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Op-Ed: What will we do about Stony Point Road?

Eris Weaver, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Richard Burns. Lusiano Garcia. Mathew Eck. Jennell Davies. Sidney Falbo. Three pedestrians and two cyclists have been killed by motor vehicles on Stony Point Road within the past eight months.

That’s one death, on this one street, in this one city, every six weeks. At this rate, we could expect another fatality sometime around Cinco de Mayo.

What are we willing to do to stop these deaths?

After each of these incidents, law enforcement officers call for pedestrians and cyclists to change their behavior: Be more watchful, wear different clothing, walk farther to a crosswalk. Why do we immediately blame the victim?

These soft, unprotected human bodies were struck by heavy, fast-moving machines. Why aren’t we calling for changes in how and where and how fast we operate the machines?

These deaths are preventable. Yes, some of the victims made errors in judgment. But people do.

The Dutch — residents of the most bike-friendly country in the world — recognize human error in their urban design principles. They acknowledge that small children will run around erratically, drivers will become distracted, and they design for it. They separate fast-moving entities from slow-moving entities.

People will always do stupid things, but designing safer infrastructure can keep them from getting killed. For example, requiring seat belts and airbags has saved lives.

We can alter the width of lanes and the timing of lights; add physical barriers between cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles; add controlled crosswalks at those spots where people are crossing anyway because it’s where they need to go and they don’t want to walk an additional mile, and that’s what people do.

Why aren’t we taking this approach to improving safety on Stony Point Road?

We don’t even have to look to the Dutch across the Atlantic for examples of a different approach to traffic safety. We can just look across the Golden Gate.

Within one week of San Francisco cyclist Tess Rothstein’s death, a protected bike lane along the stretch of Howard Street where she was killed was created with temporary barriers. San Francisco Mayor London Breed has made it a priority to fast-track traffic safety projects on the city’s high-injury corridors.

Five deaths in eight months, and we’ve done nothing.

Our community can do better. I urge our city officials to take action now to prevent more deaths on Stony Point Road.

Eris Weaver is executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

Source: https://www.pressdemocrat.com/opinion/9417564-181/close-to-home-what-will?sba=AAS

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SMART in line for $12.6 million transit grant to extend planned bike path

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

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New ARB report finds California regions are falling short on climate goals, as pollution from driving increases

CLIMATE PLAN

Top findings

Today’s report on those plans finds that regions have made progress in some areas, but not nearly enough to meet their goals:

1. Regions are not on track to meet their climate goals, not for 2020 or even for 2035.
2. Statewide, driving is increasing. The trend is going in the wrong direction — each of us is driving more, not less.
3. Not enough investment is going toward climate-friendly transportation — including walking, bicycling, and public transit — or affordable housing near jobs and transit.
4. Action is needed at every level of government — cities, counties, regions, and the state — to get on track.

“To reduce emissions, the most sustainable options need to be the most convenient,” said Ella Wise, State Policy Associate at ClimatePlan.

Today the California Air Resources Board (ARB) released a new report finding that California regions are not on track to meet either their 2020 or 2035 climate targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additional action from every level of government is required, including more investment in sustainable transportation and affordable homes near jobs and transit. The report can be downloaded here.

Each metropolitan region in the state has a plan, required by law, to reduce emissions by reducing the need to drive. However, the report finds that regions are failing to deliver on their plans. Part of regions’ failure is due to challenges beyond their control, such as limited state funding and local land use decisions. But regions continue to invest in highways, which results in more driving, not less.

Read more at https://www.climateplan.org/new_report_california_regions_falling_short_on_climate_driving_increases

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13-mile Sonoma Valley Trail to allow Santa Rosa-to-Sonoma cycling

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

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New Oakmont bike-pedestrian trail may solve long-simmering access dispute

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A new path nearing completion in Oakmont will soon link the retirement community in east Santa Rosa to Trione-Annadel State Park, and in the process may help solve a long-simmering access dispute.
The 400-foot-long gravel trail is designed to allow bicycle riders and pedestrians to skirt a piece of private property over which the city once held an easement frequently used by the public.
The new path runs parallel to that driveway, links up with city property once used as a wastewater treatment plant and creates a continuous link between Stone Bridge Drive and Channel Drive on the northern side of Annadel.
“We’ve totally bypassed the private property with this path,” said Ken Wells, executive director of the Sonoma Trails Council, which is building the trail with 36 yards of gravel and a lot of volunteer labor from Oakmont residents.
The trail should open as soon as the area has five solid days of warm weather to help the material set, Wells said.
If the city designates a recreational trail across its property – which it is expected to do later this month – the city property and the Oakmont trail together could create a public trail that will not only allow Oakmont residents to access the park but help cyclists stay off busy Highway 12.
“It’s really a good example of the city working with a community group to come up with a creative solution,” said Mayor Chris Coursey, who rode past the path on his bike Thursday afternoon.
Read more at: New Oakmont trail may solve long-simmering access dispute | The Press Democrat

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Construction to start on SMART bike, pedestrian path

Staff, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District, or SMART, received federal environmental clearance on April 6 for a portion of the planned bicycle and pedestrian pathway, stretching from north San Rafael to north Santa Rosa.
The 36-mile portion of the path from the San Rafael Civic Center Station to the Santa Rosa North Station near Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport cleared National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, review.
The Petaluma-based transit agency said this federal green light is one of the most significant environmental approvals to advance bicycle and pedestrian projects in the Bay Area. It also makes the approved portion of the path eligible for federal funding, the train authority said.
Read more at: Construction to start on SMART bike, pedestrian path | North Bay Business Journal

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Santa Rosa SMART Jennings Avenue Railway Crossing

Teri Shore, GREENBELT ALLIANCE
On February 1 at a public hearing in Santa Rosa, a standing room only crowd of about 100 neighbors, advocates, and elected officials came together to speak out in favor of a safe at-grade crossing over the SMART tracks at Jennings Avenue for walkers and bicyclists. No one spoke against the City of Santa Rosa’s application to build the at-grade crossing.
The hearing held at Helen Lehman School was convened by an administrative law judge for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which claims that a super-sized bridge over the railway is the only solution. A final decision won’t be made until later this year, perhaps too late to build the crossing before the SMART commuter service starts running in December.
The CPUC recently blocked off the historic railroad crossing at Jennings, forcing people to walk or bike an extra half mile each way along busy thoroughfares such as Guerneville Road, where “you can reach out and touch cars going by” according to Janet Barocco, a 16-year resident of Jennings Avenue.
Before it was blocked off, as many as 91 people and 25 bicyclists a day typically crossed the tracks here, according to the City of Santa Rosa. Now they must walk another 15 to 30 minutes or get into cars. The CPUC claims that some 170 elementary students who go to school nearby might cross the tracks at Jennings if the at-grade crossing is permitted.
Read more at: Santa Rosa SMART Jennings Avenue Railway Crossing

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Wheels slowly turning for Sonoma Valley bike trail

SONOMA VALLEY SUN
A route has been identified for a proposed 13-mile pedestrian and bicycle trail through the Sonoma Valley. The public is invited to view and comment on the suggested alignment and other findings of a draft feasibility study at an open house planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Kenwood Fire Protection District office, 9045 Sonoma Highway.
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors reviewed the study at its Jan. 12 meeting. See the plan.
The review evaluates the potential for a multi-use trail along Highway 12 between Santa Rosa and the Springs: on the west side between Melita Road and Oakmont Drive; along the east side between Oakmont and Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen; and along the west side between Arnold Drive and Agua Caliente Road.
With the exception of a few areas, the Highway 12 corridor lacks sidewalks and bicycle lanes. The proposed trail would improve safety for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians and promote alternative travel to wineries, parks and other Sonoma Valley attractions, planners say.
Read more at: Wheels slowly turning for Sonoma Valley bike trail | Sonoma Sun

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SMART settlement paves way for bike, pedestrian path

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Cycling advocates say a last-minute agreement hammered out with Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials will prioritize a bike and pedestrian path that voters demanded in 2008 when they approved construction of the commuter rail line.
The agreement, brokered by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, calls for establishing a list of higher priority pathway segments and identifying funding sources for those projects.
Cycling advocates had been threatening to sue SMART over a section of pathway planned in San Rafael, a dispute that more generally speaks to concerns the rail agency is failing to meet its obligations to build the promised network. The agreement, for now, appears to have addressed those concerns.
“Overall, this is a very, very positive development. It increases hope that the path will actually be built,” said Gary Helfrich, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.
Read more at: SMART settlement paves way for bike, pedestrian path | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sonoma Coast, TransportationTags , , Leave a comment on Another small step in Bodega Bay trail

Another small step in Bodega Bay trail

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Work is underway on a small section of a long-awaited bike and pedestrian trail designed to extend along 3½ miles of Bodega Bay coastline, part of it built on an elevated boardwalk at the harbor’s edge.

A crew began last week to clear brush and mark the route of the new half-mile segment toward the northern end of this seaside village, running roughly parallel to Highway 1 between the Bodega Bay Community Center and the entrance road to the state-run Bodega Dunes Campground.

But while a step in the right direction, the estimated $533,000 trail to be laid this fall is just that: a single step in what could still be a prolonged campaign to turn the complete multiuse trail plan into reality, thanks to cost, necessary engineering and environmental hurdles.

Of particular complexity is the milelong boardwalk section designed to skirt the commercial center of town along the harbor tidelands, an environmentally sensitive, seismically demanding stretch of land that also raises residential privacy and commercial right-of-way concerns, Sonoma County Regional Parks personnel said.

That phase, estimated to cost about $2.4 million for construction alone, “is at least 10 years out, because there’s no funding right now,” senior park planner Mark Cleveland said.

Read more via Another small step in Bodega Bay trail | The Press Democrat.