MCBC members like you helped push SMART to finally put funds toward the multi-use pathway! Big Wins for the SMART Path

Ever since we learned back in February that SMART was sitting on a substantial financial surplus, we’ve been working to raise up your voices, pushing for the bulk of that money to be allocated to the pathway. Our work has included direct outreach to board members, taking them on a bike tour of the pathway’s gaps with Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, as well as a request for our members to write the board. Between MCBC and SCBC, the SMART Board received nearly 500 emails!

It appears that the hard work has paid off, resulting in three big wins. Thank you!

Funding the Pathway

At their April 21st meeting, the SMART Board of Directors allocated $13.4 million to pay for engineering design and permitting of all* unbuilt segments of the pathway. SMART has never been so forthcoming with funding for the pathway, and this is a necessary step toward finishing it. They also included $2 million to help attract outside grants to fund the final construction.

*There are a number of segments that SMART considers “complete” that, in our opinion, do not cater to riders and walkers of all ages and abilities. This includes the route through Downtown San Rafael, the Marin-Sonoma Narrows, Petaluma Boulevard, and the Puerto Suello Hill gap, mentioned below. While we recognize this funding allocation as a crucial win, we will not stop pushing for the other segments of pathway.

Counting Pathway Users

While SMART counts the number of people who ride the train, they have never reported on the number of people riding or walking on the pathway. After a long campaign to change this (credit to Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition for their leadership), SMART will now consider bicycle/pedestrian usage as one of its key performance metrics.

Puerto Suello Hill Pathway

Anyone who has ridden or walked between Downtown San Rafael and Terra Linda knows that the bike path along the 101 freeway ends with a steep hill on Merrydale Avenue or a long windy uphill on Los Ranchito Road, both of which are too steep for many riders and do not have sidewalks.

Due to MCBC’s advocacy at the San Rafael Bike/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, as well as a strong position taken from Mayor Kate Colin, SMART agreed to co-fund a feasibility study, to determine how best to build a separated multi-use pathway to close the gap.  

SMART Will be Seeking New Leadership

Farhad Mansourian, SMART’s General Manager of over a decade, is resigning at the end of his term in August. MCBC will push the Board to appoint someone with experience and interest in bicycle planning and engineering. Whoever takes the reins at SMART will chart the agency’s course as it approaches its next ballot initiative renewal, and we at MCBC will do our best to make sure they understand the importance of the pathway in that upcoming vote.

members make it happen

We’re proud to be your voice, advocating for better bicycling in Marin. Please support our efforts by joining Marin County Bicycle Coalition today.

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This Wednesday, SMART’s Board of Directors are likely to approve a March 2020 ballot measure to extend the agency’s 1/4-cent sales tax, along with the associated spending plan. The plan includes no guaranteed funding for the bicycle and pedestrian pathway, and even removes language from the last plan that required SMART to prioritize additional funding for the pathway. Join us today in calling on SMART’s Directors for their leadership on the pathway.