Santa Rosa Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan Goes to Planning Commission

After months of study and public input, Santa Rosa’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan will go before the Planning Commission on February 14 at 4 pm.

There is an opportunity for the public to speak or to submit written comments for consideration. We will be there!

You can read the final draft in its entirety here.  Yes, it’s long! You may wish to skip to section 5, page 82, which lays out the recommended projects and priorities. We have been reviewing the plan and are preparing our comments, but we haven’t personally ridden every mile of the city – have a look at the routes YOU ride the most, and let us know what you think!

We applaud the extensive opportunities for public engagement that were provided throughout the process of its creation. We particularly appreciate how responsive the team has been in incorporating public comments and continually making updates to the draft, even at this late date.

We fully support the program and policy recommendations contained in the Plan; the four E’s of Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, and Evaluation are very well covered:

  • Hiring of a bike/ped program coordinator
  • Annual evaluation with creation of a report card
  • Media campaigns to educate drivers
  • “Adopt a trail” program
  • Funding & support for Smart Cycling classes and Safe Routes to School
  • Valet bicycle parking at large events
  • Participation in Bike to Work Day

That said, it is the E of Engineering – transforming the built environment – that has the highest potential impact in converting the 50-60% of riders who are “interested but concerned.” The city’s share of bicycle mode from 2012-2016, cited in Table 3-4, increased a negligible one tenth of one percent increase. Smart Cycling class attendance and better bike parking may not be enough to get someone on her bike if she perceives the route between home and workplace as unsafe. Adding Class II or III striping may not do it either. The Plan’s ambitious goals for increasing the number of Santa Rosans who commute by bike can only be met by constructing more Class I and Class IV paths, physically separated from motor vehicles.

Less than one third of the proposed bicycle project miles are Class I and Class IV. The first phase projects in this category will definitely fill in some important gaps, and we appreciate the inclusion of Class IV paths in the plan. It could be useful to use Class IV pathways as pilot projects in some of the study areas. In particular, we’d love to see the Sebastopol Road Class IV path prioritized earlier.

Of greatest concern are some of the projects listed in the First Phase Studies category, particularly Stony Point Road, Roseland Creek Trail, College Avenue, Montgomery Drive, and Fourth Street. These are all identified as high injury areas, and the Plan calls for studies to be completed by 2040. Page ten of the Plan states that “What fails to be measured fails to get done.” One could add that what fails to be envisioned fails to get done. The twenty-year goal for these areas that are the most unsafe – have the highest collision rates – some of which happen to be in the lower socioeconomic neighborhoods – is a study. Transportation projects understandably take time: studies must be done, interventions designed, and funding sought before construction can begin. But people are dying there now, and it’s not quite good enough to say that all we will do in the next twenty years in those areas is do studies. We need more aspirational language in the Plan, and perhaps some short-term quick fixes (Temporary barriers? Different traffic light timing?) to address cyclist and pedestrian safety NOW.