Almanac

News - September 28, 2011

Portola Valley: Rights, responsibilities and interests of cyclists are key in new committee

by Dave Boyce

The question "What's in a name?" could not be more relevant in the matter of the Portola Valley Town Council's deciding recently, by a unanimous vote, to change the name of the all but moribund Traffic Committee to the Bicycle, Pedestrian & Traffic Committee.

"The interactions between bicycles and cars is really one of the more important issues in this town," Mayor Ted Driscoll said to open the discussion at the council's Sept. 14 meeting.

Indeed. To say that Alpine and Portola roads, the town's two arterials, are popular with cyclists is to significantly understate the situation. Cyclists in ones and twos are an ongoing presence, as is a knot, similar to a racing peloton, of anywhere from 30 to 100 cyclists speeding by at least once a day when the weather is good.

But incidents over the past few years, not to mention a scattering of cycling fatalities, tell a story.

• A water bottle, with water in it, thrown by a cyclist at an elderly pedestrian woman, hitting her in the face and leaving it black-and-blue;

• Sheriff's Office deputies camped out on weekends at a right-turn stop sign to ticket right-turning cyclists rolling through after a long uphill climb;

• A rock allegedly thrown by a cyclist at a boy walking his dog on the roadside — there are no bike lanes or sidewalks — and hitting him in the chest;

• Drivers who loom ominously behind pelotons traveling at maybe 30 mph in a 35 mph section and which acquire certain privileges to use an entire lane when bike lanes are absent;

• Two equestrians crossing Portola Road who became engulfed by a peloton that scared one horse into dumping a rider and both of them into galloping along with the cyclists, some of whom are alleged to have heard but ignored the remaining equestrian's plea to slow down.

Councilwoman Ann Wengert, a cyclist and veteran of crossing the United States by bike, reminded Mr. Driscoll of his suggestion made in June that the committee be renamed and that the new name start with the word "bicycle."

"My own views are that we should be moving that to the fore. I would hate to encumber a newly chartered committee," Ms. Wengert said. "We recognize that a lot of these issues being created right now are related to bicycles."

Councilwoman Maryann Derwin said she was fine with the name change provided the committee steers clear of advocacy.

Go to tinyurl.com/PV-apply to fill out an application and be considered for membership on the committee. The filing deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28. The first meeting is likely to be in early 2012.

Like the town's 16 other committees staffed by volunteers, this one will offer the Town Council advice on matters that come under the purview of its name.

As was done in 2010 with the Trails Committee, which had developed a reputation for not representing the interests of all trail users, the new Bicycle, Pedestrian & Traffic Committee membership will be based on applicant interviews by a council subcommittee with a mission of obtaining balanced representation.

Comments

Posted by dubious, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Sep 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm

I am very dubious that the "alleged" incidents in this article actually happened. Did a bicyclist get off his bicycle, find a rock on the side of the road, then heave it at a boy? Come on. Maybe his tire kicked up a pebble, but that is hardly what the article states. A passing car could kick that stone at a much higher velocity. This kind of yellow journalism just increases road rage instead of helping to create safer streets for everyone.


Posted by A Cyclist, a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Equestrians should get their horses under control. As I understand, this ride was rerouted to avoid the stable area.

Also, the jackboots who were ticketing cyclists for "rolling through a right turn" might want to give the same treatment to the vehicles who routinely follow and menace cyclists (not to mention, who *also* roll through right turns). It's all about revenue generation, after all...

As a cyclist, I have equal rights to these roads, and I WILL use them.


Posted by anonymouse, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 30, 2011 at 7:36 am

Just so we're clear about the Loop. There are no "bike lanes" as legally defined by the CA Code on the loop, except for Sand Hill. The other areas are shoulders marked with little bicycle symbols in the hopes that cyclists will ride on an area they are not legally required to ride. They're not continuous or wide enough to be considered "bike lanes" according to CA Code


Posted by Brian, a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 30, 2011 at 11:33 am

I hope that the Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Traffic Committee can come up with creative solutions to address the use of public roadways within Woodside. Most of the publicity and interactions have been negative and have only served to polarize and divide the community. This needs to change in order to achieve resolution.


Posted by Ano Nymous, a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 30, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Woodside and Portola Valley are widely known for their bicycle-hating, dog-hating, and pretty much everything-but-horse hating ways. They despise having "foreigners" intruding on "their" roads and (it's hard to believe they think this way), "their" trails.

Woodside has commandeered an entire division of the San Mateo County Sheriff's Dept. specifically to harass/ticket cyclists for "violations" that never receive notice if committed by motorists.

Meanwhile, their horses poop with abandon outside the doors of restaurants, and pretty much own the public (as in taxpayer-supported) parks in the vicinity.

If these communities were actually interested in public safety, they would focus on speeding vehicles, on Alpine, Portola, Canada and, particularly up on Skyline (where cars and motorcyles commonly race, unmonitored, at speeds in excess of 100 mph).

PS--Ms. "representative of the cyclists" Weingart: Many local cyclists "cross the country" 5-10 times every year; they just do it on local roads, and while actually holding down a real job.


Posted by Ano Nymous, a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm

So Ms. Derwin, does that mean no advocacy of cars? Horses? Snotty Woodsiders and Portola Valleyites?


Posted by Karam, a resident of another community
on Nov 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Ive been visiting Woodside & Portola Valley since I was 14 and tried to keep up with Penn Velo's Bike Club. Eventually I could and I rode allot. I rode enough to be jealous of the "rich people" and also to hear of fellow cyclist having one water bottle for water and one water bottle for brake fluid as it rips off car paint but looks harmless.

Today I ride my cross bike 3 days a week and my motorcycle almost everyday. I continue to visit Portola Valley and associated neighborhoods for fitness and recreation reasons. I also do a little business there now, love the quality Roberts Market produce and hope to buy a home there soon {God Willing}.

I can attest to having never road hogged on my bicycle unless a motorist was looking menacing or unless the road was too narrow to support me safely while allowing the car to squeak by. However that said I contagiously get road blocked by fellow cyclist when Im on my motorcycle or occasionally car. This has happened in a way that has been extremely rude and as a cyclist who can ride a straight line, inches from another front tire at 30mph find many fellow cyclist derelict in attitude about sharing roads hospitably.

One person is in fitness / let me get my aggressions / spiritual mode [cyclist] and the other [motorist] is in I'm doing errands and need to mosey on mode. These two modes don't play well together. They are way out of rapport. Nature says that the bicycle should avoid and accommodate the car [size & power & ease of mobility]. The law says were all the same on the roads in our country.

Whats my opinion being one who engages in all three of these activities weekly?

1-hog the road when its a absolute must.
2-get the hell out of the way of the cars 95% of the time other wise.
3-throw some positive energy back and forth between each other.
4 Stop player hatting on local wealthy people.

The Portola Valley Area Rocks!

If it wasn't for the culture of the rich here the place would be dozed over and strip malls would be up and you wouldn't want to visit the scenic anymore anymore. The local community is the reason why you want to ride here. Its their values that keep the place clean and gorgeous. A little persnickety at times but I have also been given many helpful advices and kindness from the locals that have helped me not only feel comfortable but that have made me a little wiser and a little more wealthy. These people when treated with kind thoughts return them with wisdom and like minded kindness. I can't say i see that happen in other communities and often as I see that happen in Portola Valley.


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