Taking That First Step

The most import thing about doing anything new is deciding what first to do and taking that first step.  It doesn’t have to be large but it is a start that will lead to the next step and so on.

Late last year a 15 year old boy was struck and killed by a large truck while riding his bike to school.  Citizens were outraged and demanded that the city improve traffic conditions to prevent such things from happening.  One of the primary reasons most students and citizens don’t ride their bikes to school and elsewhere is because there is a perception that our streets are too crowded with cars and bike lanes are inadequately designed to give the feeling of safeness.  I agree with those perceptions as a adult senior bicycle rider.  I have had several close calls and feel unsafe when riding many if not most of our streets.

Laws have been tightened to require cars to drive 3 feet from cyclists but I have experienced many drivers who ignore the law.  There are simply not enough law enforcement officers to enforce such laws.  The Cupertino Bicycle Pedestrian Commission is starting to paint bike lanes neon green but I’m not sure if this is going to make parents feel the crowded streets any safer for their kids to bike to school or more casual cyclists to bike around town.  Paint and laws are simply not enough.  They only succeed to make streets a little safer for experienced bicyclists.

My objective is to increase the number of residents casually or otherwise riding their bikes throughout our city as well as students riding their bikes to school.  So how are we to encourage more people of all ages to ride their bikes?  The most effective way is to make this a citywide priority among our City Council Members.  But I fear that this might not be such an easy task.  The crisis of the tragic accident last year has passed and few are demanding improved bicycle safety.  There are a few advocates like myself, Walk and Bike Cupertino, Cupertino2040, and perhaps a couple of Bicycle Pedestrian Commissioners advocating for more bicycling but we cannot even come together and form a coalition since each has their own agenda.  But it takes a concerted effort of focused advocacy to sway civic leaders who have other priorities such as a new Civic Center and Steven Creek Corridor.

So the first important step needed is organizing a concerted effort to effectively convince city leaders that bicycling is a viable and important solution to our traffic problems.  Granted it is not the only one.  Walking and public transportation are other weapons in the arsenal to fight traffic congestion but it is the least talked about and the one I am most focused upon.

Advocates need to organize into a coalition of advocacy.  There must be strong and committed leaders to lead others towards a more bicycle friendly city for all citizens to safely and pleasurably bike around town.  But how are we advocacy leaders going to put aside our differences to join together and act as one?  What can we all agree upon that can be our central theme that benefits all our interests?

I say let us make it our theme “To make bicycling a citywide priority so bicycle routs throughout Cupertino can be made safe and appealing for people of all ages and riding abilities.”  What say you?

About Frank Geefay

Sustainable Bicycle and Smart Growth Advocate
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