Monday, May 30, 2011

Trip to California


Sorry for the lag in posts, but I just returned from a trip to California. We had a great trip from San Diego to San Francisco. It is pretty awesome to see all of the progress that the state of California has made in their transportation choices. Especially in their correction of many of their poor choices in the past, and focusing more on complete street designs.

We started out in San Diego and southern California and the first thing that I noticed, which I have seen before out west but had forgotten until I experienced it again, was the priority that pedestrians and cyclists receive from motorists. If a pedestrian steps off of the curb, even without a walk signal, the cars automatically stop to let the people cross. I realize that is the way that it is supposed to be, but it is truly practiced out west and it goes for cyclists too. Riders were given plenty of room as vehicles passed them, and they facilities that have been provided has made it easy to get around by bike.

We went to a stage of the Tour of California while we were there, and that too helped me see the great culture that they have for cycling. Not only do many of the people out there cycle for commuting and recreation, but they also care about advocacy and making cycling better. I was also surprised when I would mention that I was from Florida, and many of the people would actually apologized and ask me if the drivers were as bad as they had heard or experienced. It was definitely unexpected and unfortunate that Florida's reputation precedes itself.

Fortunately I was able to visit several of the communities and small towns and was able to see how great their cycling environment is. Every town had new bike lanes, bike corral parking, and bike route signage. Cities like LA and San Francisco has made the jump into infrastructure with advanced separated bike lanes, bike boxes, and connecting all of their public transportation systems with bikes. Even though while I was there the temperatures were chilly and the weather was wet and dreary, the cyclists were out in full force. I could see where San Francisco could rival places like New York, Portland, Seattle, and Austin with the per capita ridership. Their critical mass was even escorted by police, which to me not only shows that the police are with the cyclists, but that the city embraces cycling and has all of their priorities invested in creating a great place to ride.

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