The Coast News Group

Letters to the Editor

Side-by-side cycling

Self serving versus self preservation conduct.  There is no written law requiring single-file bike riding in groups.  Maybe there should be, since the self-serving urge to communicate side-by-side with one’s fellow riders, often puts the riders at risk and at same time causes the “car-cyclist separation requirement” to be violated by passing vehicles and their drivers.  I note that it’s happening with greater frequency too.

Cyclists, do you want to get the respect of vehicle drivers?  Then ride with a better sense of road courtesy.  If lines are painted for a bike lane, try to stay at least a foot inside the lane, not ride on the line.  We vehicle drivers gave up that valuable real estate to make bike riders safer.  Now many bike riders are taking full advantage of the lane and then some.

Why do they do it?  Two riders abreast is often the cause.   For solo riders, there might be a pavement smoothness factor.   Whatever it is, it irks us vehicle drivers a lot.  We know passing a slower bike is a legit reason.   Doing it without any other reason, just tells us that you cyclists become different persons from the time you leave your car and snap your shoes into those pedal pegs.

G. Lance Johannsen,



Halt In-Lieu parking program

Del Mar should immediately halt the In-Lieu Parking Program.  It was ill conceived and harms the community.

The program was created by the City Council to enable commercial properties to expand without having to provide the required onsite parking.

It allows property owners to pay a fee for each additional required space that cannot be provided onsite.

This fee is supposed to go towards building a downtown parking structure where those additional cars could theoretically park.

The first problem is the parking structure does not exist and may never exist.

As a result, these cars will be parking in the surrounding residential neighborhoods, increasing traffic and noise, and taking spaces away from the residents.

So far, the Planning Department has approved 18 In-Lieu spaces, and can issue a total of 50.

That’s a lot of additional cars looking for parking in a city that already has a big shortage of spaces.

The second problem is the program does not allow for input from the community and decisions can only be appealed to the City Council on narrow, technical grounds.

There is a substantial fee for filing an appeal and the City Council must vote to hear it, which they rarely do.

It is unconscionable that the City Council decided to silence the community.

Del Mar has a rich tradition of community involvement in decision making, especially when it comes to planning issues.

But in this instance the Planning Department and City Council don’t care what we think.

The third problem is the fee is too low.

The fee for each space was set at $30,000, which is the current cost to build a space in a parking structure.

But the City Council allowed property owners to pay this over 30 years at $1,000 per year.

This is an interest free loan to the property owner and shortchanges our city.

Thirty years of payments is worth less than $20,000 today and falls well short of what is needed to build a space in a parking structure.

The City Council needs to take a second look at the In-Lieu Program.

At a minimum, the process should be revised to allow for community input and the annual fee should be raised to cover the true costs of building a structure.

Mark Stuckelman,

Del Mar 


In lieu parking

Last week the Del Mar City Council voted not to hear my appeal of the planning director issuing 17 In-Lieu Parking Permits for $17,000/year, without providing 17 actual parking spaces.

They didn’t want to hear the appeal, which pointed out that the Director should have required the issuance of 10 more permits, for $10,000/year more, based on showing that the applicant had miscalculated the number required for Bull Tacos to open in that location, and spaces counted that were not permitted, per the California Supreme Court!

Why would they not want to hear the appeal?  As I’ve stated previously, it is because the Council wants the additional sales tax revenue from more restaurant/bars in downtown — even if their own laws are not followed.

All residents adjoining the downtown commercial area, please note— there are 24 more In-Lieu Parking Permits available that can be sold for additional restaurant/bars in the South end of town without providing 24 actual parking spaces!

This may be one area of the Community Plan that should be changed, or change the implementing regulations.  There seems to be a conflict!

Any questions, or support, email [email protected].

Ralph Peck,

Del Mar


4 comments October 19, 2014 at 11:04 am

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John Eldon May 19, 2014 at 1:35 pm

In response to Mr. Johannsen’s letter complaining about bicyclists “obstructing traffic” I offer five important bits of terminology. 1. Door Prize. Defensive bicyclists ride 3 to 4 feet from park cars to avoid getting doored. In some cases, most of the bike lane is within the door zone, forcing us to ride the line. In such cases, blame the traffic engineer, not the cyclist. 2. Right hook. On the approach to an intersection, through traffic should be to the LEFT of right-turning traffic. 3. Left cross. Even motorists who are not busy texting or yakking on the phone sometimes overlook bicyclists, particularly those who are placing themselves outside of their central attention field by hugging the curb. 4. Right drift. Roads are crowned, and inattentive motorists tend to drift toward the right, often overlooking bicyclists too far out in the periphery of their visual field. Sometimes you need to be more in front of someone to get his attention. 5. Crowding. It is easy to demonstrate that the closer a bicyclist hugs the curb, the less lateral margin overtaking motorists will provide.

To suggest a given person behaves worse when bicycling than when driving is absurd. If anything, a defensive driver will be even more defensive when bicycling. He/she will not slow you down or inconvenience you unnecessarily, but will do what is required for safety. More often than not this entails moving leftward and “riding large,” i.e., taking up real estate to which he/she is legally entitled, for good reason.

Bill Davidson May 19, 2014 at 12:03 pm

@G. Lance Johannsen: Riding side by side makes bicyclists safer by making them more visually conspicuous from a greater distance. It also makes it clear to drivers that they need to change lanes to pass. Changing lanes to pass is much much safer than passing in the same lane.

California law does not prohibit bicyclists from riding side by side. Much of the 101 through Encinitas, Leucadia and Solana Beach now has sharrows and “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” signs indicating that bicyclists should use the full lane for their own safety as is taught by the League of American Bicyclists, Cycling Savvy, Effective Cycling, Cyclecraft and Bicycling Street Smarts.

Ironically, the reason that you object to bicyclists riding side by side is that you want to drive your car side by side with them in the same lane, and you want to do it while passing them at a small passing distance with a significant speed differential which is dangerous.

What is so difficult about moving over to pass a bicycle safely? What delusion makes you think that you have a right to not move over to pass at a safe distance? The law says that bicyclists have just as much right to travel on the public roads as motorists do. It’s very easy to move over to pass. It’s about time that you got used to those facts.

Bill Davidson May 19, 2014 at 12:12 pm

I forgot to mention some of the reasons that bicyclists use the full lane. You clearly have not studied bicycle safety or the law.

CVC 21202(a)(1) exempts bicyclists from the requirement to ride far right when they are passing anything blocking their path. You got that one and pretended that it was the only one. It’s not.

21202(a)(2) exempts bicyclists from riding far right when preparing to make a left hand turn.

(a)(3) exempts bicyclists from riding far right to avoid any condition which makes it unsafe to ride far right. It names several common examples, including lanes which are too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane. Most lanes are 12 feet wide or less. Most experts recommend a minimum width for safe side by side sharing of 14 feet. Many recommend 16 feet. I’ve had many scary close passes in 12 foot wide lanes. 12 feet is definitely too narrow for safe side by side sharing. Another common example is avoiding doors open from parked cars.

(a)(4) exempts bicyclists from riding far right when approaching any place where a right turn is authorized. That includes driveways. This allows bicyclists to strongly discourage motorists from just barely passing and turning right in front of them. I’ve had many close calls from this but none while I was using the full lane. It only happens to me in bike lanes or on shoulders or while otherwise riding far right.

Learn to move over to pass. It’s a basic driving skill. You do not own the road. Share the road means you move over to pass.

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