Jennings Crossing of SMART Tracks at Risk: Attend Weds., Sept 19, SMART Board Mtg!

SMART Board Meeting
Next Weds., Sept 19, 1:30 pm
5401 Old Redwood Hwy, 1st Floor, Petaluma

Bicyclists and pedestrians have waited very patiently for the Jennings Avenue Crossing, but now SMART is denying the City of Santa Rosa project approval due to newfound safety concerns. Attend the SMART Board meeting on Wednesday, September 19, to let SMART know that you want a bicycle and pedestrian crossing of the tracks at Jennings Avenue!

When the informal bicycle/pedestrian crossing was closed in anticipation of the train, the only safe and convenient bicycle and pedestrian connection available between several densely-populated neighborhoods, nearby schools, public transit, the library, the Coddingtown Mall, the post office, and more was eliminated. In addition to the important role this key connector plays to local residents, it is also an integral component of the City of Santa Rosa’s overall east-west bicycle and pedestrian network.

SMART has asserted that given recent train collisions involving bicyclists and pedestrians, human behavior dictates that an additional at-grade crossing of the tracks would put bicyclists and pedestrians in harms way. However, there are several key considerations that SMART is overlooking:

  • The alternative is to force pedestrians and cyclists to use the high-speed, high-traffic Dutton Avenue, Guerneville Road and/or College Avenue. These roads have several driveways and cross-streets in which motorists are focused on oncoming traffic, not bicyclists and pedestrians. This is simply trading one minor safety concern for a much larger safety issue.
  • Detouring bicyclists and pedestrians onto Guerneville Road and College Avenue does not eliminate the need to cross the SMART tracks. Double tracks exist at both of these locations as well. In fact, the Jennings Crossing would be much safer because there would be channelized fencing and an arm gate to prevent bicyclists and pedestrians from crossing the track when a train is approaching. No such gate exists for bicyclists and pedestrians at Guerneville Road or College Avenue. The same is true for the crossings at 6th, 7th and 8th Streets.
  • If human behavior and existing evidence has taught us anything, it’s that people will continue to take the shortest and most convenient route between two points, even when it requires repeatedly cutting holes in, or hopping over/under, the security fencing and darting across the train tracks with NO safety measures in place!
  • Travelling 15-20 minutes out of the way is not only counter to getting more people walking and biking for everyday transportation, but it’s also not a viable option for everyone. There are many seniors, small children, and limited mobility people who are unable or unwilling to travel the extra distance along busy streets. This translates to more vehicle trips, traffic congestion, and greenhouse gas emissions.

The bicycling and pedestrian community has long supported the SMART project. However, to deny us use of an important community corridor on the basis of safety concerns, while putting us at greater risk as we’re forced to use less-superior and less-safe routes, is simply unacceptable. Attend the SMART Board meeting on Sept. 19 to voice your concerns to the Board.