With the eventual goal of an official City Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, a group of interested community members met at the Sebastopol Library on Nov. 12 to discuss what first steps could be taken to make Sebastopol a more bike and walking-friendly community. The organizers expected 12-15, but about 25 showed up. They were a mix of bike commuters, activists, City Council members and other interested folks — all with a lot of enthusiasm for making Sebastopol a better place to live. Sebastopol already has a Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan that was released this year as part of the Sonoma County wide plan.

Charity Kirk from the West County Revolution bike shop is a driving force in getting a group going and she had a laundry list of steps and possible actions for the group. As first steps, we agreed that identifying and acting on low-hanging fruit would be important in establishing credibility. We want to be able to be an effective group without burdening City staff.

Bike racks and bike parking got a good deal of enthusiasm as a first project. I agreed to be on the executive committee and take on traffic light actuation — a relatively doable issue. We’ll have monthly executive committee meetings and general meetings less frequently.

My family and I will also be volunteering with the Safe Routes to School Program to conduct walking audits in town.  It’s sounding like a lot of volunteer time in addition to everything else, but we want to do what we can to make the place safer. Some of our specific concerns, like education for drivers about stopping for people in crosswalks (especially for those who change lanes to avoid the car mysteriously stopped ahead of them!), go beyond Sebastopol since many drivers are passing through town. Enforcement is a necessary component, of course. Others, like getting more parents to bike or walk their kids to school, would be a matter of education and encouragement. We enjoying doing our part to (literally) walk the talk by walking or riding with our son to school every day. The more of us out there, the safer it would be since there would be fewer parents making the mad dash in their cars.