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CA Springtime Protest Pedal to Stop Distracted Driving

Eric Okerblom, 19, was killed on his bicycle by a texting driver.

His dad, Bob Okerblom, is leading this ride.

The California Springtime Protest Pedal, April 12-22, arrived in Monterey County on April 15.  Riders had departed Santa Cruz at 8 a.m., biked to Marina, where they cut over at  G17/Reservation Road to reach Blanco Road, biking Blanco to  Salinas. They contiinued via Alisal, stopping in East Salinas (where up the street, the Monterey County Youth Center was having its first Bike Repair and Safety class).  After  a quick stop at La Plaza Bakery & Cafe, near Alisal and Sanborn, they were on their way again, with many miles to pedal  before nightfall.

East Salinas stop, at Alisal and Sanborn, before noon on 4/15.


From Salinas, they biked on to South Monterey County; next stop, Gonzales.   Sunday night, they will lodge in King City before departing at 8 a.m. Monday for Lake Naciemento, their Monday night place of lodging.

You are invited to join them on even a portion of this ride.  Please observe all California bike laws, and safe riding practices

See full itinerary in the guest post below, originally published here on 2/27/12.

Learn more

Visit the Eric Okerblom Foundation website to learn more, including others ways to help even if you can’t ride.  Watch as Eric’s parents tell of this senseless tragedy on a “Faces of Distracted Driving” video.

Also see:  Distracted? Stay alert. Cops about! on this site.

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Guest Post by Bob Okerblom

In 2009, my 19-year-old son, Eric, was killed by a texting driver while he was bicycling on a straight, unobstructed country road.  Despite being illegal, driver hand-held cell phone use remains rampant in California.  A 2011 AAA survey demonstrated over 4% of drivers are using hand-held devices at any given time. Multiple scientific studies confirm that such behavior impairs a driver equal to alcohol intoxication, increasing collision risk by at least 4 times.

Distracted driving is the leading cause of teenager death in America.  In 2011 the California legislature responded to this threat by passing a bipartisan bill to increase the base fine for driver hand-held cell use from $20 to $50.  Governor Brown vetoed this critical legislation, citing concerns for creating a financial hardship for those of lesser means.  In essence, he is enabling the cell drunk!

From April 12 – 22, I will lead a group of cyclists who will bicycle from Sacramento to San Diego to express our outrage at this veto.  Our California Springtime Protest Pedal will rally support for appropriate penalties for driver cell law violations.  We hope to stimulate discussion and generate media to make our roadways, families, and loved ones safer.  At the same time, we will enjoy a recreation-paced cycle through the California countryside. 

We will have vehicular support, but each cyclist will be responsible for their own meals and accommodations.  Your participation is welcome for any or all of the cycle.  You can promote our cause by enlisting cyclists and notifying local cycle clubs, media, elected officials, and service clubs. Please register with bobokerblom@yahoo.com

Itinerary:

4/12: The 63 mile Sacramento to Napa leg starts at the Capitol building and takes us through Davis then along Lake Berryessa before we climb into wine country. 

4/13: The Napa to San Francisco segment is a scenic pedal through San Rafael and Sausalito climaxed by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to the city by the bay.

4/14: The San Francisco to Santa Cruz [a Monterey Bay county] segment is 82 miles creeping down the center of the peninsula with two 1000 foot climbs before descending to Hwy 1 and the coast.

4/15: Santa Cruz to King City [Santa Cruz and Monterey counties] is a [relatively] flat 107 miles along Monterey Bay before cutting inland through farmlands and open spaces to King City [Monterey County].

4/16: From King City [Monterey County] there is a 1000 foot climb through the Middle Kingdom and 66 miles of rural road that ends in the renowned Zinfindel vineyards of Paso Robles.

4/17: From Paso Robles we climb 1000 feet to the coast, then ride past the Morro Rock monolith before reaching the 80 mile mark at Pismo Beach.

 4/18: Pismo to Lompoc is an easy 58 mile recovery ride through farmlands and along Vandenberg Air Force base that ends with a short climb.

4/19: After an initial 1000 foot climb, the 85 miles from Lompoc to Ventura hugs the spectacular Santa Barbara coast and is aided by a predictable tailwind.

4/20: The 60 flat miles from Ventura to Santa Monica is along Hwy 1 and runs past the famous beaches at County line, Zuma, and Malibu.

4/21: From Santa Monica we pedal 74 miles along the coast through Venice and Huntington Beach to San Clemente.

4/22: Our final segment is 74 miles through Oceanside and La Jolla before concluding in San Diego.

For information, go to eofoundation.net or contact bobokerblom@yahoo.com

–Bob Okerblom

Eric and his dad

Wish you could see a photo of Eric biking?  Eric had only become interested in cycling three  weeks before his death. He was intent on joining the cycling team at UC Berkeley, where he was majoring in Molecular Biology.  His Cal cycling jersey arrived in the mail several days after he died.

All photos provided courtesy of Bob Okerblom.

* * * * *

Update, 3/18/12:

 The California Springtime Protest Pedal is fast approaching. The timing is opportune. Senate Bill 1310 was just submitted to increase the base fine to $50 for driver cell violators. In 2011 the Governor vetoed a similar bipartisan bill. Time to take stand against cell drunk driving, and tell our Legislators and Governor to get tough on willfully impaired drivers! Let’s make our roads safer. Below is a lodging/departure itinerary for our pedal. Come cycle. Call Bob Okerblom at 805 705-3103 for more information.
Note: Dates below indicate where the group lodges that night.
Wednesday 4/11: Governors Inn Hotel, Sacramento
800 999-6689
Depart Capitol Building steps at 8:00 63 miles
Thursday 4/12: Hawthorn Suites, Napa
314 Soscol Ave, 866 539-8117
Depart from motel at 8:00 68 miles
Friday 4/13: Ocean Park Motel, San Francisco
2690 46th Ave, 415 566-7020
(alternative motel is Seal Rock Inn 415 752-8000)
Depart from John’s Ocean Beach Cafe (2898 Sloat) at 8:00 82 miles
Saturday 4/14: Best Western Inn, Santa Cruz
26 Plymouth St, 831-425-4717
Depart from motel at 8:00 107 miles
Sunday 4/15: Courtesy Inn, King City
4 Broadway Circle, 831-385-4646
Depart from motel at 8:00 66 miles
Monday 4/16: Okerblom Condo, Lake Naciemento
(alternative is a Paso Robles motel)
Departure point TBA 80 miles
Tuesday 4/17: Best Western Shore Cliff Lodge, Pismo Beach
2555 Price St, 888 701-4931
Depart Pismo Beach Pier 9:00 58 miles
Wednesday 4/18: Okerblom home
( alternative is a Lompoc motel)
Depart La Purisima Mission at 8:00 85 miles
Thursday 4/19: Country Inn & Suites, Ventura
298 Chestnut St, 805 653-1434
Depart Ventura Pier at 8:00 60 miles
Friday 4/20: Best Western Plus Gateway, Santa Monica
1920 Santa Monica Blvd, 310 829-9100
Depart Santa Monica Pier at 8:00 74 miles
Saturday 4/21: Best Western Plus Casablanca Inn
1601 N. El Camino Real, 949 361-1644
Depart San Clemente Metro Link Station (North) at 8:00
Confused about  distracted driving fines?

Perhaps you’ve heard that there is a $159 fine for distracted driving.  Below is some clarification provided by Bob Okerblom.

Vehicle Code fines are a bit confusing. The current base fine is $20 and no points, which is the smallest fine in the code book. This is the same fine as jaywalking. However, a variety of fees are attached to each citation that raise the “out the door” price of a $20 base fine to about $159, but these fees are not the actual fine itself. For example, parking in a handicap space (without a sticker) is a $250 fine, which, after fees, is about $1,000.

In spite of the 2009 ban on driver hand-held use, surveys by AAA confirm that California drivers have increased their hand-held use above the pre-ban level.  SB 1310 proposes to impose a base fine of $50 (with points) for operating a vehicle “cell drunk.”   We will never stem the tide of willful driver cell impairment until the code puts teeth behind the law.

Visit the Eric Okerblom Foundation website to learn more.

“But officer, it was important!”
“Excuse me, lady, could you please put your phone down?”
Fog & Smog have the last word.
  1. Graham Turner says:

    Best of British luck for the ride Bob, distracted driving is a worldwide curse and needs to be stopped. I know the route you are doing well, having travelled it myself. I wish I could join you, but I will be thinking of you. I’m certain Eric would be proud.

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