Road Advocacy The Case of the Missing Bike Lane
Point San Pedro Road is an iconic route in Marin cycling. With waterside views of San Rafael and San Pablo Bays, the road connects to China Camp State Park, an excellent destination for camping, trail riding, and hiking, and part of the 500-mile regional San Francisco Bay Trail. It does have a bike lane for much of the way, but for nearly half a mile in the eastbound direction, the bike lane disappears, forcing riders to share the road with 40 mph traffic – a very dangerous situation.
In June we learned that the County was required to build a bike lane adjacent to Bayside Park upon construction 50 years ago. That bike lane was never built. As part of County plans to upgrade Bayside Park, MCBC and the Bay Trail Project encouraged the County to close this long-standing bike lane gap. While the County initially agreed, this win-win safety project is now on hold.
Point San Pedro Road is a wide, four-lane road with a paint-only bike lane for part of its length east of San Rafael High School. There is a half-mile gap between Loch Lomond Marina and Bayside Park, where the eastbound bike lane turns into on-street parking for homeowners and park users.
Point San Pedro Road wasn’t always four lanes. Interestingly, the width of the road is an accident of history – it was meant to accommodate traffic from a development that was never built. In the 1960s, Gulf Oil planned a large residential and commercial development at what is now China Camp State Park. While the development was eventually blocked, to prepare for it, the road was widened in 1971 to its present four lanes.
However, a permit from the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC, a state agency with jurisdiction over the land within 100 feet of the San Francisco Bay) mandated that a bike lane be provided adjacent to Bayside Park.
The bike lane was never constructed and the County has allowed parked cars to block bicyclists for five decades.
While the road is wide, it’s not that wide. Below is a cross section of Point San Pedro Road as it currently exists passing Bayside Park.
It is not possible to provide (1) parking, (2) a bike lane, and (3) the existing two auto lanes. The County developed a plan that would remove one of the two eastbound auto lanes in order to provide a bike lane and maintain the on-street parking in front of residents’ houses and Bayside Park. The proposed configuration is below:
On June 8th, the County Public Works Department presented before the Point San Pedro Neighborhood Coalition. Many questions were asked about whether the lane reduction would lead to additional traffic. County staff responded that it would not, as the road was built to accommodate traffic that never arrived. This project is an unusual example of a win-win, in that the street can be made safer for cyclists and pedestrians – many of them children walking or biking to school – without the potential for additional congestion or removing on-street parking.
The Blocked Bike Lane
Despite the importance of this project and the relative lack of substantial tradeoffs, we at MCBC were surprised to learn that the project was on hold due to “substantial opposition.” The County plans to appeal the permit condition, allowing retention of the parking and the unnecessary second auto lane. Most importantly, the bike lane gap would persist.
The County needs to hear from residents and constituents who feel this gap closure is long overdue.
One way to do this is to email Damon Connolly, the County Supervisor for District 1. He can be reached at DConnolly@marincounty.org. For a template email, click here. If you’re a resident of the area, regularly ride on Point San Pedro Road (or want to), or have children attending one of the local schools, please reach out to Supervisor Connolly today.
As always, if you want more information, please email email@example.com.
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