September 2009


VOL. 28 NO. 5       

 September 2009

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


New Members:

  • Peter Loeber, Arcata
  • Dr. M.M. Ramirez, Eureka***
  • Larry Arsenault, Eureka**
  • Philip Lescano, Eureka
  • Tyrel Love, Arcata

Renewed Members for 2008:

  • Brett Gronemeyer, Arcata***
  • Jennifer Johnson, Adventures Edge, Arcata***
  • Tim Daniels, McKinleyville**
  • Ralph Martinelli, Eureka**

Those with a ** have made additional donations to the HBBCA. Those with *** have made donations of $25 or more.

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 6:00 p.m., September 28, 2009 at the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District at 7th and J Streets in Eureka.  The prime agenda item will be to discuss the HBBCA’s efforts to achieve a Share the Road Media Campaign in the Humboldt Bay region.   Allyson Hunter, the new Bike Coordinator for Caltrans, District 1, will be in attendance to discuss possible funding.  The HBBCA has offered to develop the campaign and donate $1,000 of funds from donations received in the memory of Dr. Jerome Lengyel.   Other agenda items can be added by emailing Scott Kelly at


By Rick Knapp, HBBCA Vice-President

While it does not come close to justice, Alan Bear was sentenced by Judge Watson on September 3rd to one year jail time, starting Sunday, September 6th.  The following is a brief summary of what happened at the sentencing.

Bear pleaded guilty to all charges.   The judge allowed only family and eye witnesses to testify regarding sentencing.   Some powerful words were spoken by Lisa Hoover (Spouse); Jim Jennings (Father); Terry Bissell (Step Mother); Becky Perry (Eye Witness); and Rick Knapp (reading a letter from Greg's brother, Packard).   The Judge also acknowledged the many letters he had received (probably about 20 in total).

Bear responded, did his best to drum up some tears, tried to show remorse, then drove in the final nail for us by blaming the victim for being on a freeway with a bike in the first place.  Bear said, “Last time I checked, a bicyclist is the same as a pedestrian, and there are signs saying pedestrians aren’t allowed on the freeway.”   He said that he didn’t think he should have to be watching for bicyclists on the freeway.

Judge Watson then levied about the harshest penalties he could for a misdemeanor manslaughter charge--ONE YEAR JAIL TIME, FOLLOWED BY THREE YEARS PROBATION.   In addition he levied about $5,000 in fines for three separate violations: misdemeanor manslaughter; providing false information to police officers; and making an improper lane change.   He will also be losing his driving license for some unspecified time (to be determined later) for these charges, and due to the fact that he was recently stopped for driving with a suspended license and no proof of insurance.

So, in the end, even though we believed he should have been charged with a felony (with gross negligence), we got the best sentence we could hope for given the reduced charges.   Our efforts were aided by the newly assigned Deputy D. A., Elan Firpo.   She is the first person from the D. A.'s office who stepped up to the plate to push for justice in this case.   Others, including Paul Gallegos, did little except to prolong the agony.   Gallegos had never pursued jail time, and had even attempted an earlier plea bargain for a felony with NO JAIL TIME without consulting with the family. 

There were nearly 30 people in attendance supporting the family and justice at sentencing.   All were gratified to leave the courtroom with a little good news this time.

Thanks to all who helped along the way.   The family is very appreciative and the cycling community can breathe a little better now that Paul Gallegos’ words have been muted....In three separate meetings, he told cyclists, “It isn’t against the law to run over a bicyclist.”   Thankfully, Judge Watson applied his version of the law!


By Brett Gronemeyer, HBBCA Director of Planning

The City of Arcata was not able to move forward with the H Street sidewalk-widening project, between 11th and 9th Streets at the July 15, 2009 City Council meeting due to a stalemate between the remaining four council members over the two options presented (Councilmember Alex Stillman recused herself because she owns property within 500 feet of the project). The two options presented to the Council were:

A)   Widen sidewalks to 8 feet, keep two travel lanes, keep bike lane, and eliminate parking on west (right) side of street. This option was supported by Council members Shane Brinton and Michael Winkler.

B)   Widen sidewalks to 8 feet, keep two travel lanes, designate right lane as a shared lane, with pavement coloring to define the bicycle path of travel within the shared lane, and keep parking on both sides of the street. This option was supported by Council members Susan Ornelas and Mark Wheetley, as well as City staff.

The meeting quickly became polarized with most bicyclists aligning with option A, concerned that removal of the bike lane and replacement with a shared lane (option B) is potentially less safe or comfortable for bicyclists, and most downtown business owners aligning with option B, concerned that loss of parking supply (option A) would be a deterrent to customers patronizing their businesses.

The City has been trying to widen these sidewalks for at least 20 years. There is currently grant funding available for the City to use towards paying for this project, but it will be expiring soon. The bottom line is we all know how narrow the sidewalks are on this section of H Street and how crowded they can be at times. Whether we drive or bike to downtown Arcata, we all become pedestrians after we park.

If you live, work, or shop within the city of Arcata, now is the time to contact one or more of the elected City Council members and let them know how you feel about this issue. For more information regarding the project and council member contact information, refer to the City of Arcata’s website at


By Brett Gronemeyer, HBBCA Director of Planning

The City of Arcata is in the process of updating its current Pedestrian and Bicycle (Ped & Bike) Plan last updated/adopted in 2004. The City uses the Ped & Bike plan as a tool to guide the planning of new facilities and improvements to existing facilities. It is also required for some types of State and Federal grant funding.

The current Ped & Bike plan is available to download here:

The City of Arcata’s Transportation Safety Committee held a special meeting on Thursday, September 3, 2009 to receive public comment on the existing plan and suggest additions.  The input provided by the public during the meeting included comments on the following issues:

1)    Increased public education is needed regarding what the “sharrows” or shared lane markings stenciled onto the streets mean to both motorists and bicyclists.

2)    Desire for increased bicycle and pedestrian connectivity between regions both within and adjacent to the City of Arcata.

3)    Identification and signage of preferred bike routes that serve destinations.  The signs would provide more information than the roadway being designated a class III “Bike Route” and could include destination information, mileage, and bike/bike touring services (e.g. routes to HSU, downtown, bike shops, food, lodging, etc.).

4)    Desire for pedestrian and bicycle enhancements at several intersections including Sunset Drive at both L.K. Wood and H Street intersections.

Another opportunity to provide input into the next Ped & Bike Plan, is at the next regularly scheduled Transportation Safety Committee meeting on Tuesday, September 15th at 4:30 pm in the City Council Chambers.


The Tour of the Unknown Coast organization recently donated $400 to the HBBCA as a result of profits made in the recent Tour in May and due to assistance given by HBBCA members in implementation. 

Tim Daniels drove support and cleanup of the course twice, and Scott Kelly drove support/pickup for the 50-mile course.   Bob Ornelas and Jay Wright drove the support vehicle for the lead group.   Thanks for all of your help!


In conjuncti9on with California Coastal Cleanup Day, Saturday September 19, Cyclists for Clean Roads will be cleaning up the segment of northbound Route 101 between Central Avenue on the south end of McKinleyville and Hiller Road.   Meet at Starbucks on Central Avenue at 9:00 a.m. for coffee and a safety briefing.   Cleanup should take about two hours and be done by noon.

All safety equipment, bags and tools are provided.   Wear sturdy shoes or boots and long pants.   To participate, call Tim Daniels at 840-9032.   Thank you.


A new bright yellow T-shirt is available from the HBBCA, sporting the HBBCA logo on the front and a “Please Share the Road” message on the back.   We also have some “One Less Car” T-shirts.  Also, we have some of the stretchy scoop neck women’s shirts with the “Please Share the Road” message. If you’d like to buy one for $10 (our cost), please call Rick Knapp at 445-1097.


According to Chris Whitworth, Deputy Director, Humboldt County Public Works (as of August 20):

Myrtle Avenue, between Hall Avenue and Ryan Slough:  This widening project is nearly complete.   Chris indicated that the drainage inlet on the northbound side just below Hall Avenue will be raised before the project is completed. [8/30 update—DONE!!]

Old Arcata Road: This project, between Three Corners and Stephens Lane, is still under construction, but should be completed this construction season.  He recommends cyclists avoid the construction zone.   When completed, paved shoulders will be six feet wide.  With this project, long-awaited shoulders will exist for the full length of Old Arcata Road.

Freshwater Road: Paving and bike lane construction is ongoing from Three Corners to Henry’s Lane in Freshwater to connect to the previous widening. 


Cyclists and Caltrans met in Arcata on September 3rd to discuss ways rumble strips might be applied to Route 299 on the 2-lane sections without compromising the safety of cyclists.   Caltrans is trying to respond to over 100 run-off-the-road collisions over the last three years in Humboldt County portion of the route.  

This was the second “meeting of the minds.”  At the meeting, it was generally agreed that rumble strips will be placed in the downhill direction only where the paved shoulder is at least 6 feet wide.   Even then, gaps in the rumble strips will be provided to allow cyclists to enter/exit the traffic lane.  There is one exception being considered between the two intersections of Chezem Road (4.4 mile section) where consideration is being given to signing an alternate route for cyclists to allow rumble strips to be placed where shoulders don’t meet the downhill width criterion.  For the uphill direction, rumble strips would be placed when shoulders are at least 3 feet wide.


By Michael Crowley, HBBCA Member

As more members of our community bicycle to work, school, and for exercise, there’s been an unfortunate increase in fatalities and serious injuries to bicyclists.   Many motorists do not realize that bicyclists have the same rights under the California Vehicle Code to occupy the roadway as motor vehicles (CVC 21200).  Further, many motorists are inattentive and even unaware of the presence of bicyclists on the roadway.

A recent bicycle injury case handled by Michael Crowley of the Janssen Law Firm illustrates the problem.   Mr. Crowley represented a 46-year old apartment complex maintenance worker who was riding her bicycle home from work on Union Street between Henderson and Harris streets in Eureka when she was struck by a flatbed-semi driven by a trucker employed by a commercial trucking company.   The driver left the scene of the collision, and was later found by the police, stating he was unaware he had struck anyone.

The bicyclist was struck from behind by the truck, thrown from the bicycle, sustaining an occipital skull fracture and traumatic brain injury.   The trauma severed her olfactory nerve, which resulted in the complete loss of her sense of smell (anosmia).

The matter settled for $500,000 the day before a mandatory settlement conference in superior court, and ten days prior to commencement of trial.

The initial police report concluded that the bicyclist was a fault; further investigation and accident reconstruction analysis of the damage to the bicycle showed that the bicyclist was proceeding properly, as was the truck, and that the truck driver was simply inattentive and caused the collision.

The case involved experts in neurology, neuropsychology, and accident reconstruction.  This case illustrates some of the challenges for injured bicyclists in obtaining just compensation for serious injuries.

The Janssen Law Firm currently has five other cases involving injured cyclists in litigation and our lawyers are advocates on behalf of bicyclists and their families.   Mr. Crowley is an avid cyclist and resides in the Kneeland area. 

Information on the Janssen Law Firm can be found at

Editor’s note: This article is included as an item of interest, and because the author is a member of the HBBCA.   By including it, the HBBCA is in no way endorsing the Janssen Law Firm.


In recent weeks, Waterfront Drive in Eureka has been improved for cyclists. At the urging of the HBBCA, and after several cyclists reported crashes in the C Street area, the City removed the rubberized skewed railroad crossing in the area and paved the area flush with the top of the tracks. Cyclists for years have spilled at that location, often ending up with a broken arm or similar injuries. The City hasn’t fully completed the job, however. We have been urging them to fill in the two sets of 45 degree tracks near Schmidbauer, near 14th Street, so that there will be no further railroad crossing concerns on Waterfront Drive. We don’t have a commitment on that one yet.


GreenWay Partners, a local consulting firm specializing in sustainability and regenerative development is planning a local kick-off event on Monday October 19th in support of the International Day of Action.   The goal of the event is to raise awareness of the need to contribute local voices to the issue of Global Climate Change.

GreenWay is hosting 15 cyclists leaving from Arcata on Monday, October 19th and arriving on the 350 International Day of Action in San Francisco on October 24th.  The event at the GreenWay office in Arcata will include a rally, snacks and coffee, followed by a ride with 350 cyclists (they hope), alternative fuel vehicles and kinetic sculptures along Route 101 to the Gazebo in Eureka.  Riders can continue on with the group touring to San Francisco or as far as their legs can take them.   More info about the Ride 350 crew out of San Francisco can be found at

This event is the first day of a week of events GreenWay is planning in support of the International Day of Action. Currently, this event is in the planning stages and involves negotiations with Caltrans and the CHP to assure a safe and legal ride.  To find out more or to participate, contact Kirk at GreenWay Partners, 822-0597; or check its website:


Adventure’s Edge in Arcata has increased its discount on bicycle parts and accessories to 15%.   Thank you Jennifer Johnson!


  • President------------------------Scott Kelly
    839-3614(h & w)
  • Vice-President/Treasurer----Rick Knapp
  • Director of Publicity-----------Vacant
  • Director of Planning-----------Brett Gronemeyer
    845-2117(h); 441-5770(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
  • County of Humboldt
    Wendy Meeks, Dispatcher
    Abandoned Vehicles: Wally Williams,
    County Sheriff's Office, 268-3629
  • City of Arcata
    Monica Campbell,
    Public Works Administrative Assistant
    Abandoned Vehicles: Arcata Police Dept. at 822-2424
  • City of Eureka
    Pearl Mendoza
    Public Works Administrative Assistant
    Abandoned Vehicles: Mary Kirby, 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; 10% at Pro Sport Center and the New Outdoor Store, 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:

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