Cathedral Canyon Drive Bicycle Crossing

September 26th, 2014
New Cathedral Canyon Drive Bicycle Crossing


My ten-year backpacking/peakbagging career ended in 1997 after experiencing a back injury. That’s when I took up bicycling.

It was a year before my 60th birthday and the activity has remained one of my favorite exercise passions. Though not possessed of the cycling legs and strength of those on street racing bikes, I manage to put in 22 miles, or so, every morning on the bike paths between Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage. The routes along Whitewater River wash are among my favorites.

Cathedral Canyon Drive, immediately south of the Whitewater River wash, is the dividing line between Cathedral City and Palm Springs. It’s there, in front of the Cathedral Canyon Country Club Westgate, that two bicycle trails start/end on either side of the street. The Whitewater River bicycle path is in Cathedral City and the Jenkins Trail is in Palm Springs. The two routes are not linked and there has been no marked or otherwise recognized crossing in that location. The street is one heavily used by automotive vehicles and bicycle crossing is often dangerous for motorists travel quite fast in that area.

Since 2008, and perhaps earlier, many bicyclists have dreamed of a safe crossing where the two trails meet at Cathedral Canyon Drive. In May 2012 I began lobbying city officials of both Cathedral City and Palm Springs in an effort to have the unmarked crossing recognized with a cross walk and vehicle caution signage.

Those efforts eventually proved successful in November 2012 when the support of Cathedral City council member Greg Pettis and Palm Springs city manager David Ready changed the picture. They inspected the unmarked crossing area, saw the dangerous conditions that existed and agreed, without hesitation, to support installation of a signed, safe, street crossing at that location.

Officials of the two cities agreed to jointly fund and work together to create the new crossing. They decided Palm Springs would take the lead and handle the project. A set of plans for the crossing was completed in November 2013. Cathedral City funded their $15,000 share of the cost in the 2013-2014 budget.

Palm Springs received $15,000 in Measure J funds to pay their share. The contractor began work on the project the first week of September 2014. The effort consisted of installing a wide, white, thermoplastic cross walk with transverse striping and two flashing yellow beacons on poles (one for each direction) together with appropriate motor vehicle cautionary signing at and in advance of the cross walk.

Tuesday morning (autumn equinox day), at 8:50 a.m., I arrived at the crossing location on my bike just as two electricians were finishing their work installing the button-operated flashing signal lights. They asked me to be the first to try them out, which I happily did. I crossed safely and traffic halted while I was performing the test ride. Bicyclists and pedestrians finally have a safer, signed cross walk on Cathedral Canyon Drive connecting the Jenkins and Whitewater River bicycle paths.

New Cathedral Canyon Drive signed bicycle crossing linking the Palm Springs Jenkins Trail with the Cathedral City Whitewater River bicycle path.

Cathedral Canyon Drive signed bicycle crossing linking the Palm Springs Jenkins Trail with the Cathedral City Whitewater River bicycle path. (click photo for larger view)

Thanks again to both Greg Pettis and David Ready – two truly outstanding public servants and bicycling supporters.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs

A nearly identical copy was published as a Valley Voice editorial submission titled “Cities create a safe bicycle crossing” in The Desert Sun newspaper on Saturday, September 27, 2014.

Patriot Day – Thoughts About War

September 12th, 2014

     The Patriot Day of September 11, 2011 remembrance came the day after President Obama announced we are going to war. Yet again! The President, in whom I had the highest of hopes as one dedicated to peace and un-warlike leadership, has succumbed to the political forces demanding our nation once again engage in warfare. Mr. Obama cautioned that this time it will be different for our warfare will not be a “boots on the ground” effort. We’ll do it all with bombs and sending arms to others who are expected to fight the battles for us.

     Will our nation continue to exist as one always at war? I’m becoming convinced the answer to that question is a strong yes. We are not a warrior nation – our citizens don’t wish to personally become fighters. Instead, we send others, including our young, to fight our battles and win – no, make that lose – wars. We’ve yet to really win one of these adventures since World War II’s end, but that doesn’t keep us from trying.

     I’m almost starting to recall the days of the Cold War with the USSR rather fondly. It seems to me all that bluster, those threats and war-like movements produced more hot air than bullets. Is a mutual nuclear destruction threat worse than never-ending actual combat? And I often wonder if abolishing the Draft was a mistake. When that time of forced military service ended families no longer seemed as concerned by our military adventures. Would we have gone to war in Iraq, Afghanistan or now against the Islamic State if draftees were the ones who would be fighting?

     Why do we feel burdened to become entangled in the affairs of other nations. We’ve used force of arms to replace dictatorships with democracies and failed rather miserably at the task. We’ve tried to force disparate people to live and work together and our track record there is not very good. We’ve tried to be a world police force and haven’t managed to get that one to work either. And yet we keep interfering in the affairs of others on the ground that we are needed, wanted and will benefit from our efforts. When it comes to our continuing national warfare policy, it’s a case of the blind leading the blind and our course never changes.

     Syria, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Iran and all the world’s other nations need to find their own way and settle their differences without our involvement. We need to use our military capabilities to defend our homeland and let others handle their own affairs. Look at the current situations in the Middle East. Religious issues appear to be a primary key to differences among the people there. Another concern in Iraq is that the nation is an artificial creation following World War I that merged three different cultures into a single country. And in the Gulf States there are police state autocracies ruled by fantastically wealthy sovereigns. Those with different religious views and/or the less privileged will continue to agitate for change. Let them do it without our involvement. Our foreign policies need to be revised so they no longer entangle us in the affairs of others.
     This latest act of warfare we are pursuing against the Islamic State is a mistake. There is no grand coalition, no rush among middle eastern countries to join the effort and no United Nations act of support. It’s simply another war we’re pursuing that others who may benefit are content to stand aside and watch us go at it. And as for that  “no boots on the ground” pledge, it raises many questions leading to lots of speculation. Probably among the most significant is how much longer will the “no boots” pledge last before it’s replaced with “lots of boots”? We’ve already been informed the new war will last many years and well into beyond the Obama presidency.

     Patriot Day – I found it another day for sadness and one that prove we’ve learned no lessons in terms of how to promote peace and avoid armed conflicts.

     Since we long stopped being “the good guys”, does anyone else hold that position now?

Bond Shands
Palm Springs
September 12, 2014