State Parks Meeting, May 29, 2018

Mount Diablo Cyclists (MDC) leadership was invited to meet with State Parks leadership in the Capitol on May 29, 2018, to discuss topics addressed in the letter written by Vince Anibale on April 27.  Our chief concern was that the letter stated that “priority” projects in Mount Diablo State Park would be “pursue(d) within the next two years.” This timeline is vague, non-committal and addressed Bike Turnouts, but not the delivery of the Verbal Motorist Safety Advisory to all drivers entering the Park, or several other issues that State Parks is aware are of high priority to MDC.

The final resolution was that MDC would receive a response via email on June 4, detailing the timeline for completion of the Project Evaluation Form regarding construction of additional Bike Turnouts.

It's not a question of if, but when the next Bike vs Vehicle Collision will occur, resulting in a serious injury or possibly a fatality.

Letter send to State Parks and Elected Leaders

Dear Colleagues,                                                May 23, 2018

The installation of the double-yellow centerline and the advisory signs on the roads of Mount Diablo State Park has been associated with a decrease in the number of traffic collisions on those roads.  However, as judged by surveys from drivers and cyclists, and by our own personal experiences, these improvements are not enough.  It remains not a question of if, but when the next Bike vs Vehicle Collision will occur, resulting in a serious injury or possibly a fatality.

Our concern is the high number of near-miss and the actual collisions involving cyclists.  On a typical weekend day, up to 500 drivers share the roads with approximately 700 cyclists. According to some estimates, over 150,000 cyclists rode up Mount Diablo last year. The majority of vehicles on Mount Diablo are now bicycles!

According to Park Leadership and supported by the responses in our Motorist Surveys, “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.” 128 cyclists completing a recent survey reported a total of 336 unsafe passes on blind curves while riding up the mountain.  Given that only a portion of the total cyclists riding in the park that Saturday completed the survey, the total estimate of unsafe passes would be over 1,000. Considering the number of cars, bikes and pedestrians on the park roads that day, it is remarkable that there were not serious accidents. 

The following describes the situation that occurs on a very frequent basis: an uphill-bound motorist decides to pass an uphill-bound cyclist, presumably to be able to drive up the mountain faster; in order to do so, the driver elects to cross over the centerline, despite the fact that it is double-yellow; the driver thus enters the downhill-bound lane of traffic, directly in the path of a descending car, truck or bicycle. If there is a vehicle in the descending lane, still unseen by that ascending/passing driver who is now in that lane also, there is a high probability of at least a near-miss collision, if not an actual collision of the two vehicles.  If that descending vehicle is a cyclist, a serious injury or fatality can occur.

There are more than 300 curves on the roads of Mount Diablo, many of which are blind curves, and this scenario takes place on virtually every ride for some of us.  Even if we stay to the inside of every curve, and proceed slowly as we descend, we are very vulnerable when an oncoming car crosses the centerline and suddenly appears right in front of us, partially or almost completely blocking our lane.  It is a chilling, unforgettable experience; but it is preventable.

There are several safety projects that, if implemented, will improve the safety for cyclists and motorists.  But at the top of the list are Bike Turnouts. Bike Turnouts have the potential to significantly reduce Bike vs Vehicle Collisions, especially on blind curves. The majority of collisions and near-miss collisions occur on or near blind curves.

In 2016, Park Leadership and Mount Diablo Cyclists collaborated to design and install 3 Bike Turnouts as a pilot study. In September 2017, we collaborated with Park Leadership to identify locations with sufficient pavement to install 10 more Bike Turnouts for a total cost of less than $5,000. Finally, after a letter from State Senator Glazer and Assemblywoman Baker, these 10 were installed in February 2018.

Bike Turnouts are supported by elected leaders, Mount Diablo State Park Staff and volunteers, the California Highway Patrol, Bike East Bay and other cycling organizations, and a petition with over 2,600 signatures. Surveys from motorists and cyclists alike, and video images all support the potential of Bike Turnouts to significantly reduce collisions, injuries, and possibly fatalities.

In September 2017, Park Leadership and Mount Diablo Cyclists identified 48 locations for Bike Turnouts that would require construction.  In December 2017, Park Leadership added an additional 29 locations, for a total of 77. Many of these potential Bike Turnouts locations are where past collisions (160+) have occurred and will occur again if we do not act quickly to install Bike Turnouts on the roads of Mount Diablo.

1.) When in 2018 will State Parks install 10 additional Bike Turnouts on the most dangerous blinds curves?

2.) When will State Parks install permanent signs at the 13 existing Bike Turnouts?

3.) When will State Parks approve and fund the MDSP Bike Turnout Plan?

We believe that the ultimate goal of preventing Bike vs Vehicle Collisions, and the potentially fatal consequences thereof, more than justifies the investment.

When will the Verbal Motorist Safety Advisory be given to all drivers entering the Park? This safety message is vital, but can only be provided to a driver if there is someone stationed at the entrance kiosks. For years, the kiosks at North and South Gate have been staffed less than 50% of the hours that the Park is open. Therefore, many motorists never hear that message. Consequently, they pass cyclists on blind curves, unwittingly causing a near-miss or an actual head-on collision.

When will the Park implement a process to eliminate, by some estimates, lost revenue of over $100,000 per year in uncollected fees from these motorists?  According to Park Leadership, when the kiosks are not staffed, many motorists never stop to pay. State Parks could utilize that revenue to save lives of cyclists and enhance the experience of all visitors to the Park.

When will the Park implement and publish an accurate count of cyclists entering via the North and South Gates? Publishing true and accurate Free Day Use (cyclist) historical data is essential for many reasons; it is important for State Parks and elected officials when making informed budgetary decisions.

When will the software license agreement that GOGovApps (Mount Diablo App) sent to State Parks on 2/9/2018 be approved?  It’s a free usage agreement for 6 months that would give State Parks adequate time to conduct a no-risk evaluation.

Below is a list of additional safety concerns, ideas and suggested projects. We look forward to working with State Parks to establish a completion date for each project, and then to getting started.

  • Review CVC:
  • 21202 - “substandard width lane is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane,”
  • 21760 - “3ft Rule”
  • 21460 - “crossing double parallel solid yellow lines”
  • Establish Policy for individuals/companies to donate money and/or sponsor a Bike Turnout
  • Establish Policy to display names of individuals/companies who donate money and/or sponsor a Bike Turnout (small sign or donation/sponsorship plaque in Summit building
  • Analyze all Traffic Collision Reports 2015 to Present
  • Google Map all (160+) Traffic Collision Reports from 2010 to Present
  • Publish Traffic Collision Reports (2010-Present) on CHP, State Wide Integrated Traffic Reporting System (SWITRS) and Traffic Injury Mapping System (TIMS)
  • Require that a Park Ranger be on Duty and in the Park when the Park is open
  • Publish Park Ranger Vehicle Pursuit Policy
  • Publish Non-Emergency phone number (916) 358-0333 for Near-Miss Collisions, Road Hazards or Unlawful activities. Post in Park, on Web Site, Facebook page and in Park Visitor handouts).
  • Encourage Park Rangers to ride a bike on a weekend day from the Summit down the mountain to understand what cyclists experience
  • Conduct Motorist and Cyclists Surveys
  • Publish letter to Strava requesting removal of all descending “King of the Mountain” (KOMs)
  • Implement MDSP Educational Letters per CHP Standards
  • Create Public Service Announcements for cyclists and motorists
  • Publish the Junction Bulletin board schedule
  • Install three Mountain Bike Repair Stations (Eagle Scout Project)
  • Participate in the Annual Cyclist Safety Event at the Summit

Mount Diablo Cyclists looks forward to collaborating with California State Parks to improve safety for cyclists and motorists on the roads of Mount Diablo State Park. 

Sincerely, Gregg Sorensen, MD, Alan Kalin COL, USA (Ret)

Cc: Senator Steven Glazer, District 7, Assembly Member Catharine Baker, District 16, Lisa Mangat, Director California State Parks, Liz McGuirk, Chief Deputy Director, Gloria Sandoval, Deputy Director of Public Affairs, Marivel Barajas, Deputy Director, Legislative Affairs, Jason De Wall, Northern Division Chief, Vince Anibale, District Superintendent (Acting) Bay Area District, Ryen Goering, Contra-Solano Sector Superintendent, Rory Allen, Staff Attorney

Mount Diablo Cyclists Leadership Meeting: April 6, 2018

The Leadership Team of Mount Diablo Cyclists held their monthly meeting on April 6, 2018.  The information below highlights our current progress toward increasing safety for cyclists and motorists on the roads of Mount Diablo.

Bike Turnouts – Creating Bike Turnouts is one of our two top priorities.  MDC leadership strongly believes that Bike Turnouts will save lives and reduce injuries.  13 Bike Turnouts have been constructed or painted to date; 64 additional turnouts were proposed by MDSP leadership in 2017.  These have not yet been approved by State Parks.  We need to enlist support using the change.org petition, letters to State Parks from as many cyclists as possible, and via the leverage provided by our elected officials and the media.  This method was successful in 2015 in the installation of the double-yellow centerline and the advisory signs, and should be successful in this campaign for additional Bike Turnouts.

Verbal Motorist Safety Advisory – Providing a brief but thorough VMSA to all drivers is our other top priority.  The two entrance Kiosks are staffed less than half of the hours that the Park is open.  Therefore, thousands of motorists enter the Park every year without the opportunity to hear the VMSA from a Park Aide.  State Parks has been aware of this situation for over 10 years.  They are also aware that full staffing would easily pay for itself with the increased number of fees collected.  MDC has proposed several solutions for this issue to Park leadership over the past 2 years.  No significant change has been made.

Additional Motorist Survey – an enhanced survey form has been developed, and will be used at the Summit in the near future.  Our goal is to obtain responses from an additional 100 drivers before Sept 1st.

GOREQUEST App – State Parks requested that the Report Issue function be removed, as they were not willing to acknowledge a report.  This was done.  (If you have not yet tried this app, at least to check weather conditions at the Summit, you should!)

MDC Website – Latest Update tab will contain current information that will be permanently located under the appropriate tab.  Results of surveys, letters to and from State Parks officials and more will be available.

Upcoming Meetings:  The MDC Leadership Team will continue to meet monthly.  We will also meet in May or June with representatives from the offices of State Senator Steven Glazer, State Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, and State Assemblyman Tim Grayson.

Letter to Lisa Mangat, Director California State Parks and Recreation Department (We have not received a reply)  

Dear Ms. Mangat,                                                                                  April 5, 2018

There aren’t many things that can spoil a bike ride on a beautiful spring day in Mount Diablo State Park.  On March 27 however, such a thing happened, again, and more than once, in less than one hour.

This all-too-common situation is easy to envision:  an uphill-bound car decides to pass an uphill-bound cyclist, presumably to be able to drive up the mountain faster; in order to do so, the driver elects to cross over the centerline, despite the fact that it is double-yellow, and enter the downhill-bound lane of traffic.

There are more than 300 curves on the roads of Mount Diablo, many of which are blind curves.  On such a curve, if there is a vehicle in the descending lane, still unseen by the ascending/passing driver, there is a high probability of a near-miss collision, or of an actual collision of the two vehicles.  If that descending vehicle is a cyclist, a serious injury or fatality can occur.

This scenario takes place on virtually every ride for some of us.  Even if we hug the inside of every curve, and proceed slowly as we descend, we are very vulnerable when an oncoming car crosses the centerline and appears suddenly right in front of us, partially or almost completely blocking our lane.  It is a chilling, unforgettable experience; but it is preventable.

Under your leadership, the double-yellow centerline was painted, and advisory signs, admonishing drivers not to pass bikes on blind curves were installed in September 2016.  A Verbal Safety Advisory Message was approved by MDSP leadership in 2017, and has been posted inside the two entrance kiosks at the Park.  The attendant on duty can simply read the Advisory Message.  Any questions from the drivers can be addressed at that time, while the entrance fee is being collected.

But despite these safety improvements, many drivers continue to illegally cross the centerline and endanger cyclists and motorists every day.  One reason for this is that drivers enter the Park when the kiosks are closed.  If that happens, the Advisory Message is not provided, no instructions are given, and no questions addressed.  March 27 was such a day; the kiosks were closed again.

Unfortunately, according to the most recent data provided by State Parks, they were closed 46% of the hours that the Park was open in 2016, or almost half of the time!  If motorists do not receive the Verbal Advisory Safety Message, and do not have the opportunity to clarify questions with an attendant, they are at a greatly increased risk of driving unsafely, and endangering cyclists and other motorists.

Mount Diablo Cyclists, on behalf of all who enjoy visiting Mount Diablo State Park, ask you to consider this issue seriously and expeditiously.  We believe that the existing kiosk staffing can be supplemented with a combination of volunteers and paid Park Aides to allow both kiosks to be open whenever the Park is open. Attendant costs would likely be offset by increased revenue. We urge you to take the appropriate action soon to accomplish this, before that preventable fatality occurs.

Yours truly,

Gregg S. Sorensen, MD; Alan Kalin, COL USA (Ret); Richard Nicoll; Linda Kwong Mount Diablo Cyclists

PS – You may view several, very short videos, filmed on the roads of Mount Diablo, that describe the illegal passing of cyclists far more eloquently than do the words above: mountdiablocyclists.org > Near-Miss Collision Videos

According to a Public Records Act Request: North and South Gate Kiosks were Not Staffed during the following hours that the Park was open between 8am and sunset for 2016 & 2017

Unstaffed Hours

2016

2017

Combined

South Gate

36.7%

51.6%

43.1%

Northgate

45.8%

53.3%

48.9%

Combined

41.5%

52.4%

46.1%

  • It is also unfortunate, according to Park leadership, most of these motorists who enter the Park before the kiosks are open do not stop to pay the entrance fee.
  • In addition, there is nobody to make change, answer questions or give directions.
  • The Park frequently opens the gates between 7:15- 7:30am. On many weekdays, Park Aides are not on duty at the North or South Gate Kiosks at all, or arrive at 10AM.  Even on weekend days, when the kiosks are staffed at 8AM, there is still a gap of 30-45minutes when motorists may enter the Park before an Aide is on duty.
  • Therefore, thousands of drivers enter the Park every year without hearing the mandatory Verbal Motorists Safety Advisory. Thus they are 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."
  • According to a Channel 7 news story some cyclists report (10/23/15), "near-misses every third ride."
  • We believe there are significantly more Near-Miss Collisions on days when the Kiosks are not staffed and the Verbal Motorists Safety Advisory is not given to drivers.
  • We have discussed the staffing and Near-Miss Collision issues with Park Leadership since 2014.

MDC Junction Display Removed and Disassembled!

We cannot express how disappointed we were to find out on Saturday (2/17/18), that the Supervising Ranger returned to work after ten days leave and arbitrarily removed, and disassembled the Mount Diablo Cyclists Display at the Junction Ranger Station. The MDC Display had been approved by Park Leadership on 2/5/17 for the months of February and March.

In addition, without our permission, the Supervising Ranger used our poster in his display (photo below), covering up mountdiablocyclists.org. Which gave the impression that State Parks created and funded the Mount Diablo Bike Descending Technique Poster!

The Definition of Interpretive: serving to instruct or enlighten or inform, which is exactly the purpose of the MDC display! In addition, the synonyms for interpretive: graphic, explanative, illustrative and instructive describe the MDC display!

Mount Diablo Cyclists Display

Supervising Ranger Display

We submitted a Public Records Act Request to California State Parks on April 12, 2016.

It took 18 months, King & Spalding LLP and a possible lawsuit to finally receive 49 Traffic Collision Reports (2014 to 10/23/17)

We were told by Park Leadership in 2016; “we made a mistake giving you the 112 Traffic Collision Reports for 2010 to 2014. We will not provide any more Traffic Collision Reports for Mount Diablo State Park.” Unfortunately, it took 18 months and the Law Firm of King & Spalding sending a letter to State Parks; “No later than close of business on Friday, October 20, 2017, please confirm you will comply with the above requests. Although we wish to resolve this matter amicably, we will initiate court proceedings to enforce, Mr.*** right to obtain copies of the requested records." (We will publish the analysis soon). (See the King & Spalding letter below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's one of the New Bike Turnouts being used. by two cyclists! Turn up the volume and enjoy the music in the car as it passes two cyclists on a Blind Curve! Special Thanks to all the members of Mount Diablo Cyclists for supporting Bike Turnouts on Mount Diablo!

Feb 1, 2018 was a historic day on Mount Diablo!

Ten Bike Turnouts were installed/painted: Total cost $5,000!

Special Thanks to State Senator Glazer, Assemblywoman Baker, Ryen Goering and Monte Rowan for their leadership to install Bike Turnouts on Mount Diablo! We now have 13 Bike Turnouts on Mount Diablo. According to Ryen Goering, Park Superintendent and Monte Rowan, Chief of Maintenance: “This is just the beginning. We are in the planning stages to install up to 64 more paved Bike Turnouts and we hope to send these plans up to Sacramento for approval." We have a long way to go, but with your continued support Bike Turnouts will be installed on Mount Diablo. Thanks for all your advice and support to improve the safety for cyclists and motorists on Mount Diablo!

"Shami 500th!" Joe Shami (83yrs young) completed his 500th consecutive weekly ride up Mount Diablo on Jan 14th. That's every week for the last 9 yrs and 32 weeks! Joe talked the entire way as he visited with over 50 cyclists who accompanied him. It was a very special day on the mountain. You meet the nicest people on Mount Diablo.

News Years Day 2018 on Mount Diablo! Approximately 700-800 cyclists rode up the mountain! WOW! The majority of vehicles were bicycles! Great day and perfect weather for the 1st Annual MDSP Safety Event! Special Thanks to the Park staff, volunteers and all the visitors who rode, walked or drove up to the Summit! You meet the nicest people on Mount Diablo!

Dec 11, 2017: Mount Diablo Cyclists and California State Parks had an outstanding meeting concerning Bike Turnouts on Mount Diablo! We all agreed; the 10 Bike Turnouts with existing pavement need to be painted ASAP. In the mean time; please use these Bike Turnouts, move right, spin and allow vehicles to safely pass you. Special Thanks to Ryen, Vince and Monte for their collaboration to improve the safety for cyclists and motorists on Mount Diablo! Together, we are reducing injuries and collisions! (photo: Monte Rowan, Gregg Sorensen, Ryen Goering, Vince Anibale, and Al Kalin)

MDSP/MDC Meeting Summary (Mitchell Canyon Office)(Dec 11, 2017)

  1. Bike Turnouts
  • 3 paved Pilot Bike Turnouts; 10 Paint-Only Bike Turnouts
  • Painting – MDSP awaiting third bid; target date 1/31/18
  • Signs: Ordered; additional “Bike Turnout Ahead” signs will be placed where appropriate
  • Maintenance – MDSP may buy street blower; volunteers can manually sweep – MDSP Maintenance will coordinate
  • Publicity – MDC will use website and social media to strongly encourage use of Bike Turnouts. MDSP will use website and advise motorists directly at kiosks (see below)
  • Survey – MDSP will survey Park visitors to include questions regarding effectiveness of Bike Turnouts
  • Future Bike Turnouts – MDSP studying identified locations that would require grading and paving, and exploring funding sources
  1. Verbal Motorist Safety Advisory
  • A revised VMSA was drafted. MDSP will finalize and distribute soon to kiosk staffers.
  • Kiosk staffers will be instructed in optimal, personal delivery of the new message
  • MDSP will prepare large signs displaying the VMSA or similar safety messaging to post at each kiosk, particularly for motorists who enter when the kiosk is not staffed
  1. Kiosk Staffing
  • MDSP is actively recruiting Paid Park Aides and Volunteers
  • Part-Time positions include partial shifts
  • MDSP will post advertisements for Paid and Volunteer positions on the MDSP website and any social media platforms
  • Recruitment is a challenge due to compensation that is significantly less than many entry-level jobs
  • Additional locations for advertising were discussed: local shopping centers, libraries and businesses
  • MDC will assist in advertising, using website and social media, and can help with distribution of recruitment material produced by MDSP or State Park

Dec 1, 2017: It's our great pleasure to share this letter from State Senator Steven Glazer and Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, concerning Bike Turnouts on Mount Diablo. Your elected representatives should be commended for their bipartisan leadership!

Over 1600 Signatures on the Bike Turnout Petition! Please sign/share the change.org petition to install Bike Turnouts on the roads of Mount Diablo. 

Petition: Install Bike Turnouts on the roads of Mount Diablo