Road rage

CITY AFFAIRS:vThe city of Berkeley’s new ordinance to protect bicyclists is welcome but does little to fortify the effect of existing laws.

Related Posts

For drivers and bicyclists, sharing the road can be a frustrating experience that tests the patience and safety of both parties. An ordinance passed by Berkeley City Council in January, which went into effect Thursday, aims to promote safer roadways for cyclists but fails to do any more than existing laws already accomplish.

Following a similar move by Los Angeles lawmakers, the ordinance intends to shield cyclists from assault and injury, creating a clear avenue for civil recourse against automobile drivers who harass them. But while well-intentioned, the solutions made to fix cyclist harassment in Los Angeles don’t necessarily translate well to Berkeley’s needs.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington, the ordinance’s author, contends that it will cause drivers to stop and think before harassing cyclists. Yet the ordinance’s intent falls flat: Drivers should not be expected to suddenly think twice just because another law is on the books. Moreover, it is doubtful that many cyclists will take the time to pursue the identity of drivers who harry them — doing so is impractical and inconvenient for all but the most serious incidents.

The idea behind this ordinance is on point and should be welcomed by drivers and cyclists alike. Creating new rules that seek to grant protections already provided by law does not fix the core issue that cars and bikes must share Berkeley’s cramped roads. Even so, the conversation this ordinance has brought to the table serves to make way for a more bike-friendly city, especially if Worthington is committed to the principles of change through education.

Instead of crafting rules that are largely symbolic but essentially ineffectual, our council members should focus their time and effort on real solutions if they want to prove their genuine interest in the problems faced by Berkeley residents. Few drivers will be educated by a law that few cyclists know exist. However, if the city backs up its pro-bicycle rhetoric with awareness campaigns or legislation that actually does something new, like create more bicycle boulevards or bike lanes, then perhaps the ordinance’s goal will be met.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Davidorr39

         You question the source of electric power, suppose by one writer to come from, which you challenge, solar and wind…yes, it already exists.  Where have you been?  Nearly 2% of California power, last time I looked, is produced by wind.  Solar adds to this, and by 2020 the figure is hoped to by more than 10%… Yes, it is possible for the HSR to get most if not all its power from renewable sources.  California is filled with dreamers.  HSR is a product of this thinking.  Computers, nuclear research, medical miracles and social adjustments come from imaginative and creative minds.  We do have a problem with prisons, as the greatest number of prisoners per capita in the world is right here in the Golden State, not very golden a fact I am sorry to write.  We must apply our creativity to this problem which is an immense drain on public funds, and the spaces are packed.  New prisons are on the drawing boards, unfortunately…despite this issue we need and will have High Speed Rail.   It will, of course at first, not seem to be a worthwhile project until it’s operating and proves to be the great boon that may not at first be evident.  The horse and car suffered a similar difficulty in the minds of 19th-20th Century wags and the first drivers were considered affected and a bunch of show-offs.   Then paved roads made all the difference.  Cheers!

  • Davidorr39

    Just a little P.S. here about the connection between HSR and rising tuition and education costs.   Funding for education used to be a real priority for Californians…and then the tax laws were rearranged somewhat to make students pay tuition.  Nothing to do with transport. Those who write that tripe connecting HSR with rising tuition are dealing in the grossest pap in print.  When the train is running you’ll all be cocktailing on it up and down the state…I can’t wait to see your faces as you experience its convenience…we will pretend not to notice.  Those of you who think that subsidizing transport is an evil practice should check your facts on transport in general, which subsidizes Airports, runway construction, highway construction and gasoline prices.  Without subsides direct costs to consumers would be through the roof and to prove this, toll roads are creeping into our ‘freeway’ system.  Already in use in southern counties, ‘toll’ lanes are scheduled to go into use here in the Bay Area.  So much for subsidized transport.  Your arguments are completely misleading and devoid of accuracy.  Whose interest do you represent anyway?  The tones are one note, one note and extremely unscholarly.  Just a bit loud.

  • Davidorr

    Jubeo,  what a limited imagination you exhibit…so sad.  Not building HSR will, in future, require additions of many lanes of new freeways, not only I-5, but 99 and extra ones all around the metros in north and south California cities.  This wasteful construction can be avoided with development of fast, convenient public transport and connecting services, light rail, and local train systems enablying the approaching 50 million Californians to not only just get around the state, but be encorporated into the coastal culture while offering access to the valley by those along the Pacific.  Isolation of valley folks has encouraged low employment and this construction will alter that considerably.  Fresno, Stockton, Merced and Bakersfield metropolises, even Sacramento, are expanding at a fast rate and need connection to Bay Area and Southern California opportunities that the automobile alone cannot supply.  Air connections are limited not just by already packed terminals, but adverse weather that does not affect rail services.  Getting to the City in tully fog is a dangerous adventure on Hwy 99 and air service is canceled…leaving Amtrak (four hours to San Francisco on a good day.) HSR will cut that trip to a reliable 1 hour plus, and frequently, not just 4 or 5 trains a day.

    Over HSR building period of 20 years the cost is estimated at 38cents a day per Californian, a perhaps low figure, considering the 100 billions divided by the time and put against the total income of the state, over $Trillion+ annually, which is 9th largest economic entity in the world today.  It will no doubt be different in twenty years, but it is comparable in size, economically, to he UK or Spain…we will have the bullet train despite naysayers.  

    And, Valley citizens voted for this project just as did others throughout the state…making up stories of how valley cities are against this dream is atrocious…what’s the evidence?  Loud media and stident voices do not make a majority anywhere.  

    The vote is in.  We shall begin the construction and the dream will become evermore evident as Fresno’s station area and the commercial shops and restaurants and parking facilities come on line…the same for the other municipalities.  

    Problems up ahead? You bet, but the people in each area will work them out,  each as it arises.  Screaming about the project will not have much affect in reality.  

    As an alum at UC I was in Berkeley for the emerging idea of BART (around the Bay) and was electrified by the idea that rail service would make driving to the city or waiting for the unreliable F bus (in the sense of crowded or not) …and having often to stand all the way across to the Transbay terminal, that lovely, open with light and fragrant scents building…replaced by a train that take just 25 minutes, heated, air-conditioned, frequent (3 to 4 trains an hour)…and saving the day when the bridge is closed….and goes all the way the SFO… The list goes on.  

    Fellow students, friends and I campaigned in the city and our neighborhood strongly to support the vote in favor of building BART.

    Today it’s the best system in the US to my knowledge, and I’ve experienced most of them from Chicago, Atlanta, Miami, Washington, and  New York.

    I’m 72 years old and may never live to see the full build out of this HSR in California, but I can tell you from my seven years living in japan that HSR is the way to go.  Just last year, even with the horrific tsunami and its aftermath, the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) system was effectively completed connecting Kagoshima in the south with Aomori in the extreme north…this essentially makes a trip hours shorter than previously saving travel time and increasing economy and commerce at all the connected cities and their regions along this system.  If you are not considering this logic in your opinion you are ignoring the inevitable.  Please rethink and know those who share your thoughts really need to look at all the facts, not just negative opinions.  Cost is not a static figure but spread over many years and subject to may variations.  The sooner this construction commences the cheaper will be the final cost.  

    BART was initially estimated to cost $1 Billions for the system…the original one was very close to that.  Today just a small portion of an extension can be well over $1 Billion.  And there are several in the planning stages now.  Can we even imagine being without BART today?  Hardly a subject for discussion.  But it was hotly contested in 1961-2 and even into the ’70s….just a few years ago the connection to SFO was nearly tabled by opposition.  

    Who does this?  Vested interests whose considerations would be somewhat affected by the HSR system.  Oh, there are many other transport and commercial interests whose owners think that the train is not in their personal interest.  What about the interest of California’s millions whose lives would be positively affected?  

    The world’s first Bullet train was build in Japan for the 1964 Olympics to transport visiting guests, tourists from Tokyo to Osaka and back…about a 3 hour trip at the time.  Lo and behold the entire country came to ride the new thing and quickly fell in love with speed and convenience; the regular train made the trip in about 8 hours, slow train 12 hours. Today people all along the line commute to where ever using this convenience.  The same thing will happen in California, and the price of gasoline will speed up this thinking.   Large parking facilities will surround the stations and hourly rental vehicles will await those who need them at their destination.  It’s the future and the future is here.
    Best regards,
    David Orr (I notice you didn’t sign your name..)

  • Westsail43

    You’ve been drinking the Koolaid big-time.  Did it ever occur to you to question the HSRA spin just a little bit.  You might be surprised..and wake up!

  • Jube0

    arguments would be good if they were complete. However, 30 seconds of thought
    throw a hugely different light on it.

    The statement of how much will be spent on highways without high speed rail is
    irrelevent. The question is – how much less will be spent if it is built vs not
    being built. I can’t imagine it dropping by that much. Most of the spending wouldn’t be adding a 3rd lane to I5.

    It ignores the endless lawsuits over right of way and environmental issues. Not
    only in their cost, but their endless delays and resulting costs from that. You
    need only look back to the recent saga of Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. That
    was not a vast statewide project. It was fixing up a previously existing
    stadium. Yet that took how many years and how much money to resolve?

    I am not sure how you can claim all the power would be generated by wind/solar.
    Where do you get that from? Ok, let’s grant that it may be true. If so:

    Does it already exist? Are you including the cost of the added wind/solar power
    getting built and generated to the total cost?

    Because if it wasn’t needed otherwise, then it must be considered part of the
    project. On the other hand, if it would be built otherwise, then you are
    employing some weird sort of electricity accounting, and your statement is

    Did you bother asking the people in the central valley if they want the
    project? Because most

    cities there oppose it. Now fight a lawsuit in every city right down the line.

    Here are some headlines in the report from the LAO:

    – Availability of Funding to Complete a Usable Segment Highly Uncertain

    – Alternative Cost Estimate Overstated

    – High-Speed Rail’s Priority Over Other Transportation Investments Unproven

    – Economic Impact Analysis Is Imbalanced

    – Independent Benefi ts of ICS Unlikely to Justify Expense

    – Inadequate Structure and Staffi ng Persist

    – Committed Funding Not Identifi ed and Environmental Review Process Incomplete

  • Florez

    Cal is getting it’s undergraduate tuition raised this year, and last year, and year before that, and next year, etc. etc. etc.  The graduate Biz, Law, and other programs have been jacked up by 65% over the past few years, so only the rich can afford grad school.  Soon, only rich will be able to afford undergraduate education as well.  I’m guessing the Cal writers here don’t have to worry about tuition/books/room/board – which is about $37,000/year at Cal, either because their parents are paying or their taking loans.

    But, get a clue.  Your tuition is being raised in order to pay for boondoggle projects like this HSR, that was promised to only cost $33 billion (including construction to San Diego and Sacramento) but now has a range from CAHSRA of $98.7 – 117.8 billion.  That’s 4 times over what was “sold” to the voters in 11/08, and it doesn’t include the cost for SD or Sacramento, and it doesn’t include the 117 million/year riders they “originally estimated”, and the ticket price has “magically raised” from $55 to $105, and its gone from “projected completion in 2020” to now 2032.

    And, construction costs always rise.  Look, if they are off by 4 times (33 bill to 118 bill) in only 3 years, how confident are you that the “current” $118 billion estimate is even close to reality?  Really, they were only off by $80 billion dollars??!?

    Imagine what tuition would be reduced to at all UC campuses, not just Cal, if they took even a fraction of that, say $5 billion, and gave it toward reducing tuition.  Your yearly amount would go from $37,000 to $20,000/year.  After 4 years that would save you $60,000.  So, do you really think this out of control, budget bustin Train to Nowhere Boondoggle is worth it to you, particularly when no one will be able to afford the high ticket prices except business travelers too lazy to take a $65 plane ride for a 1 hour flight from SFO to LAX?

  • Jkirk

    I hope future Cal students and Profs complain about further substansial funding cuts if this gets built.  

    • libsrclowns

      I don’t think they understand opportunity cost.

  • Funny how the same students who advocate high speed rail, sanctuary for illegal aliens, and every other budget-busting program still can’t figure out why the state of California is broke and that their education costs keep going up. Proof positive that liberalism is a serious mental affliction.

  • libsrclowns

    These clowns sound like Botox Pelosi..?its about the students, the children. Bla. Bla. Bla
    Spend money….bla. Bla. Bla

  • Calipenguin

    Japan and France use public money to support the operation of its high speed trains.  If we build a multi-billion dollar train just so we can spend even more public money to keep it operational (since it won’t generate enough of its own revenue to do so) then we don’t need it.

  • Guest

    Just because a high speed rail is build doesn’t mean the State won’t be building new roads and airports. 

  • Guest

    Another trite Republican bashing cartoon. Please come up with a more original topic next time.