Our Work Monday’s Mill Valley City Council Meeting Results in Mixed Bag for E. Blithedale

First, the good news. The City of Mill Valley has approved physically separated bike lanes on E. Blithedale Avenue between the Mill Valley-Sausalito Pathway and the 101 interchange. This is something MCBC has advocated for years, and will represent a substantial improvement over the existing conditions, which sees riders squeezed onto the shoulder between a drainage ditch and fast-moving cars. The fact that the lanes are separated at all is due to advocacy from MCBC, Transportation Alternatives for Marin, and members of the public like you who spoke up when needed.

Flex posts, pictured here, have been chosen by the City of Mill Valley to “separate” the E. Blithedale bike lane.

The bad news is that the design of the bike lane leaves something to be desired. Rather than choosing a more substantial barrier to separate the bike lane from auto traffic (such as concrete curbs, rubber barriers, or thick plastic bollards), the City of Mill Valley is choosing to employ flimsy flex posts. While these were used widely in new bike lanes in the early 2010s, they have fallen out of favor across the region for their propensity to get flattened or destroyed. They are designed more to protect the paint on car bumpers than vulnerable bike riders.

Despite over 50 MCBC supporters contacting the City with their concern for the meager level of protection offered to future riders on E. Blithedale, only two of the five council members (Carmel and Ossa) spoke up in favor of more substantial separation. Their concerns were batted down, and the project was approved with flex posts (MCBC had two other more minor concerns with the project – to see those, read our letter to City Council here).

Plastic bollards, as seen here in San Rafael, are a superior alternative to flex posts.

That all being said, we should not lose sight of the fact that E. Blithedale Avenue will have space dedicated for bikes for the first time in the City’s history, a true win, and this is something the city should be applauded for. While the choice of flex posts is disappointing, it’s something that could be fixed going forward.

To everyone who wrote in or spoke out at any point during this project, we give our sincere thanks.

For the curious, the video of Monday’s City Council meeting may be found here (the item starts at 2:06:30), and the plans for E. Blithedale Avenue can be found here (bike lanes start on page 62).

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