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


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Palm Springs City Elections 2015

April 6th, 2015

      It’s local political season time once again in Palm Springs. This year the Mayor and two Council Seats are up for election. Already we’ve learned Mayor Steve Pougnet has a challenger in City Commissioner Robert Moon. Incumbent council member Paul Lewin is seeking another term while the other incumbent, Rick Hutcheson, has decided not to seek reelection. Announcements from challengers (for both seats) have been made by Planning Commissioner J.R. Roberts and former Equality California leader Geoff Kors.

     The five named individuals are all seen as highly qualified, experienced and knowledgeable. That will undoubtedly serve to make this year’s election one truly worthy of closely following. The expected campaign platforms and debate encounters will provide opportunities for learning about each candidate and then deciding which ones will receive votes.

     Among the “wish list” of local issues the candidates may be asked to address are the following:

1.  Palm Springs city government has many citizen boards and commissions. However there is no Finance Commission, Publics Works Commission or Streets & Transportation Commission. Should any of these city departments receive the oversight and scrutiny that would result from creation of a new city commission for their area?

2.  Motor vehicle speed limits are viewed by many as too high on several city streets. Sunrise Way, Farrell Drive, East Palm Canyon Drive, Mesquite Avenue (between Sunrise Way and East Mesquite Avenue), Ramon Road, are all examples of streets with high-speed limits. Speed limits are set using a required formula, but there are ways to achieve speed limit reductions. Should steps be taken to reduce some of the high-speed limits?

3.  There is no written Mission Statement to guide public works officials in the administration of funding and policies related to streets, bicycle paths, sidewalks and walkways. Past policies have worked to allot the majority of the funding and attention to the needs of motorized vehicles. That sometimes leads to disadvantages for non-motorized vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians, runners and walkers. A Mission Statement that clearly differentiates how the share of funding, safety attention and support policies between the groups is needed.

4.  Official communications transmitting news of significant new or changed city ordinances is needed. Too often important decisions made by the City Council fail to receive adequate dissemination to the public. A recent example would be the new city water conservation ordinance that mandated changes in water use by everyone. That information should have been sent by mail (possibly a postcard) to all residents in order to alert them to the change. Each city council action should include an assessment of the type of publication it should receive.

5.  District Elections. In Palm Springs the members of the City Council are elected At-Large as opposed to election by district. In California many districts and communities have switched to election by district in order to facilitate equal representation. Should the City Council provide Palm Springs voters with a ballot option to switch to district elections or retain the existing system?

     These are but a few of the many issues that could be addressed by those seeking election this year. While it’s doubtful any would actually result in official actions, their consideration could serve to provide voters with a better understanding of what to expect from the individual candidates.

Bond Shands
April 6, 2015 (updated April 10, 2015)
The Notebook at


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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.

     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.


Bond Shands
April 3, 2015
The Notebook at

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.


     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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Among the Hillary Haters

March 19th, 2015


“Among the Hillary Haters”


     Does anyone remember the “Troopergate” untruthful dirty political rumor attack launched by GOP operatives against Bill Clinton in 1993? Arkansas state troopers claimed they had arranged sexual liaisons for then-governor Clinton. The troopers and their story have since been discredited by the American Spectator reporter who has since admitted “the exposé based on the troopers was politically motivated” and “The troopers were greedy and had slimy motives.”

     How about another GOP operative smear campaign – this one titled “Swift Boat” conducted by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth against against US Presidential Candidate John Kerry in 2004? They succeeded in ruining the reputation of a genuine Vietnam war hero thereby discrediting his presidential campaign.

     Well – we won’t have to wait long before the GOP smear teams fill the our various public media sources with similar and perhaps more carefully planned attacks on (not yet announced) presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The Atlantic Magazine has a great story (it’s rather long) about the history of past GOP smear campaigns and shares insight into what’s already being planned against Ms. Clinton.

     It’s really a shame there’s little honor in these national races. I realize it’s always been that way dating back to the beginning of our Republic. Nevertheless, the average citizen shouldn’t have to keep dark glasses and fresh air scent nearby whenever they are exposed to political messages. It’s really a damn shame!

Bond Shands
March 19, 2015
The Notebook at

Click here for link to Atlantic magazine story.


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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