

59

Bike Repair Website a Visual Feast – December 24, 2008

59

A Link to Chains

59

Traffic Light Technology for Recognizing Bikes Inches Forward

58

Mount Hamilton by Bike Ideal for Climbers

58

Bike innovation: Chasing its tail?

58

Henry Coe Park Puts Spring in Your Ride

58

Steel-belted tires a source for flats

58

Lick Skillet Road: Can You Say Steep?

58

Local Trails Paving the Way with Good Intentions

58

Hickory Oaks Trail brings out riders

57

Burning Man for Bikes – November 16, 2008

57

Good Friday for a ride over Mt. Hamilton

57

Santa Cruz ride puts a spring in my day

57

Photo of the Week

56

Finding that Maddening Click

56

More rain brings out the fenders

56

One of those “eventful” days I’d just as soon forget

56

Microshift 7-speed shifter fits the bill

56

Once Upon a Ride: Crested Butte 1985

55

Skidders….the short story

55

Mt. Hamilton by Bike

55

Santa Cruz Beckons on a Glorious Day

55

Photo of the Week

54

Road Rage Advice: Keep Your Cool

54

Bicycle Detection Works Well in Pleasanton

54

A Free Adventure Ride Around the World

54

Mt. Hamilton Road An Engineering Marvel

54

Share the Road signs sow confusion

54

Google Man Helps You Find Your Way

53

Turning Over a New Leaf

53

Memories of a Bike Shop Owner

53

Tokyo by Bike After the Big Quake

53

Electric bicycles, mushrooms and solid tires

53

Bohlman Road a good test for Sierra Rides

53

A fair wind blows

53

Saddled with a pain in the rear

53

Mushroom Ride

53

Bad Karma?

53

Excuses, Excuses! It’s Dangerous

52

Photo of the Week

52

Coyote Creek Trail adds paved segment

52

New Roundtail Solves an Old Problem

52

Mushroom weather in Portola Valley

52

Wool jacket fits active lifestyles

52

Now that’s a motor-bike

52

Mt. Hamilton’s weird wacky weather

52

Untying the Big Sur Gordian Knot

51

Handlebar Wrap-up

51

Mt. Hamilton
Has a Darker Side

51

My Review of Custom Messenger Bag

51

Photo of the Week

51

Ride Report – Hwy 1 and Santa Cruz

51

When to replace a helmet?

50

Return to Stevens Canyon

50

Chestnuts roasting on an… open space district land

50

A tree house worth millions

50

San Felipe Road wanderings

49

Mt. Hamilton quiet on Labor Day

49

Photo of the Week

49

More Bike Cars Needed on Caltrain

49

Died and Gone to…Utrecht

49

Hetch Hetchy Upgrade On a Roll

49

A Boot Saves the Day – Again

49

Gulf Oil Spill — Not My Problem?

49

Too much of a good thing

49

Photo of the Week: Mt. Hamilton Clockwise

48

New electric bicycle law gives local communities jurisdiction

48

When the river runs dry

48

Photo of the Week

48

Super Bowl Ride Derailed

48

Mt. Hamilton never fails to impress

47

Roller racing has a following — in Europe

47

Good Cop, Bad Cop

47

Cannondale and Pedro: They Get It

47

Bike art comes in many forms

47

Excuses, Excuses! The Weather

47

A Good Sign

46

Smoky clouds grace Skyline overlook

46

Mud, More Mud, and Steam

46

Rumble on the Coast

46

Adventure Rides Available in PDF Format

45

James Lick House Lives On…In Seclusion

45

What, no weekly ride report?

45

Stocking Stuffer: Adventure Rides in the High Sierra

45

Well-Managed Forests Are Logged

44

A Mudhole No More

44

Transportation manifesto for Silicon Valley

44

Trail Work Moves Ahead in South Bay

44

Throw Us a Lifeline on El Camino Real

44

Freakish Squeaks Keep on Coming

43

Niles Canyon Widening Project Has Opposition

43

Capitola begonia festival draws Begonians from far and wide

43

Photo of the Week

43

Photo of the Week

43

Floor pump repairs

43

Ancient bridges reveal roads of yore

43

Who can forget the pumpkin tree?

42

Photo of the Week

42

Invisible bike helmet a Swedish invention

42

Photo of the Week

42

Page Mill Road Stop Sign Issue Postponed Until November

41

Lilliputian bike light an LED marvel

41

Attack of the giant arachnid

40

Brown skies continue in Bay Area

40

Here’s the recommended “Hedding” to cross
Santa Clara Valley

40

Squeaky wheels of democracy turning at the Santa Clara Bicycle and
Pedestrian Advisory Committee

40

Photo of the Week

40

Can You Take the Heat?

39

Lower Guadalupe River Trail closed

39

Photo of the Week

39

Bike Lanes or Oil Refineries: What’ll it be?

39

Haul Road Makes the Day

39

Any Light is Better than None

39

GM Architect of Light Rail’s Dismantling

39

Silicon Valley to San Francisco

38

Coyote Creek Path Puts on Some More S(miles)

38

Through Silicon Valley to Alum Rock Park

38

Silicon Valley Flat 100

38

Continental Grand Sport Race rolls for 7,500 miles!

38

Mammoth display trumpets bone discovery

38

Photo of the Week

38

Attack of the milk snails

38

Greg LeMond Talks About Drugs in the Peloton
– February 17, 2008

38

Google Maps for Bikes — Use with Caution

37

Visiting the innovation vortex: Google

37

Alpine Road repairs

37

Photo of the Week – Shoreline Park

37

Keep Your Seat Rails Dry

37

Creaky Bike Seat

37

“The Bike, It’s a Good Machine”

36

Aptos Creek Fire Road weathers the storm

36

Meet Me Under the Kissing Tree

36

Trails Along Muddy Waters

36

Time to Rock…and Roll

36

Photo of the Week

36

Excuses, Excuses! Traffic

36

Cambria Bicycle Outfitter Has Halloween Spirits

36

Land Speed Records Broken

35

Eddy Merckx bike on display in Los Altos bike
shop

35

County Ordinance Fuels Range War

35

DeAnza College makes a small change for cyclists

34

Crater Lake’s rim ride an Oregon gem

34

Ridin’ in the Rain

34

Bike thefts on BART: good news, bad news

34

Romancing the Moon – December 8, 2008

33

Eating an oak tree — one acorn at a time

33

China’s engine of prosperity forsakes the bicycle

33

Endura gloves fit for a long ride

33

Bridges Connect Bay Area

33

Fitness for a Cause: Can There Be a Better Combination?

33

You Can Have YourTube!

33

Photo of the Week

32

Photo of the Week

32

Ring Around the Bay – We’re Still Waiting

32

Photo of the Week

31

Heat Stroke by the Numbers

31

Pseudo Racers Terrorize Golden Gate Bridge

31

Montana bill would ban cyclists from most roads

31

Common Sense, Not Speed Limits, on GG Bridge

31

Photo of the Week

31

Hailstones look like snow on Skyline Boulevard

31

A Soap Opera That Won’t Go Away

31

Netherlands Bike Transport Under the Microscope

30

Photo of the Week

30

Photo(s) of the Week

30

Photo of the Week

30

Tantau Avenue bike trauma continues…

30

Photo of the Week

30

Valley Fair expansion considers bicycles

February 7, 2017

Valley Fair's new parking garage off Monroe has bicycle amenities.

Valley Fair’s new parking garage off Monroe has bicycle amenities.


As I write this, another parking structure is coming down at Westfield Valley Fair shopping center, to be replaced by a six-story garage.

In the next 2 1/2 years the popular shopping mall will be expanded to include movie theaters, outdoor shops/dining and new banks. The cost: 1 billion dollars.

What we won’t see: a badly needed overhead walkway between the shopping center and Santana Row. I’m not sure who made that decision, but it’s regrettable. Additionally, there won’t be any police directing traffic on busy holidays.

The good news is that the new parking structure on Monroe has bike lockers, bike racks, a repair stand and a pump, all covered.

I didn’t try the pump, but it’s hand-operated and is supposed to accommodate both schrader and presta valves.

If you’re concerned about parking, check the Valley Fair website for a real-time view of how many spaces are available.

Montana bill would ban cyclists from most roads

February 6, 2017

Hwy 212 in Montana, Beartooth Pass, is one of the most scenic in the U.S. (Google Maps photo)

Hwy 212 in Montana, Beartooth Pass, is one of the most scenic in the U.S. (Google Maps photo)


A bill proposed in the Montana state legislature would prohibit bicycle use outside of municipalities where roads have no paved shoulder. In Montana that’s a lot of highway!

I’ve only been to Montana once, but I wished I had brought my bike as I drove the family over Beartooth Pass, state Hwy 212. I’ve been over a lot of passes, but this one ranks up there as the most beautiful.

It doesn’t have a shoulder. What a shame if Montana decides this bill is the right way to go.

What’s ironic here is that Montana is the state where the Bikecentennial started, a non-profit created to encourage bicycling across the U.S. in 1976 to celebrate our country’s bicentennial. More than 4,000 cyclists completed the route, which went through Montana.

The local TV gave the proposed bill some coverage.

I don’t know if it would do much good, but you can contact the bill sponsor, Barry Usher. Just be nice about it. He’s also a fan of two-wheeled vehicles, so we share a common purpose to keep roads open for all forms of transportation.

Here’s the bill wording. See line 23-24.

If there was a cycling hell…

February 3, 2017

Typical street scene in a Manila suburb. Tricycle motorbikes, motorbikes, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, trucks.

Typical street scene in a Manila suburb. Tricycle motorbikes, motorbikes, cars, bicycles, pedestrians, trucks.


It would be the Philippines. You haven’t experienced traffic until you’ve been to Manila. Or Bangkok. Or New Delhi. Or anywhere else in Asia where the climate is tropical.

It’s hot, it’s humid, the air is fetid with the smell of diesel belching from aging jeepneys that the government is desperate to see replaced with newer, cleaner models.

Yet people still ride bikes here, at all hours, with and without lights or even reflectors. Few wear helmets. I saw them all the time, some wearing masks or handkerchiefs to try to protect their lungs from the debilitating air.

While bikes can maneuver around traffic, I can’t imagine an autonomous car lasting five minutes here during rush-hour. It would be laughable. The car would make it ten feet before shutting down, or just sit there waiting for an opening to safely go forward.

I was fortunate to have a relative who knows how to drive here, someone who does it so well he even worked for Uber. It didn’t take long for him to realize it was a money-losing proposition. I had an Uber driver take me home one evening from Makati and it was a paltry 75 pesos. That’s $1.50. It wouldn’t have even covered the cost of gas. Of course I gave him a lot more than that in cash (Uber takes cash in the Philippines).

Manila’s intersections outside of the ultra-wealthy sections of Makati are mostly unsignaled, which means turning left is a daunting task. Near the airport we had to cross three lanes of traffic while turning left, most of the time without any traffic control. There were roundabouts chocked with traffic.

Yet there are very few accidents because people who drive in Manila know how to yield. It’s like a school of fish maneuvering through another school of fish. They’ve got built in radar. It just works.

I’m not saying it’s better than our signaled intersection driving in the U.S., but it does work well enough that people can struggle to and from work daily.

Head for the Hills
There is one place near Manila where cyclists have a respite from the heat and traffic. It’s Tagaytay, where there are a few roads without traffic. Cyclists enjoy riding up a concrete road that spirals upward for 2,500 feet to the summit of Mt. Gonzales.

Cyclists begin the climb up Mt. Gonzales. Those huge fat tires popular here.

Cyclists begin the climb up Mt. Gonzales. Those huge fat tires popular here.

Riders at the summit and entrance to Palace in the Sky prepare for the descent.

Riders at the summit and entrance to Palace in the Sky prepare for the descent.

There they find a Palace in the Sky, literally. Marcos had it built in 1981, but it was never finished because his government was toppled by the People Power revolution from 1983-86. Today it’s a park where Manila residents can escape the ever-present heat in the valley below.

Cyclists face a daunting climb, some sections as steep as 20 percent and longer stretches of 15 percent, hard under any conditions but more so here with the heat and humidity.

At the summit they’re rewarded with cooler temperatures, fair winds and views of Mt. Taal, a volcano inside a lake. In recent years the roads in and around Tagaytay have been widened so cyclists can manage to get around a lot more safely. There’s still the ever-present traffic on crowded weekends.

When I think about any types of problems I have riding in Santa Clara Valley, I remind myself just how good we have it compared to so many places around the world. This is Shangri-La.

Colnago Ferrari. I'm assuming this is a knock-off of the real thing, which does exist.

Colnago Ferrari. I’m assuming this is a knock-off of the real thing, which does exist.

Bike thefts on BART: good news, bad news

September 22, 2016

Bike thefts at BART stations are down.

Bike thefts at BART stations are down.


Today’s San Jose Mercury News has a story about bike thefts being down on BART. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that more bikes secured with U-locks are being stolen. Ouch.

I switched to an OnGuard U-lock a year ago, thinking my bike would be safe. To a degree I was right. The cable locks I used could be cut with a pair of good pliers.

Any lock can be defeated. With a half-hour of practice I taught myself how to open a combination Master Lock, thanks to YouTube tutorials.

The article doesn’t say how the U-locks were defeated. I’m guessing hacksaw (some can be picked). I saw a YouTube video where a guy used dry ice to freeze the metal, then bang it with a hammer. It shattered eventually. Clever.

None of these methods of defeating a U-lock are easy, so I wonder why BART security cameras wouldn’t capture the theft? I’m assuming they have cameras over bike racks.

Most thieves go for the easy first, so a U-lock will dissuade all but the most ardent bike thief. The pros troll college campuses and steal by the dozen. For some it’s a living.

So don’t throw away your U-lock. It’s still the best lock out there.

One way to limit thievery would be to flood public places with free bikes. Pretty soon everyone who wanted or needed a bike, and petty thieves, would have one. It’s the Google philosophy to make bikes freely available on its campus to encourage riding between buildings. Great idea.

Next I’ll look at the current model of renting bikes in public places.

Protected bikeways and intersections all the rage

August 31, 2016

First separated bikeway on a state highway will be located in Albany on San Pablo Avenue.

First separated bikeway on a state highway will be located in Albany on San Pablo Avenue.


Get ready to see more separated bike lanes and bike-friendly intersections in the coming years, just like the Netherlands, our Western world bike nirvana.

I’m all in. Over the years I’ve been a big fan of Effective Cycling principles, espoused by John Forester starting in the 1960s. The “father of vehicular cycling” lived in Palo Alto many years ago and had a profound influence on cyclists near and far.

Forester believed bikes should mix with cars and taught cyclists how to do it safely. However, there’s a sea change underway in the cycling community, a growing awareness that we can increase the number of commute cyclists if we separate bikes from cars. It’s a concept that has been applied with great success in Europe and elsewhere. Not so in the U.S.

Starting this year, California has official guidelines for Class IV bikeways, or protected bikeways as they’re called.

Projects are already underway, the first one for the state being built in Albany on San Pablo Avenue (a state highway) near Dartmouth Street. This according to Sergio Ruiz, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator, Caltrans District 4, at the Silicon Valley Bike Summit. University Village Bikeway is only two blocks long, but it’s a start. El Cerrito also approved a separated bikeway.

While I believe cyclists should learn to mix with cars, most people are not professional cyclists like myself. They just want to make a quick trip to a local store on their garage bike. In high-density neighborhoods with lots of traffic, separated bikeways are the way to go, and will encourage casual cyclists to make short trips.

To help people get used to the idea of separated bikeways, local bike groups, like Cycletopia in Mountain View, have created pop-up protected bikeways and invited the public to check them out, as was done on University Avenue in Palo Alto recently.

Davis re-built a busy intersection especially with bikes in mind.

Davis re-built a busy intersection especially with bikes in mind.

“Idaho stop” the right way to go, but changing the law unrealistic

August 19, 2016

Here's one stop that requires your attention. Skyline traffic goes 50-70 mph.

Here’s one stop that requires your attention. Skyline traffic goes 50-70 mph.


At the Silicon Valley Bike Summit, Dave Snyder, Calbike executive director, made a good point while answering a question about the “Idaho stop,” (treat a stop sign as a yield sign) and why there’s no effort to make it the law in California.

“Obviously the Idaho law is the way it should be,” Snyder said. “But the task of changing the law is so difficult it would require a huge amount of attention and resources.”

Snyder said he doesn’t want to go off message. He argues that we need to transform our roads so that cycling is safe and not dwell on running stop signs.

Instead, Snyder wants cyclists to work with their local law enforcement to stop enforcing the law. “Use common sense,” Snyder said. The police use their best judgment all the time when they’re out on patrol.

He said that the Netherlands police look the other way (and they ride bikes) if someone runs a stop sign in a situation where it’s not hazardous. Netherlands law requires bikes to stop at stop signs in the bike-focused country.

From what I can find out about the Idaho law, it was passed way back in 1982. In that year the state did a comprehensive review of traffic regulations.

By a stroke of luck, the Administrative Director of the Courts in Idaho, Carl Bianchi, was a cyclist. He wanted to modernize the bicycle law as part of the traffic code revision.

He had first-hand experience in dealing with bicycle traffic tickets (a criminal offense!) clogging the courts. Judges didn’t want to have to deal with such petty violations, which pretty much assured that the law would be approved.

Some police officers disapproved the law, and even some cyclists.

I’ve never been to Idaho, so I can’t comment on how well the law works.

In San Francisco, cyclists recently drove home their argument in favor of the Idaho stop. They stopped at stop signs and immediately snarled traffic.

There’s a video with the above link that doesn’t do a good job illustrating the problem. That’s a busy intersection and I can’t imagine anyone riding right through without stopping. I know I wouldn’t.

I do the “Idaho stop” all the time, but only when there are no cars around. At busy intersections I always stop, and you should too.

Here’s a good video that shows how the Idaho stop law can work.

NOTE: According to Wikipedia, Richard Masoner, Scotts Valley author of the Cycleicious blog, coined the term “Idaho stop” as a noun in 2008.

Bicycle lobbyist gives outlook on state priorities, hot issues

August 15, 2016

Shiloh Ballard, SVBC director, interviews Dave Snyder, Calbike.

Shiloh Ballard, SVBC director, interviews Dave Snyder, Calbike.


After attending the bike summit, I came away realizing that “lobbyist” is not a dirty word. “Our” lobbyists are the cyclist’s best friend when it comes to influencing public policy drafted by elected representatives.

Dave Snyder, Executive Director of Calbike, is one of our best lobbyists. He gave his observations on advocacy wins and losses in the California state legislature at the Silicon Valley Bike Summit held on Aug. 11.

He said that Kate White, Deputy Secretary, Environmental Policy and Housing Coordination, state transportation agency (and avid cyclist) is helping “turn the ship of Caltrans.” “I have hope,” Dave continued. “It may not look like it from the outside, but the new strategic plan Caltrans adopted calls for tripling of bike mode share by 2020. Bicycle objectives we back are filtering down into the massive Caltrans bureaucracy.”

While there’s a lot to like about Gov. Jerry Brown’s fiscal conservative slant, Snyder said he wished it didn’t apply to bicycle facilities. “Quick and early investment in bicycle infrastructure saves us money in the long run, transit, health…”

Snyder touched on a theme of the day — equity and how to achieve it — by highlighting an effort in Los Angeles to redesign Figueroa Street in Cypress Park and Highland Park, a predominantly low-income, minority neighborhood. While the redesign also included pedestrian safety, residents focused on the loss of a lane and parking issues. Things quickly heated up, resulting in the district councilman deciding to delay the project.

Snyder credited Tamika Butler, Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition, for being a calming influence and working with the councilman to see the benefits from the cycling community’s perspective. Tensions ran high, with cyclists doing a die-in in front of the councilman’s condo.

On matters of state legislation and funding, Snyder said it hasn’t been a great year, but he said there’s a bright spot with low-carbon transportation funding that will expand to low-income neighborhoods.

Another win has been the protected bikeways act, Snyder said. Now every community can build a protected bikeway under state law.

He said California Sen. Jim Beall (pronounced Bell) has been a great help with a variety of bicycle issues, including side-by-side riding and clarifications to the state law that let cyclists take the entire lane.

Bike share facilities were discussed at the summit and on that topic Snyder said that bike share systems need to be supported the same as a public transit system. In other words, they’re most likely not going to make a profit and they shouldn’t be run with that in mind. “Bike share systems need to serve every neighborhood,” Snyder said.

On another funding matter, Snyder made it clear that the proposed half-cent sales tax measure for Santa Clara County will probably do more for cycling than any state financing could hope to achieve.

Snyder said he’s optimistic that the November elections could result in a legislature that is more partial to bicycle funding. Let’s hope so.

NOTE: Clarifications, corrections, comments, additions are welcome.