As the Bay becomes more like LA and our regional transportation decision-making body, the “MTC” (More Trucks and Cars Commission/Metropolitan Transportation Commission) continues to be developer-controlled, creating sprawling suburbs and locking in automobile dependency, a strong and creative bike and pedestrian movement is blossoming and continues to become more effective. Bay Area bicycle and pedestrian direct actions have been on a steady increase. Real change is mighty slow in coming, but we are having some successes. Action and organization has happened all around the Bay and on all kinds of fronts.
BayPeds is a new group which champions the rights of pedestrians and the Bicycle Civil Liberties Union is another new group which seeks equitable treatment for non-motorized travelers. Noting that bikes and peds make up at least 11% of all trips in the Bay Area, yet suffer 25% of the traffic fatalities, these two groups came together to protest the adoption of the 20-year, 88-billion dollar Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) which committed only 1/200th of the funding to bikes and peds. The protest involved outfitting bicycles to be *as big as cars* (with PVC pipes suspended on rope in a rectangle around each bike) circling the building where the commissioners were making their horrible decisions.
The solidarity link between bicyclists and mass transit was emphasized by a direct action ride across the Bay Bridge on September 10th. A large group of bikes showed just how easy it would be to permit bikes to ride across the bridge by Just Doing It, pedaling all the way from Oakland to the transbay terminal in San Francisco during rush hour traffic. Five of the cyclists supported a 62-foot sculpture of a train on a suspension bridge to protest the lack of rail capacity in the new Bay Bridge design. The bikes often went faster than the stalled traffic, although police attempted to sabotage the message by deciding to arrest the cyclists on the off ramp from the bridge, rather than on city streets which would have minimized inconvenience to commuters.
Expect more protests and lawsuits if there is no change in the Bay Bridge design, particularly as to the bike/ped path which the authorities finally voted to build as part of the Bay Bridge retrofit (which was a major victory in itself). Caltrans wants to place the bicycle path directly adjacent to harsh freeway traffic, exposing cyclists to unnecessary fumes and danger, rather than sunken below or above the traffic lanes. (This will also permit Caltrans to easily convert the bike path to another traffic lane causing even more car traffic later.)
Meanwhile, in the world of policy change, the Berkeley Bike Plan is finally, after SEVEN YEARS, coming up for adoption. It’s critical that we show public support to help push this through. A web site has been constructed to allow sending a letter with a click of a button: http://users.lmi.net/~jmeggs/bikeplanyes.htmYou can send a letter to Mayor Dean and City Council, 2180 Milvia St., Berkeley, CA 94704, FAX: (510) 644-8801 and send a copy to the Transportation Commission, 2118 Milvia St, Suite 300, Berkeley, CA 94704, FAX: (510) 883-6565. The Berkeley Transportation Commission is to consider the Plan as Slingshot goes to press and the plan may go to the City Council as early as December 15. For more information, contact the Bicycle-Friendly Berkeley Coalition: 510 549-RIDE, bfbc@ lmi.net.
Critical Mass bike rides continue to occur throughout the Bay Area, giving cyclists one day a month to ride safe and proud, and demonstrating what the streets would look like if everyone rode their bikes. Recent police abuses have hurt the ride in Santa Cruz, although Berkeley (2nd Friday of the Month, 5:30 Berkeley BART) is still hanging in strong and San Francisco (last working Friday, 5:30 Justin Herman Plaza) is making a heady recovery after police crackdowns last year. Other rides (Silicon Valley, Santa Rosa, Marin) have been trooping right along although Walnut Creek has recently fallen defunct.
A new group, “GRIP” — “Great Routes Inspire Pedalers” — is a direct action/protest group in San Francisco which has held numerous protests in recent months, storming City Hall with bicycles (inside the lobby!) while a giant “Willie-Head”, an effigy of the mayor, remained calm and smiling even as the real mayor ran terrified for his limousine.
While Free Radio Berkeley has sadly been off the air, the alternative media is still strong on the internet and through video productions such as July 25th: The Secret is Out! about the orchestrated and corrupt police crackdown on the SF Critical Mass (conveniently masking major transportation scandals at the time). To get involved in some of the essential activism around these issues, contact BayPeds at 510 540-6509; Bike the Bridge! Coalition at 510 273-9288; Bicycle Civil Liberties Union at http://xinet.com/bike/bclu/; and the Transportation and Land Use Coalition at 510 843-3878