For the hefty price of $340 million, Sonoma County could one day have an unrivaled bike path system, though transportation planners concede that the hard reality of tight funding could put that goal a long way down the road.
A signature element of the Sonoma-Marin rail project and a key selling point for many of the voters who approved it — a 71-mile bikeway, postponed due to a funding crisis — is moving forward in places, but not fast enough for bicycle advocates.
Sonoma County’s tentative approval of an expansion for Mark West Quarry east of Santa Rosa has bicycling advocates and some county supervisors asking whether enough is being done to protect cyclists and others who use the quarry’s busy east-west haul route.
Trucks entering and exiting the century-old quarry off Porter Creek Road traverse the hills between Sonoma and Napa counties on narrow and busy roads that also double as an approved bicycle and pedestrian corridor.
Gary Helfrich makes a point of listening to the complaints and the rants, the calls and emails of people upset by cyclists who don’t follow traffic laws or who clog narrow roads.
Helfrich, the head of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, knows that bicyclists can do better at following traffic rules, but said that doesn’t give a motorist the right to drive dangerously, or assault a cyclist.
Helfrich, 59, head of the bicycle coalition for the past two years, is on a mission to shift the culture and attitude toward cyclists.
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will consider a proposed ordinance that would make it easier for bike riders and pedestrians to sue those who intentionally threaten and harass them.
Sebastopol became the first city in Sonoma County and one of few in the nation to pass an ordinance that makes it easier for bicyclists and pedestrians to sue drivers who threaten or harass them.
Greenhouse gas emissions declined in Sonoma County in 2011 for the third straight year, reflecting an expansion of renewable energy sources and a down economy, which lowered demand for power and transportation. Still, Sonoma County’s goal of reducing emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2015 remains elusive, officials said Tuesday.