Road Safety Making Butterfield Road Safe for Everyone
Learn about the results of the recent Butterfield Road Safety Survey. Since mid-2021, MCBC has been working with a group of parents and community members to improve Butterfield Road in San Anselmo and Sleepy Hollow for all of its many users.
We are proud to present the results of the Butterfield Road Safety Survey we helped design and analyze. The results show overwhelming support for bike lanes on Butterfield Road.
Butterfield Road runs from San Anselmo into the unincorporated Marin County community of Sleepy Hollow. It connects three schools and is the only road in or out (by car) from the valley. It also serves as a bike through-route to Terra Linda via the Terra Linda/Sleepy Hollow Pass off Fawn Drive.
The Town section of Butterfield has bike lanes, albeit very narrow (4′) and badly potholed. At the County border (Oak Knoll Road), the bike lane appears to continue north, but no parking prohibition is enforced and there are many parked cars forcing riders and walkers (there are no sidewalks) into the path of traffic.
What we knew
Reports from neighbors and frequent users told us that many families were uncomfortable with their children riding or walking on Butterfield Road. While Town and County staff asserted that the number of crashes was below the average, we had heard that many crashes had gone unreported, and countless stories of near misses.
Traffic counts undertaken early in the process confirmed that, in fact, a large number of people were riding on Butterfield (hundreds a day!), despite the inadequate accommodations.
MCBC worked with other members of the committee to develop a survey to learn more about the problems encountered on Butterfield Road. The survey was released in January and was open for three weeks. It was widely publicized, with various members of the committee using their own channels.
The survey’s purpose was threefold:
To assess the comfort of using Butterfield Road by non-motorized users.
To obtain information about crashes on the road (location, severity, whether they were reported).
Judge appetite for reconfiguration of on-street parking to bike lanes.
The survey was a resounding success. In total, we obtained responses from 891 households (accounting for over 2,000 individuals), 80% of whom live in San Anselmo. You can find the full survey report here, or an abbreviated infographic version here. Here are the main findings:Users and Comfort
Butterfield Road is used in a wide variety of ways. Many use Butterfield for commuting, but large shares use the road for school, to access Terra Linda by bicycle, to walk/stroll, or to visit neighbors. With regard to comfort among people walking or bicycling, a majority of respondents only felt comfortable “sometimes” or “seldom.”
The survey found that, as we had been led to believe, a much larger number of crashes had occurred on Butterfield Road than had been reported to police. Roughly half these crashes did not involve another vehicle. Respondents cited bad pavement or crashing while avoiding a car door. However, 22 crashes involved either a moving or a parked car. While most of the crashes resulted in only minor injuries or damage to the bicycle, 12 of the crashes caused a moderate injury (bleeding) or resulted in a trip to the hospital. Over half of the riders involved in crashes were children.
While most of the crashes we learned about were not particularly serious, it’s important to note that almost all of them could have been. Additionally, even minor crashes (especially those involving cars) are enough for a reasonable parent to tell their child, “I’ll just drive you to school from now on.”
Interest in Change
We asked respondents whether they would support reconfiguring Butterfield Road to provide a complete bike lane, even if it meant removing some on-street parking. The support for this idea was overwhelming. No matter how we sliced it (by selecting all respondents, residents of the Butterfield corridor, or members of the Sleepy Hollow Homes Association), over 85% of respondents answered “Yes, definitely” or “Yes, potentially” to this question.
The Safety Committee will be distributing information about a public meeting, during which the options for moving forward will be discussed, and folks’ questions will be answered. That meeting will be held on Zoom at 6 PM on Thursday, April 21st. Click here to find the link to the meeting.
P.s. The Contest
When we posted the survey, we said that one person who filled it out and gave us their email would be entered into a raffle to win an Ortlieb bike bag. After selecting at random, Gabe Peterson was chosen to be the winner of an Ortlieb Vario bag. Here is his with his new gear!
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We’re working to make Marin more bike-friendly for people of all ages and abilities. Are you with us?