News Key Link Planned on Paradise Drive
Paradise Drive is renowned for being one the most beautiful roads in Northern California, with low traffic, rolling hills, and unparalleled views of the Bay.
But it’s not all views and nature – where it leads into East Corte Madera north of Ring Mountain Preserve, it serves several schools as well: The Cove School, Marin Country Day School, and Marin Montessori School. And while Cove School can be accessed through the adjoining neighborhood, students and staff have no safe way to bike or walk to either Marin Montessori or Marin Country Day as the road lacks both bike lanes and a sidewalk.
Starting this month, the Town of Corte Madera is kicking off a project to improve this segment of road, a decision applauded by MCBC.
What is planned
Not all bike “improvements” are equal. The design of the final project matters a great deal for how much it will actually be used. Since this road connects to three schools, we are pushing hard for an option that all potential riders would feel comfortable using, rather than something only experienced or risk-tolerant riders would use.
The Town is considering two primary options. Below are rough cross sections of what the road looks like today, as well as what it could look like.
How it looks today
Today there are no bike lanes or markings on the pavement. The speed limit is 35 mph (or 25 when children are present). The dirt shoulders are used for automobile parking for the schools and the nearby Ring Mountain Trailhead. While hundreds of people ride here today, they are primarily risk-tolerant riders with few people riding to school.
Option 1: Shared-Use Path
This is the option strongly favored by MCBC. While experienced riders would still be allowed to ride in the roadway, the shared-use path would be wide enough to be enjoyed by both pedestrians and people riding bikes. Research has shown that a majority of people will only use a bike if there is a safe route from their home to their destination. If the final 5 minutes of a trip feel dangerous, parents will be very unlikely to ride with children, much less let them ride on their own.
Option 2: Paint-Only Bike Lanes and Pedestrian Sidewalk
This option would represent a small improvement for more risk-tolerant bicycle users, and for all pedestrians. The paint-delineated space for riders would allow drivers to pass bicyclists without having to slow down and enter the opposing lane. This alternative also maintains the shoulder as on-street parking, at the cost of precluding an all-ages-and-abilities biking experience.
Today the drop-off queues are very long and no one wants them to be any longer. People will, no doubt, be worried that any change will worsen their experience rather than improve it.
But we should keep in mind that cars take up a large amount of space. If a safe, seamless bikeway resulted in just 15 families choosing to ride a bike rather than drive, the traffic queue would be a whole football field shorter, speeding up the experience for drivers rather than the opposite.
Will people get out of their cars?
Certainly some people live too far away from school to reasonably bike. But with the road’s current configuration, even families who do live close-by do not feel as though riding or walking is an option.
And in fact, many of them would prefer to do something rather than wait in a long line of cars for 20 minutes every morning. A 2017 study by the Transportation Authority of Marin found that 85% of people would rather their children bike/walk/ride the bus to school than drive them.
What you can do
The Town is hosting a community meeting via Zoom on Tuesday, November 30th at 5:30 PM (find all the details here). You can either attend that meeting or send an email to the town supporting an all-ages-and-abilities bikeway rather than paint-only bike lanes. Click here to send the email. Please do this before 5:30 PM on Tuesday the 30th.
This project is still in the early stages, and the town is collecting community input to guide the process. While no decisions are being made yet, it’s important that people who want to improve options for biking/walking to school make themselves heard now.
We’ll be keeping our supporters in the loop. If you’d like to stay updated on this project, please fill out the link below.
sign-up for advocacy alerts
We will need your help winning these improvements! Please sign-up for advocacy alerts using the form below and we’ll tell you when/how to support our efforts.
members make it happen!
We’re fighting for a more bike-friendly future in Marin. Are you with us? Join Marin County Bicycle Coalition today.