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Mother Nature’s Misting System Malfunction

July 18th, 2015
       This morning’s paddle boat – oops – bicycle ride, despite the high humidity levels, started out rather pleasant. The dark clouds overhead shielded the riding route from the usual harsh summer sun and wind-in-your-face from riding the bike turned the daily activity into a pleasant morning outing. All that changed when I encountered evidence that Mother Nature’s Misting System had been turned on and it then began to drip rather than mist.  

        Half way through the ride the entire misting system completely malfunctioned and was replaced by lightning, thunder and light sprinkles. Those light rain sprinkles gave way to actual rain of the continuous all the way from the sky to the ground variety. Yep! It started getting wet out there. 

        Riding a bicycle in dry weather that gives way to rain always starts out refreshingly pleasant. All that pleasantness soon goes away when the bike tires throw wet pavement gunk up and it lands on me. Even worse is the amount of wet pavement gunk that passing motor vehicles lob in my direction. That’s when I’m ready for the ride to end – but this morning that time was about ten miles from home. 

        My rainy, very wet, thunder and lightning return ride home ended around 9:30 am. Following arrival I removed my wet clothes, wrung water from the t-shirt, and loudly. I later called out to Mother Nature my thanks for her selection of morning weather offerings. Also asked for a bit more warning next time – and certainly one better than the predicted 60% chance of rain after 10 am forecast that had led me to believe my ride would not be a wet one. 

 Bond Shands
July 19, 2015
Desert Political Opinion blog – www.DesertObserver.com
The Notebook blog – www.BondShands.com
Twitter – @BondShands

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CV-Link in Palm Springs

May 11th, 2015

An Open Letter to Palm Springs City Officials

Dear Mayor Pougnet and City Officials:

     As you surely know there is currently an ongoing debate about the design and maintenance costs of the planned CV-Link bicycle-pedestrian-Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV) route planned for portions of the Whitewater River channel embankment. Rancho Mirage city mayor Dana Hobart and his City Council have voiced objections to what they perceive as the high maintenance costs that will be required for the new route and its 30 foot wide width that is planned to occupy portions of their city streets. The originally proposed trail width was increased from 12 to 30 feet in order to accommodate NEVs.

     I too am one of those questioning the future maintenance costs out of concern they will require funds to be diverted from planned bicycle and pedestrian routes within Palm Springs and used for CV-Link maintenance costs. CV-Link, as you may know, mostly skirts our outer city limits and thus may receive limited use from our residential and tourist communities.

     I’ve also questioned the plan to incorporate Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) into the CV-Link design. My concern is whether the additional funds required for the NEV roadbed expansion represents a reasonable investment of taxpayer funds. We don’t have a valley-wide consensus favoring use of NEVs and are lacking the infrastructure that would facilitate their use as a mode of regular transportation. NEVs are limited to a 25 mph maximum speed and are not permitted in traffic lanes marked for speeds greater than 35 mph. I would like to see Palm Springs become an NEV-friendly community but recognize that would require city council support and the expenditure of significant monies. At present if I owned an NEV it would have to remain in my garage for my HOA community fronts on a street with a 40 mph speed limit which legally bars me from using it for any form of transportation. Are there any plans for serious consideration of NEVs and their wide-spread use throughout Palm Springs?

     I support CV-Link and hope all reasonable questions quickly receive official responses so that the project may proceed without concerns and questions remaining unanswered. We’ve never had a public discussion about CV-Link and it’s value, route and costs to Palm Springs. It would seem only right and fair for Palm Springs to host a forum for residents to learn more about CV-Link and its value to our community – and about NEVs and how those vehicles will fit into our city’s General Plan.

     Mayor Hobart has responded online to a story in the Desert Sun based on an email from Supervisor John Benoit. The mayor’s comments are thoughtful and, in my opinion, worthy of consideration and response from CVAG and CV-Link management. I’ve copied Mayor Hobart’s comments and have reproduced them below.

     Thanks very much for your support of the CV-Link concept, bicycling and pedestrian paths in our city and, of course, your continued vigilance over the best use of taxpayer dollars in our community.

Best regards,

Bond Shands


[]
 G Dana Hobart – Rancho Mirage, California
May 8, 2015

I have raised several questions that neither the Supervisor nor the CVAG staff has answered, except to misstate my reasons for having serious doubts about this use of public funds.

1. Are CVAG member cities willing to accept the 8% TOT formula being recommended and commit those TOT funds to paying the future O&M expenses for the proposed project? This must be resolved ASAP. Using CVAG’s figures, in the first 9-years it would cost Rancho Mirage just over $1.4 million.

2. Secure a legal opinion concerning the legality of CVAG�s proposal to use Measure A funds for O&M expenses.

3. If they are determined to be legally used, I suggested that we urge each city to meet and separately decide if they felt Measure A’s sales tax-generated monies should be diverted from needed Coachella Valley road repair and used for CV Link O&M expenses.

4. I suggested that before we vote or lock ourselves into final decisions (as was being RECOMMENDED by CVAG in a 4/6/15 staff report) all cities, their council members, city managers, finance directors et al meet together in a location where we can all listen to and learn each city’s concerns regarding the burden of O&M expenses.

5. I suggested we retain an independent, outside firm, to assess the accuracy of the projected O&M expense of $1.6 million. Hand-picking such a person (as they are currently doing) to make this assessment is yet another version of loaded dice.

6. I suggested that CVAG consider “slowing down” the advancement of the CV Link project and the expenditure of funds until the foregoing objectives and issues have been clarified and settled. It makes no business sense for development to continue at full speed when the most important financial issue remains unresolved: Who pays for the O&M costs and how much? Mr. Kirk responds by asserting that he does not have the discretionary authority to slow down this roaring train. Yea, sure…

In the real world this looseness with investor funds would never get off the starting blocks. Rancho Mirage hopes to instill sanity in a process that has no idea about who will pay the projected $33,000 per mile of Operations and Maintenance expense (in the first year of operations). Yet they continue to hire staff and move forward at full speed. GDH

End of Mayor Hobart’s comments.


Bond Shands
May 11, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

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Is CV-Link Doomed to Fail?

May 4th, 2015

          The CV-Link dream was presented as a continuous bicycle-pedestrian-golf cart route running on top of a Whitewater River embankment. It was to be a route free of cost or adverse impact to valley residents. No broad community outreach effort seeking endorsement or financial support was required nor attempted for it was to be a free trail in an unused or underused area of the valley. No part of this dream has proved to be substantially true. The route won’t be a continuous one along the Whitewater River embankment, it‘s going to require significant annual maintenance costs to be paid by the community and portions of the route will adversely impact some who reside or have business interests in the route’s proposed proximity.

          What has now become clear is that there is no broad community grassroots support for the CV-Link plan that currently exists. The proof of that was in the failure of the general community, elected leaders or even potential users to raise a hue and cry over the City of Rancho Mirage pulling out of the program. CV-Link planners were never required to build broad-based grassroots support. They secured funding from sources other than the local community. There were no fully realistic presentations to Chambers of Commerce, business groups, clubs, social groups, schools, religious leaders, philanthropies, etc., seeking endorsements and support. None of this was needed in order to secure funding. Once that independent funding was obtained broad community support was assumed. Now it’s become clear that grassroots support needs to be obtained if CV-Link is to move forward.

          The obvious step for CV-Link is to broaden their leadership group, seek more advice from community leaders and begin a program of realistic presentations to each and every group, agency and entity in the valley that will be affected by or should be interested in CV-Link. Will CV-Link planners step up to the plate and begin a realistic community outreach program? Do they have all the information about the trail route, its costs and impacts ready for presentation? Do they have statistics on it’s expected use (who will use, where will they come from, how often will they use it, how many and when, etc.)? Now is the time to ask all the possible questions and prepare answers for each. Now is the time to really get to work and make a determined effort to sell this project along with it’s abbreviated “dream”, future costs and perceived adverse impacts.

Bond Shands
May 4, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

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Bicycling Goodwill Ambassadors

April 18th, 2015


Do “Bicycling Goodwill Ambassadors” Exist?

     Bicyclists need to earn respect. I say that as one who is familiar with several modes of personal transportation for I walk 3 miles and bike 22 miles each morning plus I hike and drive an automobile. It’s from these perspectives that I’ve concluded there aren’t many “Bicycling Goodwill Ambassadors” using the walkways, bike paths and motor vehicle roadways.

     Bicycling as a legitimate mode of transportation is recognized by law (both state and local) and legal road use rights and rules exist. The majority of bicyclists appear far more familiar with those “rights” than they are with the rules and  restrictions. It is the failure of the latter that leads to a lack of respect for bicyclists among other users (motorists, runners, walkers, etc.).

     Developing and following a bicycling education safety and use code would be a good way to start earning the respect bicyclists need to earn. There’s an important list of steps that bicyclists should incorporate into their daily riding routines. They include such issues as:

  • ..  Obeying basic traffic laws (stop signs, single-file riding on public roadways, keeping to the right, using arm signals for stops and turns, riding in the traffic flow direction, etc.);
  • ..  Using a bell or other sounding method when passing others on walkways and paths;
  • ..  Riding only on pedestrian walkways posted and/or approved for that use;
  • ..  Riding single file and knowing when to occupy an entire vehicle lane and when to share it;
  • ..  Practicing courtesy and safety whenever others are present or encountered.
  • ..  Consider conduct worthy of accolades as a good role model for under age 18 riders and wear bright colors plus a safety helmet.

      A “Bicycling Goodwill Ambassador” should be one whose personal code of riding performance is worthy of respect from other users of the various transportation routes. It’s from such respect that the right flows to ask and lead the public into supporting enhancements, improvements and/or additions to the transportation route needs of the bicycling community.

     Coachella Valley bicycling benefits from many public resources devoted to promoting it as an alternative mode of transportation. There are many walkways, paths and streets that have been signed for bicycling and a new 52 mile route linking all valley cities is in the planning stages. The latter, known as CV-Link, is a $100 million dollar project that needs community support in order to surmount a number of stumbling blocks that could serve to hinder successful completion. It’s important for the bicycling community to seek ways to generate that needed community support. A “Bicycling Goodwill Ambassador” program, or something similar, should be considered in conjunction with an education outreach program to both bicyclists and the community in order to foster respect for the bicycling community. Individual bicyclists must become involved by promoting and following good cycling practices and other steps that seek to generate public respect for them and their mode of transportation. Failure to generate significant community respect may result in failure to successfully complete the proposed 52 mile CV Link bicycle route.

     Are there currently any “Bicycling Goodwill Ambassadors” in the Coachella Valley? Will there ever be an organized effort to promote respect for bicyclists and bicycling needs in the valley? Will bicycling continue to be viewed as more of a sport or casual outdoor activity than as a significant and possibly necessary transportation mode entitled to the accord and respect afforded motor vehicles? Individual bicyclists can make a difference in changing public perception of their cycling activities – will they make the effort?

Bond Shands
April 18, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com

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CV Link Bicycle Path Maintenance Costs

April 3rd, 2015

To: Palm Springs Mayor and City Council Members

Dear Mayor Pougnet and City Council Members:

     On April 3rd the Desert Sun reported the City of Rancho Mirage had withdrawn its support for the CV Link program after learning it would be required to unfairly share in the annual maintenance costs. The newspaper story is titled “Rancho Mirage backs away from CV Link over funding plan” and may be viewed using the following browser link.
http://www.desertsun.com/story/news/local/rancho-mirage/2015/04/02/rancho-mirage-cv-link-funding/70871702/

     When CV Link was proposed the issue of annual maintenance costs was not included in the information provided to the public or local governments. The newspaper story is the first time we learn the costs must be paid by the individual cities for maintenance to be administered through a CVAG CV Link program. It’s an issue that should concern our local bicycle community and one that should trigger a review of Palm Springs support for the CV Link program.

     The Palm Springs General Plan for bicycles includes a long list of bicycle street routes, paths and trails that have been requested by the bicycling community. The city has been addressing a prioritized version of the list with funds in each year’s budget. It’s something I happily support and am grateful for the City Council’s support of bicycling in this manner. As one who rides a bicycle on a daily basis I cannot begin to express my appreciation for your support, for you definitely merit and have my heartfelt thanks.

     If the CV Link maintenance proposal is allowed to continue that would mean it would take precedence over all other local bicycling routes funding. And the huge sums required to maintain CV Link could serve to eliminate most other annual funding for bicycle projects. It’s for that reason I am hopeful Palm Springs will review its support for CV Link and decline to accept responsibility for the maintenance costs.

Sincerely,

Bond Shands
April 3, 2015
The Notebook at www.bondshands.com


The following is a corrected copy of the comment I posted to the “Rancho Mirage backs away from CV Link over funding plan” report on the Desert Sun.

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     Hooray for Rancho Mirage and their words of wisdom from wiser heads than those among the CV Link planners.

     From the start CV Link has moved ahead with their own chosen group of advisers comprised mostly of those who blindly support their efforts. Others with cautionary views who wished to be involved were never invited to participate as members of the “inner circle”.

     There’s a group of committed road bicyclists who are spearheading favorable publicity for the effort for the route is one of their greatest dreams. Never mentioned are the maintenance costs or other obstacles. Now we learn the real truth about future maintenance costs of the route and it’s something that was never mentioned when this project first appeared.

     CV Link needs more meaningful input from other sources and some of those providing constructive cautionary views need to be included in the actual planning process. And springing something like huge maintenance costs late in the game should never happen. Before this project moves forward, everything in the way of obstacles needs to be on the table in plain view. That’s the time, when all the facts and related data are known, to decide whether there’s real community financial and other support for CV Link.

Bond Shands
Palm Springs

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