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Marin County Bicycle Coalition

 

Study: More people walking, biking in Marin

By Jessica Bernstein-Wax
Marin IJ, April 3, 2011

More people walking, bikingMore Marin residents are leaving their cars behind and pedaling and walking local streets, according to data compiled in an annual county survey on non-motorized transit.

The survey is part of the federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program, which has provided the county with about $25 million since 2005 via the U.S. Department of Transportation. The money has been used for bicycle and pedestrian improvements as well as educational and outreach programs aimed at encouraging non-motorized transit and reducing car trips.

The 2010 survey shows "substantial increases" in walkers and bicyclists throughout the county, said Craig Tackabery, assistant director for the county public works department.

"The program provided infrastructure, and people typically say they would use facilities if they felt they were safer," he explained.

Tackabery pointed to new bicycle paths on Alameda del Prado in Novato and on Los Ranchitos Road in San Rafael, among numerous other improvements, which he said have given residents a greater sense of safety on their bikes and encouraged them to get out of the car.

Average bicycling rates in Marin at peak hours increased 46 percent on weekdays between 2007 and 2010, and 85 percent on weekends over the same period, the survey found. Between 2009 and 2010, there was a 29 percent uptick in weekday cycling and a 15 percent boost on weekends.

For walking, the increase was more modest, with averages rising 10 percent on weekdays between 2007 and 2010 and 33 percent on weekends. The number of pedestrians increased 4 percent on weekdays between 2009 and 2010 and 3 percent on weekends.

In 2010 the locations with the highest numbers of pedestrians and bicyclists in Marin were: Bridgeway and Princess Street in Sausalito, Fourth and B streets in San Rafael and Miller and Throckmorton avenues in Mill Valley.

Marin County is one of four communities to participate in the federal pilot program, which lawmakers extended last year. The other communities are: Columbia, Mo.; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; and Sheboygan County, Wis.

"This report is fabulous news for bicycling and walking in Marin County, and Charles McGlashan would be proud because one of his main initiatives was to reduce dependence on single-occupancy vehicles," Deb Hubsmith, advocacy director at the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, said referring to Supervisor Charles McGlashan, who died March 27 at 49.

"What it shows is that if you provide transportation choices that allow people a safe way to get out of their cars that they will choose to walk and bike," Hubsmith said.

She noted that the coalition hopes officials will finish the bicycle and pedestrian network throughout Marin, particularly along the Highway 101 corridor, at Alto Tunnel and along the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit route.

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