Tag Archives: driving

End of 2010 Road Trip: Day 5

A few surprises for what became the final day of this little trip to Portland. At a rest stop on the way south from Eugene, I checked the road conditions one last time, and realized that the I-5 was clear of any snow hazards. So we were able to visit Ashland and head down the middle of the state, after all.

Ashland is famous for its Shakespeare Festival, of course. Since we were there off season, I didn’t expect it to be tremendously lively. But we did manage to find a nice spot to grab a quick lunch, and to walk along Main Street a bit. 

Even had some ice cream, despite the 38-degree weather. 

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After Ashland, it was the beautiful pass over the Siskiyou Summit, which was covered in fresh snow. Once we got into California, our next quick stop was at Mount Shasta City. We considered staying here for the night, but then thought maybe it would be better to push on to Redding, since it was still early.

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Once we got to Redding and started looking into hotels, another new option came to light. Why not just go home? Considering that Lassen Park was closed for the season, there didn’t seem to be much chance that we’d do anything except sleep in Redding, wake up the next morning, grab breakfast, and then start driving again. So why not just push on all the way to San Francisco? My car’s SatNav suggested we’d be home before ten.

So that’s what we did. Ended the trip a day early with no regrets. Got to see both the coast and the beautiful mountains along I-5. Drove 1,401.4 miles in five days. Not a bad way to end the year. 

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End of 2010 Road Trip: Days Three and Four

Left Portland today to get a slight jump on our big journey back to San Francisco. Having only spent two days in the city, I can nevertheless say that we got a clear feel for the place, and the reaction was very much positive.

Not a bad meal the whole time we were there. Managed to stumble upon a coffee tasting, in which the proprietor offered an amazing amount of knowledge about the process of selecting as well as trading and auctioning coffee worldwide. Got to see a film at the Living Room theatre, which is a nice place to have a drink, some light dinner, and some indie film.

Powell’s book store, of course, is a must see. Absolutely overwhelming in its size. The rain let up for a bit this afternoon, too, which was a nice break.

Would I recommend Portland for a weekend trip? Sure. Not sure there’s enough to make me want to live there, though.

Right now, we’ve stopped for the night in an amazing little bed and breakfast in Eugene. Cuts our road time tomorrow down by about two hours or so, and gives us a very quiet and dark place to rest.

Unfortunately, as I feared, it looks like the mountain pass along the 5 is going to be too snowy the rest of the week, so no Ashland, Crater Lake, Shasta, or Lassen for us this trip. We’ll have to do all that in the spring or summer.

So it’s back to the coast tomorrow through Crescent City, Eureka, etc. Still debating whether or not to stay in Healdsburg New Year’s Eve.

Connectivity hasn’t been too much of a problem on this trip. Lots of free WiFi in Oregon. And decent 3G AT&T signal in the cities, at least. And the iPad/iPhone haven’t left me wishing I had a laptop at all. Though I’m going out of my way to avoid doing any serious work on this trip.

End of 2010 Road Trip: Day One

Driving up the coast to Portland on a much needed winter vacation. Made it as far as Crescent City, CA tonight. (Highly recommend Cazadores for dinner, by the way—great flautas.) Two points of interest I wanted to share from today. First, the Avenue of the Giants. Forget Muir Woods. This is where the real trees are. I’d been up this road before, but this time we spent much more time exploring. Second, a tiny city called Trinidad, just north of Eureka. One of the best views of the California coast I’ve ever seen. And by tomorrow, I’ll be able to say I’ve seen them all. More updates along the road as the week progresses. Can’t wait to dig into the Oregon coast tomorrow. My reference iPhone photos here don’t do these places justice. Will have to post some shots from my Nikon later when I get home.

I live in a City with a Powerful Bicycle Lobby. No wonder middle-America thinks we’re out of touch.

Update: An old friend called me out on Facebook for my harsh words below. I’m going to leave them there, so everyone can read what I now believe was an overly harsh initial reaction to the article I’m quoting here from SFGate. I still believe my original conclusion, but I am not happy about how I explained my reasoning.

My updated, more thought out reasoning, was posted as a comment on Facebook, as well. I will add that to the end of this article, for your convenience, or you can visit it here:

http://www.facebook.com/joecieplinski?v=wall&story_fbid=112235358809466

Thanks, Dave, for making me rethink my argument. Maybe you still disagree with me, but I hope you at least can see I’m trying to explain myself a bit better. 

 

Pedal power: In a true example of the squeaky wheel getting the grease, bicyclists are getting a major break over motorists when it comes to the tougher cell phone law making its way through the state Legislature.

The proposed law would increase the fine for texting or using a hand-held cell phone on the road to $50 for a first-time offender.

Adding in all the state’s court fees and surcharges, that really comes to about $255 for drivers. A second offense would come to $445 in most counties.

But thanks to some very effective lobbying by pedal pushers, cyclists won’t have to pay those extra charges. As a result, their fines will be hundreds of dollars less than those of drivers.

The logic is that distracted cyclists do less damage than someone in a car (of course, a car can do a fair amount of damage to a distracted cyclist), and besides, cyclists tend to be young and thus can’t afford the high fine.

As if anyone can.

Only in San Francisco. There’s absolutely no reasonable argument to be made defending bicyclists who ride while texting or talking on a cell phone. This behavior is absolutely as dangerous as driving a car while doing the same. It’s probably more dangerous, as steering and balancing a bike with one hand is far more difficult than driving a car one-handed.

The argument they try to make is that younger people are more likely to be riding bikes. Exactly. And younger people are far more likely to be texting and holding their phones while riding, too. These are exactly the people most likely to be committing this offense. What’s the point of a law that punishes the most likely offenders the least?

Bikes can still run stop signs and red lights. They can kill pedestrians. They can cause fatal car accidents quite easily.

But never mind that. When your Bicycle lobby is doing the corrupt deals at City Hall, maybe it’s time to rethink just how removed you are as a city from the rest of the country.

 

And now, my updated argument:

To clarify my post: I’m happy I live in a town with a powerful bike lobby, as opposed to a powerful gun or tobacco lobby. We’re never going to argue about whether or not we should be celebrating confederate history month here in SF. 

Maybe the bike itself can’t kill me (I’d argue that it could, at least, kill someone small and frail enough), but the truck that swerves to avoid a bike ridden by a texting rider could very easily kill me. 

I don’t mean to suggest that the level of danger is equal. Just that degrees of danger in the theoretical shouldn’t lead to different fines for different vehicles. The fine amount should be determined by the level of danger in the actual circumstance of the offense. In other words, a law enforcement agent should be able to heighten or lower the fine based on what transpired, regardless of the vehicles that committed the offense. 

In a perfect world, a car that stops but then drives through a red light at 5 a.m. on an empty city street with clear visibility in all directions and no other cars or people within sight would still get a fine, but a lesser fine than someone zipping through a red light in the middle of the day with many other cars and pedestrians present. 

This is the same reason why I am against red light cameras at intersections. It takes human judgement away from a situation that desperately needs to be judged by a human. 

A bike is less likely to cause a dangerous accident, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t ever be the cause of a dangerous accident, or that similar behavior in a car is ALWAYS more dangerous. 

A city street is a very serious place. It needs to be treated with the appropriate level of respect by everyone on it. To me, not paying full attention to your driving or riding is one step below intentionally trying to cause harm. 

I just don’t think we should be backing off any opportunity to discourage this behavior, regardless of the vehicle. I’m not trying to pick on the bikers. I know good law-abiding riders get a lot of undeserved crap in this town. But making the fine cheaper for bikers is a clear message that the City doesn’t consider it as serious an offense. I personally think that’s a mistake.

It also gives drivers more fuel for their “lazy” thinking. You won’t change their minds by giving yourselves what they will unfortunately only interpret as preferential treatment. (Then again, you might not change their minds, no matter what you do.) 

I think the best thing for bikers and drivers, and pedestrians, is if we give all vehicles on the street equal status and respect, which requires subjecting bikers to the same moving violation rules and consequences as drivers. At least on paper. 

Maybe I’m paranoid about this stuff. But I don’t even think people should be texting while walking. We’re just not that good as a species at doing these things simultaneously.

I may not have heard of a bike killing someone recently, but I watch bikers blow through stop signs and red lights, ride on the sidewalk, go the wrong way up one way streets, or fail to signal turns on an almost daily basis. True, all those things are currently subject to the same fine as for a car. To me that’s all the more reason why distracted riding should not be an exception.