MidPen Candidates Questionnaire

If you enjoy the lands of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District in the San Francisco Bay Area you get to vote every few years for the Board whose members have the responsibility to decide how those lands are used by the public. This year, 4 of the 7 wards are on the November ballot but only Ward 1 & 6 are contested. Silicon Valley Mountain Bikers (SVMTB) approached the candidates to ask them to share their thoughts. Of course, there are more issues in this election than Mountain Biking but as SVMTB is an IMBA chapter representing the local MTB community the questions deal chiefly with bike access issues. I’ve shared the candidates responses here.

Other than combining the candidates answers in a single document, all responses are unedited.

First, we have Ward 1 with Incumbent Director Pete Siemens and Candidate Mike Buncic with their response to the SVMTB questionnaire.

To all MROSD Board candidates:

The intent of this questionnaire is to allow candidates for Board seats an opportunity to address areas of interest for the members of Silicon Valley Mountain Bikers (SVMTB).
We thank you for your willingness to serve the community in this very important role and thank you for your time answering these questions. We would appreciate a reply by October 22, 2014 so that we can share this information with our membership before the election.
Best regards, SVMTB Board of Directors

1. What sort of roles have you had in land management agencies or similar organizations that would speak to your ability to carry out the role as a Director of MROSD?

Siemens: Past service on MidPen’s Board; Ex-councilman and mayor in Los Gatos

Buncic: In my mind the role that qualifies me most highly for this position is simply that I have spent thousands of hours within the lands of MROSD, travelling virtually every trail. I am highly familiar with the lands and issues related. These areas have a deep personal connection to me. As an educator my students have enjoyed the same. I have also been involved with many of the major planning processes in the past 15 years. As an employee of the Santa Clara Unified School District, I have worked within two campaigns to pass, plan and implement two major bond issues, one of these for approximately 150 million dollars and the other for 300 million. Within the two issues I had direct responsibility within two major projects as to planning and implementation, the construction of a new science facility and the renovation of an athletic facility. I have seen these things done well and I have seen them done poorly. In addition within my career as a teacher I have had many opportunities to interact with the governing board of a governmental agency, I have seen this go well and I have also seen it go poorly, to say the least. This a skill I see as highly relevant to my role within MROSD.

2. What do you see as the best new opportunities for MTB riders to enjoy MROSD lands in the coming years?

Siemens: Opportunities for members to participate in public planning meetings where we discuss policies and trails as part of our Vision Plan implementation.

Buncic: My thoughts here are very simple. In the vast majority of cases trails and lands should be open to all users. Only when a significant ecological or safety situation occurs should any other situation be considered. These are rare. Hiker’s, cyclists and equestrian are all welcome, and I would consider expanding the opportunities for a number of other low impact recreational opportunities. If you speak to the general public, the rangers, field staff and others, the issue of user conflict is nearly non-existent. This has been shown to be largely perception forwarded by land management agencies for a number of invalid reasons. A few incidents that may occur over a number of years either between user groups or among them, cannot be used to prejudice thousands of other open-minded, considerate and well educated citizens. These policies can only breed resentment among the public and bring the district into low approval. This cannot be allowed in an agency which is beholden to the citizens. Such policies are the source of conflict themselves, not any of the vast majority of the public we are obligated to serve

3. There are currently few trails that allow MTB riders access to the Bay Area Ridge Trail from the urban areas to the East of Skyline Blvd. Thus many of our membership drive to trailheads on Skyline but express interest in being able to do loops on singletrack starting much closer to their homes. Do you see opportunities to develop new trails that would allow this?

Siemens: Absolutely yes; elements in the Vision Plan projects include trails from the Santa Clara Valley up to Skyline (and beyond). Most of our constraints come from adjacent agencies. I see off roadway access to Skyline as a critical need.

Buncic: I refer to these types of trails as “regional connector trails” From what I have seen, this concept has largely not been considered in land planning at MROSD. Not only does it provide for a rich user experience, but it has the additional benefit of reducing both bicycle and car travel along narrow roads as well as being environmentally sound. The opportunities are many, and many of these locations will be considered under planning process related to Measure AA. I could not vote in approval of any plan that does not take multi-user trail improvement into consideration. Ill list a few; Razorback Ridge, Hamms Gulch and the Lost Trails at Windy Hill, Page Mill Trail at Los Trancos, Black Mountain Trail at Monte Bello, a planned extension of the Stevens Creek Trail into Monte Bello, the combination of John Nichols trail ( SC County Parks) and an eventual through trail at El Sereno to Lexington Reservoir, Lexington Reservoir to Skyline via Bear Creek Redwoods. Sierra Azul through trail from Los Gatos to Highland Way via Loma Prieta. and more….

4. The outdoor experience that Mountain Bikers seek is not that different from other trail users. We want to enjoy a close connection to nature that singletrack trails allow as well as the challenge inherent in navigating such trails. Other park districts have made efforts to develop these multi-use trails. A local example is the Emma McCrary trail in Santa Cruz. Are you supportive of efforts to develop trails within MROSD preserves that have similar features?

Siemens: I am not familiar with the Emma Trail; however I think single-track trails are a good addition to some of our preserves so long as they are environmentally sound and are treated with respect.

Buncic: I am absolutely supportive. In addition to the user experience you mention, these trails have the added benefit of being more ecologically sound in terms of habitat impact and erosion control. Having worked a good number of hours in trail maintenance and building I am well familiar with these types of trails. MROSD has made some effort recently in providing trail opportunities in this realm. White Oak Trail, A near open Ancient Oaks Trail (Russian Ridge) and Oljon Trail ( ECDM) show they have begun to take these into planning. Any future planning should look to include increased number of such opportunities

5. What is the best way to work with you to better understand the interests of mountain bikers? How will you balance the needs of the various trail users?

Siemens: See #2 above; also the ‘needs’ of various users involve mutual respect. I have and will continue to support our education efforts to accomplish this.

Buncic: The key concept here is simply communication. I feel strongly it is the responsibility of a board director to go well beyond the usual public commentary process and to be familiar with the thoughts of the public he or she serves. They must actively pursue it. I will be sure to be easily available, not to mention regularly out on the trail myself. In addition to my previous comments on multi-use issues, education is a key component of trail use. That can only occur if user groups are brought together to participate in the outdoors cooperatively rather than segregated. But that goes for me as well. I must be as experienced with the needs of user groups as they of each other.

6. Is there anything else you would like to tell our members before they cast their votes?

Siemens: I am encouraged that national bicycle organizations recognize our extensive provision of trails for bicycles; I am also thankful for the thousands of hours of trail projects the various clubs have given to the District.

Buncic: I can assure you I will make every effort to move MROSD into a more diverse user environment, and increase the public’s awareness of, and participation in the preserves. I would like to see a much larger segment of the population experience the settings that I have been fortunate enough to.

 

Next we have Ward 6 with Incumbent Director Larry Hassett and Candidate Brandon Lewke with their response to the SVMTB questionnaire.

1. What sort of roles have you had in land management agencies or similar organizations that would speak to your ability to carry out the role as a Director of MROSD?

Hassett: I have been a Board member of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District for the past 14 Years, representing Ward 6. I have been a strong advocate for increasing the resources dedicated to land management and public access during that period and was a strong, active supporter of the essential policy changes in the 2012 Strategic Plan and 2014 Vision Plan that led to the passage of Measure AA.

Lewke: Great question. My background is in nonprofit finance, where I am responsible for accounts receivable for a $17M annual organization in the middle of a $50M, 5 year exhibit renewal campaign. Every day I handle other peoples’ money. I am also responsible for creating the monthly department income statement reports for 25 departments and project reporting for over 40 active projects. I know what a restricted fund is, I need to be able to put my hand on my heart and say that a gift was used for the purpose as intended by the donor. The largest check I have held in my hands, not with my name on it, is over $3M. The measure AA funds are restricted funds, wouldn’t you like a caretaker who is familiar with the concept representing you? With the CFO I create the monthly finance committee package and attend the monthly finance committee meetings. I have great personal and professional integrity as a steward of others property and have been the primary liaison for the annual audit for the last six fiscal years with my organization’s auditors. All six audits came back clean; no material weaknesses or significant deficiencies.

2. What do you see as the best new opportunities for MTB riders to enjoy MROSD lands in the coming years?

Hassett: With the Passage of Measure AA, there will be tremendous opportunities for more access throughout the District. Already completed is the staging area at Bald Mountain and the Summit trail from Bald Mountain up to Mt Umunhum nearly completed. The opening of the Sierra Azul trails, because of the large size of that preserve (18,000 acres) represents one of the very best new opportunities for MTB rides in our region. Other notable trails would be the mid section of the Stevens Creek Trail, trails throughout the La Honda and Bear Creek preserves, completion of the Purisima to the Sea trail, and additions to the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

Lewke: In my Ward I am eager to get La Honda Open Space Preserve open in my four year term. I also would like to see a multi-use trail that connects La Honda to Woodside/Portola Valley open, in an effort to get bikes off of 84 for safety reasons. This trail would be a mountain bike and road biking trail, dirt on one side and paved on the other. I would also like to have mountain bikers on a trail committee with me and members of the Mid Pen Field Staff to evaluate a system for determining where is the greatest interest for biking trails and where it is realistic. The arbitrary 60% open to bikes is too low. I would like to see it closer to 75%. Is that achievable in four years? I don’t know, I prefer to shoot for the moon and if I miss, still land among the stars.

3. There are currently few trails that allow MTB riders access to the Bay Area Ridge Trail from the urban areas to the East of Skyline Blvd. Thus many of our membership drive to trailheads on Skyline but express interest in being able to do loops on singletrack starting much closer to their homes. Do you see opportunities to develop new trails that would allow this?

Hassett: Although I fully support additional trails coming up from the urban area to Skyline, few opportunities currently exist for improving this due to land ownership issues. However, with the Passage of Measure AA, the District now has the acquisition capacity to close gaps in this area as opportunities become available. Short term, the District is working on the Alpine Road trail at Coal Creek, and getting started potential new trails at Windy Hill with links to other preserves. Long term it’s a matter of acquiring key parcels when the opportunities arise.

Lewke: Certainly, parking lots seem like an afterthought at nearly every open space preserve, if bikers can help identify locations on open space land that could be a mountain biking or multi-use trail start, that would be beneficial. There is only one of me, there are many of you, I prefer to work as part of a team, than to do everything by myself and hope you are happy. I am open to exploring possibilities, please help me serve my community by offering your input!

4. The outdoor experience that Mountain Bikers seek is not that different from other trail users. We want to enjoy a close connection to nature that singletrack trails allow as well as the challenge inherent in navigating such trails. Other park districts have made efforts to develop these multi-use trails. A local example is the Emma McCrary trail in Santa Cruz. Are you supportive of efforts to develop trails within MROSD preserves that have similar features?

Hassett: I have not personally experienced the Emma McCrary trail other than seeing it on the internet, however I will put the quality of Midpen’s trails up against any other park agency in the Bay Area. We have some of the best world class mountain bike trails throughout our preserves, designed, built, and maintained by our staff and our ability to increase the availability of such trail will now occur as public access is expanded through the implementation of Measure AA funded project.

Lewke: Absolutely! I spent four years of my life growing up in Germany, biking to and from school and soccer practice, and going on longer typically one to two week biking trips during the summer with my family. We biked often on multi-use trails along rivers between 40-70 miles a day, stopping to visit cathedrals and castles along the way. I do not see a reason why we cannot convert many of our existing trails to multi-use or create new multi-use trails. We have 62,000 acres of land, with slightly more than half of it open, I would like to have more of it open so we can experience more adventures together. I would encourage the mountain biker community to weigh in on the idea of mountain bike trails that follow a legend similar to skiing: green bunny slope trails, blue intermediate trails, black diamond ‘be sure your life insurance policy is current’ trails. This would help mountain bikers of different experience levels to enjoy open space without creating friction by managing users’ expectations.

5. What is the best way to work with you to better understand the interests of mountain bikers? How will you balance the needs of the various trail users?

Hassett: SVMTB has been instrumental in prioritizing capital improvement projects for the District. During our Vision Plan workshops the mountain bike community was well represented. Several members of SVMTB were part of our Citizens Advisory Committee. I recommend your members continue to participate in board and committee meetings as we roll out new projects. Staff and the General Manager also began to explore the creation of a “multi-use” forum to bring all trail users together to ensure that issues could be openly discussed and solutions proposed by the user groups. This effort had to be suspended with activity around the Vision Plan and Measure AA, but I think it is worth pursuing again as Measure AA see more lands opened to the public for multi-use.

Lewke: The best way to help me understand the need is to invite me to come ride with you and see what you are talking about. I am a good road cyclist, I try when possible to bike once a week from my home in Redwood City to work in San Jose. It is 23.5mi one way, taking around 90-100min depending on traffic. I am a novice mountain biker, having primarily ridden in Arastradero Preserve. You may need to ‘take it easy on me,’ I may not be the greatest hill climber, or bravest thriller seeker, but I do own a mountain bike and want to become more proficient with it! I believe we live in a democratic society and need to balance the needs of various trail users accordingly to the proportion of use they represent on the trails. I believe the majority users of open space are pedestrians, a large but growing minority is mountain bikers, and the smallest contingent are equestrians. I think wider and more multi-use trails would be my preferred approach, a secondary approach based on compromise not involving widening existing trails would be making certain trails open to bikes say on odd days of the week and equestrians on even days, so there are no complaints concerning horses or bikes ‘interfering’ with the other groups enjoyment of the space. The third approach is to have some biking trails that run parallel but separate from, or just have plain separate trails open exclusively to mountain bikes.

6. Is there anything else you would like to tell our members before they cast their votes?

Hassett: Measure AA was a real boost to the Districts ability to complete some long delayed projects. Over the course of the next few years as we ramp up our ability to make these projects happen, the mountain bike community will definitely see substantial trail opportunities. I am personally pleased that SVMTB has participated in our processes to date and I welcome their continuing participation work to implement and grow the best trail system in the region.

Lewke: I have a bike and like to bike! If you want someone like that to represent you, please vote for me and encourage your friends to do the same! To learn more please visit facebook.com/votelewke and democracy.com/votelewke Please like my Facebook page, share it with friends, post on it that you support Brandon Lewke and his vision for more multi use and biking trails. Look forward to earning your vote November 4th.

Los Altos History Museum Bike Exhibit

LA pencil recumbent

I waited until the last weekend it was open (anyone who knows me won’t be surprised by that) but finally got to the “Pedal Power: From Wacky to Workhorse” exhibit at the Los Altos History Museum. It had a bit of everything to appeal to avid cyclists, commuters, kids and recreational cyclists. There was some significant history on display as well as some whimsical bikes.

Having been an avid mountain biker for the past 25 years I always gravitate to the early years of Mountain Biking especially the bikes and components that I lusted after but could never have. The Ibis Bow-Ti was one of those. Something I only saw in a magazine until this visit.

LA Ibis BowTi bike

The workmanship on the bike was beautiful and you couldn’t help but want to take it off the wall and ride it out the door.

On display were 3 Rock Shox forks also from the early years. The Mag 21 on the left was really the first successful suspension fork and one that my friends and I rode back in the early 1990’s.

LA RS forks
One of the more unique performance bikes from the 1990’s was Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle’s winning bike from the 1993 edition of Paris-Roubaix. A special bike because it was equipped with a road version of the Rock Shox suspension fork. He won the race by just a few centimeters over Franco Ballerini and I have no idea if the suspension fork made the difference or not. This was Lassalle’s second Paris-Roubaix win in a row on a suspension fork.

LA Duclos-Lassalle bike

Fork close-up

LA Duclos-Lassalle fork
After looking at the bikes focused on the ‘enthusiast’ and racer market I turned to the fun bikes – bikes that people created to fit their needs or passion. It still amazes me to see the amount of creativity and whimsy that revolves around a simple 2-wheel, human-powered contraption.

There are tall bikes

LA tall bike


Scraper bikes

LA scraper bike


I met these guys up in Oakland about 6 months ago

LA Scraper bike info card
and of course everyone’s favorite bike – the Pencil Recumbent!

LA pencil recumbent


I really enjoyed this exhibit. I got a view into the distant cycling past as well as more recent history of mountain bike development. Thanks to the Los Altos History Museum, the curators and the donors of hardware for the exhibit who made this possible.

Wolf Tooth Cycling Components 1X10 Conversion – Update

42T cog with ano wear
This is my follow-up review after almost 5 months of riding the 1X10 setup I first reviewed here May Review

I’ve only logged 192 miles since I put on the 42T cog and 30T chainring. My Yeti is my trail bike and mostly used for more technical riding and my longer and less technical rides are on my 29er hardtail.

You’ll see in the picture above that the anodize is wearing off the teeth on the rear cog but that’s expected with ‘cosmetic’ anodize and shouldn’t affect the wear rate of the aluminum. If you see a sharp tooth profile where the shifting ramp is, that is stock and not from wear. So I anticipate I’ll get quite a few miles out of this cog. Riding around the Bay Area is mostly dry and dusty until the Winter rains come so I don’t know if I would see more wear in muddy conditions.

The front 30T chainring shows anodize wear also, but a bit less than the rear cog (I imagine because there is no shifting going on at the front).

chainring
Performance during this time has been as good as my first ride. Not a single missed shift or a dropped chain. I didn’t install any kind of chain guard since I wanted to see how the narrow/wide chainring and clutch derailleur worked and it’s been perfect. I ride fairly technical trails on this bike but I don’t spend much time in the air so if you’re doing a lot of big drops and jumps ‘your performance may vary’.

So I consider it a great upgrade. And I would never go back to a multi-chainring drive train for a trailbike – the simplicity and performance of this setup is great.

Stop Lights? We don’t need no stinking stop lights! Video Proof

You would think the world was going to end hearing drivers complain about cyclists driving 25 pound ‘vehicles’ who sometimes blow through stop signs and traffic lights. I believe cyclists should behave better on the road but it always amuses me to hear drivers complain since the same behavior is mostly ignored when drivers do it – it’s just considered ‘normal’ driving.

And certainly the cops don’t t treat lesser infractions by motorists very seriously. I always wonder if the ‘broken window theory’ of policing might make our streets more enjoyable and safer for pedestrians, cyclists and even motorists. Basically, this would entail strict enforcement of even the most trivial traffic violations, such as non-use of turn signals, on the theory that drivers would drive more safely if even the minor laws were enforced.

Yet the discussion between motorists and cyclists always seems to devolve into a ‘He did it, too’ complaint as if we were kids justifying ourselves to our parents. Little regard is given to the fact that a traffic violation in a 3,000 – 5,000 pound vehicle moving at high speeds has potentially more significant consequences than the equivalent infraction by a cyclist.

I get tired of the sheer numbers of drivers who blow through stop signs, fly out of driveways without stopping, check out their smartphones and in general can’t be bothered to drive with care. People who only drive tend to see these things as relatively trivial since they feel safe inside their cars. Yet for a cyclist, a collision that would be a relatively trivial fender-bender between cars is likely to lead to serious injuries.

So I stop from time to time to take video of the infractions I see on my daily commute. Below is a video of drivers rolling through an intersection while making a right turn on red. The location is the intersection of Whisman and Dana St. in Mountain View. When I ride through this area I’m particularly careful since, not surprisingly, drivers who don’t stop at red lights somehow just ‘don’t see’ a cyclist coming down the road.

The video is just under a minute long – you’ll see 3 out of 8 drivers come to a stop or very close to it and the other 5 just roll on through. Why do we put up with this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qtgihxUmao&list=UUSfM5rgxeGkiNhIbzU_E1fg

 

 

Henry Coe Beauty

One of my favorite places to ride in the Bay Area is Henry Coe State Park. It’s a rugged and varied park with fun trails and always-challenging climbs. But the real reason I go is the sense of solitude and the feeling of being in a wilderness on the edge of a huge city.

Most days I’m either above the valley fog if it’s early or baking in the heat late in the day. However, today was unique with fog clinging to the ridges throughout the day lending an air of mystery throughout my ride.

The Spring is dominated by wildflowers and green grasses but during Autumn, before our rains come, it’s all brown grass

HC panorama


and the occasional Tarantula looking for a mate

HC tarantula
When it was time for lunch I found a nice spot nestled below a ridge and out of the wind. The little knoll was covered in Oaks and large boulders with thick carpets of moss

HC boulder


Getting to the spot I walked through 10 yards or so of grasses. I had forgotten that the fall grasses have a nasty sticker that cling to everything

HC socks
I’ll probably spend 15 minutes just getting all those out to save my socks, but I’ll remember my Sunday at Henry Coe a lot longer.