The Mayor of Riverside, Rusty Bailey, pulled his mountain bike out of his car Tuesday, July 2, and joined about 30 cyclists for a quick pedal up and down Victoria Avenue.
There are 27 of us lined up here...The Mayor's wife and their two daughters also joined us. About 15 riders from the Riverside Bicycle Club joined up with us along Victoria Avenue.
It also just happened to be Robert's and my 27th Wedding Anniversary.
It was fun to celebrate our anniversary, but the main purpose of the ride was to let the cyclists tell the mayor what they thought about our bike lanes in Riverside.
According to a report released by Transportation for America, the Riverside/San Bernardino/Ontario area is ranked 5th in the top 10 most dangerous areas in the US to ride a bike, or walk.
Those statistics are not very comforting.
When the ride was first scheduled, my husband was worried that I was going to have the Mayor ride down Central Avenue from our house to the Riverside Plaza.
During the Tuesday evening ride I did tell Mayor Bailey that lack of a bike lane along Central Avenue from Victoria to the Riverside Plaza is one of my BIG complaints.
He listened and told me the Riverside Traffic Engineers have deemed a safer way for me to ride my bike to the plaza. Next week I am going to ride both the routes and take pictures and blog about it, so you can be the judge.
But for our ride with the Mayor, we kept him to the Bike Lane alone Victoria Avenue.
Victoria Avenue is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. It is a divided road that cuts through Riverside's greenbelt and was developed in 1892 to connect the Arlington Heights area to downtown Riverside. It became popular because of the many trees and exotic plants used to landscape the route. Many of the citrus groves that originally spurred Riverside's growth still exists along the avenue.
It didn't take Mayor Bailey very long to experience the dismal condition of parts of the bike lane. Most of us were riding road bikes with their skinny wheels. The Mayor's mountain bike has big wheels on it, but still even riding with big wheels, who wants to ride through this?
and here's a close-up of the above....
Even Mayor Bailey commented that if we are going to have bike lanes, at least they should be clean of debris.
I asked Mayor Bailey how often they sweep Victoria Avenue. They sweep in front of my house twice a month, and if you forget and leave your car parked on the street the city happily writes a $40 parking ticket.
Many of us have wondered if they actually sweep Victoria Avenue. After all, what would the incentive be since no cars are allowed to park along it...no cars that could be ticketed to raise some revenue for the city.
The Mayor said he would find out how often the avenue is swept and get back to me.
I'll let you know when he lets me know.
But from the green growing in the picture above, I can't imagine that it is too often.
During our ride, I told Mayor Bailey that in some portions of the ride it would probably be safer to NOT ride in the bike lane.
I am pretty sure he stuck to the bike lane because another rider told me that he did get smacked in the face with an overhanging branch, which there are lots of on Victoria Avenue.
Not sure if this was the culprit that smacked the mayor in the face, but this is along a portion of the bike lane I avoid being in and ride in the street.
I also ride in the street when I come to this part of the bike lane. It has been marked like this for MORE than a year.
If they aren't going to fix the hole at least the city could put up a sign such as this one:
Not all holes are painted in warning -
Just an example.
Here is a picture from our ride. You can see that one of the riders is out in the street. That's because along this portion there are manhole covers that rise just enough above the street level to make it hard to ride over. My guess, is that the lady in the pink had to move over almost out of the bike lane to avoid the manhole cover, forcing the other rider out into the street.
Here's another picture taken of the same portion of Victoria.
(I took this picture over the top of my head...so that's what the top of my head looks like when I ride).
You can see the riders in back of me trying to avoid the manhole cover....sometimes the gutter is filled with dirt and water and you have to ride out in the street.
Robert and I on our Ride with the Mayor/Anniversary Ride.
Robert's complain about the bike lane is the parts where they have grated the road and bike lane to resurface and then resurface the road, but NEVER resurfaced the bike lane.
Not too long ago the city designated part of the bike lane the Rosanna Scott Memorial bike Trail.
If you look carefully, I think you can see the bike lane on the left and what they call the bike trail is on the right. But the only bikes that can use the TRAIL are slow cruisers because joggers and walkers usually take up the evenly paved trail.
The bike path along here looks like this:
So the slow bikers gets the nice paved trail and the fast bikers get the above.
Mayor Bailey told me that everyone needs to come to the City Council meetings and tell the council members they want better, safer bike lanes.
He also suggested that any cyclists seeing a problem in the bike lane should use the city's 311 system.
Use the above link to report problems online.
or if you have a smart phone, use this link to download the app for the city's 311 program.
At the end of the ride, Mayor Bailey and I had a chocolate milk to recover from the 12 miles of riding.
He probably needed to recover from listening to everyone complain. I needed to recover from riding so slow.
I was really happy that so many cyclists came out and joined us. We had cyclists from Triathlon Connection, Riverside Bike Club, and Inland Empire Biking Alliance come out to support this ride and talk to the Mayor.
RBC member Jim, Mayor Bailey and me.
The best part of the day?
Knowing that I have been married to a great guy for 27 years - a guy that didn't mind sharing our anniversary celebration with a bunch of cyclists and the Mayor of Riverside.
"Here's to 27 plus more years, hopefully with nicer bike lanes in Riverside to ride on!"