The City’s Cyclists: People’s Photographer

The City’s Cyclists: People’s Photographer

Photo by Sam Hodgson

Chris Kluth and his son Karsten prepare for their morning bike ride.

 

Yesterday, I asked readers to send along their best photo assignments for a project we call the People’s Photographer. We quickly got a message from the Twitter account for Bike San Diego: “@voiceofsandiego cyclists in the region. Everyone who commutes on their own power.”

I liked the idea. As someone who drives every day by necessity, I often envy those who pedal to work and wonder how they navigate our city streets.

I asked them to direct me to someone who bikes to work. After a brief Twitter exchange, they set me up with Chris Kluth.

 

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Kluth and his two blond boys set out from their North Park home by bike. Karsten, 9, and Kai, 6, both attend Albert Einstein Academy, about two miles south of the family’s home.

 

 

 

This morning, the boys donned their helmets, and Kai insisted on getting his Fox biking gloves, before heading off for a quick 15-minute ride to school. Karsten quickly pedaled ahead of his dad and younger brother, who rides tandem with his father. They flew down the alleyway behind their house, and in moments, they were around the corner and out of sight.

 

 

Minutes later, they’d arrived at school. Kluth helped Karsten lock up his bike before heading off to work himself. There, he has bikes on the brain, as well. As a senior planner for the San Diego Association of Governments, he’s in charge of the organization’s Active Transportation Plan.

So as he bikes to work, takes his kids to school, or cruises the neighborhood on the weekends, he gets perspective that helps plan projects to make bicycle riding more accessible.

“It is sort of part of my job,” he says, standing in front of his kids’ school. “You have to get out there and walk the walk and see what the conditions are and what people have to deal with on a realisitic level.”

Kluth has biked to work in every city he’s lived in, regardless of road conditions. In San Diego, he’s commuted to work on a bike every day for nine years. Standing in front of his kids’ school, I ask him to give San Diego’s bikeability a letter grade, from his first-hand experience.

“I’d give San Diego, overall, alright, I’ll give it a B-,” he said. “We’re not fulfilling our potential as the teachers would say.”

But, he says, there are a lot of projects that can help San Diego “get over the hump.” With Sandag, he’s working to creating both bike trails and “bike boulevards” — corridors that will help connect San Diego’s urban neighborhoods, all the way from La Mesa to downtown San Diego.

“We’re a lot better than average, but there’s a lot of things we can do to make it better here.”

For now, Kluth says he can happily and safely take his young boys to school in the morning, even when they protest. While they usually love to jump on their bikes in the morning, they’ll occasionally ask if they can just hop in the car with mom. What does Kluth tell them?

“Tough,” he says.

Here are some more photos of the family ride this morning.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a photojournalist at voiceofsandiego.org. You can contact me directly at sam.hodgson@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5664.

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Sam Hodgson

Sam Hodgson

Sam Hodgson is a freelance photojournalist and contributor to Voice of San Diego. You can contact him at samhodgsonphoto@gmail.com and check out his work on his website: http://www.samhodgsonphotography.com/singles.

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16 comments
Wilhelm Stoll
Wilhelm Stoll subscriber

VOSD's next profile should feature a typical San Diego driver. Then people can post comments on how drivers routinely flout provisions of the California Vehicle Code by talking on cell phones, speeding through residential neighborhoods, blowing stop signs and red lights, failing to signal turns and lane changes, turning left from right lanes and right from left lanes, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and using their vehicles as weapons to threaten non-motorized road users who are moving too slowly for them.

wpstoll
wpstoll

VOSD's next profile should feature a typical San Diego driver. Then people can post comments on how drivers routinely flout provisions of the California Vehicle Code by talking on cell phones, speeding through residential neighborhoods, blowing stop signs and red lights, failing to signal turns and lane changes, turning left from right lanes and right from left lanes, failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and using their vehicles as weapons to threaten non-motorized road users who are moving too slowly for them.

Bill Davidson
Bill Davidson subscriber

SB 910 also had a provision to allow crossing a double yellow center line in order to leave that 3 feet provided that there was sufficient visibility and clear road to do so safely. Again, this was another concession to motorists that other state's 3 foot passing laws do not have. Without that, you would need to wait until there was a safe turnout and at least 5 vehicles waiting behind the bicyclist as specified by CVC 21654, though when riding on roads like that, I'll always turn out for even one vehicle wait behind me even though the law does not require it until there are 5.

billdsd
billdsd

SB 910 also had a provision to allow crossing a double yellow center line in order to leave that 3 feet provided that there was sufficient visibility and clear road to do so safely. Again, this was another concession to motorists that other state's 3 foot passing laws do not have. Without that, you would need to wait until there was a safe turnout and at least 5 vehicles waiting behind the bicyclist as specified by CVC 21654, though when riding on roads like that, I'll always turn out for even one vehicle wait behind me even though the law does not require it until there are 5.

Bill Davidson
Bill Davidson subscriber

Whoops. Typo. The impeding law is 21654. 21650 is the law that says traffic has to travel on the right half of the road.

billdsd
billdsd

Whoops. Typo. The impeding law is 21654. 21650 is the law that says traffic has to travel on the right half of the road.

Bill Davidson
Bill Davidson subscriber

The impeding law in California is 21650. 21202 is a keep right law. It is not a "single file" law as you are trying to pretend.

billdsd
billdsd

The impeding law in California is 21650. 21202 is a keep right law. It is not a "single file" law as you are trying to pretend.

Bill Davidson
Bill Davidson subscriber

The exceptions in (a)(3) and (a)(4) make it so that very few roads actually require bicyclists to keep far right.

billdsd
billdsd

The exceptions in (a)(3) and (a)(4) make it so that very few roads actually require bicyclists to keep far right.

Jay Porter
Jay Porter subscriber

On the other hand, whenever a bicyclist makes room for you to pass, they are doing something they don't have to do, and you should be grateful to them, and pass them with care and at slow speeds.

Jay Porter
Jay Porter

On the other hand, whenever a bicyclist makes room for you to pass, they are doing something they don't have to do, and you should be grateful to them, and pass them with care and at slow speeds.

James Snook
James Snook subscriber

It is legal to ride abreast in many situations. For sure there are also many situations where it would be considered impeding the flow of traffic. Next time you see a cyclist in the lane try and understand they are riding there for their safety and not necessarily breaking any law or statute in the vehicle code.

jsnook
jsnook

It is legal to ride abreast in many situations. For sure there are also many situations where it would be considered impeding the flow of traffic. Next time you see a cyclist in the lane try and understand they are riding there for their safety and not necessarily breaking any law or statute in the vehicle code.

Jim Jones
Jim Jones subscriber

Riding two abreast on the street violates Motor Vehicle Code 21202, which requires bikes to ride "ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway".

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

Riding two abreast on the street violates Motor Vehicle Code 21202, which requires bikes to ride "ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway".