Archive for May, 2017

History Rhymes

| May 29, 2017 8:33 am

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme — Mark Twain

It always amazes me to see interviews of people who are clueless of important historical events. Given a multiple choice question of how the name Civil War came about, many picked the answer that the combatants were civilized! Not!

Bringing history to live
Although it is impossible to relive the past, preserving and visiting historical sites lend credence to history lessons. Adventure Cycling (www.adventurecycling.org) routes follow the Underground Railroad or the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Michelin maps guide to WWII battlefields from D-Day beaches to Sainte-Mère Église to the Battle of the Bulge.

Walking up the steep bank of Omaha Beach in Vierville-sur-mer and imagining being fired on by machine-guns and artilleries brought understanding of the bravery and hardship of those young soldiers. Many did not make it.

A visit to a Nazi concentration camp always brought me questions of what should and could have been done. Denial of their existence is not one of them. Mark Terrance, a friend of ACTC member Dennis Uyeno, wrote a book that maps all the concentration camps.
http://www.concentrationcampguide.com

On 60 Minutes, Veteran Ben Skardon, a Bataan death march survivor, described his experience indelible. Historical sites surround us, near and far. It is upon us to learn, to remember, and only let the good history rhymes.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President

Standing On the Shoulders of Giants

| May 10, 2017 11:16 am

On the eve of Bike to Work Day 2017, know that your voice matters but only if you speak up. Your action is equally important as a role model to family, friends, and colleagues. No need to shout or be a militant, instead emulate Dr. King on your way to the mountaintop.

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” — Isaac Newton

Alex Zuckermann
It has been nearly a decade since Alex Zuckermann passed, but he will always be remembered by his namesake, the Alexander Zuckermann Bicycle Pedestrian Path on the eastern span of the Bay Bridge.

A tireless advocate for cyclists’ rights, Alex was instrumental in getting bicycle access to BART, AC Transit, and Bay Area bridges. Founder of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, Alex’s accomplishment was “his ability to collaborate with a wide variety of bicyclists and other groups. Alex avoided embracing controversial ideas, yet he collaborated with people who espoused a variety of perspectives. He was neither a militant anti-highway opponent, nor did he adopt strident vehicular cycling principles. Instead, he rallied bicyclists to support particular projects. In turn, he persuaded elected officials and staff, building their comfort with our proposals. His pioneering advocacy opened the door for future gains by cyclists in the Bay Area,” wrote Robert Raburn, member of the BART Board of Directors.

Alex Zuckermann Bicycle Trail Eastern Span of Bay Bridge and Alex (red jacket) on Bicycling magazine cover


Ellen Fletcher

Ellen Fletcher’s Bryant Street Bicycle Boulevard was the FIRST of its kind in the US. Ellen, a PTA Mom, knew that safe routes to schools were critical, not just for safety, but would establish a healthy habit for children to last a lifetime.  A Holocaust survivor, Ellen spent her teen years as a refugee in World War II London, where she cycled to her factory job. This great habit never left her; Ellen was proud that she only refilled her car gasoline once a year. Ellen revived the Santa Clara Valley Bicycle Coalition (later rebranded as Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition) and was elected to serve as a Palo Alto City Council Member from 1977 to 1989.

There is not much that cyclists enjoy today that does not have Ellen’s imprint. A major accomplishment is Caltrain bicycle access that is second to none in the world, with a capacity of 72 bicycles per train, all without additional fare to cyclists. This is all thanks to Ellen and Daryl Skrabac, who started working with then Southern Pacific in 1977. At first not successful, the Peninsula Joint Powers Board inherited Caltrain in 1992 and they agreed to make room for bicycles. The beneficiaries, from bicycle access to Caltrain, BART, VTA, AC Transit, and Ferry, are not just the cyclists. Studies show that we are the most consistent users and contribute to the bottom line of these public transportation agencies in good and bad time.

“Ellen’s list of achievements and accomplishments could fill a book, but suffice it to write she’s inspired thousands,” wrote Richard Masoner, contributor to SF.StreetsBlog.org. Ellen Fletcher passed away in 2012.

Ellen on her namesake Bike Boulevard and on Caltrain

Inspirational and iconic figures make great stories but their accomplishments will lie in vain if our generation does not take up the challenge and continue to the mountaintop. Do not think for a minute that what Alex and Ellen fought for will always be here, so please stand up and be counted. In fact, go ahead and stand on Alex’s and Ellen’s shoulders. They would not want it any other way.

Best,
Tony Le, ACTC President