Putting bicycles and pedestrians first

Imagine a future where improvements to the local bicycle network are actually prioritized over projects that benefit vehicle traffic. Where bicycle facilities are not an afterthought, but at the top of the list when determining how to invest limited resources.

The city of Santa Rosa has included this provision in a draft of its new circulation element, the segment of the General Plan that will guide the city’s active transportation planning efforts. The draft circulation element is currently in a public comment phase, and was recently presented to Santa Rosa’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board.

While local bike advocates praise the draft for emphasizing the importance of a complete and connected bicycle network that is suitable for riders of all ages and abilities, there are still some questions about whether it is too car-centric.

For instance, it includes goals around reducing “vehicle miles traveled” — an important indicator not only of getting more people on bikes but also of greenhouse gas reduction — that many argue should be more ambitious. It also includes provisions for reducing traffic speeds in neighborhoods, but appears to do little to reduce traffic speeds on busier streets, a critical element of a safe network for cyclists.

Read the draft here, and share your thoughts with city planners at one of several upcoming public sessions. You can also read this itemized review of the plan from the team at Bikeable Santa Rosa, a local advocacy group.