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.
A plan to reroute a popular bicycle trail around a proposed gas station and market on the western edge of Santa Rosa was criticized as not doing enough to protect bicyclists but was approved anyway Thursday by the city’s Planning Commission.
In a 5-1 vote, the commission signed off on plans to build the station, market and one-bedroom apartment along the Joe Rodota Trail at North Wright Road just south of the Fulton Road and Highway 12 intersection.
Most commissioners felt the developer had found a creative solution to the problem of possible conflicts with bicyclists by diverting them behind the station along an easement on the property.
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.
For more than a year a countywide task force trying to combat the problem of pedestrians and bicyclists killed by distracted drivers has looked for ways to broadcast its message. Its latest effort can be seen along Highway 101 south of Petaluma on a billboard that went up March 18 with the message: Park the phone while you drive.
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.
A push to make it easier in Sonoma County for bicyclists and pedestrians to sue drivers who threaten or harass them will get its first test Tuesday when a proposed ordinance goes before the Sebastopol City Council.