Gas station without pumps

2015 August 26

Few Santa Cruz businesses on bike league list

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 10:23
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Every year the League of American Bicyclists publishes a list of “bicycle-friendly businesses”, which employers (including governments and non-profits) can apply to be on.

I was surprised at how few Santa Cruz employers were on the list:

  • Ecology Action (silver)
  • County of Santa Cruz (bronze)
  • Santa Cruz Seaside Company (bronze)

The League also has listings for communities, universities, and states.  The City of Santa Cruz has a silver listing, as does UCSC. UCD is platinum; UCSB is gold; UCB and UCI are also silver; UCLA and UCSD are bronze.  UCSB and UCD are also listed as businesses (their bike-friendliness towards employees, rather than towards students), with the same ratings.

UCSC does do a fair amount for bicycle commuters. I know of free showers in at least 4 buildings on Science Hill, and there are probably others. Most buildings allow people with offices to bring their bikes into their offices and there are card-operated bike lockers next to some of the more popular buildings.  Bike posts and other low-security bike parking are provided in adequate quantity (though the quality is not aways the best).  There are free tool stands at several places on campus and an on-campus bike shop (the Bike Co-op, which is not a full-service bike shop).  All the campus buses and the SCMTD buses that serve campus have racks for 3 bikes, and UCSC runs an uphill-only shuttle with a trailer for a dozen bikes from the Westside several times an hour.

Having seen what UCSB does, it looks like the main differences in bike friendliness come from UCSB’s campus being flat and compact, while UCSC’s is sloped at 4% and spread out.  The ravines and hills on the UCSC campus make it very expensive to provide additional roads and bike paths, and the 4% climb for a mile from the entrance to campus to Science Hill is daunting for many beginning bicyclists.

UCSC could do more to promote bicycling to campus, but there is a point where even large investments result in only small increases in bicycling—UCSC has invested much more heavily in transit options than in bicycling, as they expect that to make larger changes in student and employee behavior.  (And it seems to be working—UCSC has tripled in size in the last 30 years, with only modest increases in motor vehicle traffic.)

I don’t know whether Santa Cruz has been slipping as a bike-friendly place, whether other places have overtaken Santa Cruz, or whether businesses and governments in Santa Cruz simply can’t be bothered with the bureaucratic process of the League’s classification scheme.

What is the return to the community if more businesses were listed as bike friendly, or the community rating were higher? The listing is primarily a marketing tool—from a bicyclist perspective, what matters is what the infrastructure and policies are, not whether the LAB knows about them. And marketing is not that valuable to the community right now. It isn’t as if Santa Cruz were trying to lure more people to move here—we already have a serious housing crunch, particularly for the rental market. (Prices are high also: studio apartments are about $1600 a month, 2-bedroom about $2200 a month, I think.)  I do think that Santa Cruz would benefit from more ecotourism marketing—getting tourists to bicycle around town rather than clog the streets with their bad driving would be an improvement.

What Santa Cruz is trying to do is to lure more tech companies to Santa Cruz, to take advantage of the highly educated people already here and reduce the long-distance commuting to high-paying jobs in Silicon Valley. It is not clear whether getting a better bike-friendly community rating would help with that effort or not, though one of the big attractions for tech workers in Santa Cruz is not having to do the Highway 17 commute.  Being able to bike to work is a big attractor for engineers, particularly in software businesses (it is often our only source of exercise).  Whether it is an attractor for tech companies is a somewhat different question.

2014 June 19

Bike miles

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:07
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I’ve been curious about how much exercise I’ve been getting on the average.  Because I’ve been putting on weight for the past few years, I suspect that it isn’t quite enough—but how much has there been?  Most of my exercise comes from riding my bicycle, mostly for commuting but some for utility trips.  I’ve been recording my bike odometer readings every few weeks for the past three years, so I can get a decent estimate of how many miles I’ve ridden, though not of the intensity of the riding.

I've been averaging about 3.75 miles a day or 1370 miles per year.

I’ve been averaging about 3.75 miles a day or 1370 miles per year.

Given the relatively low speeds I go up the hill to work, this translates to about 25 minutes a day of moderate exercise, or just under 3 hours a week, exceeding the Federal recommendation of 150 minutes a week, but not by much.

Looking at the curve more closely, you can see that this past quarter, when I was bike commuting 5 days a week, had about 4.5 miles per day, substantially more than during the 2011–12 academic year, when I was on sabbatical (about 2.6 miles/day).  This does not bode well for how much exercise I’ll get after I retire.

2011 September 27

Free Breakfast for Bike-To-Work/School

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 18:21
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Twice a year, free breakfasts are provided to bicycle commuters in Santa Cruz County at Bike-to-Work/School events.  The fall event is coming up soon: Thursday 6 October 2011.  There are 16 public sites (3 on the UCSC campus, 4 if you count Long Marine Lab as well) and 41 school sites listed on Bike to Work – Santa Cruz Free Breakfast Sites.  Breakfast will be served to bicycle commuters 6:30 a.m.–9:30 a.m. at the public sites (the school sites are usually shorter hours, most often the half hour or hour immediately before classes start).

Some of the site have extra features (like free bicycle maintenance, free massages, free acupuncture, …)—see the list and map.


For those who want to get started a day earlier, October 5 is “International Walk to School in the USA” day: http://www.walktoschool.org/ So far as I know, nothing special is being done on Oct. 5 in Santa Cruz County, but I think that several of the Bike-to-School sites will give breakfast on Oct. 6 to students who walk to school as well as those who bike—check with your school.

Incidentally, I have no idea why “International Walk to School in the USA” is not “International Walk to School” or “Walk to School in the USA”. Perhaps they are promoting crossing the border on foot? Or they think that only international students will walk?

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