Annual Pacific Coast Triathlon

Title: Annual Pacific Coast Triathlon
Location: Crystal Cove State Park
Date: 2012-9-9

The 15th Annual Pacific Coast Triathlon, with the new SuperSprint,Duathlon & Aquathlon will be held at Crystal Cove.

From the website:
Over the years, we have donated over $350,000 to  charities including the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), Boy Scouts, Corona Del Mar & Newport Harbor High Schools, Kiwanis, and other local youth charities. All entries include: Finisher Poster, High Tech T-shirt (1st 600 triathletes), and Trader Joe’s post-race feast.

The bike course will be on PCH – typically one southbound lane is closed for exclusive use for the racers.  This tends to make southbound travel on two wheels “interesting” but it can, and has been done.

Plan accordingly; more details to follow when we get them.

Walking Buses and Bike Trains

Another school year has started and with it a new batch of high schoolers driving to school, and schoolbuses carrying youngsters for their first year.

We suggest a better way to get to school and back.

Walk and Roll

Then and Now

Then and Now

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 1969 about 50 percent of all children walked or bicycled to school and about 87 percent of kids lived within a mile of their schools. Today fewer than 15 percent of schoolchildren walk or ride a bike to school. As a result, many kids today are less active, less independent and less fit than their parents and grandparents were at the same ages years ago.

Why the drastic decline?

Parents of schoolchildren commonly reported: distance to school, traffic danger, adverse weather conditions, fear of crimes against children, and crime in the neighborhood as barriers to active transport.

Barriers and Solutions

  1. Distance – Distance to school has increased over time due to school closings and school sitings further away from population centers. This does not explain the decrease in children living within 2 miles or less of a school.

    1969

    Distance to School for Youth 5 to 18 - NHTS 2001

    2001

  2. Changes in weather patterns were not found to be a significant contributing factor in the decline of active transport across four regions of the United States (North, South, Central, and West).
  3. Fear – While actual crime statistics indicate a decrease in crime over the 30 year period, parent’s fears trump reality. In 1973, violent crimes against youngsters 12-19 averaged 80 cases per 1,000. Thirty years later, in 2003 the rate dropped to approximately 50 per 1,000.
  4. Traffic – Congestion seems to play a major factor in decreased active transport. In just 20 years, (1982-2002) the national “total hours of delay” rose from 0.7 billion to 3.6 billion, representing over a 500% increase (Schrank & Lomax, 2005). The irony is that the congestion is compounded by more parents driving their kids to school! The following points are worth noting:
    • The use of motorized vehicles for transportation to/from school has increased from 16% in 1969 to 46% in 2001 (unpublished data from NPTS and NHTS)
    • The number of cars on the road between 7:15 and 8:15 a.m. increases 30% during the school year (Travel and Environmental Implications of School Siting, 2003).
    • 20–25% of morning traffic during the school year is parents driving kids to school (Kallins, SR2S)

    While the CDC notes that pedestrian and bicycling injury/death rates have actually declined over time, it’s unclear whether the decrease is due to the increased use of cars (or passive transportation) to take kids to school. While we might suspect that to be the case, we cannot find supporting data and so will leave it at that. However, there are additional data points that need mention:

    • 50% of children hit by cars near schools are hit by cars driven by parents of students (Kallins, SR2S)
    • 2/3 of drivers exceeded the posted speed limit in school zones during the 30-minute period before and after school. (National Safe Kids Campaign, 2002)
    • many motorists at intersections in school zones and residential neighborhoods violated stop signs (national pedestrian injury fact sheet, 2004)
      • 45% by not coming to a complete stop
      • 37% by rolling through
      • 7% by not even slowing down

The two significant barriers to active transport are distance and traffic which have changed for the worse. Safe Routes to School (SR2S) puts forth the 5 “Es” as the key to a solution: Engineering, Enforcement, Education, Encouragement, and Evaluation; because without evaluating the other four Es, the effectiveness of the overall program cannot be measured or improved.

Short of moving schools closer to the people attending them,

  • For distances greater than 5 miles, move the drop-off / pick-up point to an established meeting place within a mile of school and create Walking School Buses where adults can accompany groups of children walking to school. Not only will this relieve traffic congestion around the school, having adult supervision addresses the barrier related to the fear of crime and allows for the teaching of pedestrian skills to children. In the 2010-11 school year, Minneapolis district staff estimate that students who used the Walking School Bus logged a combined 3,200 miles! How many tanks of gas would that be? How much air pollution and attendant noise was reduced as a result?
  • For distances less than 5 miles, establish a Bike Train where adults act as Engineers and Cabooses of the train starting from a given location and stopping along the way to gather additional riders. Bike trains are more involved than walking buses and thus require some considerations.
    Our future. Photo: Nicole Burgess

    Our future. Photo: Nicole Burgess

    Bike trains:

    • are best suited for older elementary children
    • require riders to wear bicycle helmets.
    • Before starting the program, providing children with practice and training on bicycle handling and rules of the road is highly recommended.
    • More adult supervision is needed than for walking. One adult for every three to six children is recommended.

    For a great interview of a Mom That Makes a Difference, read about Nicole Burgess from San Diego who single-handedly started a bike train of her own and not only saves time doing it, but saves other parent’s time as well as providing a fun and active way for kids to get to and from school.

For traffic related barriers to active transport, solutions could involve:

  • Enforced Speed Zones (Kallins, SR2S)
  • Lowered speed zones: Reduced child pedestrian casualties by 70%
  • Traffic Calming around the school:
    Speed humps: Speed humps were associated with a 53-60% reduction in the odds of injury or death among children struck by an automobile in their neighborhood. (Tester et al, 2004)
  • Increased sidewalks and bike paths to and around school areas
  • Police patrolling
  • School policy change;
    According to a survey conducted in 1999, 7% of schools have policies that restrict children from walking or biking to school.

For a list of resources, please see the Safe Routes to School (SR2S) Resources page, or the comprehensive CDC kidswalk resource page.
For a great true story on overcoming anti-bike school policy, see Why Johnny Can’t Ride.

“But It Can’t Be Done…”

Oh, would you like some cheese and crackers to go with your whine? Not only can active transport be done, it has been done well as seen in Marin County, which improved its walking rates by 64% after implementing Safe Routes To School (SR2S; Staunton 2003).

“What’s in it for me?”

Just some of the benefits of letting your child walk or bike to school:

  • It increases physical activity, which
  • Decreases risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease later in life
  • It Increases attentiveness and readiness to learn at school
  • It teaches responsibility, independence, and is empowering
  • It increases neighborhood safety by putting more “eyes on the street”
  • It saves you money on gas, wear and tear on your car, and wear and tear on your streets
  • It decreases traffic congestion at the school and the chance of traffic accidents
  • It’s fun for children
  • It’s good for the environment, and improves air quality in your neighborhood.

This October is International Walk to School Month, and features Walk to School Week: October 1-5, 2012, and Walk to School Day: October 3, 2012.

Are you ready with your Bike Train or Walking Bus?

Registration is now open for Walk to School Day 2012.

Did you know:

  • 74% of 2011 Walk to School Day events led to policy or engineering changes,according to Walk to School organizers.
    The top 3 changes were:

    • 35% of events prompted the addition of promotion of walking and bicycling to existing school policies.
    • 35% of events led to the addition of sidewalks, paths, crosswalks or crossing guards.
    • 22% of events led to the addition of signage near school.

New! – Route assistance for Walk/Ride to School is available for OCBC members. Send a note to us with your city, starting and ending point, and we will craft a route for you. Please specify .gpx or .tcx format. Thanks for your support!

Signs of Change in San Clemente

Or perhaps that should be “Changing Signs”!

In San Clemente, Westbound Pico has a dedicated Northbound freeway lane with a free right turn onto the ramp. Bicyclists cannot afford to be trapped by motorists who, in their heads, are already on the freeway as they approach the ramp. Cyclists must either 1.) claim that whole freeway lane to prevent in-lane passing, or better, 2.) move left into the through lane. In either case, controlling the lane should be easier– and more cyclists will be encouraged to do so— with the support of these signs.

Signs of Change

Signs of Change in San Clemente

Gone is the yellow cautionary “STR”  and in is the informative black and white sign letting users of the roadway know that cyclists may take the lane.  Black on white signs are more than “informative”; their messages refer to specific CVC sections, which in this case, is  CVC 21202 (a) subsection 3.

Full text (with our emphasis):

Operation on Roadway

CVC 21202. (a) “Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right-hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a “substandard width lane” is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. ”

This popular route with local cyclists will gain more popularity when La Pata is completed allowing cyclists a direct route to the soon to be created Rancho  Mission Viejo developments and the challenge of Antonio into Ladera Ranch and Rancho Santa Margarita.

While the end result looks like a “no-brainer weekend project”, it took 4 years of dedicated advocating for the resulting signage change to take place.

The Orange County Bicycle Coalition recognizes and wishes to thank the volunteers who took their time to do traffic counts, Barry and Brenda of PEDal for organizing the volunteers, taking and tabulating the counts, and providing lobbying support, and everyone who lobbied to get this done. Special thanks to San Clemente’s new Traffic Engineer, Tom Frank, and the City of San Clemente for their forward looking vision that roads are for people.

Next up; the review, comment, and engagement of the City’s (draft) Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan which we told you about here.

Time is running out, so be sure to get your comments in, and if possible, attend review meetings to let your voice be heard.

Talking Traffic

Talking cars of the future – today!

On the Highways:

Happy Highways

Accidents not waiting to happen 0n the highway

In the city:Talking Traffic

This illustration is interesting in that there are no people outside of the vehicles; were they vaporized by the technology?  Also absent are any road markings or infrastructure for bicycles.

Notice the crosswalk on the left (in front of the “safety island”) worn almost to oblivion from the motorized traffic? On the right it appears that there is no crosswalk for pedestrians due to the absence of walkway stripping, meaning that pedestrians get to cross the adjacent street twice (or 3 light cycles).

You might think for $25 million we would be treated to better visuals extolling the virtues of a future vision of talking pavement and cars talking to each other to avoid hitting each other or the pavement or other motorized infrastructure. Is this the US DOT ideal version of Complete Streets?

What are talking cars?

The short hand is V2V for vehicle to vehicle, and V2I for vehicle to infrastructure wireless communications. The Department of Transportation recently completed a pilot study from August 2011 with wireless equipped vehicles and is expanding the study in a year long effort to identify and resolve challenges and issues with the new tech. Ultimately the goal is increased roadway safety.

From the DOT fact-sheet, “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for ages 3 through 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control”. Building on the initial study of around 300 cars, the DOT formed a joint project with the University of Michigan with 2,800 vehicles, and is part of a $25 million federal effort to reduce motor vehicle crashes. The sample size is about the minimum needed to statistically quantify results from the study, and some might argue that it should be larger.

How do they work?

From the fact sheet, ” Safety-related systems for connected vehicle technology will likely be based on Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC), a technology similar to WiFi. DSRC is fast, secure, reliable and operates on a dedicated spectrum. Non-safety applications may be based on different types of wireless technology. Cars, trucks, buses, and other vehicles will be able to “talk” to each other with in-vehicle or after market devices that continuously share important safety and mobility information with each other. Connected vehicles can also use wireless communication to “talk” to traffic signals, work zones, toll booths, school zones, and other types of infrastructure. The vehicle information communicated is anonymous, so vehicles cannot be tracked and the system is secure against tampering.”

Wireless communication devices that audibly and visually alert drivers when safety threats approach are installed in volunteer vehicles and dozens of local roadside and intersection locations.

This pilot offers researchers opportunities to understand how effective visual and audio safety warnings are and the reliability of the various wireless technology devices. Systems will be researched and their use refined, and data on prevention and vehicle communications will be presented to the U.S. Department of Transportation in the fall of 2013.

The DOT plans to work with researchers and industry leaders to see if a possible mandate requiring vehicle-to-vehicle communication is feasible, in terms of both technology and cost.

Secretary Ray LaHood said, “No decision has been made about making a rule; we are announcing a research project that will deliver data… and then we’ll see where it takes us.” See more about the talking cars project here. The test will be conducted in Michigan so don’t expect talking cars and streets here before 2014 unless you happen to be standing next to one of the new security light poles with their cameras, microphone, and loudspeaker.

According to the DOT, this technology has the potential to reduce or prevent 80% of all crash scenarios involving non-impaired drivers and that’s good. Will the technology interfere with pacemakers, gps devices, wireless speedometers, and satellite? These are just a few of many issues to be worked out over the next 12 months.

Will future bicycles be equipped with transponders or wireless beacons to alert motor vehicles so they can be seen and talked about?