January 2009

Wheel People

VOL. 28 NO. 1       

 January 2009

Newsletter of the Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association
P. O. Box 9054 Eureka CA 95502



New Members:

  • Paul Harris, Freshwater
  • Michael Crowley, Eureka
  • Robert Schultze & Sonja Schultze-Huff, Eureka
  • Ali O. Lee, Arcata**
  • Tamar Dunufsky, McKinleyville**
  • Lisa Hoover, Blue Lake***

Renewed Members for 2008:

  • Will Dvorak & Carole Beaton, Eureka***
  • Frank Schmidt, Arcata**
  • Arcata Transportation Safety Committee & Public Work Department
  • Dick & Lois Wild, Arcata**
  • John Gahn, British Columbia***
  • Jerome Lengyel, Eureka**
  • Laura and Mike Cent, Eureka***

Those with a ** have made additional donations to the HBBCA. Those with *** have made donations of $25 or more.
The HBBCA would like to acknowledge a very large donation made by Lisa Hoover. Thank you,
Lisa, and others, who have contributed generously to the HBBCA.

If you have not renewed your dues for 2009, please do so by filling out the application at the end of this newsletter.

The next regular HBBCA meeting will be held at Adel’s Restaurant at the corner of Wabash and Broadway on Monday, January 26th. It will be in the room to your left as you enter. We will be trying some new locations for meetings that might be more conducive to conducting business. There have been concerns due to the noise at previous locations. Those interested in joining us for dinner can order at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will begin at 6:30. The meeting is open to the public. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend. Those who attend help set the agenda. Included will be discussion of an action plan under development in response to the motorist/cyclist road safety forum hosted December 8th.                   

In follow-up to the tragic collision that took Greg’ Jenning’s life, and many other serious motor vehicle/bicycle collisions over the last several months in Humboldt County, the HBBCA hosted a Public Forum on December 8th in Arcata.

Approximately 120 people attended the “standing room only” forum. A lot of valuable information was presented by panel members from the CHP, Eureka and Arcata Police Departments, cyclists, CR trucking instructor, the District Attorney and the HBBCA. And, the public had a chance to ask questions and share concerns and ideas at breakout sessions. There was enough energy at the meeting for an all day session, so 2 ½ hours wasn’t nearly enough.

The HBBCA Board of Directors will hold a meeting in January to boil down all the ideas heard and develop a draft action plan which will be presented and discussed at the next regular meeting on January 26th in Eureka

On December 23, 2008, a dozen cyclists attended the arraignment of Alan Bear who was responsible for the death of fellow cyclist Greg Jennings in August 2008. He has been charged by the District Attorney with Felony Vehicular Manslaughter with Gross Negligence; a misdemeanor for giving false information to a peace officer; and a traffic infraction of making an unsafe lane change. If convicted, Bear could spend 2 – 6 years in prison. He pled “Not Guilty” at the proceedings, accompanied by his lawyer.

The HBBCA has been working with the family in urging the District Attorney to take this action in the interest of justice.


December 29, 2008

I want to thank HBBCA for its sponsorship of the recent community forum, for your mobilization and attendance at the 12/23 arraignment, and for your initiative and leadership in general for the cause of cyclists’ regard and rights on the highway. Your energy toward this cause has personally helped me navigate through the senseless loss of Greg. I’m awfully glad you are around.

Lisa Hoover (Greg Jennings’ wife)
Blue Lake

December 19, 2008

The following poem was written at the time of Greg Jennings’ death and was dedicated to his memory by the author.

Car Dodger’s Lament

Sitting in their air-conditioned, vacuum-packed
Plush-seated, hundreds of horses strong nothing lacked
Car-car with fossil muscle up the gazoo
They float up that hill way better than you.

Sweating and puffing with puny pedal power.
They’ll be there in minutes; for you an hour.
What will they do with the time saved?
Do they accomplish more before they’re in the grave?

Sometimes on their way they hear a little thump.
Some even stop to see about that bump
While others drive blithely and speedily on.
By the time the biker’s found they’re long gone.

They arrive at their destiny right on time.
It only takes a few minutes to wash away the gore and grime
While the one run down, if not dead
Heals right up in a year or two, it’s said.

In the meantime the air fills with monoxide
And soot and other junk while they do their ride.
Those comfort junkies take it all in stride.
This petroleum addiction may soon have us all fried.

Jerome Lengyel

December 9, 2008

Thank you for going to the effort to put on the forum last evening. It showed a lot of work on the part of all the organizers. I enjoyed the informative panel discussion.

By way of constructive criticism, I think it would have benefited the people who regularly meet via the HBBCA to hear from other people in the audience. There was no venue for statements. You (the HBBCA) are a fine group of people but there are other cyclists in Humboldt County who just run in different circles, so to speak. We have useful things to say in a community forum.

Here is what I was going to say to the group if there had been a venue in which to say it:

I have had lots of incentive to think about rider safety, what can be done to improve safety for cyclists and - also - what are some of the conditions that we as riders have no control over. These perspectives come from the fact that two people in my immediate family - me and my 20 yr old daughter - have both, in the last 15 months, been seriously injured by automobiles when we were on our bicycles. The accidents were similar in several respects; in both accidents the injuries were serious, involved transport to hospitals in ambulance or by airlift and there were multiple surgeries and long recovery times; in both accidents, the automobile was at fault (according to the officially filed accident report), and in both accidents, the vehicle was driven by an operator who did not own the vehicle and the vehicle was uninsured.

Although this account is a sample of two accidents, I imply from these accidents that the persons driving vehicles who are most likely to injure or kill bicyclists are persons who do not have the means or the ability to be responsible drivers. By the same token, these are the same drivers who are not going to be cognizant of rules of the road, or are not likely to become more sensitized to sharing the road with cyclists through media campaigns or public service announcements.

I would suggest that these sorts of drivers will always be out there; and that we as riders will always take calculated risks because we share the road with such drivers. However, the presence of such drivers brings home strongly the argument that, where possible, we need bike paths and bike commuter paths that are off the shoulders of roads and are dedicated to cyclists and other non motorized activities. The railroad rights of way are an excellent example of such pathways that need to be utilized, as soon as possible. Thank you.

Harvey Kelsey
Department of Geology
Humboldt State Univ.
Arcata, CA 95521

[Editor’s note: We share your concerns and wish we had the time needed to allow a full airing of ideas and concerns of cyclists and others in attendance.]

November 12, 2008

I just read the most recent Wheel People. The section on the Old Arcata Road project may be a bit misleading. While some portions of the road have been paved and even striped, these sections are not completed.

We were only able to get as far as the first course of asphalt between Three Corners and Ole Hanson. The striping is temporary to make it through winter. A final lift of asphalt will be placed when the rest of the road is reconfigured.
The reason I want to clarify this is because our striping crew did not leave appropriate shoulder widths beyond the edge stripe (in some instances barely 4 feet), and the contractor has not completed the one-foot shoulder beyond the edge of pavement in most places. In addition, PG&E has been tearing up what we did pave to complete their undergrounding operations, oftentimes destroying the pavement in the shoulder areas.

The completed project will have 6-foot paved shoulders with a 1-foot dirt shoulder beyond.

Thanks for your hard work encouraging biking.

Chris Whitworth
Deputy Director
Humboldt County Public Works

[Editor’s note: Scott Kelly and Rick Knapp have since discussed concerns with Chris about the amount of gravel on the shoulders. Chris said he would try to get them swept.]

November 25, 2008

I have always been disappointed at the small size of blinking taillights for bicycles. As LED technology has improved, visibility has improved, but the size is still small. In light of recent bike/car collisions I wanted something that would really grab motorist attention (especially on freeways).

One day, I came across [what I was looking for] at Shafer’s Hardware in Eureka. If not available at Shafer’s they can be found on the internet as a Maxxima SDL-18. The price at Shafer’s is $11.99. It runs on four AA batteries (and has 18 bright LEDs] It [is intended for commercial vehicles) has a magnetic mount, but it was easy to remove and alter to mount to my rack.

Mike Cent

[Editor’s note: Mike sent a photo. It is very bright and looks to be about 4” x 6”.
The [ ] denotes abbreviated text.]


On December 16, 2008, Scott Kelly transmitted a letter to Caltrans from the HBBCA expressing concerns about the two new alternatives presented at the Eureka-Arcata Corridor project open house held earlier in the month.

Many specific comments were included in the letter. In general, the HBBCA took issue with the closure of intersections, the introduction of turnarounds in between intersections, the difficulty cyclists would have crossing the roadway at the turnaround locations, the out-of-direction travel that would result with or without an interchange at Indianola Road, and the proposed increase is the speed limit from 50 to 55 mph. In the end, the HBBCA decided it “must reluctantly endorse the No Build Alternative.” The HBBCA did not believe any of the alternatives would improve safety.


Caltrans held a “Stakeholders” kick-off meeting for the Broadway Feasibility Study on December 22. Scott Kelly attended as the HBBCA representative, along with representatives from many other local agencies and interest groups. The study will collect available information on Broadway from K-Mart to the 4th and 5th Street couplet. Caltrans will then run various traffic simulation models to allow it to predict what might happen with various improvement scenarios. Potential improvements include handicap, bike, pedestrian, and transit facilities. The schedule presented by Caltrans indicates it will hold the first of two public meetings on the study in June 2009. For more information, please contact Jeff Pimentel at Caltrans, 445-6358. Funding for any implementation is not yet programmed.


By Brett Gronemeyer

Now that the days are short and the nights long, is your bicycle and gear prepped for night riding?

Here’s the minimum required by law (California Vehicle Code section 21201):
1. White light visible from the front and sides of the bicycle. A light attached to the operator (i.e. helmet) can be used to meet this requirement.
2. Red rear reflector.
3. White or yellow reflector on each pedal, shoe, or ankle (i.e. pant leg straps).
4. White side reflectors, typically in each wheel’s spokes, but can be frame mounted, and can also be yellow in front and red in back. Reflectorized tires can also be used to meet this requirement.

Additional items that really help you been seen at night:
1. Red rear light. When installing a rear light, don’t remove the red reflector! You will need it when you find the batteries are dead, and to be legal. There’s a never-ending argument over whether a steady or blinking light is best. It is thought that flashing lights capture attention better, but steady lights are easier for judging distance and speed. Use one of each!
2. Bright clothing (goes for daylight riding as well).
3. Reflective vest.
4. Reflective tape. White is more visible than red from a longer distance away. Look for the retro-reflective tape and/or the “conspicuity” reflective tape required for truck trailers, for maximum visibility.

Stop by your friendly neighborhood bike shop. They have the equipment, gear, and knowledge to help set you up for night riding.


The League of American Bicyclists will host the National Bike Summit March 10-12, 2009 in Washington D.C. The focus on this summit is making a powerful case for expanding Federal support for bicycling - for active transportation and recreation. If you are interested, log onto www.bikeleague.org for more information.


  • President------------------------Scott Kelly
    839-3614(h); 839-4336(w)
    Email: info@humbike.org
  • Vice-President/Treasurer----Rick Knapp
  • Director of Publicity-----------Will Dvorak
    445-4229(h)-before 8pm; 441-8809(w)
  • Director of Planning-----------Jennifer Rice
    442-4630(h); 269-2060(w)

The HBBCA checked with agencies in the Humboldt Bay region to determine appropriate contact personnel to respond to bike-related issues. If you see a condition that needs to be corrected in order to improve safety or convenience for cyclists such as a pothole in a bike lane, accumulated debris on a roadway shoulder, the need to re-stripe a bike lane, or the need to clear vegetation encroaching on a shoulder, call the responsible agency/person listed below.

Of course, if you see a condition that requires immediate emergency action,
call 9-1-1. For other conditions, the following is provided:

  • Caltrans
    Mark Suchanek, Deputy District Director
    445-6393 Mark_Suchanek@dot.ca.gov
  • County of Humboldt
    Wendy Meeks, Dispatcher
    445-7491 wmeeks@co.humboldt.ca.us
    Abandoned Vehicles: Wally Williams,
    County Sheriff's Office, 268-3629
  • City of Arcata
    Monica Campbell,
    Public Works Administrative Assistant
    822-5957 pubworks@arcatacityhall.org
    Abandoned Vehicles: Arcata Police Dept. at 822-2424
  • City of Eureka
    Pearl Mendoza
    Public Works Administrative Assistant
    441-4192 pmendoza@ci.eureka.ca.gov
    Abandoned Vehicles: Mary Kirby
    mkirby@eurekapd.org, 268-5232
  • Abandoned Vehicles:
    Arcata Police Dept. at 822-2424

The HBBCA is working to improve and encourage bicycle commuting. Help make it happen by joining now or renewing your membership for 2009. Your $5.00 annual dues, paid on a calendar year basis, will help pay for youth helmets, this newsletter, our website, promotions, postage, etc. And, it will help demonstrate your commitment to our goal. Please click here to download our Membership Application.

With you membership card, request the following discounts on bike parts and accessories: 10% (or more) at Henderson Center Bicycles; 10% at Revolution Bicycle Repair; 10% at Adventure’s Edge; and 15% at Sport and Cycle.

If you are already a paid-up member and would like to start receiving your newsletters by email, please advise us at: info@humbike.org

Newsletter of the Humboldt Bay Bicycle Commuters Association
P. O. Box 3054 Eureka CA 95502