Archive for the ‘News’ Category

DeAnza College makes a small change for cyclists

November 2, 2015

Access improved on DeAnza College campus to McClellan Road.

Access improved on DeAnza College campus to McClellan Road.


Back in July 2011, I mentioned on my blog how it would be nice if a small access road from DeAnza campus to McClellan Road could be open for two-wheel vehicles.

Lo and behold, it was done! I noticed it today on my ride. The access point bridges between De Anza College Parkway and McClellan Road, near the Hwy 85 overpass. There’s good visibility both directions.

Cyclists can now use this route as a continuation from the Mary Avenue bike path through Cupertino.

It may have been something the school intended to do well before 2011, but whatever the reason, it’s greatly appreciated.

This access point at DeAnza College and McClellan Road no longer has chains across the path.

This access point at DeAnza College and McClellan Road no longer has chains across the path.

Silicon Valley needs a transportation system like Zurich’s

October 28, 2015

One of the more colorful trams in Zurich.

One of the more colorful trams in Zurich.


Today’s San Jose Mercury News ran an editorial by architect Thang Do that outlined what we need to do to make Silicon Valley a better place to live.

He warns that with all the construction underway, we better do something about our transportation system or we’re headed for permanent gridlock.

He mentions Zurich as a shining example of a city that understands public transportation. Here’s why:

The city has an integrated and comprehensive network of tram, rail, bus, and even riverboats to take you where you want to go in the city, throughout the country for that matter. One ticket gives access to all public transportation, with the exception of intra-city rail.

Imagine stepping out of the Zurich airport with all your luggage and walking fewer than 50 yards to a waiting tram whose platform is flush to the pavement. Just roll your baggage on.

A model of transportation efficiency. Hauptbahnhof station with bike racks.

A model of transportation efficiency. Hauptbahnhof station with bike racks.


Every tram has an LED screen that shows your location and the stops ahead, including connecting trams. Every stop has a shelter with an LED sign indicating the time of arrival for trams, along with machines for purchasing tickets.

Local trains accommodate bicycles and stations have large areas dedicated to bicycle parking. Many streets have bicycle lanes and because there are relatively few cars on the streets, traffic is not an issue.

VTA light rail does have one up on the Swiss trams: VTA provides racks for bikes.

Zurich and Switzerland have thought of everything when it comes to getting around on public transportation. There’s no need to own a car, which is a reality for most people living in the landlocked country. That’s a good thing because living in Zurich is as expensive, if not more so, than living in Silicon Valley.

We can learn from Zurich. The sad truth about Silicon Valley is that the Valley of the Heart’s Delight once had a wonderful light-rail network, which was dismantled piece by piece with the arrival of the automobile.

Light-rail line from the late 1800s exposed on The Alameda in 1984 at Santa Clara University bypass.

Light-rail line from the late 1800s exposed on The Alameda in 1984 at Santa Clara University bypass.

In hindsight, we blew it, but we mustn’t give up hope. We can build a transportation system equal to that of Zurich. All we have to do is, in the words of Patrick Stewart: “Make it so.”

Even the fanciest shopping area, Bahnhofstrasse, has light rail.

Even the fanciest shopping area, Bahnhofstrasse, has light rail.

Intra-city and intra-regional trains whisk you all over the country with ease.

Intra-city and intra-regional trains whisk you all over the country with ease.

Tram interiors are roomy and accommodate luggage.

Tram interiors are roomy and accommodate luggage.

Ticket machines are everywhere and take all manner of payment.

Ticket machines are everywhere and take all manner of payment.

You can even take riverboats in Zurich. They thought of everything.

You can even take riverboats in Zurich. They thought of everything.

Mount Umunhum summit poised to open in Fall 2016

October 24, 2015

The latest word from the open space district is that the Mt. Umunhum summit will be open in fall 2016. That means they’ll repave the five-mile stretch of road up from Hicks Road.

There’s a trail under construction from the Bald Mountain Parking Area a couple miles below the summit, slated to open in spring 2017.

It looks like a decision on the fate of the cube will be determined after October 2017 when a private/public partnership needs to be in place.

As for the opening of Loma Prieta Road, which is what we really care about, there’s no mention of a timeline. I’m still wagering it won’t happen in my lifetime.

KQED posted a nice historic video on Mount Umunhum.

Moffett Field Trail closed

October 24, 2015

Bay Trail at Moffett Field is closed for resurfacing.

Bay Trail at Moffett Field is closed for resurfacing.


Bay Trail in Mountain View, at Moffett Field, is closed for resurfacing. It should be open in early February.

This is a nice trail to take around Moffett from Sunnyvale to Mountain View, although it gets muddy when wet.

The alternate route is described on a Bay Trail website.

Moorpark Avenue goes on a road diet

August 27, 2015

Moorpark Avenue in West San Jose on a road diet. I had the road all to myself.

Moorpark Avenue in West San Jose on a road diet. I had the road all to myself.


Moorpark Avenue has been put on a road diet, which is a good thing if you’re a cyclist or pedestrian living in West San Jose, and maybe so-so for motorists.

I can understand why the four-lane road was reduced to two lanes and a center turn lane, mainly because there are two schools on Moorpark, Archbishop Mitty High School, DeVargas Elementary School, and Strawberry Park Challenger School nearby.

I rode it around noon on a hot day, so I saw no traffic to speak of, and one bicycle.

If any street needs to go on a road diet in the area, it’s Homestead Road. I see dozens of students walking and riding bikes to and from Homestead High School. Homestead is one of the more congested roads around and it’s only going to get worse once the Apple campus opens and the Vallco shopping mall gets its multi-billion-dollar makeover.

Unfortunately, we need wide, multi-lane streets like Homestead to support car traffic. If you took them out, there would be worse gridlock at rush hour.

I don’t think road diets are going to get people out of their cars to ride bikes to work. It will certainly make roads safer for students walking and riding to school, but humans are naturally averse to combining exercise with commuting.

I’ve written at length about all the excuses, some of them valid, so for now our best and probably only hope is for the autonomous car to come along.

We don’t like public transit, we don’t like riding bikes, so what other choice is there?

Lower Guadalupe River Trail closed

August 23, 2015

Guadalupe River Trail between Tasman Drive and Gold Street is closed until November.

Guadalupe River Trail between Tasman Drive and Gold Street is closed until November.


In case you were planning to ride on the Guadalupe River Trail, note that it’s closed until November from Tasman Drive to Gold Street in Alviso.

PG&E is working on a gas line that requires levy work.

The other side of the river has a dirt levy, and that’s still open.

Ritchey Break-Away retrieved!

July 27, 2015

Enjoying my time at Lisa's Hot Dog stand waiting for a ride home from Alviso after retrieving my stolen bike.

Enjoying my time at Lisa’s Hot Dog stand waiting for a ride home from Alviso after retrieving my stolen bike.


I headed back to the scene of the crime a couple hours later on my other bike and what do I see on Gold Street but a guy riding my Ritchey!

I confronted him and it quickly became apparent he was harmless and had mental issues. He tried to claim he bought it off someone. Fat chance.

I had seen him at the bathroom earlier. He turned over the bike and we talked a bit. It’s really sad to know people like that are out there.

He removed the stuff in my seat bag, bike camera and bike computer, but I may still get them back because I met some nice folks who own a hot dog stand on Gold Street and know the thief well.

It’s Lisa’s Hot Dogs. She sells excellent tamales.

———————–

I can’t bear to think about it — another bike stolen.

It happened this morning while I was in the Santa Clara Valley Water District bathroom in Alviso next to the Guadalupe River trail.

Somebody just walked up and rode off or put it in their car.

Sigh.

Last photo. I added a new front rim, black Mavic Open Pro.

Last photo. I added a new front rim, black Mavic Open Pro.

Jobst Brandt leaves behind memories to last a lifetime

May 6, 2015

Jobst Brandt rides up Gavia Pass, Italy. Made into a poster.(Rick Lyman photo, 1978)

Jobst Brandt rides up Gavia Pass, Italy. Made into a poster (Rick Lyman photo, 1978).


Behold the wise Jobst Rider,
Whose unfettered mind
Sees God in dirt
And hears him in the spokes.

(Adapted from a quote by Alexander Pope)

Jobst Brandt, a cyclist who in so many ways influenced the bicycle industry during its glory days of the 1980s, died on Tuesday, May 5, 2015, after a long illness. He was 80.

The day after his 76th birthday, Jobst crashed his bike at the Sand Hill Road and Whiskey Hill Road intersection near Woodside during an early morning ride in a dense fog. It was his last bike ride. His serious injuries added to the burden of other health liabilities.

Jobst exerted considerable influence over those he knew in the bike industry, but he was not an industry insider. Because he never worked in the bike business, he could offer his opinions about the industry without reservation.

His passing is a personal loss for me. I met Jobst in 1979 while working at Palo Alto Bicycles. I’ll never forget seeing Jobst wheel into the store on his huge bike, which he always rode into the shop while deftly opening the door.

He immediately bound upstairs to the Avocet headquarters where he would engage owner Bud Hoffacker in lively discussions (browbeat) about everything under the sun involving bike technology.

Jobst was like that. He believed with 100 percent certainty that his way was the right way. If you disagreed and didn’t have the facts to support your argument, you were just another crackpot.

Consummate engineer
Most of the time Jobst was right. He had that rare skill in a mechanical engineer — he not only understood engineering principles, he could translate theory into meaningful product improvements, whether it be a bicycle shoe, a floor pump or a cyclometer.

Jobst received seven patents (3 cycling), testimony to his abilities.

1 – 6,583,524 Micro-mover with balanced dynamics (Hewlett Packard)
2 – 6,134,508 Simplified system for displaying user-selected functions in a bicycle computer or similar device (for Avocet)
3 – 5,834,864 Magnetic micro-mover (Hewlett Packard, and Bob Walmsley, Victor Hesterman)
4 – 5,058,427 Accumulating altimeter with ascent/descent accumulation thresholds (for Avocet)
5 – 4,547,983 Bicycle shoe (for Avocet)
6 – 4,369,453 Plotter having a concave platen (Hewlett Packard)
7 – 3,317,186 Alignment and support hydraulic jack (SLAC)

He received his first U.S. patent while working at the two-mile long Stanford Linear Accelerator in 1966; he was recognized for his work on suspension for the particle accelerator. There’s a plaque with his name on it in one of the lobbies.

At Porsche he designed race-car suspensions, after quickly moving through the ranks. The way he got his job is classic Jobst. The young Stanford University graduate (his father was an economics professor at Stanford), who spent time in the U.S. Army in Germany as a reserve officer — lieutenant, then captain — in the 9th Engineer Battalion, approached Porsche and told them that their English translations lacked polish. Porsche agreed and he was hired.

Cycling legacy
Jobst blazed trails beyond bike product development. His freewheeling way of thinking led him to do things most people would never dream of — like riding a racing bike with tubular tires on rugged trails in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

It’s not that big a deal, but other cyclists thought it was, so Jobst quickly gained a reputation that drew elite cyclists from the Bay Area to join him on his Sunday rides, starting promptly at 8 a.m. from his house on Middlefield Road in Palo Alto.

By the mid-1970s, Jobst had such a large following that some rides counted up to 20 riders. Most would not complete the ride, mainly because it lasted all day and went through creeks, over rocky trails lined with poison oak (Jobst was immune) and through private property.

While Jobst had an entourage of bike racers, he never had anything kind to say about the sport. I think the only good he saw in it was a test of a person’s mettle (a bike’s metal too) and the ability to overcome obstacles. That’s what Jobst was all about.

He never showed fear or got rattled in difficult situations. These Übermensch qualities came to the forefront when he fell and broke his leg at the hip in 1986 on the rain-slick pavement of Col de Tende. He got up, cursed himself for not recognizing the foam on the road, and ordered me to lift his leg over the top tube so he could coast to the next town.

In Tende, Jobst dismounted and crawled on hands and knees up the steps to the doctor’s office.

On another occasion he was trying to help a snake off Calaveras Road; it bit him and only then did he realize the young reptile was a rattlesnake. He didn’t panic, but rode back to his car in Milpitas and drove to Stanford Hospital for the antidote. The venom mangled his thumb.

One beautiful spring day in 1982 we were bound for Gazos Creek Road when we came upon a scene of absolute devastation. The road had been obliterated by torrential rains that downed redwoods and dislodged boulders the size of cars. Instead of turning around, Jobst urged us on.

So we clambered over trees and followed the creek downhill, eventually reaching a recognizable road after a mile of walking.

The Bicycle Wheel
Jobst wrote a lot (check out rec.bike or Sheldon Brown’s website), but nothing was more important to him than his book on the bicycle wheel. He spent more than a decade writing the book with the intention of producing a tome that would stand the test of time.

I learned to build my first set of wheels using his book when it was still in manuscript form. It was the first time I read a description so well done that I could follow along and build wheels that would last for many years.

Jobst let many people edit the manuscript, but it was Jim Westby, Jobst’s friend and manager of the Palo Alto Bicycles mail order catalog, who did the heavy lifting. Jobst also published a German edition.

The book has sold well since being published by Avocet and is still in print. It could be in print 100 years from now because the principles of wheel building are never going to change. Sure, thanks to new materials we now have 16-spoke wheels, but it’s a number that made Jobst cringe.

Love for the Alps
Although Jobst rode most of his miles in the U.S., he always made time for the Alps. For 50 years he rode there annually, riding many of the same passes year after year, with some variation. He almost always went with another rider.

Riding with Jobst in the Alps tested friendships. He became obsessive about riding all day, every day, and I don’t mean until 5 p.m. He liked to ride until 8 p.m. after starting around 8 a.m., when he could coax the hotel owner to get up that early.

If you rode in the Alps with Jobst, you knew you were going to cover a lot of ground and you could expect some adventure riding, sometimes sliding down snow-covered slopes when crossing high passes on hiking trails. Of course, Jobst rode all but the rockiest trails.

Jobst took many photos of his exploits over the decades, probably more than 10,000 slides. He had a unique ability to capture great photos with his Rollei 35. A few of his photos were made into posters and sold by Palo Alto Bicycles.

He could be obsessive about getting just the right shot, as when we were on the section of road supported by concrete beams looming over Bedretto Valley, Switzerland. Given the right cropping, the road appears to be suspended in mid-air, the village of Fontana 1,000 feet below. Possessed with taking the perfect photo, Jobst hacked away, limb for limb, at a sapling growing next to the road.

Wheel suckers
Although Jobst sometimes had a harsh demeanor, he had his fun side too. He loved to pull pranks and make puns while out on the road. We passed the day telling stories, jokes, and commenting on world affairs.

That was when we weren’t struggling to stay on Jobst’s wheel in his younger days. It was especially true with Tom Ritchey along for the ride. The accomplished racer and frame builder had a way about him that caused Jobst to push the pace; maybe Jobst did it to prove a point or just because he knew he could have some serious competition with Tom.

Whatever the reason, we had some hard and fast riding ahead of us on many a Sunday. It got even worse when other racers showed up, like Keith Vierra, Sterling McBride, Dave McLaughlin, Peter Johnson, Bill Robertson, the list is lengthy.

It got so competitive that we sprinted for city limits signs.

I could go on about Jobst, but it would require a book-length blog. I’ve published some accounts of past rides here (Once Upon a Ride) and they’ll have to do for now.

As Jobst was always fond of saying, “Ride bike!”

Excellent read: The Force Who Rides by Laurence Malone.

Silicon Valley Bike Festival celebrates local cycling

May 4, 2015

Tom Ritchey gives insights on Bay Area cycling and how it influenced his life.

Tom Ritchey gives insights on Bay Area cycling and how it influenced his life.


Sometimes I need to remind myself I’m part of a community, so during my Sunday ride I stopped by for the 1st annual Silicon Valley Bikes! festival in San Jose’s Kelley Park.

History San Jose hosted the bicycle show, where cyclists checked out bikes, listened to some local history and learned about what’s ahead for Santa Clara County transportation.

I was in a funk after watching Manny Pacquiao lose his fight to Floyd Mayweather. It was a subpar effort by both boxers, whose best days are behind them. I don’t expect a rematch because Mayweather knows it won’t bring in the big bucks.

Fans of Pacquiao gathered around the world to watch the boxing spectacle.

Fans of Pacquiao gathered around the world to watch the boxing spectacle.

VTA transportation plans
But I digress. The bike gathering offered something for everyone. I stopped by the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) booth to express my thoughts on what’s needed for Santa Clara Valley to enhance public transportation and cycling.

That’s the kind of outreach that helps our government agencies respond to the public’s view on how to get around.

The good news is that BART is going to be in San Jose by late 2017 (or 2018) with the Berryessa Station off Mabury Road (for unknown reasons Google Maps shows it at Piedmont and Sierra Road). This stretch is VTA funded, not BART.

Even better, the VTA supports building a recreation path along Coyote Creek under Highway 101, greatly improving access to the Berryessa BART station for cyclists and pedestrians.

Viva Calle San Jose
Here’s something that looks fun and good for a community like San Jose where cars rule the day: Viva Calle on Sunday, October 11.

It’s an open-street event where city streets — Story Road/Keyes Street/First Street/Market Street to St. James Park — will be closed to cars.

Organized by the Parks and Recreation Department, the event takes after a global movement to take back streets for public use — cycling, walking, strolling, roller skating, etc.

It’s a great way to give people a chance to explore San Jose without car traffic.

Bay Area Ridge Trail expanding
The Bay Area Ridge Trail is making progress, most recently with a six-mile extension planned south from Hwy 92 along Skyline Boulevard. At the event booth, Joel Gartland said it should be open in a year or two along with the Fifield-Cahill Ridge Trail through the San Francisco Watershed.

Some 350 miles of the 550-mile trail have been built, extending from Napa and Sonoma counties south to Santa Clara County.

Look for one of these on the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

Look for one of these on the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

Tom Ritchey, George Mount and others
Along with agencies and companies showing their products, some local luminaries showed up to talk about their early days of racing and cycling.

George Mount, former Olympic cyclist and professional racer, rode from his home in Livermore over Mt. Hamilton to give his talk.

Tom Ritchey, frame builder and owner of Ritchey Bicycle Components USA, talked about innovation and how Santa Clara Valley has been a hotbed for all kinds of technology developments over the decades, including cycling.

He said his father, who was an engineer, encouraged him to build his own bike as a young teen. Tom, who knew nothing about frame building, learned everything on his own, building his own bike, one for Don McBride, and more for fellow bike racers.

Before long Tom had become a master frame builder, and branched out to building high-end mountain bikes when that era started in the early 1980s.

While the mountain bike is believed to have been invented in Marin County, Tom said it’s always dangerous to say you’re the first at just about anything. He gave an example in the Morrow Dirt Riders, a loosely knit group of riders from Cupertino who rode bikes that looked for all the world like mountain bikes back in 1973-74.

First bike to ride on the concrete (originally asphalt) Hellyer Park track.

First bike to ride on the concrete (originally asphalt) Hellyer Park track.

Tom explained that the group got its name from the Morrow coaster brake, the best product of its kind back in the day.

After riding his bike all over the world, Tom said that nothing beats the Bay Area, which he believes is still not appreciated for all it has to offer. “Nothing beats riding up west Alpine Road on a spring day with the great views and wildflowers in bloom,” Tom said.

I’ll second that.

Bicycle helmet bill – further study needed

April 11, 2015

Eastern descent of Mt. Hamilton, April 12, 1981. No helmets here. (Jobst Brandt photo)

Eastern descent of Mt. Hamilton, April 12, 1981. No helmets here (Jobst Brandt photo).


California SB-192, sponsored by 25th District Senator Carol Liu, has been sent back to committee for further study, according to the California Bicycle Coalition.

Liu’s office released a statement, first reported by former Streetsblog San Francisco editor Bryan Goebel, explaining the decision:

“The bill was amended to create a comprehensive study of bicycle helmet use in California and evaluate the potential safety benefits of a mandatory helmet law. Carol believes in consensus-driven policy, and there were too many conflicting opinions about helmet use. A study will provide the data needed to guide us to the next step.”

In a recent interview with Liu on KQED public radio (I listened to it but can’t find the recording), the senator was asked why she sponsored the bill. She replied that two close relatives (nephew, one killed while wearing a helmet) had been in serious bike accidents.

Far more effective would be banning people from driving. That’s coming. Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, said as much. While he later retracted his words, he meant what he said. It’s only a matter of time before the autonomous car eliminates the need for car ownership.


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