Bicyclists and Highway One – an editorial

•September 16, 2014 • 15 Comments

Today, a new law goes into effect that mandates a minimum distance of 3 feet between a vehicle and a bicycle when passing. How that will play out on Highway One will be a nightmare. Law makers have once again passed a law with no foresight, creating the usual unintended consequences of their failure to think things through. There must be an exception built into this law for narrow, winding mountain roads, like Highway One, which cannot support a highway wide enough to “share.”

This law states:

“21760.
(a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the Three Feet for Safety Act.

(b) The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall pass in compliance with the requirements of this article applicable to overtaking and passing a vehicle, and shall do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle, having due regard for the size and speed of the motor vehicle and the bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and the surface and width of the highway.

(c) A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.

(d) If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to comply with subdivision (c), due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.

(e) (1) A violation of subdivision (b), (c), or (d) is an infraction punishable by a fine of thirty-five dollars ($35). (Note: the Herald reports that the fine is $220, but that is only the fine if the motorist causes an accident.)

As the road is currently configured, there are only a dozen or so legal passing lanes that will allow for that law to be obeyed along the entire 90 mile stretch of Highway One. Thus, motorists will be placed firmly on the horns of a dilemma, facing three possible choices, all of which are illegal. First, one can pass leaving less than three feet distance, now illegal. Two, one can go over or onto the double yellow line to create the mandated three foot distance, also illegal. Three, one can plod along behind the bicyclist at 5-30 mph, depending on the grade, building up a long line of cars behind, also illegal. This is a prescription for road rage and accidents.

The ball is now firmly in Cal Trans yard for it to figure out how we can “share this road” that is not nearly wide enough to do so. It can add 3′ out over the ocean and blast into the mountains to create another 3′ on the inland side. While this is clearly an expensive proposition, I suggest we all write to our State Senators and Assemblypersons (contact info to right under links) to demand financing so that Cal Trans can create a road sufficiently wide enough to be shared, particularly now that it is giving permits for more and more bicycling events. Or, the less expensive alternative is to provide an exception for roads like Highway One. While the “width of the roadway” is one of the considerations to be made when judging passing a vehicle, it is written with the muddy clarity legislators are famous for. Either solution will require action on our part. Write, email, call. Make their incompetence known and your objection heard.

Could it be?

•September 15, 2014 • 8 Comments

Got this weather forecast in my box, but not holding my breath, especially this far south.

“A cold front will produce rain showers in Northern California on
Wednesday into Thursday. A few rain showers are expected to reach
as far south has Monterey Bay on Thursday.”

Body Found Floating on Big Sur Coast

•September 14, 2014 • 1 Comment

Yesterday was a busy day for responders. We had the person helicoptered out from Nacimiento Rd., a vehicle on its roof on Highway One near Garrappata Beach, and lastly a SAR near the Marine Lab. Only the later made the Herald today. It was a body floating in the water. Here is what the Herald reported:

“First responders from multiple agencies responded Saturday morning to a location on the Big Sur coast, where they found a person floating in the water.

The incident, just before 9 a.m., drew a response from Cal Fire, Mid-Coast Fire Brigade, State Park Lifeguards, Monterey County Sheriff’s Deputies and Search and Rescue, American Medical Response, and the Carmel Highlands Fire District.

Lifeguards removed the patient from the water and performed CPR, but resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and the person died at the scene.

No information was made available regarding the gender of the victim, cause of death, or why the person was in the water.”

Oh, and a fourth incident. KION reported the arrest of a person for shooting at campers on Nacimiento on Saturday night. He was using a flare gun that had been modified to act as a sawed-off shotgun, shooting shot. The crazys, careless, and reckless were out in force in our ‘hood this weekend!

Rescue off of Nacimiento

•September 13, 2014 • 11 Comments

A neighbor spent the last two hours watching a rescue that she though was in the Kirk Creek drainage. WildCAD reports this:

09/13/2014 09:42 LPF-2782
LION Medical Aid NACIMIENTO RD/S CST RDG RD M . 7EDW1 DIV1LPF E16LPF 4X4 PAT17LPF Q UT16 Pat 17 Effective 9/13/2014 @ 1025 . . 36.004 x 121.447

The incident was called LION? Does that mean it was a lion attack? I will try to find out.

DNA Confirmation on Mountain Lion

•September 13, 2014 • 5 Comments

Media Contacts:
Patrick Foy, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed forensics testing of the mountain lion killed by wildlife officials in Cupertino on Wednesday, Sept. 10. Test results from the department’s Wildlife Forensics Lab confirmed this was the same lion that attacked a six-year-old boy on Sunday, Sept. 7. The animal also tested negative for rabies through the UC Davis California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory.

DNA testing was necessary to confirm the lion dispatched by authorities was indeed the one they sought. Mountain lion saliva samples gathered from the boy’s shirt after the attack were a perfect match to the DNA taken from the lion.

The male cat was 74 pounds, about two years old and healthy.

From a long-time criminal defense attorney … This is fascinating. DNA testing in criminal cases, where time is of the essence, takes usually two weeks or more. Maybe criminalists should be sending their DNA tests to the CDFW?

Foto Friday, 9/12

•September 12, 2014 • 8 Comments

image image

Big Sur Sunset from Plaskett

Big Sur Sunset from Plaskett

 

 

Mountain Lions

•September 11, 2014 • 4 Comments

I was saddened to hear of the attack on the 6-year-old boy, and just as saddened to hear the mountain lion had to be killed.

From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

MOUNTAIN LIONS
Update on Cupertino Mountain Lion Attack
SEPTEMBER 10, 2014
Media Contacts:
Patrick Foy, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

A 65-pound male mountain lion was killed with a rifle shot near the Picchetti Ranch Zinfandel Trail area this morning in an effort to protect public safety relating to a lion attack several days earlier.

Two families were hiking on a marked trail in Cupertino on Sunday, Sept. 7 when a mountain lion attacked one of the children. According to the adults in the group, the 6-year-old boy was walking only 10 feet in front of the others, when a mountain lion jumped from a hidden position and attacked him. The boy was transported to the hospital with serious but non-life threatening puncture wounds and released the next day.

Wildlife experts went to the scene of the attack and picked up the cat’s scent. After three days of investigating within a one-mile radius from the attack site, the experts and specialized tracking dogs found a cat and treed it approximately130 yards from the attack site. The cat was about 70 feet up in the tree and tranquilizing it was not a reasonable option and the fall would have killed it anyway.

The cat displayed unusually aggressive behavior while treed, crouching and fixating on a wildlife officer. The fact that it was so close to the attack site, coupled with the territorial behavior, likely indicates that this was a local lion probably involved in the incident as opposed to one that was passing through the area. CDFW’s wildlife investigation lab will be conducting a full forensics investigation, comparing evidence gathered at the attack to confirm the identity of the cat.

No one at the department wanted to destroy this animal but protecting public safety is a first and foremost priority. Relocation of mountain lions is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. In this instance, the lion was not eligible because it had attacked a human. CDFW’s mountain lion policy can be found here: Human/Wildlife Interactions in California: Mountain Lion Depredation, Public Safety, and Animal Welfare. The policy is based on structured decision-making protocol that includes non-lethal and relocation options, but prioritizes public safety in the event of attacks or threats on humans.

Authorities will conduct a complete necropsy, making the rabies test a priority as well as the gathering of additional forensic information to assess the health of the cat.

An estimated 4,000 to 6,000 mountain lions live in California. For information about how to stay safe when living or recreating in mountain lion territory, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion.html.

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