News Improving Biking Through the San Anselmo Hub

The San Anselmo Hub is the single busiest intersection in Marin County, with nearly 65,000 cars (and a very large number of bus riders and bicyclists) traveling through it every day. But it has many shortcomings.

First, and most obviously, it is the site of daily traffic jams. Second, and more importantly for MCBC’s purposes, it is a challenging intersection to navigate by bike or by foot.

In spring 2021, the Town kicked off an effort to reimagine what The Hub could look like. There was a public meeting to gather input from the community (which you can watch here), and the consulting team invited MCBC to participate in early fieldwork of the site. 

The consultants now have some initial concepts for the public to review at a meeting Thursday, February 3rd at 6:30 PM (zoom link here). While some of the meeting will be devoted to automobile traffic flow, we’ll describe below the options for bicycle/pedestrian improvements, and what we want to see going forward.

Existing Conditions

As it stands, a large share of the bike traffic going through the hub is on the east-west axis, with people traveling between San Rafael and Fairfax/West Marin. And while there is little demand for people traveling on Sir Francis Drake toward Red Hill, the complete lack of any bike infrastructure on that  road is partly to blame.

There are no good choices going east or west. Westbound riders have a confusing route, turning from the Greenfield Ave bike boulevard onto Lincoln Park, crossing at Bank St where most then use the technically-prohibited pedestrian paseo to reach San Anselmo Ave, where  they turn right to go toward Fairfax.

Eastbound riders can do the same in reverse, but many choose to take Center Blvd, travel through The Hub, and merge onto Greenfield Ave just past the intersection.

Active Transportation Concept 1: Pedestrian Upgrades

This is a near-term concept of minor upgrades that could be made to improve safety. This would consist largely of restriping crosswalks and replacing the existing RRFBs (yellow flashing lights) with Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (or PHBs), which have a better track record of getting motorists to properly yield. 

While this concept does not mention it, we would recommend closing the slip lanes at the intersection, which we know are hazardous for pedestrians. The slip lane at the southeast corner in front of China Village seems like a prime candidate for this, as pedestrians currently have to walk across a 52’ crosswalk.

Our recommendations

  • Close slip lanes, or substantially extend curbs at SE and SW corners to improve pedestrian safety

Active Transportation Concept 2: Bicycle Bypass Route

The second concept improves the existing bicycle route bypass of The Hub on the southeast side, and, rather than routing riders through the paseo or down to Tunstead Ave, it would have them travel through the existing Creek Park parking area. 

This would be accomplished by either converting the existing parking to parallel from angled parking, or closing the space entirely to vehicles and fully pedestrianizing the space. The concepts shown here do not detail out the western end of the route, but riders would likely ramp up to the bus stop on Center Blvd near the Thai and Sushi restaurants, before turning left on Bridge Ave.

We like this alternative a lot. Though the parking removal may be politically challenging, a study conducted by Town staff showed that San Anselmo has plenty of parking, and it merely needs to be better priced and allocated. The land behind Creek Park is some of the most valuable in the town, but the parking is all-day spaces for merchants and free, unmetered parking. This leads to high occupancy, but only because of its very low price.

Our recommendations

  • Remove on-street parking on Lincoln Park and Bank, much of which is too narrow or already red-curbed. 

  • Shift Creek Park parking to parallel or fully pedestrianize the space, allowing low-stress bicycle travel. 

  • Improve intersection of Center Blvd/Bridge Ave to allow westbound riders to easily access San Anselmo Ave.

Active Transportation Concept 3: Bike/Pedestrian Flyover

The third concept would create an east-west flyover structure, allowing people to travel over Sir Francis Drake without having to stop for traffic. This certainly has some advantages. Riders would be kept completely separate from auto traffic and the route would be direct, rather than circuitous. 

However, due to the need to have ramps on either end, the crossing would be quite long, adding at least 300’ of extra travel on the west side of the intersection. It would also improve the access for people making the full east-west trip, and would involve approximately 20’ of climbing (a small, but noticeable amount for transportation cyclists). Lastly, this would be far more costly than the improvements described in Concept 2, meaning that funding could take some years to secure. 

Our recommendations

  • Add staircases at the SW and SE corners of the flyover, improving access for those not starting at the ends of the structure.

  • We would like to see more analysis about the relative distance of travel between this and Concept 2. 

Upcoming Meeting

As we mentioned, there is a meeting Thursday, February 3rd at 6:30 PM where you can give feedback about these designs, and the plans for automobile travel. Show up and speak out for the importance of better biking through The Hub!

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