Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
by Bicycling and Walking – August 2008
The Marin County Bicycle Coalition strongly affirms the need for proactive policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Marin County.
While we commend the actions of Marin County jurisdictions (The County of Marin, Fairfax, San Anselmo, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Tiburon, Belvedere, Larkspur and San Rafael, the Marin Municipal Water District, Sausalito and Novato) for their ICLEI Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) membership, there continues to be a significant amount of work that needs to be done by the County, local jurisdictions and individuals to aggressively move forward the plan to lower Marin’s greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the Marin Countywide Plan Update, 62% of greenhouse gas emissions in Marin (GHG) come from the transportation sector. In some local jurisdictions such as Mill Valley the estimates are as high as 65% from transportation. Transportation is the “low hanging fruit” of GHG reduction. The greatest local opportunities for GHG reductions will come from getting Marinites out of their cars and onto their feet, bikes and public transit.
Marin’s jurisdictions that are members of CCP have a great opportunity to serve as models for the State and the County to aggressively reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions through various transportation strategies. The following plans and recommendations are advocated by the Marin County Bicycle Coalition:
- Set a Goal for Mode Shift: All jurisdictions in Marin should set a goal of 20% of trips to be made by walking and bicycling by the year 2020 (this goal is in the Countywide Plan). Currently, approximately 13.6% of trips are made on foot or by bike.
- Promote a “Shop Locally by Foot and Bike” program: According to the 2001 National Household Transportation Survey, 25% of trips in the U.S. are one mile or less, and 43% of trips in California are two miles or less. This affords an excellent opportunity to promote local commerce and reduce GHG emissions by walking and bicycling.
- Create a Complete Streets Program: The County of Marin, the City of Novato, and the Towns of Fairfax and San Anselmo have made it a policy that all roadway and transit projects consider the needs of bicyclists, pedestrians and the disabled in the planning, design, and construction of such projects. We urge Marin's remaining cities and towns to adopt a similar policy and for the County and cities to use “road diets” to narrow automobile travel lanes to create more space for bike lanes when they are repaving roads. Complete streets policies afford the best use of taxpayer dollars and create routes that are safe for families, encouraging members of the community to get out of their cars and ride or walk more frequently.
- Implement the Adopted Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans: All of the towns, cities and the County of Marin should raise the priority of non-motorized facilities and create a plan to build-out all recommended pedestrian and bicycle improvements in their respective Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans within five years.
- Implement Safe Routes to School: County jurisdictions should completely build out all Safe Routes to Schools’ capital improvements within five years to make it easier and safer for children to walk and bicycle to school. Through the Transportation Authority of Marin, Safe Routes to Schools is currently developing Safe Routes travel plans for all communities within Marin.
- Integration of Plans: Marin County jurisdictions should integrate climate issues into all planning documents and fold recommendations into the General Plan, the Capital Improvement Plan, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. Local jurisdictions should make sure that if there is a parking plan, that it recognizes that the provisions of free and plentiful automobile parking will increase GHG emissions. The easier jurisdictions make it to park automobiles, the more people will be inclined to drive. Instead, parking plans should have a significant bicycle parking plan element. This should include covered and secure bicycle parking at all public buildings and public facilities (such as city hall, libraries, and all buildings with city employees), as well as transit centers. On any new construction projects related to public facilities, jurisdictions should provide complete indoor, secured bicycle parking for all employees, including fire and police stations, city halls, libraries, and any other buildings that would be built or significantly improved in the future.
- Building Construction Projects: New building construction projects should provide for covered bicycle parking for future employees as part of the application approval process. Parking plans should recognize that ten to twelve bicycles fit in the same space as one automobile, which increases the number of people who would be going to shop at local businesses in the local jurisdiction. Cities and the County should make it a “condition for development” that bike racks and associated safe routes are paid for by the developer.
- Education and Encouragement: Participation by cities and the County in special events like Bike to Work Day and International Walk and Bike to School Days, as well as bicycle skills classes will help to generate more interest in using existing routes.
- Strategy for Funding: We encourage Marin jurisdictions to create a strategy for funding the aforementioned projects, whether it is through a bond, sales taxes, general funds, regional, state and federal sources and/or other means. Getting people onto their feet and bikes must be central to any carbon reduction strategy.
- Update Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan: We recommend that local jurisdictions keep all of these concepts in mind as they are revising their Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plans, a process that is currently underway. The essence of this is to integrate Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs with the General Plan, the Capital Improvement Program, any and all parking programs, Safe Routes to Schools, and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.
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