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Old 04-04-02, 06:41 PM   #1
John E
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A major step backward ...

Today's front page, above the fold color picture story in the Union-Tribune.

http://www.uniontrib.com/news/mexico..._1n4bikes.html

Citing safety, border officials order bicycle riders into pedestrian lines

By Leslie Wolf Branscomb and David E. Graham
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITERS

April 4, 2002

Bicyclists will no longer be allowed to cross the international border from Mexico into the United States alongside automobile traffic, as they have been doing by the thousands since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Traffic safety concerns prompted the decision, officials said yesterday. Now hundreds of bicyclists who have become used to quickly crossing the border will have to walk their bikes through pedestrian checkpoints.

U.S. Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service officials said they want to avert potential accidents as bicycles, buses and cars jockey for position in the crowded traffic lanes at the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

"We're putting bicycles out there with vehicular traffic, and that's not a good combination," said David Murphy, Assistant Port Director for U.S. Customs at San Ysidro. "We don't want anybody to get run over by a car."
/*According to the California Vehicle Code, we ARE vehicular traffic! The safety argument is specious, given the glacial pace of traffic through the border crossing.
*/

The change takes effect at 6 a.m. Monday.

"They're going to be processed as pedestrians," said INS district director Adele Fasano, adding that bicyclists will have no "special access."

There might be a bike lane some day, Fasano said, adding "ultimately that's the solution." But there is no plan for that now, she said.

In the weeks following the Sept. 11 attacks, when the agencies were criticized because tightened security caused long border waits, Fasano said in a public forum that bikes were a welcome, innovative solution that could assist workers, students, shoppers and travelers.

The policy switch was immediately decried by bike riders and business owners, who predicted serious economic impacts because it would take their employees longer to get to work.

"We have a lot of commuters that ride their bikes across from Tijuana and take the trolley to their jobs in San Diego," said Johnny Muñoz, president of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. "So it's not just the border that will be affected; it will be businesses all throughout the county."

Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, said yesterday that he will ask that the decision be reversed. "The INS is like a bunch of Keystone Cops," he said. "They have no idea what they're doing and no notion of what the community wants."
/* Right-on, Bob! He has called a press conference at the San Ysidro border crossing, tomorrow at 09:30. Stay tuned ...
*/

While northbound motorists have endured longer waits since September, bicyclists have been able to make the trip fairly quickly, with an inspector checking riders' credentials in a process that can often take less than a minute.

Daily bicycle crossings, which used to number 100 to 200 a day, grew to as many as 2,500 a day after Sept. 11, said U.S. Customs spokesman Vincent Bond. Many bike riders cross the border during the morning commute, as early as 4 a.m., when it is still dark, he said.

Though there have been no collisions reported, there have been some near misses, Bond said. "It's a recipe for disaster," he said.

The daily bicycle traffic is now down to about 800 to 1,000 crossings a day as people return to their cars, but it's still too much to be safely handled, Bond said.

Bicyclists were weaving among cars, impeding traffic and bringing complaints from motorists, Murphy said. The Mexican Consulate also complained about the hazard, he said.

For the past week, officials tried having the bike riders use the bus lane, but that was even worse, Murphy said.

"All it would take would be a simple mistake, and someone could be run over by a bus," he said. Murphy said they also worried about children and senior citizens getting off buses and being confronted by speeding and sometimes reckless bicyclists.

The only alternative would have been to set aside one of the 21 available traffic lanes for bicycles, but that would make the wait for vehicles even longer, Murphy said.
/* Or it just might encourage more people to ride their bikes instead of driving their cars, which is precisely what we should be doing as a society.
*/

In order to assist with the additional pedestrians, the Customs Service will have its agents help INS inspectors process border crossers, Bond said.

Vehicle traffic dropped to about 30,000 crossings a day after the terrorist attacks, but it is back up to about 45,000 a day with a maximum wait of about 90 minutes, Bond said.

Muñoz, manager of a Nike outlet store in San Ysidro, said he believes the wait at the border is usually about two hours. He said the Chamber of Commerce and the San Ysidro Business Association will call on local, state and federal officials to have the policy reversed.

"It will affect us very badly," predicted San Ysidro businesswoman Berta Gonzalez. "I think they should be more organized and talk to the community before making such decisions," she said. "We will help them find solutions to this problem."

"I think it's a mistake," said San Diego City Councilman Ralph Inzunza Jr., whose district includes San Ysidro. Inzunza, who regularly visits relatives in Tijuana, said the wait is usually two to three hours, and worse on weekends. He said he has never had a problem with bicyclists interfering with traffic.

"I don't think Washington is in tune with what's going on here,
unfortunately," Inzunza said.

Yesterday, bicyclists were dismayed and angry that the most efficient method of crossing the border is being quashed.

"I think it's lousy. Where's their head?" said Moises Montes of Imperial Beach.

Gonzalo Anell and Karla Sanchez, Chula Vista residents who rent bikes in Tijuana at Border Bikes USA, say they want to meet with senior INS and Customs officials to make the case for a bike lane.

Xavier Guillen, of Tijuana, who crosses on his own bike to work in a nutrition center, agreed. "Because it's a road, they ought to have a bike lane," Guillen said. "We should fight for it."

Fasano disputed a common complaint among bicyclists that the INS lacks a sense of urgency in expediting border crossings. "That's obviously incorrect," she said, adding they're working to make it as efficient as possible.
/* Yeah, right! */
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Old 04-04-02, 06:55 PM   #2
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The only alternative would have been to set aside one of the 21 available traffic lanes for bicycles, but that would make the wait for vehicles even longer,
When I first started reading I thought OK there might be a justified reason for the change due to traffic and safety, then as I read further down I see that it takes 1.5-2hrs to get across the border, I doubt there would be a lot of fast moving traffic. Then I read that there are 21 lanes of traffic, is this a typo? Surely 1 lane could be set aside for bikes. A major step backward for sure. :confused:

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Old 04-04-02, 07:21 PM   #3
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No, the border crossing at San Ysidro is really that big. i used to go past there 2-3 times a year. It's absolute pandemonium most days.
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Old 04-04-02, 09:52 PM   #4
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Only the beaurocratic brain could think that such an ignorant decision is a intelligent solution to a non-problem.
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Old 04-04-02, 10:23 PM   #5
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Only the beaurocratic brain could think that such an ignorant decision is a intelligent solution to a non-problem.
Beautiful! You should put that in your sig line.
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Old 04-04-02, 10:47 PM   #6
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"We're putting bicycles out there with vehicular traffic, and that's not a good combination," said David Murphy, Assistant Port Director for U.S. Customs at San Ysidro. "We don't want anybody to get run over by a car."
eh? how is this different (more dangerous) from riding on any other road/street?
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Old 04-05-02, 03:31 AM   #7
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Originally posted by John E
The only alternative would have been to set aside one of the 21 available traffic lanes for bicycles, but that would make the wait for vehicles even longer, Murphy said.
Would a change from 21 motor vehicle lanes to 20 really make that much difference? Seems to me that if it takes a long time to get across the border with that many lanes, one lane either way will make bugger all difference.
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Old 04-05-02, 04:04 AM   #8
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This is the usual thing that if bikes are in danger from cars (being driven by people who don't adjust or observe) then put the onus on the bikes to be safer rather than the cause (the cars).

Why not just have a dedicated lane for bikes or (now here's a novel thing) make the penalties for lousy driving more severe.


I can't use the Edinburgh City bypass on my bike (even though as it's not a motorway I should be able to) because bikes are banned "for safety reasons". i.e drivers can't open their eyes and are always in too much of a hurry.

Thin end of the wedge guys. I don't mind using cycle paths but we should not be forced to.

Anybody fancy setting up a forum based pressure group so we can all press togehter when we hear of these sort of decisions?
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Old 04-05-02, 07:13 AM   #9
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It makes sense to have the bikes go to the pedestrian lane at the border check immigration.

It would be insane to have bicyclists mixed with all those cars. If you haven't seen it, the immigration check area looks like an L.A. traffic jam on a bad day.

In this case, common sense rules.
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Old 04-05-02, 09:07 AM   #10
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Beautiful! You should put that in your sig line.
But please, spell "bureaucratic" correctly if you do...........
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Old 04-05-02, 12:04 PM   #11
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Originally posted by mike
It makes sense to have the bikes go to the pedestrian lane at the border check immigration.

It would be insane to have bicyclists mixed with all those cars. If you haven't seen it, the immigration check area looks like an L.A. traffic jam on a bad day.
Sorry Mike, I disagree. This attitude is what bureaucrats, motor vehicle, and oil company interests use to try to push us off the roads. The best solution is to designate one of the 21 vehicular lanes as being for bikes, which would actually encourage bicycling. If they are not willing to do that, then they need to let bikes mingle in traffic. The precedent is the same as on every street; given a wide curb lane or a well-designed, clean bike lane, I will happily use a "separate but equal" facility. However, absent those options, I have the right to use the public road, even when it means taking a lane for my own safety.
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Old 04-05-02, 12:22 PM   #12
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I dunno, John. No question, if they have so many bicycles as they claim (2,500 per day), then they should have a dedicated bicycle lane.

Have you seen the immigration post at rush hour? Man alive, it would be crazy to have bicycles mixed with cars. It is four lanes (each direction) of bumper to bumer automobiles all anxious to get on their way. A bicycle in that mix would be like an oppossum in a cattle stampede.

It is hard to imagine any sane bicyclist would attempt it. However, if common sense doesn't prevail, then the rules have to be established.

And THAT'S the way I see it, man.
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Old 04-05-02, 02:12 PM   #13
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Originally posted by mike
Have you seen the immigration post at rush hour? Man alive, it would be crazy to have bicycles mixed with cars. It is four lanes (each direction) of bumper to bumer automobiles all anxious to get on their way. A bicycle in that mix would be like an oppossum in a cattle stampede.
I actually find cycling in really heavy traffic to be safer than cycling in not quite to heavy traffic. Traffic moving as slowly as this apparently is would be really easy to pick your way through, and I must say, Surfers Paradise is a lot easier when traffic is banked up for miles and not moving during that Indy race than when it is flowing freely and people are doing 120km/h.
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Old 04-05-02, 04:20 PM   #14
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I actually find cycling in really heavy traffic to be safer than cycling in not quite to heavy traffic. Traffic moving as slowly as this apparently is would be really easy to pick your way through, and I must say, Surfers Paradise is a lot easier when traffic is banked up for miles and not moving during that Indy race than when it is flowing freely and people are doing 120km/h.
Ya, but a lot of those California drivers carry guns in their cars. They aim better when their cars aren't moving.
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Old 04-05-02, 07:18 PM   #15
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I'm with JohnE on this one. Close one lane (it's only ONE lane for Pete's sake!) and designate it for bicycles. How many cities have spent thousands on bike lanes that will NEVER see the kind of volume being talked about in this thread? This is a situation where a bike lane would actually be used and it would cost almost nothing to create it because the lane already exists.

BTW, are we talking about the whole US/Mexico border or just one crossing?
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Old 04-08-02, 10:33 AM   #16
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Ya, but a lot of those California drivers carry guns in their cars. They aim better when their cars aren't moving.
Yeah, but this is California, where you can own a handgun, and get thrown in jail for thinking about it at the wrong time of the day. Shoot somebody from a vehicle, and you can kiss any hope of not being called "Cornholio" goodbye.

That being said, I agree with those stating that they should just devote one lane to bicycle traffic; especially considering the number of bicycles that cross the border every day (it's like a Mexican version of Critical Mass...)

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Old 04-08-02, 04:59 PM   #17
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Followup -- Bowing to San Diego cycling, political, and economic interests, the INS has opened a bicycle lane adjacent to the pedestrian path. When you want a bicycle facility, it helps if you can get the local business community behind you!
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Old 04-08-02, 06:20 PM   #18
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Excellent!

How did they do it? Did they convert a car lane or split the ped lane? Or something else?
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