Kevin Fixler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Nearly a year and a half since the North Bay rolled out its commuter rail, cyclists in the region feel slighted over how little of the paved path SMART promised along the tracks is finished.
The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit is scheduled to extend by year’s end its train operations more than 2 miles south to Larkspur, completing 45 miles of the planned 70-mile line that will eventually stretch up to Cloverdale.
However, just 16.2 miles of the separated bicycle and walking trail linking each of the stations has been built. That includes short segments totaling about 5 miles across Novato, San Rafael and Cotati completed in the past two years.
Another 1-mile segment northwest of the downtown Petaluma Station is set to be built this summer.
Still, that will represent about a third of the 54 miles SMART pledged as part of Measure Q, a ¼-cent sales tax hike Sonoma and Marin county voters approved more than a decade ago to create the North Bay commuter rail system. Another 16 miles of existing trail next to the train corridor is to receive upgrades.
Critics, including two cycling advocacy groups in the region that boast thousands of members, contend what’s accessible now falls far short of SMART’s obligation.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9413042-181/with-only-16-miles-finished
Will Schmitt, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A Highway 101 overcrossing connecting Coddingtown Mall to Santa Rosa Junior College and a contentious railroad crossing with an uncertain future are among the bicycle and pedestrian projects proposed in an aspirational city plan that would more than double the number of bikeways in the city.
“It is an ambitious list,” said Nancy Adams, a city transportation planner. “Once you get the road map, now we have to start talking and having the hard conversations on how do you start and get something accomplished.”
The updated bicycle and pedestrian master plan, which contains dozens of projects meant to make it easier to travel around Santa Rosa without a car, won unanimous approval from the Planning Commission on Thursday. It is set to go before the City Council in March.
The plan is inherently optimistic about the city’s ability to pay for future expansions of its walking and biking network. But cash-strapped Santa Rosa’s leaders have devoted recent budget discussions to cutting spending and replenishing reserves depleted by the October 2017 wildfires to pay down pension liabilities.
The city doesn’t have funding for all of the plan’s projects at this time, Adams acknowledged. The proposed Highway 101 crossing connecting the mall and college campus in north Santa Rosa has funding for its design, but the city hasn’t identified how to pay for its construction, she said.
In all, the city has proposed adding 129 miles of bikeways throughout Santa Rosa, increasing its network of bike paths to 242 miles. Alongside the expansive list of potential projects comes data showing that bikes and feet are far from the most popular ways to get to work in Santa Rosa.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9289467-181/santa-rosa-bike-path-plan
Kevin Fixler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Bay Area transit planners have recommended the North Bay’s commuter train agency be granted $12.6 million to support the build out of its planned bicycle and pedestrian pathway, SMART announced Thursday.
If approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission as early as this month, the funding would go toward 4.7 miles of new paved pathway in Petaluma, Rohnert Park and Santa Rosa. SMART’s original plan envisioned completion of 54 miles of trail adjacent to the rail corridor and upgrades to an existing 16 miles designated for bicycles and pedestrians, together running the 70-plus miles from Cloverdale to Larkspur.
Only 16.2 miles of the pathway are complete. About 5 miles of the multi-use path across San Rafael, Novato, Cotati and Rohnert Park were completed in 2017-18, with another 1-mile segment in Petaluma due to be built this year, according to SMART.
Should SMART receive the MTC grant, funded through state gas and vehicle weight taxes, the agency will build new segments from McDowell Boulevard in Petaluma to Main Street in Penngrove and from Golf Course Drive in Rohnert Park to Bellevue Avenue in Santa Rosa. SMART also has another grant application submitted for funding to complete another 12 miles of trail between Windsor and Petaluma.
Read more at https://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/9232713-181/smart-in-line-for-126
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Imagine a 300-mile trail from San Francisco Bay to Humboldt Bay taking hikers, bicycle and horseback riders through a stunning North Coast river canyon and old growth redwood forests.
It would cost untold millions of dollars and won’t come soon, but the idea for what’s called the Great Redwood Trail is embodied in state Sen. Mike McGuire’s bill, which would also abolish a debt-ridden public agency and put commuter train operator Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit in charge of railroad freight service in its two counties.
The buzz is all about a trail along railroad tracks through some territory most people have never seen and which advocates are likening to the 210-mile John Muir Trail through the Sierra Nevada.
“It’s an amazing prospect,” said Alisha O’Loughlin, executive director of the 1,000-member Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. “Something we’re very enthusiastic about.”
The trail, affording “gorgeous recreational opportunities,” would draw cyclists and equestrians from far and wide, she said.
The coalition’s only concern is that work on the trail not take priority over completion of pathways along the 70-mile SMART corridor in Sonoma and Marin counties. Just 16 miles of pathways have been built to date in segments from Healdsburg to San Rafael.
Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8406036-181/north-coasts-great-redwood-trail
Martin Espinoza, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A bicycle commuter riding Tuesday along the Joe Rodota Trail was assaulted as he passed through a homeless camp on the popular bike and pedestrian path connecting Santa Rosa to Sebastopol.
Bill Petty, 42, was pedaling home when he said a group of eight to 10 people blocked his path. As he tried to walk his bike through the crowd, he said someone pulled on his shirt, an argument broke out and then a man punched him.
Petty said he suffered fractures just above his left eye and on his nose, which he had treated at the hospital.
“I didn’t even see the punch coming,” said Petty, a Roseland resident who for more than a year had been riding his bike every day to and from work on Auto Row on Corby Avenue.
He said he called out to the group as he approached on his bike but no one moved.
“They’re telling me that I should go around, I said, ‘I can’t go around because there’s tents on both sides of the trail,’” Petty said.
Read more at http://www.pressdemocrat.com/news/8337445-181/santa-rosa-bicycle-commuter-beaten
Michael Anderson, STREETSBLOG USA
Here’s one way to understand the story of biking in Sevilla, Spain: It went from having about as much biking as Oklahoma City to having about as much biking as Portland, Oregon.
It did this over the course of four years.
Speaking last week at the PlacesForBikes conference, one of the masterminds of that transition — which is only now becoming widely known in the United States — filled in some of the gaps in that story.
Manuel Calvo had spent years in Sevilla bicycling activism and was working as a sustainability consultant when he landed the contract to plan a protected bike lane network for his city. The result was the Plan de la Bicicleta de Sevilla, mapping the fully connected protected bike lane network that would make Sevilla’s success possible.
But as Calvo explained in his keynote Wednesday and an interview afterward, the story might not have played out that way.
Here are some things for U.S. bike believers to learn from Calvo’s account:
1) Driving had been rising sharply in Sevilla for years before 2007
2) Politicians’ support for a major biking investment came from a single poll
3) The network was built so fast because leaders saw a chance to deliver it within a single election cycle
4) Sevilla created its network by repurposing 5,000 on-street parking spaces
5) Bike lane designs were shaped by public input – but only after officials made clear that doing nothing was not an option
6) Once the network was built, its benefits were obvious
Read the complete article at https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/05/07/six-secrets-from-the-planner-of-sevillas-lightning-bike-network/#new_tab
Alex T. Randolph, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN
After years of planning, Sonoma County Regional Parks has just come one step closer to starting work on a proposed 15-mile bike trail that would connect the cities of Petaluma and Sebastopol.
Sonoma County Regional Parks presented the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors with an extensive feasibility study on Feb. 6. The purpose of the study was to determine the safest and most feasible route for a currently unnamed pedestrian and bike trail between the two cities, and also to consider routes to connect unincorporated areas of Sonoma County. The board accepted the findings and recommendations of the study on Feb. 13, allowing Regional Parks to receive final reimbursement and meet obligations of the grant used to pay for the study.
According to a summary of the study, the ideal route for the paved trail is the corridor next to Highway 12 and Stony Point Road. However, according to Fifth District Supervisor Linda Hopkins, there is some debate between those who want the trail to follow the highway and others who want it elsewhere.
Read more at https://www.bohemian.com/northbay/the-ride-stuff/Content?oid=5317498
Melody Karpinski, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Buying a car used to be a hallmark of adulthood. Yet today, the renaissance of two-wheel transportation is surging. Reducing environmental impact is not the only driving force –– instead it’s a trend mixed with a desire to return to the outdoors and create sustainable community within urban environments.
Nearly 40 percent of all bike trips in the U.S. are less than 2 miles, and the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62 percent between 2000 and 2013, according to the League of American Bicyclists.
“People want to live near where they work and they don’t need a car to do much of their daily commuting,” said Eric Anderson, a long-time developer and Santa Rosa resident. “The growing trend of ‘urban’ cycling is really related to the growing trend and shifting demography of how and where people live.”
Anderson is one of the key developers in the newly opened Astro Motel on Santa Rosa Avenue, which caters to cyclists. Guests can rent bikes from the hotel, have existing bikes fixed at the motel’s in-house bike shop, or even have them shipped ahead and assembled in their rooms when they arrive.
Read more at: http://www.pressdemocrat.com/lifestyle/outdoors/7864448-181/new-santa-rosa-bike-rentals
Christian Kallen, SONOMA INDEX-TRIBUNE
Eventually, upon the trail’s completion, the 8-foot-wide paved trail, with 2-foot gravel shoulders, is designed to provide two-way bike traffic with room for pedestrians along a trans-Valley route parallel to Highway 12.
The 13-mile, $24 million Sonoma Valley Trail moved a half-million dollars and a half mile closer to reality recently, as the Board of Supervisors approved a construction contract for a portion of the proposed bicycle path in the Agua Caliente area.
The funding was approved for the Central Sonoma Valley Trail, a portion of the more comprehensive Sonoma Valley Trail, roughly from Agua Caliente Road to Maxwell Farms. It is designed to connect the Sonoma Valley Trail with the City of Sonoma’s Bike Path.
The board voted to award G.D. Nielson Construction a total of $468,832 to build .42 miles of trail, in two segments. The first is just over a tenth of a mile, from the Larson Park trail north through Flowery Elementary, to connect at Depot Road with the existing trial. As of Monday, July 24, crews were at work on this section of the path.
The second .31 mile section starts at Main Street – that little spur off Sonoma Highway at the McDonald’s restaurant – and continues west on the north side of Verano Avenue to Sonoma Creek, on the edge of Maxwell Farms Regional Park. This section of trail is primarily designed to provide access to Sonoma Creek, as it does not advance the overall direction of the Sonoma Valley Trail toward the city’s bike path.
Read more at: 13-mile Sonoma Valley Trail to allow Santa Rosa-to-Sonoma cycling | Sonoma Index-Tribune | Sonoma, CA
Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Segments of a bike and pedestrian path designed to skirt North Bay railroad tracks where occupied passenger trains are soon slated to run inched closer to reality under funding proposals advanced Wednesday.
One of the segments, a 1.2-mile path running along railroad tracks over the Petaluma River and under Highway 101 between Payran Street and Southpoint Boulevard in Petaluma, is now fully-funded, with construction plans in the works.
The other segment reviewed Wednesday would extend from Golf Course Drive in Rohnert Park to Todd Road south of Santa Rosa.
The timetable for the start of SMART’s passenger service, meanwhile, remains unclear.
Read more at: SMART advances path segments along tracks in Sonoma County | The Press Democrat