Posted by

Keeping the Local Bike Scene Cool: It’s a multi-pronged effort

#IGive3Ft Salinas PD

May is observed as Bicycle Safety Month by the Salinas Police Department, California Office of Traffic Safety, California Highway Patrol, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and many others, while it is simply Bike Month to most people—a special time to celebrate bicycling.

Whether in May or just any old time, we’d be remiss not to acknowledge how local law enforcement professionals are among those who are alert to the needs of people who bike.

In this post, check out examples, along with the many factors that help keep our local bike scene cool.

No matter how you refer to the month of May, as SPD Traffic Sergeant Gerry Ross said on May 2, 2017: “It’s a great time for the whole family to strap on helmets and get some great exercise while having fun.”

Just FYI, about helmets: Sergeant Ross and many other adults—us included—wear bike helmets regularly, even though CA law requires helmets only for minors. Many people mistakenly assume Bicycling Monterey’s HER Helmet Thursdays Project is about promoting use of bike helmets. Learn more about that in our 2015 post “It’s Not about Wearing a Helmet–The HER Helmet Thursdays Project.”

4 more among spd cars give 3 ft

Salinas Police were among the first cops in the state to help educate the public by having “I Give 3 Feet” bumper stickers on their patrol cars, as pictured above and below.

Wherever they go, PD cars in Salinas–Monterey County’s largest city and county seat–remind people that the Three Feet for Safety Act is CA law.

You can order a sticker exactly like the ones on most SPD patrol cars from the California Bicycle Coalition. Stickers designed for bicycles are available from Cal Bike too. Special thanks to Cal Bike for responding to Salinas PD’s request by contributing bumper stickers for their patrol cars, free of cost.

Below, under”Dedication to public safety for people who bike,” see many examples of how Salinas PD supports biking. Also below, learn about other factors that keep the local bike scene cool!

2 more among many spd cars give 3 ftSPD these 2 among patrol cars give 3 ft

There are so many actions you can take to make this an even better place to bike…

Such as advocating, including for better infrastructure, and helping to raise public awareness about more bikes being on the road (it’s happening, check this example). Want to help, or have questions? Please contact me.

What about bikes on sidewalks?

Is that cool? Click here for sidewalk misconceptions and advisories, including my 90-second audio and more.

We appreciate that Gerard Ross, who long headed up Salinas PD’s traffic unit, and other Salinas PD officers are savvy about bike laws, including about bicycling on sidewalks. You won’t find the PD in Salinas incorrectly citing people who bike. To date, I’ve only heard one such complaint, and it turns out that the person biking didn’t know a law. For that reason, we remind that…

Education is preferred to citation

We don’t underestimate the importance of Cali bike laws, along with safe riding practices.

We’ve seen Salinas PD and many other Monterey County cops out sometimes on their own bicycles. Salinas PD’s Officers Richard Lopez and Raul Rosales (see them pictured here) are among the local cops who tell me they wish their workload and schedule allowed them to patrol by bicycle every day!

Cops like these much prefer education to citation. Help them out by educating yourself. Grab a bike law summary below, then follow up and learn more in Bicycling Monterey’s section on “Riding Skills, Safety, and CA Bike Laws.” That section includes Monterey County bike-related ordinances too, such as about sidewalk riding.

Grab a summary: Be Cool, Be Safe – Bike Law Summary & Advocating for Biking

Or another, in Spanish too: Leyes de ciclismo de CA – Laws for bicyclists in CA (Spanish, English) – Summary

Salinas Cops July 2012 parade eveAbove: These Salinas cops were patrolling on bikes after the Kiddie Capers parade.

Dedication to public safety for people who bike

A prime example of Salinas PD’s respect and support for people who bike–as well as those who use other people-powered transportation, such as walking and skating–is Salinas PD’s support for Monterey County’s first Open Streets, Ciclovia Salinas.  Click here to see photos of the Chief of Police and some officers training barricade volunteers to keep Ciclovia Salinas a safe, car-free route.

Such respect for bicycling is nothing new for Salinas PD. Here are a sampling of examples of their law enforcement and other support:
  1. You may have read about the Salinas Police Department’s support for biking, as evidenced by their follow-up to a 9-year-old girl’s bike accident. She suffered a broken leg when she rode her new bike in front of a pick-up truck traveling 25mph.  “Her helmet-protected head left ‘a pretty good-sized dent’ in the hood,” according to police Cmdr. Sheldon Bryan.  But the officers didn’t want the experience to spoil the girl’s holidays or to stop her from biking again, so they gifted her a new bike and helmet promptly. Click here to read the story by Larry Parsons in the Monterey County Herald. Click here for the police report.
  2. Or you may have noticed how alert Salinas PD is for distracted drivers, a dangerous hazard to people on bikes, such as 19-year-old Eric Okerblom. Learn more about distracted driving above.
  3. Or maybe you’ve noticed times when Salinas PD especially cautions visitors and residents alike to drive sober or get pulled over. (And Bicycling Monterey adds: That goes for people on bicycles too; see “Alcohol and bike safety” in Wine-ding your way along Monterey County bikeways.)
  4. When tragedies happen, Salinas PD’s support is likewise appreciated–such as an officer providing traffic support at the ghost bike site during a memorial ceremony honoring Adrian Garcia.
  5. Salinas PD’s dedicated follow-up on behalf of a 16-year-old boy  helped ensure the public safety of people who bike. Here’s the scoop….
  • A Salinas High School student was injured by a hit-and-run driver as the student walked his bike through a crosswalk en route to school. (Wise young gent! Hopping off and walking your bike through a crosswalk is indeed the recommended way to most safely navigate some intersections. Learn more here.) Regardless of his sensible practice, he was injured.  Click here for report from the City of Salinas Police Department.
  • Salinas cops are incredibly busy, with many needs in the community to be met with an inadequate budget–some call it a shoestring budget. Nevertheless, did Salinas cops consider it a high priority to track down the driver who injured that teen? You bet they did.
  • KSBW reported the Salinas PD’s mission accomplished:  hit-and-run driver arrested. Thanks, officers, for helping make the streets of our Monterey County seat safer for bicycling.
Salinas PD finds “particularly alarming” the “recent increases in pedestrian and bicycle fatalities.” As announced October 4, 2015, SPD applied for and was awarded a $112,400 state grant to prevent traffic deaths and injuries:

On 4/3/15 at 6:16 a.m., there was a felony hit-and-run in Monterey County’s largest city, Salinas, that left bike commuter and United Parcel Service shop steward Joshua Verwolf hospitalized. Maybe the cause of the initial collision was distracted driving, maybe not. Regardless, Salinas Police are again bringing attention to the dangers of distracted driving. See “Cops collaborate in distracted driving campaign” by Allison Gatlin in the 3/31/15 Californian.

About citing distracted drivers, do you think SPD is bluffing? Not!

For example, in April 2013, Salinas PD  wrote 347 distracted driving citations. On Bicycling Monterey, learn more about distracted driving and watch related videos here. Read about 19-year-old Eric Okerblom, and others, killed because of distracted drivers. And people who bike: remember that distracted biking is dangerous too! See details about CA law on distracted driving, and biking, here.

Something else we appreciate about Salinas PD

At David Kennedy’s talk at CSUMB on 3/28/14, it was announced that Salinas Police Department is the first PD on the West Coast to have 100% of its PD trained in police legitimacy, and procedural justice. That’s a very important step for any PD in becoming of greatest help to the communities they serve. Missed it? Listen via KAZU. Learn more about procedural justice here. Read an excellent report by Julie Reynolds in the 7/5/14 Monterey County Herald, “Cops and community: Police try to reach out with ‘legitimacy’ program.”

Update: See SPD’s web page on this topic (and there, it states they were first in CA, not on entire West Coast). Still something to be proud of.

Salinas Youth: First in Monterey County biking!

Salinas police are happy to do what they can to make biking better for Salinas youth, and adults. Why? Salinas PD knows what many folks in the Monterey County bike community know too:  Salinas youth are leading the way with numerous firsts when it comes to bicycling in Monterey County. Click here for examples.

And there are many, many more Salinas youth who know that bikes make life better.

Fixed at SHS - with brakes

Track bikes? The Salinas High students above have the 411. Their sweet fixies are equipped with a brake, ready to roll on public roads.

In Monterey County, there are some amazingly capable fixie commuters, brakeless, who could stop their bikes on a dime. It’s a special skill, and even experienced riders can’t be expected to have mastered it.

Hmm…maybe the Ryan Adams “Fix It” lyrics, like “learning in the hard way,” were also about a fixie, not just Ryan’s love life.

Below, an avid local bike commuter who makes use of his own pedal-power, along with bike-and-ride on MST, to travel Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.


Is biking to school worth the risk?

Maybe you aren’t so sure that children or teens really ought to bike to school, whether in Carmel, Greenfield, Salinas, Soledad, or anywhere in the county–even if you or your parents did years ago.  Scroll down for the “Bike safely” section below.

Don’t be too quick to rule out Bike to School! Click here for a sampling of schools in Monterey County that provide support to kids who are biking.

Of course, it depends on the age of the student, available supervision when appropriate, bikeway conditions, and more. A young person may or may not be well suited to biking to school at this time. It may be that a more appropriate option for some students is walking, transit use, carpooling, or a bike-and-ride combination.

Our neighbors in San Benito County show kids the safer routes to bike or walk to school. And in Monterey County, more Safe Routes to School efforts are underway too.

Hearing of a bike accident could discourage young people who want to bike to school. Or, it could inspire them–and you–to learn more and do more to help ensure their bicycling safety!

Two little sisters on the rec trail

Bike to School--and Elsewhere

When biking to school isn’t feasible, support kids in participating in the wide variety of biking opportunities in Monterey County. They are many great bikeways, so many places to ride in Monterey County. See additional ideas later in this post.

But seriously, when a beloved child could be injured on a bike….

Why Bike?

When Dr. Hugh Stallworth retired from the Monterey County Health Department in June 2012, after a 42-year career in the field, he told the Monterey County Weekly’s Sara Rubin that the most challenging public health issue in our county is one shared by the nation:  childhood obesity.   He warned that changing this is going “to have to be an entire community effort. If we don’t solve that one, the prediction is this is the first generation where parents might outlive their kids. That’s one of my greatest concerns.”

Entire community effort, eh? The bike community is playing a part in that. Ask MORCA about Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, or ask NPS Cycling Club about their bike rodeos, or ask Velo Club Monterey why they support Safe Routes to School events (such as Bike Seaside – EnglishBici Seaside – espanol). Ask all three bike clubs, and other bike community members, about the many types of support in Monterey County for kids who like to bike.

Beyond physical health, there are so many other reasons for kids, and adults, to be out biking. Click here for over a dozen good reasons.

Mark Martin’s TED talk “Bicycling for Life” includes the reasons given by many youth and adults. Click here, then start at 9:16 for their reasons, or listen to the entire video to hear Mark’s own ideas. (Thanks to Devian Gilbert, a Velo Club Monterey member, for that video link.)

Above: Jerrica and her dad, Darius Rike, on the inaugural Intergenerational Ride. The May 9, 2015 Intergenerational Ride was the fourth annual. Year-round, there are many bike things to do in Monterey County!

Need help getting rolling?

Children, teens, and adults can all know that the Monterey County bike community is here to help you. Maybe you’re a middle schooler who wants to connect with serious cyclists, because you have a goal of bike competition. Or maybe you are a high schooler who wants to plan a prom date by bike; get inspiration here, and even find bike valet parking. There’s a lot happening in the Monterey County bike world, and you can get some fun ideas from other people who bike.

Below: At the inaugural Intergenerational Ride, Rob Cepeda, Service Manager of Sports Center Bicycles, Seaside was the complimentary mobile bike mechanic. Love how our bike shops and other bike community folks all pitch in to help throughout the year, in so many ways.

Below: Gathering for Salinas Bike Party–a courteous social bike run–at the first SBP, Aug 2012.

Ever wonder why some girls stop biking?

Notice that there are a lot more young guys than gals in the photo above? Ever wonder why many teen girls leave their childhood bike gathering dust?

Check out “Beauty and the Bike” in this site’s Bicycle Culture and Youth.

This Salinas girl hasn’t lost her love for biking.

 Neither have the 17 girls who, alongside 36 boys, have signed up to ride 2013-14  with the Salinas High Cowboys Mountain Bike team!

IMG_3017 (1024x1010)

Nor has she.

Nor have they. And these sisters keep up with Dad just fine!

Jim Warwick and his daughters, Rebecca, Teresa, and Justine, biked from Salinas to Solvang.  Jim is one of the coaches of Monterey County’s first public high school mountain bike team, Salinas Cowboys Racing.

Develop good riding skills, and bike safely

Start by reviewing Be Cool, Be Safe – Bike Law Summary and Resources.

For a Spanish and English summary of some of that info, see the following link  (and for more, see Bicycling Monterey’s en español page).

Leyes de ciclismo de CA – Laws for bicyclists in CA (Spanish, English) – Summary

Next, read Bicycling Monterey’s section on Riding Skills, Safety, and California Bike Laws–Tips for Children, Teens, and Adults. Included is info on sidewalk riding (including local ordinances), crosswalk safety, and much, much more.  Video clips, too,  are linked in that section, along with other helpful links to outside resources, such as I Am Traffic’s tips on “Cycling with Children.”

Take advantage of the mentoring opportunities offered by Monterey County’s bike clubs, bicycle shops, and others.

Contact me if you would like to schedule a bike safety presentation for Monterey County students of elementary, middle, and high schools, and colleges. Presentations might include panel discussions with local bike community leaders, live bike skills demos, Question-and-Answer sessions, short video clips, and more.

It takes a village–and a multi-pronged effort

Let’s help keep kids–and adults–rolling safely.

That requires a multi-pronged effort, including bike safety ed, bike infrastructure improvements, raising public awareness about drivers sharing the road with bicyclists, and more–including, of course, law enforcement. Information about all of these topics can be found on the Bicycling Monterey website, or feel free to contact me for help in finding the info you need.

Pictured above: Salinas cops in front of Salinas High in July 2012, the eve of the Kiddie Capers and Colmo Night parades.

Where else to ride?

If not to school (or in addition to school), children and teens may be able to bike right in their own neighborhoods, or to their house of worship, to the farmers market, for some errands or shopping, and much more.

You’ll find plenty of ideas in the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County 20-section guide, as well as in over 340 posts and 65 web pages of information on this site. Looking for tips on particular local cities?  Below is a start.

You’ll find lots more information about Salinas, our Monterey County seat and largest city; start by typing Salinas in the search window, or contact me.

Susan Ragsdale-Cronin, avid Del Rey Oaks bike commuter,

is hip to visibility tips.

Miscellaneous musings
  • We have driver’s ed training for youth and others, why isn’t biker’s ed likewise commonplace? In Monterey County, we’re working on that! Check out the bike skills trainings offered in 2015.
  • Melanie Gibbs Stackpole, a local woman who’s an active volunteer with her kids’ Monterey Bay Charter School (and who squeezes out time annually as a quiet, behind-the-scenes volunteer in the bike community too) brought “Race to Nowhere” to the Golden State, Monterey. One question posted in the film was:  What is lost when vocational education is no longer a strong option for youth? Why the widespread pressure on youth to get into top colleges even when that is not the best path for every individual to a great life?
  • Many people, recognizing that bicycling is having a surge of popularity that is unlike to stop, see other great opportunities for youth in bike tech education. Bike tech can be one answer, and having more such offerings in Monterey County would be terrific. Check out  Teaching Children Well:  Bike safety and bike tech education for a little inspiration.
  • For kids ages 8 and up, and for teens and adults too, a basic bike maintenance class is available regularly through City of Monterey; click here.
  • Light & Motion was bursting at the seams on Cannery Row and moved to Marina. The bike industry and its needs are growing. With our area’s natural beauty, we’ve got a head start on enticing new bike-related companies to set up shop here, leading to new employment opportunities for our youth who have a passion for bikes.

* * * * *

Related story

“Ways to Avoid Crashes When Biking Monterey County,” which includes reports on some local bicycle-motor vehicle collisions.

This post was first published

This post was published on 3 May 2017. One or more changes last made to this post on 27 October 2021.

Leave a Reply