news Highway 1 Safety Improvements Underway

Marin’s celebrated road rides are much more enjoyable without conflicts with motorists. Together with Caltrans, MCBC is taking steps toward making travel along Shoreline Highway safer and more intuitive for all.

When Caltrans announced its intentions to install “mumble strips”–a tamer version of rumble strips–along the middle of Highway 1 due to an above-average rate of head-on collisions, MCBC was quick to express concerns about drivers passing cyclists too closely.

Over the past three years, MCBC Board Director Steve Giondomenica and MCBC’s Executive & Policy/Planning Directors have met with Caltrans engineers to discuss problematic areas along Highway 1. As a direct result of our ongoing dialogue, Caltrans is incorporating widened shoulders and new signage indicating cyclists’ right to the road. While Caltrans originally intended to install only auto-related improvements, they welcomed and will be implementing MCBC’s recommendations.

When Caltrans completes the project this October, it will feature 40 locations with widened shoulders, as well as signs indicating cyclists’ right to the lane and instructing drivers to give cyclists three feet when passing.

Shaping the Future of Shoreline Highway

In response to MCBC’s requests, Caltrans first identified several areas where it could widen or install shoulders without triggering environmental or other impacts, then worked with MCBC to prioritize certain locations, with an emphasis placed on uphill sections – where the speed differential between people biking and driving is highest.

In addition to helping identify areas in need of shoulders, MCBC asked for the following signage improvements:

  • Install “Bicycles May Use Full Lane” (not “Share the Road”) signage on downhill sections where speed differential is low, along sharp curves, and in any other location where passing distance is constrained, shoulders are absent, and cyclists will be compelled to take the lane for safety reasons.
  • Install “Pass Bikes 3 Feet Minimum” (again, not “Share the Road”) signage on flat and uphill sections in which cyclists are likely to be on the right side of the roadway.

Due to challenging topography, environmental considerations, and several regulatory hurdles, it is highly unlikely that we will ever see continuous shoulders along Highway 1, making these initial improvements an important template for future projects. As a sign of the culture change underway at Caltrans, staff indicated that the agency will continue to look for opportunities to include strategically-placed signage and shoulders as part of future projects–as acknowledged in the Caltrans District 4 Bicycle Plan at our request.

Elsewhere, MCBC is also working with the County to apply similar shoulder widening and signage criteria on its roadways. The County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan includes a commitment to create shoulders and install signage where appropriate and feasible.

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