News Pathways Are For Everyone

One of the things that makes Marin County so special is the incredible number of off-street paths for cycling and walking. From the Mill Valley-Sausalito Pathway, to the Tiburon Linear Park, to the Corte Madera Creek Path, few places have such a great number of opportunities for safe walking and biking just outside folks’ backyards. These trails and pathways are the legacy of devoted advocates and visionary leaders, who preserved the public right-of-way along creeks and for train lines for use by people rolling and strolling.

Since the onset of the pandemic, more people have been using these paths than ever. In 2020, the Mill Valley-Sausalito Pathway saw twice as many daily users as the year before, with a total of over 11,000 people on Father’s Day. While the total use has come down from their peak last summer, the numbers are still high.

And while foot and bicycle traffic may have doubled, the pathways remain the same width, meaning that the rise in use can come with the potential for additional conflict. To keep everyone safe, we all need to do our part to be courteous to our fellow trail users. This means always following the posted speed limits on multi-use paths, which is typically 15 mph, but can drop down to 10 or even 8 mph in certain congested areas. While this might seem slow, it’s never worth putting someone at risk because you’re in a hurry or trying to set a Strava K/QOM. And if you’re riding with your cycling club, you should probably stick to parallel streets rather than taking the peloton on a multi-use pathway.

And while the rise of e-bikes is something that MCBC has heralded as having the potential to open up biking to a much wider range of people, there are some potential tradeoffs. Being an e-bike owner myself, I know that it’s easy to go faster than I realize, so keep an eye on that speedometer. When you’re on a shared use path, consider turning down the e-assist to the lowest setting and avoid using the throttle if possible.

Several years ago, in response to a tragic bicycle/pedestrian collision on the Mill Valley-Sausalito Pathway, a campaign called “Share the Pathway” was launched as a joint project of Marin County, the City of Mill Valley, and MCBC. If you’re a regular user of the pathway, particularly if you’re riding a bicycle, take a minute to review the website. Those of us riding bicycles on a shared pathway have a duty to look out for pedestrians, just like drivers have a duty to look out for bikers on the road. Here are the basic rules that you should follow.

As always, we’ll let you know if any policies change. We’re hoping that whatever problems have occurred can be fixed by messaging or minor infrastructure changes, and we urge the cities to employ enforcement only as a very last resort. 

And with that, get out there in the great weather, enjoy the pathways, and ride safe!

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