Sharrows markingCyclists turned out in force for the Feb. 2nd Sebastopol City Council/Community Development Agency meeting and applauded loudly when the Council threw its support behind the preliminary bike route recommendations prepared by W-Trans. The Council accepted all the recommendations, including new lanes that would require parking removal, although they asked City staff to look at options for  most contentious segment on Petaluma Avenue near Palm Drive Hospital.

With the vocal opposition to parking removal in Sonoma, Santa Rosa and Petaluma, we had expected to hear outcries in Sebastopol, too. After all, the plan calls for removing more than half of the available parking places on the streets  slated for bike lanes. Police Chief Jeff Weaver made a last-minute suggestion to consider dropping Petaluma Avenue to a single lane from the split at South Main to Fanning Avenue, which would preserve parking on both sides of the street instead of just the west (left) side. City Council members were interested in pursuing both options, with likely preference for the single lane, although either option will depend on Caltrans since Petaluma Avenue is a state highway. A side benefit would likely be slower traffic speeds through that area (something that should be true elsewhere, too, as lanes are narrowed).

City Engineer Sue Kelly and W-Trans both emphasized that Caltrans would only support continuous bike lanes, so if the Council opted for shared lane markings (sharrows) on Petaluma Avenue, there would be no north-south bike lanes at all.  In accepting the recommendations, Sebastopol will now be able to meet the obligations of the City’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, which forms a part of the Sonoma County-wide master plan.Share the road sign

In addition to removing some parking spaces, the mix of Class 2 bike lanes and Class 3 Bikeways (mostly to be implemented with sharrows markings) will also involve narrowing lanes for several of the state highway segments, which Caltrans will also need to approve. W-Trans recommended against bike lanes on the segment of Bodega between North Main and Washington Avenue because the roadway is simply too narrow.  Jewell Avenue and Pleasant Hill Road south of Bodega will be designated as Class 3 Bikeways without sharrows markings; Jewell because of low traffic levels and Pleasant Hill because only a short segment lies within City limits.

Two of the speakers asked the Council to consider designating Willow as a Class 3 route with sharrows since it both connects directly with the Joe Rodota Trail and provides an alternative to Bodega Avenue. Though Willow wasn’t within the scope of the study, the Council was interested in looking at that route in the future.

Although we likely won’t see many of the changes for a while since additional traffic studies will be required by Caltrans and money for street improvements is likely to be tight in the foreseeable future, we applaud the City Council for voting to make  Sebastopol a friendlier place to bike and walk.

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