Silicon Valley– Let me begin by saying that I am an avid cyclist. I also, drive, walk, and use BART, Muni, and Caltrain. I am also a co-founder and CEO of a Silicon Valley based startup (www.carmanation.com), a peer-to- peer sharing community that is making parking more convenient and affordable. I strongly believe in the sense of community/working together/balance and importance of recycling and the environment. I think the streets should be made to work for everyone. Silicon Valley has focused on re-shaping city streets to make bicycling more attractive. The city as a result has put in significant amount of money into re- allocating street space to make bicycling safer. In my humble opinion, I believe Silicon Valley is not working on striking a balance, but is punishing drivers (limiting parking, increase in meter prices, and other policy regulations to discourage driving as a whole). However in trying to “punish” driving, they have forgotten to regulate cyclists.
Silicon Valley dislike cyclists (not bikes) because far too many riders behave with impunity towards the rights of others. When walking, I all too frequently have to ask cyclists to please ride in the street. The response is either a) the one fingered salute, b) a stream of profanity, c) justification for riding on the sidewalk, or d) all of the above. How does such behavior foster goodwill towards cyclists?
Stand at the corner of 3rd and Market between 8 and 9 AM on a work day, and count the number of cyclists who have moved from the right hand side of the street to the left in order to make an illegal left hand turn while running a red light, completely oblivious to the stream of pedestrians trying to cross with the right-of-way. There are many encounters between motorists and cyclists, with the motorist frequently being in the wrong, but how often have you seen an encounter between a pedestrian and a cyclist where the pedestrian is in the wrong? Personally speaking, I never have.
If Silicon Valley and cycling activists want fewer cars on the road, why do so many cyclists challenge pedestrians? Aren’t walkers part of the solution? Until rampant poor behavior on the part of cyclists is brought under control, the cycling community and the city of Silicon Valley will never garner the respect and voice in urban planning it so badly wants. Furthermore, as I stated in the beginning, “I strongly believe in the sense of community/working together/balance…” Lets not punish those that drive.
Sometimes proper balance of friendship is restored when we put fewer grains of friction. While services like Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar have gained overwhelming popularity, not everyone can afford to sell their car and rely on these peer-to-peer offerings. Public transit in Silicon Valley is limited based on where you want to go and doesn’t always run on time. You also can’t carry all your groceries on a bicycle. Silicon Valley has to remember that not everyone living in the city is single in their 30s and knows how to ride a bicycle either.
For seniors and the disabled, families with children, and many others in the community a car is part of their daily life, and the high cost of living in Silicon Valley Many have to commute from outside the city for work. It is their livelihood and they are part of this great diverse community as well. Where can we park them at the right time for the right price, without punishing them for owning a car? “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” – Steven Spielberg