Are standard bike lanes the best option for Highway 12 through Sebastopol? Traveling through the city on bike is difficult now and will continue to be difficult even as projects in the City’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan are completed. In the February Bike & Walk Sebastopol meeting, we spent considerable time discussing the planned Class 2 bike lane to be constructed as part of the Hollyhock mixed use development on South Main St. The lane is to be the standard 6 ft. width and located between the on-street parking and the traffic lane.  The concern brought to the group was that 6 feet isn’t wide enough to protect riders from either car doors opening or passing truck traffic. Since this project has already been approved, there may be little chance of changing the type of bike route, but we agreed that the City should take another look at it since that short stretch will set the precedent for future bike access between the City limits at Cooper Rd. and Petaluma Ave.

Buffered Lanes

What about designating the sidewalk (or perhaps an expanded sidewalk) as the bike route through this stretch? When we travel it at present with our 7 year old on our way to Laguna Farm or other points at the south end of town, we do use the existing sidewalk on the west side of 116. I know it’s not recommended due to ped/bike conflict, but it keeps the kids away from the trucks. Even if the bike lane were 12 feet, we probably still wouldn’t let our son ride it alone, but we might if it were essentially a shared Class 1 trail that happened to have parking next to it.

StreetsBlog reported that:

Bike lanes that separate bicyclists from motor vehicle traffic are safer and encourage more bicycling, according to a recent survey by Transportation Alternatives. The survey of 147 cyclists was conducted along the 8th Avenue bike lane in Manhattan, one of the few bike paths to integrate both “buffered” and “unbuffered” segments.

A more recent post included a video on making the case for physically separated bike lanes.

I also want to share some comments on Fixpert that were posted in response to: DIY Geurrilla Bike Lanes, Sharrows, and Separated Bike Lanes:

  1. Jonas
    October 4th, 2007 at 3:43 pm Here in Germany we have the situation, that almost all of the bike lanes are separated from the road by being part of the sidewalk, that means a part of the sidewalk is made of a different material so you can see where to drive with your bike.  Studies conducted in germany have come to the conclusion, that riding on this separated bike-lanes (which mostly are in a terrible state) is actually more dangerous (slightly more and most importantly more severe accidents) than riding on the street. Most accidents here take place on crossings or driveways, espacially on left-side bike-lanes, because drivers tend to focus on the street and pay less attention to the sidewalk and the bike-lane (which seems to be the problem that you face in L.A.). I notice myself that, when riding my bike on the street, car drivers tend to drive carefully around me and i have experienced less situations where i had to avoid an imminent accident. So it seems to be more a problem of awareness in other traffic-participants – maybe bike-lanes on the streets themselves should be ommitted altogether and more space be left for cyclists – if you drive offensively (demanding your rights that you have – just because you are less motorized doesn’t mean that you have less rights in the traffic!) on the outside and defensively and carefully on the inside (anticipating, watching the traffic carefully), car-drivers are going to respect that (just like jen said above, ride strong!).

    Shared sidewalk/path in Germany

    Shared sidewalk/path in Germany

    greetings from germany

  2. Jonas
    October 4th, 2007 at 3:47 pm p.s. the only accident i had in the 15 years that i am riding a bike happened on a separated bike-lane when a car driver coming from the side didn’t see me and crashed into my right side, knocking me off my bike – luckily i only suffered some bruises, but my bike got stolen when i was in the hospital for x-rays…

    interesting site btw.

Buffered bike lanes (StreetsBlog)

Buffered bike lanes (StreetsBlog)

Although the separated, shared bike & pedestrian paths would have the potential for conflict between the groups of users, it would not take additional space from the developer and would continue to allow on-street parking as in the above photo.


Other areas, such as the one-way section of Petaluma Ave.  and Bodega Ave. , are too narrow for even Class 2 bike lanes.  San Francisco pioneered the sharrows concept — markings of a bike with two chevrons/arrows above it on the streets that designate a shared lane. Other cities have adopted the idea, including Portland, as noted by BikePortland:

“Sharrow” lane markings have just been painted on a few streets in NW Portland. Here’s an excerpt from the official news release from the City of Portland:

Sharrows lane markings (Bike Commute Tips Blog)

Sharrows lane markings (Bike Commute Tips Blog)

The Portland Office of Transportation began installing “shared lane pavement markings” on three streets in northwest and southwest Portland today. Known as “sharrows,” these markings are intended to help cyclists better position themselves on roadways where bicycle lanes are the recommended treatment, but which cannot be striped for varying reasons.

They are 10 feet long and are part of federal experiment to monitor their effectiveness. They have already been adopted in San Francisco, CA and are standard treatment in that state [emphasis mine]

It’s time to move beyond the minimum standards for bike travel through the City!