Our Work Rice Drive – 2nd St. Protected Bikeway Approved

The City of San Rafael recently approved a two-way protected bikeway between Rice Drive and 2nd Street, meaning people of all ages and abilities will soon be able to enjoy a completely car-free route between Downtown San Rafael and Larkspur Ferry Terminal!

The $2.2m project is expected to begin construction in August and wrap-up by January 2021. The project will include the conversion of Francisco Blvd. W. to a one-way (southbound) road and repurpose the second travel lane to a two-way bikeway with a protected buffer. The project also includes creek and habitat restoration as part of a $1.2m urban greening grant MCBC helped the City secure.

The City originally planned to build a multi-use pathway in a similar fashion to what was built between Rice Drive and Andersen Drive to the south, but came up with this clever solution in order to cut costs and prevent cars turning right from Francisco Blvd. W onto 2nd St. from blocking the SMART tracks.

With the completion of this section of the North-South Greenway, MCBC and the City of San Rafael will now turn our attention to closing the gap between 2nd St. and the Puerto Suello Hill Pathway (at Hetherton/Mission) via Tamalpais Avenue. The .25 mile gap is now one the only section where people on bikes must ride on the road with cars between the top of Puerto Suello Hill in San Rafael and Redwood Highway frontage road in Larkspur.


November 2015: SMART, MCBC, and Transportation Alternatives for Marin sign a legal agreement in response to dispute over pathway’s feasibility. In the agreement, SMART agrees to allow the pathway to be constructed within its right-of-way, if feasible, and $1m in funding is committed to the project by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

July 2016: County’s feasibility study finds that there is room for the pathway within and adjacent to SMART’s right-of-way.

September 2016: In response to MCBC’s push for additional funds, the TAM Board of Commissioners approves $250,000 for the project to help pay for environmental review and design.

March 2017: MCBC writes letter to San Rafael City Council asking for regular public updates addressing the extent to which the City of San Rafael, its consultants, and SMART are working together to ensure compatibility between rail, road, and pathway design and construction.

July 2017: SMART breaks ground on Larkspur rail extension.

December 2018: San Rafael City Council accepts the environmental document (Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration).

February 2018: $2.95m in Regional Measure 2 funding is transferred from the North-South Greenway Gap Closure Project Southern Segment–which is far from shovel-ready–in order to help fund the project; the City of San Rafael and County of Marin pledge to cover the estimated $490k funding shortfall.

March 2018: MCBC supports successful application for $250k from Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

April 2018: MCBC supports successful application for $1.2m from California Natural Resources Agency.

June 2018: 1) City of San Rafael elects to split the project into two phases–focusing first on the stretch between Rice and Andersen due to proximity to the rail line–to account for rising construction costs and funding shortfall. 2) SMART Board of Directors authorizes pathway to be built within SMART’s right-of-way and adds the pathway to the Larkspur rail extension construction package.

July 2019: Pathway opens between Rice Drive and Andersen Drive.

June 2020: Protected bikeway approved between Rice Drive and 2nd Street.


All of our work to make bicycling safe, fun, and accessible in Marin relies on your generous giving. Please support the organization that is making your rides better by joining us today!

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