News Bike Lanes on E. Blithedale are Here
The long-awaited bike lanes on E. Blithedale Avenue have finally arrived. We rode the new lanes so you can know what to look forward to, what to look out for, and what we need to do to continue to improve them.
A bike route on E. Blithedale was originally planned nearly 50 years ago. Now, finally, as part of a roughly $10M project to repave the street between downtown the US-101 interchange, there is a dedicated place for bicycle users on the road. The new lanes run between Roque Moreas Dr and Tower Dr/Kipling Dr in the eastbound direction, and between Tower/Kiping and Meadow Dr in the westbound direction.
Except for a short segment in front of the bus stop, the entire bike lane is physically delineated with 48” flexible pylons. The lanes are mostly quite generous, and permit two-abreast riding where previously a single rider was squeezed into the shoulder.
One change from the prior configuration is that westbound riders are encouraged to get off E. Blithedale at the Chevron station and continue west on Ashford Avenue to Lomita Drive, or to the multi-use path. While continuing down the hill on E. Blithedale is still possible, it’s quite cramped (and the foliage is in need of a trim).
Lastly, the pavement condition is a huge improvement, letting riders focus on the road ahead of them rather than the road underneath them.
How We Got Here
The path to the current project wasn’t easy. In their initial concept, the city’s consultant said that a physically delineated bike lane was “infeasible” and would have to be paint-only. Given the speeds and level of traffic, we made clear that this was insufficient (and untrue). Our friends at WTB-TAM developed an alternative plan which clearly showed that bike lanes with vertical separators were indeed feasible. After we batted down a number of other objections, the city went forward with a plan to provide delineators in addition to paint.
While we wish that the bike lane provided more robust physical protection for riders, it’s a solid start and can be improved in the future.
One missing Link
Something that still sticks out to any regular rider is the lack of connection between Camino Alto and the new bike lanes on E. Blithedale. The 600’ gap between Camino Alto and Roque Moreas Dr (which features 7 lanes of car traffic!) forces riders to either take the lane or ride on a narrow sidewalk. Given the level of bicycle traffic on Camino Alto, this was a missed opportunity.
As it stands, riders traveling east are unceremoniously dumped into the US-101 interchange. Because the interchange is owned by Caltrans and not by the City of Mill Valley, improving it will be an entirely separate project. Fortunately it’s already in the works. Sometime in 2024 there will be a new bike lane striping through the interchange. And the Transportation Authority of Marin is already in the process of developing long-term plans to make the interchange safe for all riders, not just recreational ones.
We want to express our deepest gratitude to the Mill Valley City Council and Department of Public Works staff. They have been flexible in their plans and listening to feedback, and our many members and supporters who spoke up for better bike lanes.
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