MCBC Local Teams - Advocacy in Action MCBC Local Team Cuts Speeding by Half on This San Rafael Road

MCBC Local Team, Walk/Bike San Rafael helps cut speeding by half(!) on Las Gallinas Avenue in San Rafael.

One of the biggest challenges we face in creating more connected networks for walking and biking is how to squeeze new infrastructure into a transportation network built around the automobile. The easiest way to advance these projects is to include them in the city’s regular repaving projects, where a small amount of extra work can go a long way toward improving safety for bicyclists. 

One of MCBC’s Local Teams, Walk/Bike San Rafael, played a critical role in advocating for a wider bike lane on Las Gallinas Avenue, which (we learned after they succeeded) also had the effect of substantially reducing illegal speeding. 

MCBC Local Team cuts speeding in San Rafael road - Las Gallinas

Above: Las Gallinas Avenue before the repaving project; wide car lanes with no buffer between vehicle traffic and the bike lane.

Advocates Ask for Wider Bike Lanes on Las Gallinas Avenue

In the Fall of 2023, Las Gallinas Avenue in northern San Rafael was set to be resurfaced as part of the city’s annual repaving program. Members of Walk/Bike San Rafael advocated for the inclusion of a buffer zone between the existing (but narrow) bike lane and the vehicle lane. Before the repaving project, the car lanes were 14’ wide (wider than those on US-101), which encouraged illegal speeding. By reallocating some of the car lanes to a wider bike lane, the road could be made safer for all.  

MCBC Local Team Cuts Speed on San Rafael Road - Las Gallinas

Above: Las Gallinas after repaving; narrowed car lanes created space for a buffer zone between bikes and cars.

The City Responds

We were pleased when the Department of Public Works (DPW) implemented the recommendations to widen the bike lane and narrow the car lanes. While it added some minor additional costs, it was simpler to make the changes while work was already being done on the road. 

Illegal Speeding Drops Substantially 

To demonstrate the benefits of narrower lanes, members of Walk/Bike San Rafael carried out a “before and after” study of car speeds on Las Gallinas Avenue. A survey was conducted in October of 2023 and in June of 2024, six months after the restriping was completed (we waited a while to let drivers settle into the new road condition).

The findings were impressive, to say the least!

The average southbound (downhill) speed was down 4 mph, and the number of people going more than 10 mph over the speed limit went from 37% to 17%. 

In the northbound (uphill) direction, the changes were even more significant. The average speed went down 5 mph, and people speeding by over 10 mph fell from 33% to 1%. 

Note that speeding went down without any additional police enforcement, merely some very minor striping changes, which cost a fraction of additional enforcement. Note that drivers are not adversely affected – median speeds are still slightly above the speed limit. Rather they are discouraged from dangerous speeding. 

Looking Ahead

We hope that city staff and elected officials will take these clear and meaningful results to heart when planning future projects. Narrowing lanes is a tried and tested tool to reduce speeding, and at the same time frees up space for wider (and safer) bike infrastructure.

For more information on our initiatives and how you can get involved, visit our website or follow us on social media, there may already be a Local Team at work in your community! Let’s keep the momentum going and continue to advocate for safer streets for everyone.

By advocating for safer streets and improved bike infrastructure, we are creating a better environment for all residents of San Rafael. The recent changes on Las Gallinas Avenue and the addition of bike lane buffers are significant milestones in this ongoing journey. Together, we can make Marin County a model for bike-friendly communities.

members make it happen

Supporters like you, who speak out for safer places to bike and give to MCBC, make projects like these possible.  Thank you!  Want to support this work? Give here. We’re working hard to ensure that there is always a full pipeline of projects in development so we can keep making Marin more bikeable every year. 

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