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. commoncents says:

    The solution — not only for more space for bikes, but to maximize the space for cars — is to focus on getting bikes OFF the streets and ONTO dedicated bike paths. Everyone wins. The most successful biking communities in this country are set up that way.

    Combining bike and car traffic on the same piece of pavement REDUCES the potential volume of traffic for both groups (AND makes it more dangerous for bike riders).

    Think about it: how many more people would ride bikes in this town if they could get where they wanted to go without having to ride on a street?

    Focus on developing dedicated bike paths! THAT is the ultimate solution for everyone.

    (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
    • RonHolt says:

      Absolutely wrong!

      Dedicated bike paths can have a positive effect on traffic in as much as they do pull some cyclists off the street. However, expecting all cyclists to use them would require one of two major circumstances.

      Do you want to pay for a massive funding effort to add 50+ miles of separated bike paths would be needed to get cyclists to everywhere they need and want to go? Which streets would you like to make “bike only?” Whose property would be condemned to help link these paths? What do you do about intersections between bike paths and streets for cars? There are very few areas in SLO that would be suitable for construction of said bike paths without major disruption.

      The second option is to simply ban bicyclists from traveling on the few separate bike paths that are available or could be practically built. That doesn’t work for most people riding to work, to school, to go shopping or run other errands, to get to many parks and even for kids riding to friends houses in their neighborhoods. I realize that many on this forum hate cyclists so much they don’t care if cycling becomes near impossible but this will not happen either.

      (-4) 4 Total Votes - 0 up - 4 down
  2. namotusurf1944 says:

    Just what those of who ride bikes need; more motorists pissed off at us.

    (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
  3. c.d.cox says:

    Maybe they should ban all large tucks and buses off of Madona LOVR if they want narrower vehicle lanes most large trucks and buses take up the whole lane already. Some people should get out of their dream world and face realality.I only come to SLO when I have to go to the DR. You can keep your rude drivers and bicyclists I was driving on Santa Rosa one bike in the bike lane one in the middle of the traffic lane and a driver about eighteen inches off of my back bumper.

    (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  4. Pete says:

    I can attest to Keith’s long running love affair with bikes. When he was on the council the cops were hassling bikers downtown and Keith organized a very effective situation that enabled bicyclists a bigger piece of our community pie.

    It looks like the city has deliberately planned to cut the neighbors out of the talks by the late hour agenda item. In fact they should not have any important items on at a late hour, ever.

    This council, headed by this mayor, most of them young and proudly beating their chests about bringing ‘the people’ back to city hall, are a joke. All their votes, all their efforts (like this snide assault on public input) have been against the populace and in favor of either fat cats or narrow special interests.

    Arrogance of power right here in River City. Damn shame…

    (62) 68 Total Votes - 65 up - 3 down
  5. shelworth says:

    SLO lost most of my business years ago when they took a vehicle lane from each side of S.Higuera and put in bike lanes!

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

    I tend to avoid commenting on SLO’s problems since I am not a resident & we in the 5-Cities have enough problems of our own. However, like Mr. Gurnee, I am a long-time cyclist and still ride in SLO about twice a week normally. Also like him, I also recognize that sometimes “advocates” tend to not evaluate solutions to problems as critically as they evaluate problems and can come up with ideas that, on balance, create more problems than they solve.

    I don’t know enough about the proposals here (map/schematic anyone?) to judge but I do agree that the proposals should get a good hearing — with criticisms from the general public encouraged.

    (56) 56 Total Votes - 56 up - 0 down
  7. 1965buick says:

    It doesn’t really matter what you are trying to do. If you pay enough, you can play! Not restricted to SLO, states, or Feds.
    But SLO does win the award for most corrupt.

    (61) 67 Total Votes - 64 up - 3 down
  8. womanwhohasbeenthere says:

    Could not agree more! Now the city is going to make the lanes on Madonna Road narrower in order to widen the bike lanes and make it “safer.” It is specifically designed to slow down traffic according to a notice I got in the mail.

    Funny, I thought people wanted LESS congestion not city-imposed increases in such. Obviously no one from the city council has been on Los Osos Valley Road or Madonna Road around rush hour. Traffic slows to a crawl already. Making the lanes narrower will only result in more accidents.

    But hey, the bike lobby wants wider bike lanes so whatever they want they get, because then the city gets meaningless awards for being “bicycle-friendly.”

    Can’t wait for all those new houses on the Dalidio property dump another 500-1000 cars twice a day on this road.

    At the very least the bicyclists should be required to get a license for $50 -$100 a year. Maybe the city could make their bicycles subject to a mandatory inspection every year as part of getting the license, and how about a helmet inspection, too? Boy would that ignite a firestorm! It would make it a little more palatable for the rest of us if they had some financial commitment in this like everyone else does through gas taxes and license fees.

    How about it, bike lobby? Put your money where your mouth is .And please don’t tell me you should get a pass because you are saving the environment or reducing greenhouse gases. When we don’t have 100,000 cars a DAY driving through town on Highway 101, I’ll consider that.

    (61) 73 Total Votes - 67 up - 6 down
    • RonHolt says:

      I doubt that wider bike lanes will have much effect on traffic flow on Madonna at all. Keeping the large shrubs between Oceanaire and LOVR pruned back would probably widen them enough for that section without doing anything else. The best solution for rush-hour traffic there and on LOVR would be an interchange with overpass at Prado so that the E-W traffic flow has other options to get across 101. Hopefully, the Dalidio development will be dependent on that happening. (Extending Prado to Broad would be even better as would widening Tank Farm to 4 lanes the whole way.)

      As for licensing bikes, mandatory licenses have been tried elsewhere numerous times over the years. In every case I know about, the programs have ended up being more expensive than the money they bring in and usually ineffective on top of that. It is just opening up another can of bureaucratic worms.

      (-18) 40 Total Votes - 11 up - 29 down
      • rukidding says:

        Reference to your comment regarding the licensing of bicycles being more expensive than the money they bring in. That is really a no brainer to solve. SLO has all of the experience needed to regulate fees so that they cover their costs so this should not be a problem at all. You can start with the $40 parking ticket and figure out that riding a bicycle in designated lanes that will cost every taxpayer something should then be subsidized by the bike riders. Simple.

        (48) 50 Total Votes - 49 up - 1 down
    • Ricky2 says:

      The city’s goal is to make driving miserable. They’ve decided gridlock is just fine — that’s part of the new general plan — never before was it acceptable. The public will not wake up till it happens since Tribune/KSBY don’t think this is interesting or important enough to tell people about. They’re traffic-calming Madonna and LOVR!! Why? Don’t we want to move as much traffic as possible as fast as possible in places like that? Traffic-calming’s supposed to be for neighborhoods not highways. It’s all part of very carefully scripted bike scheming by SLO’s finest:

      http://www.bikewalkalliance.org/blog/535-how-san-luis-obispo-just-established-the-most-powerful-bike-funding-policy-in-the-nation

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
  9. c.d.cox says:

    Another reason to stay out of downtown SLO

    (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down

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