Friday, July 24, 2009

Santa Cruz: We can't afford Tour of California

The city of Santa Cruz, California, will consider at next Tuesday's city council meeting whether to commit to hosting a stage of the 2010 Tour of California.

The city has had to cut tens of millions of dollars from its budget due to falling tax receipts, and Santa Cruz is looking for other areas to cut.

Last February, Santa Cruz spent $80,000 as host city for the Tour of California Stage 2 finish. About 15,000 spectators waited in the cold and rain but they left downtown Santa Cruz almost immediately.

Local cycling enthusiasts are asking people to show up at the city council meeting next Tuesday, July 28, to voice your support for the Tour of California. The council meeting begins at 3 PM at Council Chambers on Center Street (two blocks west - away from the River - of Pacific Avenue downtown), and after the consent agenda and other discussion, the likely time for discussion is around 3:30 PM or so, although this is impossible to predict with certainty. Still, show up early to ensure your opportunity to speak: the council can move agenda items around, especially for items with a lot of interest. Speakers have two minutes to speak so be prepared. There's a clock on the podium so you know how long you have.

A speaking point: The weather was dismal in February 2009, and everybody left downtown almost immediately after the stage leaders crossed the finish line. A finishing stage in good weather in May will do a lot to

Thank you to Karen Kefauver for the heads up on this.


  1. "...will do a lot to...." what?! ;)

  2. If they move the AToC to May, would as many pro tour riders show up? One of the big (if not the biggest) draws for me is the huge list of big names that make the race. If most of them are off at the Giro or what have you, I'd expect smaller crowds.

  3. "...will do a lot..." First math, now grammar. I should quit while I'm only this far behind. Maybe somebody can fill in the blank for me? :-)

    CP: That's my concern also -- where will the big names be?

  4. Lance Armstrong has already said that he'll do the Amgen Tour of California next year and not the Giro. How many more big named pro tour riders do you need...?

  5. Oh, did he? I imagine that should be enough for most ;) (Also, I have a hard time imagining Levi missing it.)

  6. This from a county where the cost of living is one of the highest in the world... Typical Cali' crap- we want it but we don't want to pay for it. There isn't any $ left- it's all been spent on sushi and Porsches.(Or Hummers and expensive beef if you're right wing)

  7. We can't afford it because AMGEN is a useless waste of money and energy. It does nothing for bicycling and serves only to continue the puerile personality mystique of the professional circuit riders, and the empty draw of corporate advertising. It encourages illegal and rude bicycling behavior by the Lycra-clad set pretending to be Lance Armstrong.

    If you want to benefit bicycling in Santa Cruz, celebrate the daily bicycle commuters who have been quietly riding legally and respectfully on the streets of Santa Cruz for years.

  8. This was the first time I got out to watch the Tour, my son and I sat out on Empire Grade for hours in the rain. It was well worth it though, even if only for this video and my son's genuine excitement at the end, and I'd be deeply saddened by the loss of Santa Cruz as a tour stop for the race.

  9. Hayduke - a lot of those bike commuters - myself included - started riding a bike around because of racing.

  10. Many? And "many" did not. Null point.

    Racing drives bicycling and bicycle manufacture into a useless area of endeavor that benefits only the bicycle product industry.

    Why have we been forced to purchase "racing bikes" for so many years, when dropped handlebars, skinny tires, streamlined helmets and ridiculous clothing covered with advertising are detrimental to everyday, effective bicycling?

    The racing mystique, more than anything, has held back bicycle development and adoption in the United States, keeping us from having practical bicycles, as in Europe, and clouding the whole vision of bicycling into a professionalized elite.

    Bicycling has a bad reputation in the United States because hundreds of Lance Armstrong wannabes blast through stop signs and red lights everywhere, their heads full of visions of the finish line.

    Spectacular bicycle crashes highlighted in the media bicycle racing feeding frenzy spread the belief that bicycling is inherently unsafe, thus keeping thousands of people in their spam cans and off bicycles and benefiting helmet manufacturers and the myth of helmet "safety."

    Let's see safe and sane commuters featured on TeeVee, stopping at stop signs, being courteous to others on the road, going about their daily business of riding quietly through their communities.

    Copenhagenize bicycling in America!

  11. Ah yes, of course, bicyclists in America are rude because of the incredibly dominant, bike racing-crazed culture. In Europe, where there is little, if any bike racing culture, the cyclists are all perfectly behaved and live in peace and tranquility with their surroundings.

    Oh, wait. There has been a far longer recent history of bike racing, and bike racing crazed fans in Europe than in America. So, are rude cyclists a function of bike racing or the culture they are in or something entirely different? Really, are bicyclists in America really that much more rude than their four wheeled brethren? After all, virtually all adult bicyclists are automobile drivers, to think of them as a separate group is foolish.

    Blaming the scofflaw behavior of bicyclists on Lance's popular appeal is silly. It makes it hard to tell if you're serious about this, or just some troll who usually threatens to run bicyclist's lycra-clad, fat, wanna-be-Lance-Amstrong butts over.

    Apparently you don't like bike racing. You think it's wrong to trivialize such a saintly transportation idea. Bicycling should be reserved for people who are serious, not for trivial pursuits like racing. We get it. We should ride gracefully, politely and exclusively. We mustn't smile, or laugh, lest we slip into a friendly conversation or competition. Bicycling is for the sullen, the devout: the ascetic.

    But your world view is just YOUR world view, it is not omniscience incarnate. I commute on a race bike, because I'm going 40 miles a day, and it's much more efficient. On the weekend, I ride with my friends, much like many who find both utility and sport in the same car. I celebrate my freedom of motion and my hard-earned vitality on my bicycle. It is a great joy, or it is about building a foundation for more joy. If I reduce traffic, reduce my carbon footprint, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, make America and the world safer and better at the same time, those are bonus points.

    Do I blast through stop signs and stop lights with "visions of the finish line in [my] head"? Please, are you trying to be insulting? I don't know anyone who does, and I know plenty of successful racers.

    Does ATOC and racing in general do anything for bikes? Of course it does. It gets people out. Could there be a more successful method? Perhaps. But bike racing is here and now, and your vision exists in your head only.

    If you think that seeing crashes dissuades people from riding, then you haven't followed the NASCAR, the rodeo, American football, any "extreme sport", Youtube, COPS or American culture in general for long. Perhaps it dissuades you, but that's not typical. People are attracted to excitement,many will try it, some will keep at it.

    If you can create media and excitement to get more people out on bikes in a reverential fashion, devoid of fun? Go for it. May you succeed and bring about a world where driving cars is the exception. But as sure as two of our ancestors decided to figure out who can actually run faster than each other, or two gentlemen tried to show that their horse was faster than the others, or that their mules could carry more, or farther, or their boat, car or airplane was faster, stronger or simply better people will compete. Bicycle racing is here to stay. As long as there are bicycles, people will race them. For your happiness, I'd suggest you accept that, applaud their effort, and go back to your work to make the world a better place.

  12. Wow, Mike, hit a nerve, din I?

    Appealing to the absurd is an ineffective way to conduct an argument. Let me see if I can pry the nuggets of bicycle related material out of this flow.

    All bicyclists, not even virtually all (those on computers?), are not motorists. I, to disprove the claim, am not a motorist. The fact that motorists are rude driving their cars has no bearing on the rude and illegal behavior of bicyclists while driving their bicycles.

    On Friday noon I was passed by a Lycra-clad bicyclist riding the latest pwiff of gee-whiz two-wheeled technology. He ( or she … couldn't tell from behind) proceeded to ride through every stop sign and red light between East Cliff and the San Lorenzo without stopping or even slowing down, everyone else be damned.

    I rode behind him/her for quite a while on my 3 speed Breezer (I'm a 60 year-old geezer on a Breezer), watched him/her down a power bar and stuff it back in his/her pocket. I stopped at very stop sign and light w=and was able to catch up with him/her between, by bicycling safely and within the law. He/she ran a stop light going into town and left me behind.

    This was not a commuter on an upright with panniers, blue jeans and a cloth cap. This was a Lycra-clad wunderkind, setting out for a personal best on the streets of Santa Cruz.

    This is just one of many scofflaw bicyclists I see every day on the streets of Santa Cruz, young people who never learned how to responsibly ride a bike, young people who never learned how to obey traffic laws that everyone else is expected to obey, young people so full of themselves that they don;t care for anyone else on the road.

    Every day.

    Without fail.

    Bicycle racing gets people in front of the Teevees and on the sidelines at bike races. It prevents them from acquiring decent, reliable, practical bicycles and using them as everyday transportation. It feels their heads with delusion and blocks them from experiencing the joy of bicycling quietly and competently through their neighborhoods.

    Bicycle racing, as with any popular sport, insulates participants and fans from life, substituting meaningless glitter and pizzaz from meaningful living.

    Where would you rather ride, in the middle of pack of 1,000 smelly men, or on a clear, clean path with the sound of surf and birds in your ears and the music of the earth in your heart?

  13. Oh, by the way, demonstrate with statistics the number of bicyclists who commute daily because they watched bike racing on TeeVee.

    In numbers greater than zero.

  14. Hayduke -

    Your bias is for "effective" cycling and against bicycle racing. You therefore make many claims about the negative impact of bicycle racing on our society. You make these claims without proof, yet you demand proof of counter arguments. Do you have proof that bicycle racing is the cause of hooliganism, or even stop sign running, or is it just your tightly held belief that should be obvious to any rational person?

    As a self-described geezer you should recognize that in many, if not most, areas of our society, people are more self-absorbed and less community oriented. Bicycle riders appear less polite because people appear less polite. Surely you don't believe that this is all due to bicycle racing?

    I submit that the rude cyclists that surround you are a function of society at large, or your perception of society. It is a common observation that the people of today are less polite, less respectful, and less obedient than in the past. This observation has been consistently made back to the times of the ancient Greeks. While society may be increasingly coarse and rude, I would submit that our memories are also very selective.

    Truly, if the only self-absorbed people in our world were the ones on racing bicycles, what a nice place it would be. Unfortunately, it seems not to be the case.

    Further, to say that bicycle racing deters people from riding bikes is a claim that you need to show evidence for. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    To say that bicycle racing promotes stop sign running also requires evidence. Recently publicized studies that show a similar fraction of car drivers as bicycle riders run stop signs. I would offer this as evidence that the cause of such behavior is societal, and not bicycle racing.

    As for your tale of keeping up with another cyclist who ran stops, what does it say about the Amgen Tour of California? It seems to demonstrate your attitude about people who aren't like yourself. And that seems to say quite a bit about your resistance to the Amgen Tour of California.