News New Novato-Petaluma Route Now Open
At long last, the bike improvements associated with the Marin-Sonoma Narrows Project are complete. Caltrans recently opened a new pathway underneath the US-101 / San Antonio Creek Bridge connecting frontage roads between Novato and Petaluma and establishing what is now the most direct, flat, and safe route available between the two cities!
From the south, the new route is accessed by riding north along San Antonio Road. Once you cross the bridge over San Antonio Creek, do not take San Antonio Road where it veers left; instead, continue straight on the narrow access road until you see the pathway to the right. The pathway leads underneath the freeway and briefly parallels San Antonio Creek before exiting onto the new Petaluma Boulevard South frontage road.
Expect fast-moving traffic on San Antonio Road during busy times on Highway 101; many use it to get around Highway 101 traffic between Petaluma and Novato. Once you reach the pathway, however, there will be little to no activity until you reach Petaluma. The Petaluma Boulevard South frontage road does not have any freeway connections and cannot be used to bypass traffic.
Until 2014–when Caltrans opened a one-mile pathway along Olompali State Park and extended San Antonio Road to the landfill–bicycling between Novato and Petaluma required riding on the Highway 101 shoulder. Friday will mark the completion of all bicycling improvements associated with the Marin-Sonoma Narrows Project, which was identified as the de facto SMART “Pathway” alignment due to right-of-way and environmental constraints along the rail corridor between the two cities.
Though the new route is far from perfect, especially upon reaching the interchange in Petaluma, it is undoubtedly an improvement on the existing options, which required using a combination of San Antonio Road and I Street, which is poorly paved and hilly, or D Street, which is longer and busier. MCBC is now supporting Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition in their efforts to win safety improvements entering and exiting Petaluma.
Stay tuned for an opportunity in September to Ride With Us to check out the new route and visit Downtown Petaluma by bike!