Friday, December 3, 2010

Santa Rosa Junior College US 101 Bike/Ped Bridge in jeopardy

Santa Rosa has proposed a Bike/Ped overcrossing of US 101 near the Santa Rosa Junior College and Coddington Mall. There is a major destination on both sides of 101, and many residences on both side. In between there might as well be a brick wall. US 101 in Santa Rosa is a trenchlike barrier between the West and East. If you aren't in a car - good luck getting across, the freeway overcrossings are gnarly. I ride from our place in Healdsburg down to the bus depot at Piner/Industrial and have to cross 101 on Bicentennial. It's only mildly nervewracking - but I'm crossing it at 5:30 AM with almost no traffic. That's not when people go to Junior College.

The bridge was up for a vote recently, and passed 5-2. Well, really it passed 4-3, but one of the opponents voted for it in order to be allowed to bring it up for another vote in January, when new council members will be seated and the balance will tip the other way. You can read about it in the Press Democrat here.

Regardless of the "political shenanigans" - cancelling this project is just a bad idea. And I don't believe any talk of "It's a recession, this is a bad time". US 101 from Rohnert Park to Windsor has been under construction throughout the entire recession, none of these guys have gone into hysterics asking to delay portions of the project. "It's a recession, this is a bad time" is code for "Here is my excuse to delay it so hopefully it will go away".

This whole thing is very disappointing to me. Sonoma County is a very progressive area and a great place for recreational cycling. As a general rule it is also a good place for transportational cycling, with some good infrastructure in place. One of the thorniest spots is crossing 101 in Santa Rosa (don't get me started on trying to figure out how to get past Petaluma with any sort of rational ease). There are some crazy people out in the hills, but mostly very bike friendly. They certainly love the money that comes from all the people who come for the events - Wine Country Century, Levi's Grand Fondo, Vineman Triathlon. Santa Rosa has hosted the Amgen Tour of California every year since the event started.

So I fired off the following letter to the Santa Rosa City Council. Even if all of your bike rides start with taking your bike off of the roof of your car, you should care about this. The same mindset that is trying to kill this bridge is why there is a cop camped out at 84/Canada in Woodside or Camino Alto and Blithedale in Mill Valley, ticketing cyclists for rolling a right turn at a stop sign while motorists do the same and get ignored. If you're on a bike, you don't count. Though we will take your money, thanks!

Feel free to drop a line to the following people supporting this bridge and expressing you will support nearby places with a little more sense... like for example This Friendly Burg

Bike friendly on Twitpic,,,,,,

Dear Santa Rosa City Council -

While I am not one of your constituents, I would like to express my dismay at the rumored demise of the project for the bike bridge over US-101 at SRJC. I am frequently in Santa Rosa with my bike and your city can be tough to navigate due to the configuration of 101 - I typically cross on Bicentennial to get to the Piner Road Golden Gate Transit bus stop, and that crossing is not for the faint of heart - I fortunately have a strong heart and quick reflexes.

Others who choose to bike around your city - primarily your residents - may not be as bold as I am, and the proposed bridge would make your city a much safer and enjoyable place for all, but especially pedestrians and cyclists needing to make a crossing in that area.

What dismays me most about this possibility is this. I am a San Francisco resident and the owner of a Vacation Rental property in Healdsburg. I have invested a lot of time and money buildi ng a business and our primary constituency - a very lucrative one - is recreational cyclists. It is not uncommon for our guests to request that we try to get them a reservation at Cyrus in Healdsburg, and also to ask for other destinations, and we frequently send them to downtown Santa Rosa and Railroad Square. We also patronize these businesses ourselves - LoCoco's has fueled many a ride on Kings Ridge.

I do as much as I can to promote Sonoma County as a destination for cyclists nationwide, and as you probably can tell, I pale in comparison to your constituent Mr. Leipheimer. This population brings a lot of money into Sonoma County and I am a big flag waver in San Francisco and the Peninsula to ship that money into your county.

While I will continue to do so, if you are so short-sighted as to kill this invaluable project, I will have to recommend to my guests that they bypass your city. I will tell the 100's of friends that go to Levi's Grand Fondo, the Wine Country Century, and dozens of other cycling events, that they should stay, shop, and eat in Healdsburg or Windsor. The triathletes participating in Vineman should eat in Sebastopol. If Santa Rosa is hostile to cyclists, cyclists should not give Santa Rosa our money. Maybe Amgen is on to something.

Transportational cycling in Santa Rosa can more of a cycling challenge than Kings Ridge Road. That's a shame. You have the power to do something to fix that. I urge those of you against this project to reconsider your position.

Thank You

John Murphy - San Francisco/Healdsburg

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