Mount Diablo Cyclists was established in 2014. We are a group of over 800 devoted and passionate cyclists.
Our mission is to improve the safety for cyclists and motorists on the roads of Mount Diablo.
On a typical weekend day, up to 500 drivers share the roads with approximately 700 cyclists. The majority of vehicles on Mount Diablo are bicycles! Last year over 150,000 cyclists rode up Mount Diablo.
According to Channel 3 News, "it's only a matter of time before someone dies or gets seriously hurt."
According to the Contra Costa Times; "motorists are often infrequent or new visitors unaware of the roads hazards."
In 2014, we asked Supervising Ranger, SGT Dan Stefanisko(acting park superintendent for approximately 10 months) if Park Aids counted cyclists as they entered the park at North and South Gate Roads; " NO, we don't count cyclists." A few weeks later, we discovered all Park Aids work for SGT Stefanisko and are required to count cyclists as they entered the park and record the data on a State Parks form. When we presented the evidence to SGT Dan Stefanisko, he said; "We don't count cyclists, THEY DON'T MATTER!" As a result, we submitted a Public Records Act Request for the Monthly Visitor Attendance Reports (DPR 449) for 2013 to 2015. We discovered that the "Free Day Use" category was almost entirely bicycles: "Free bikes." According to the Bay Area News Group; "park official say rough data indicates bikes probably outnumber cars now."
On October 7, 2014, we published the Mount Diablo State Park, Free Day Use (cyclists) Report, which was reviewed and edited by Ryen Goering, Contra Costa Sector Superintendent. According to this report; "Mount Diablo State Park has been significantly under collecting and under reporting by tens of thousands of park visitors (cyclists: road/mountain bike) from 2007 to 2014." "Publishing true and accurate Free Day Use (cyclist) historical data is essential for many reason: it's the foundation for State Park and elected officials to make informed budgetary decisions concerning local state parks and the overall park system." For over three years, we have asked for an accurate count of Free Day Use (cyclists), which is required per California State Parks, Department Notice No. 96-24.
In January 2015, we began meeting monthly with Supervising Ranger, SGT Dan Stefanisko in the Training room on Mount Diablo. We continued to meet monthly throughout the winter and spring in the hope that Park Leadership would realize the daily threat to public safety and implement solutions. According to Channel 7 News, "State Park officials are taking too long to fix a dangerous problem that has lead to bike vs. car crashers and serious injuries." Unfortunately, after months of stall and delay by SGT Dan Stefanisko; promises made but not kept, emails not responded too and endless excuses. We realized SGT Dan Stefanisko and apparently, Park Leadership wasn’t serious about improving the safety for cyclists and motorists on the roads of Mount Diablo! As a result, we decided to contact elected officials, local newspapers, Bay Area TV stations, distribute a petition, gather public support and meet with local organizations. According to the Bay Area News Group; " Too much blood of bicyclists is spilled on Mount Diablo roads,""if they don't move quickly, there will be more."
On April 2, 2015, we submitted a Public Records Act Request to State Parks for all Traffic Collision Reports from 2005 to Present. On April 17, 2015, we received 112 Traffic Collision Reports from 2010 to Present (4/17/15). According to Ryen Goering; "recommend contacting the California Highway Patrol to get a complete picture of all of the collisions on Mount Diablo State Park." We worked with the California Highway Patrol and discovered that a collision was occurring on these roads approximately every two weeks, or 25-30 collisions per year! Unfortunately, according to Public Records Act Requests: Park Leadership did not conduct any analysis of the Traffic Collision Reports from 2005 to 2015; until April 30, 2015.
We showed Park Leadership our analysis and offered to work with them concerning the 112 Traffic Collision Reports. We asked them if they met regualarly to analyze Traffic Collision Reports or implemented any safety recommendations. According to Park Leadership; "a Park Ranger fills out the Traffic Collision Report, it's reviewed by the Supervising Ranger, Park Superintendent and then filed in a cabinet in Clayton." We even contacted the local California Highway Patrol and arranged for Park Leadership to learn how to analyze Traffic Collision Reports in the hope that they would implement safety improvements. Apparently, Park Leadership wasn't interested.
According to Public Records Act Request; their is no evidence Park Leadership or Rangers met annually to collectively analyze Traffic Collision Reports. According to Park Leadership; "we just don't have the staff or the time to analyze them." According to Park leadership: "that's how it's always been and we see no reason to change."
In addition, the only evidence we discovered Park Leadership implemented any safety improvements to prevent collisions from 2005 to 2015 was the sign below. Diablo Multi-Sport Connection initiated and funded the sign. It's posted at both Park entrances and on a sandwich board at the Junction Ranger Station.
Over the years we have met several times with Park Leadership and requested to work together to analyze Traffic Collision Reports. As of Feb 2018, Park Leadership has not been interested in colloborating to analyze over 170 Traffic Collision Reports from 2010 to 2017.
We also discovered that only a few of over 170 Traffic Collisions that occurred on Mount Diablo State Park were listed in the State of California Traffic Injury Mapping System (TIMS). Apparently, they are not included in the California Highway Patrol Statewide Integrated Traffic Records Systems (SWITRS). Why?
As a result, we met with State Senator Steven Glazer and Assemblywoman Catharine Baker in 2015. We showed them the 112 Traffic Collision Reports, 24 of which documented Bike vs. Vehicle Collisions.
They quickly recognized a clear and present danger to Park visitors on Mount Diablo. As a result of their bipartisan leadership and the support of the public and the media, California State Parks was pressured to implement significant safety improvements for cyclists and motorists on Mount Diablo.
In 2016, funding was found to implement a Road Striping and Signage Project on the roadways of Mount Diablo, engineered according to Caltrans standards. The new safety improvements include: DO NOT PASS BIKES ON BLIND CURVES (35 signs), AVOID CRASH SLOW DOWN (35 signs), Bike Sharrows every ½ mile in the ascending lanes, additional STOP signs, revised warning/speed signs and Solid Double Yellow center line.
No amount of signage or road markings can eliminate poor driver or cyclist behavior, but the new signs and Double Yellow center line have already significantly reduced the number of collisions in the park, from an annual average of 25-30 collisions from 2010 to 2014, 16 collisions in 2015, 12 collisions in 2016 and 10 collisions in 2017
Verbal Motorist Safety Advisory
According to Park Leadership, motorist surveys and local media; "most motorists entering the Park have never been to Mount Diablo before and are unaware that they will share the narrow winding roads with hundreds of cyclists." According to Channel 7 News I-Team Investigation; “motorists are unaware of the over 369 curves, many of them sharp blind curves. According to Channel 5 News, "the beautiful ride on Mount Diablo can be dangerous even deadly," "greater challenge just staying alive."
According to a State Park Report published in 1991; "over 90% of the vehicles observed crossed over the centerline to negotiate the curves." Mount Diablo Cyclists worked closely with Park leadership to address this issue. Now, the attendants at the North and South Gate kiosks are required to provide a Verbal Motorists Safety Advisory to all drivers entering the park. According to the Contra Costa Times, "Rangers must provide unambiguous admonitions to every driver."
According to a 2107 Public Records Act Request; the kiosks are only staffed 60% of the hours that the Park is open. The Park frequently opens the gates between 7:15- 7:30am. Often during weekdays, Park Aids are not on duty at North or South Gate Kiosk and/or they don't come on duty until 10am. Even on weekend days the Park gates open between 7:15-7:30. Therefore, thousands of drivers per year enter the Park without hearing the Safety Advisory. They are thus unaware of the difficult nature of the roads, and the fact that many cyclists will be sharing those roads with them. According to the Bay Area News Group, there have been "countless Near-Misses." It is also unfortunate, according to Park leadership, most of these motorists do not stop to pay the entrance fee. We have discussed the staffing issue with Park Leadership since 2014.
According to a 2017 Public Records Act Request; MDSP has had an estimated annual loss in revenue of over $100,000 per year. According to Park leadership, "the parks FY 17/18 budget for Park Aids is sufficient to fully staff the North and South Gate kiosks for the entire year." Mount Diablo Cyclists has presented different solutions to Park leadership, including merely augmenting the existing volunteer staff, thus avoiding any additional cost to the Park. We have discussed the significant loss of revenue issue Park Leadership since 2014.
Park Leadership and Mount Diablo Cyclists have worked together since 2016, to plan and install three pilot Bike Turnouts. Bike Turnouts allow a cyclist pedaling uphill to move slightly to the right, allowing a motorist to pass safely, that is, without driving into the downhill lane, and possible colliding with a descending cyclist.
These Bike Turnouts have the potential to significantly reduce Bike vs. Vehicle Collisions that occur at blind curves, but three is only the beginning. Park leadership has concurred with Mount Diablo Cyclists that 35-40 additional Bike Turnouts are needed. This would amount to approximately one every half-mile. This request has been made clearly to Park Leadership during several meeting throughout 2017. In fact, ten of the new Bike Turnouts require only painting of asphalt that is already suitable. The cost for these ten would only be $5,000.
Finally, after months of delay, 10 New Bike Turnouts were installed/painted on Feb 1, 2018, on Mount Diablo: total cost: $5,000!