Bike lobby’s control of SLO City Council continues

August 11, 2017
T. Keith Gurnee

T. Keith Gurnee

OPINION by KEITH GURNEE

Well the bike lobby may succeed after all. Recognized by many as the most powerful special interest group in the city of San Luis Obispo, they seem to have a stranglehold on the city council as evidenced by the city’s placement of the “Broad Street Bike Boulevard” on their Aug. 15 agenda. The item is 16– dead last on a long agenda.

To schedule this meeting on an item of such importance to the residents of Broad and Chorro streets for a 90-minute discussion during the late wee hours of the evening seems designed to throttle the voices of our neighborhood. Instead, the council should immediately pull this item from their agenda and schedule it for a special meeting at an hour that would encourage maximum attendance.

Lest I be accused of being anti-bike, I’m not. In my earlier years, I was an avid cyclist who never had a problem getting around town.

When I was on the city council in the 1970s, I commuted regularly to city council meetings by bike and I led the charge to get bike racks in the downtown at a time when it had none. When I was the planning director of Morro Bay, I often rode my bike to work and back. I support the bike path improvements along the railroad right-of-way, a bike and pedestrian bridge adjacent to the Monterey  railroad bridge, and the Bob Jones City-to-the-Sea trail system. But some of the things being considered today like the Broad Street Bikeway has gone way too far.

How could such a bad idea get so far? Turning our local residential streets into cluttered obstacle courses and eliminating stop signs and on-street parking deserves far more consideration than one late-night hearing. Consider the following:

1.       Back in the 1990s, the city installed a number of unsightly and unsafe “traffic calming” features on Chorro Street, only to remove them a short time later in response to accidents and neighborhood complaints. Why would the city want to do that again?

2.       Removing some of the long-standing stop signs that have been able to control speeds on Broad and Chorro streets would welcome back unsafe speeders to our neighborhood.

3.       Wouldn’t converting Broad and Chorro streets to one-way streets hinder our emergency responders from the North Chorro fire station who regularly use these routes to respond to emergencies?

4.       A review of the city’s 2014 general plan known as the Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE) reveals that it never anticipated turning Broad/Chorro Street corridors into a one-way couplet, the alternative the city by committee has recommended to the city council. Such a change to our circulation pattern should require an amendment to that general plan.

5.       Shouldn’t such a change require review by the planning commission which has yet to be given the opportunity to consider it?

6.       Shouldn’t its design as public infrastructure also come under the purview of the city’s architectural review commission?

7.       Given the “cons” of each alternative as explicitly stated that the city’s own literature, shouldn’t it trigger further review via an Environmental Impact Report?

8.       And what about other cities like Los Angeles and Baltimore who have made similar installations only to remove them due to strong public outcries?

By ignoring the general plan and bypassing other commission and environmental reviews, it is clear that the bike lobby has a direct pipeline to the city council, the completely unnecessary Broad Street Bike Boulevard proposal is a bad idea that will destroy the livability, the character, and the quality of life of what has long been a high-quality neighborhood.

I urge your readers to call the members of the San Luis Obispo City Council and demand a special hearing on this issue that, if approved, will hand in undeserved victory to a narrow but powerful special interest group while trashing our neighborhood, the residents be damned.

Stop the nonsense and just say “NO”!







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26 Comments

  1. Kevin Rice says:

    Cyclists need to start paying some serious triple digit registration fees to pay for the lane space they desire.

    (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
  2. copperhead says:

    What do you expect from a planning commission that puts roundabouts in the middle of a road so cars have to swerve right and left to avoid them.

    I can’t wait to see the payout after someone gets impaled on one of those roundabout signs in the middle of churro.street.

    (7) 15 Total Votes - 11 up - 4 down
  3. jimmy_me says:

    It appears as if one local group that manipulates local politicians does not want any other group to be doing the same. Maybe we can get safer bike routes from the bike lobby the way we get housing developments and Walmarts from other well-known lobbies.

    (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
  4. kayaknut says:

    Any special interest group only has as much influence and power as the group they are addressing allows them to have. If the SLO City Council didn’t want the bike lobby to have as much power they could very easily shut them down, if they wanted too. So I don’t look at the lobbing group as much as I look at the council.

    (19) 23 Total Votes - 21 up - 2 down
  5. Gordo says:

    I have attended a number of meetings in the last year where presentations from bicycle groups have occurred and I will say their passion reminded me of Marxism and Scientology blended together and then set loose on two wheels.

    The speakers had no room for opposing views or even questions like those Mr. Gurnee raises.

    When asked a question about the impact on motor vehicle traffic flow they answered in a condescending fashion; no doubt in their “cult like” belief system people who operate any vehicle with an internal combustion engine are relegated to the same corner of hell as environmental polluters, cigar smokers, Scotch drinkers and people who like milk fed veal.

    If their influence is as great as it appears I have no doubt that soon SLO will be a “carless” town.

    A bicyclist’s utopian paradise, with broad streets filled with joyless citizens riding their bikes and carrying Chairman Maos little red book to and fro.

    Our beloved Mercedes, Dodge Chargers, and Ford Super Dutys will be relegated to a lonely parking structure outside of town. It is to there that we will pedal our Schwins so that we may indulge our passion for V8 diesel power, German engineering, and take your breath away speed on the open road….. for as long as the CHP lets us.

    Everybody who drives a car had better show up and speak up at this city hall meeting so the bicycle mafia doesn’t get their way again.

    (17) 31 Total Votes - 24 up - 7 down
  6. ruinitforeveryone says:

    Slo city hell, how about keep em off the two lane narrow roads outside the city. Edna valley. Lopez lake, and on and on.

    (15) 37 Total Votes - 26 up - 11 down
  7. Jorge Estrada says:

    I believe the bicycle interest groups would better spend their time and energy working on a safe route between San Luis Obispo and Santa Margarita. This corridor is very dangerous with high speed traffic just feet away from the bicycles and pedestrians. I understand the desire to recreate in the cumfy zone along the coast but the North County connection shouldn’t be ignored.

    (11) 23 Total Votes - 17 up - 6 down
  8. catsdad says:

    RonHolt so your solution to bicycle congestion on Madonna road is an $80 million dollar overpass at Prado Road that has been totally rejected by Caltrans? Why not just have the cyclist ride on the roads behind the bushes on Madonna Road like I do? Thereby saving millions for taxpayers. Just look at Price Canyon Road. How many millions are being spent for a couple of hundred cyclists per week to pass through? I have to agree with Keith the proposal for a Broad Street Bicycle Boulevard is ridiculous.

    (30) 36 Total Votes - 33 up - 3 down
    • RonHolt says:

      The simple answer to your question about Madonna Rd. is that riding on those roads puts you in a bad situation at the intersections following them if you want to turn left. Now that doesn’t apply to all cyclists but it does for some. Perhaps a sign indicating those as “alternative bike routes” would encourage more cyclists to use them but I think that many do already.

      As a commuter cyclist from South County, I am thankful for the work being done on Price Cyn. Rd. because the alternative all have problems too ranging from even narrower roads (227, Corgett Cyn.) with large hills to significantly longer routes (Orcutt, 101 frontage roads). Once done, I will be using it far more often than I do now and I suspect a lot more cyclists will as well.

      (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
    • RonHolt says:

      Oh, BTW, I wasn’t suggesting that the Prado overpass be built as a solution for bike congestion but for congestion for all traffic in general. It would be major overkill for solving bike traffic problems. I don’t advocate for MAJOR spending to solve bike TRANSPORTATION problems. If the city wants to prioritize them for recreational purposes, that is a decision they can make.

      (Also, I meant Corbett Cyn. Rd. in my previous post.)

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  9. MrYan says:

    Ok lets give them their Blvd, …bike corridor…riding in the city may be challenging.

    But can we then restrict where they ride as well?

    There are way too many “share the road” signs on roads that really should not be shared. Take Old Creek road for instance..

    Instead of telling us to share the road, when by law we know we have to, how about posting “bicycling not advised” instead. Which is way more informative for those who travel upon it.

    The road is not wide enough to share safely-measure it and you’ll see. Just can’t give them the 3 feet when passing and not risk a head on with incoming traffic. Or are we supposed to follow a bike for the entire 9 miles?

    We should not be encouraging people to bicycle on dangerous roads. Just because they CAN be there doesn’t mean they SHOULD be there.

    We give bicyclists a false sense of security on way too many roads with the signage telling us to share a road that should not be shared. We should inform bicyclists that it is a dangerous road for them, versus waiving them in with a welcoming sign.

    So who’s with me to start the – “PICK A BETTER ROAD” campaign and make our roads safer for all that are upon them? We don’t have to wait for government to fix it with better signs.

    It is easy to do…just roll down your window and give those illegal 2 abreaster’s a shout out as you pass by to….PICK A BETTER ROAD. Consider it your personal public service announcement.

    Safety first!!

    (7) 13 Total Votes - 10 up - 3 down
    • RonHolt says:

      The problem with the roads you describe is that there are too many self-entitled jerks that think having a bigger and faster mode of transportation is justification to push “lesser” modes off the road so they can maximize their speed. Public roads belong to everyone — including cyclists — and all have a right to use them as long as they obey the relevant laws. Your impatience and convenience does not give you the right of way.

      I likely have been one of those cyclists that annoy you if you have been driving Old Creek Road regularly enough over the years. If you drive the numerous back roads from SLO to South County, you have almost certainly passed me on the road. Whether I am riding as a commuter, a recreational cyclist or just for fitness, I have as much right to the road as you do and there are numerous laws stating as much. Get used to it.

      If you want unrestricted speed, either use the freeway (except at rush hour) or a road with wide enough shoulders (LOVR from Foothill to Turri) to allow cyclists to safely rid on them. If you want to lobby for widening other roads to those standards, you will find most cyclists in support. We don’t want to be in your way but we are not going to be pushed off the roads to achieve that.

      (-4) 10 Total Votes - 3 up - 7 down
      • MrYan says:

        PICK A BETTER ROAD–Ron.

        No one ever said unrestricted speed was the issue. We are talking about cars traveling on the road at the legal speed. Safety for all that are upon the road is the issue.

        You have the right to be there but should you be there? That road isn’t wide enough, and the funds to make it wide enough will be hard to come by. But yet you still squeeze yourself onto it because you have a “right”.

        If bikes cannot fit safely on the road along with the cars then they should not be there.

        If a road isn’t wide enough the County should not encourage you to ride on it..with share the road signs….they should discourage it– with bicycling not advised signs..for both of our safety. You want a welcome mat for every road it appears.

        While you have the right to be on the road, your bicycle use does not pay for it. Understand that fact. Bicyclists are free rider’s on the road. Your gas taxes and fees pay for your car’s use of the road-not your bikes use of the road.

        BTW–driving (anything) on a road is a “privilege” according to the state -not a right. Read your DMV booklet.

        Honestly your needs should be secondary as a “lesser” mode of travel. Pay for your bike lanes with bond measures if you have to, but don’t expect us to pay for the improvements with gas taxes–that frequently don’t improve traffic flow.

        How many white “ghost” bikes need to be erected on a road before you realize that it is dangerous to be there and remove yourself from it? A little discouragement from the state would not hurt you–only inform you to – PICK A BETTER ROAD.

        (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down

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