Friday, April 30, 2010

MCBC acknowledges the work of Safe Passage

Marin Voice: Unveiling the Northgate promenade
Staff Report
Posted: 04/30/2010 12:09:28 AM PDT

MAY 1 marks a momentous occasion in the history of Marin's shopping malls, as Macerich, owner of the Northgate shopping mall, is hosting a celebration of its innovative bicycle and pedestrian promenade that frames the mall on its north and east sides.
The promenade offers the opportunity for shoppers from the local community to walk, roll and stroll their way to the stores, and encourages the elimination of vehicle trips for nearby residents considering a meal or a purchase at Northgate. The public can test the new facility at 11 a.m., and enjoy the fun family activities and bike parking being provided until 3 p.m.
The Marin County Bicycle Coalition applauds Macerich and members of the San Rafael City Council for implementing a unique idea used primarily in Europe - a two-way bicycle lane adjacent to a pedestrian sidewalk, both completely separated by a curb from vehicular traffic on Los Ranchitos Road. Now, in conjunction with the mall's location on the North-South Greenway (the north to south primary bike route through Marin), shopping, dining and movie entertainment at one of Marin's recently renovated malls has become even more accessible for residents and commuters along this popular route.
To make trips by bicycle convenient, the mall provided circle-shaped racks that can lock two bikes at one time.
But it's also important to acknowledge the persistence and good work of community members who worked with San Rafael City Council members to use these opportunities to create safe passageways throughout the community. Shirley Fischer in Terra Linda led the charge with other neighbors a decade ago to create the vision for a promenade connecting Scotty's Market to the Civic Center. The mall is an important piece of this long-term vision.
Kel Harris, Carolyn Lenert and Ray Lorber continue to work with the North San Rafael Community to expand the Safe Passages program and develop key community connectors and safe pathways along the North-South Greenway.
Supervisor Susan Adams has lent her support to this work in her district.
What better way to launch May as National Bike Month, but with this acknowledgment of the value of walking and bicycling to our well-loved destinations?
At the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. last month, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood closed the summit by declaring himself a "full partner" with bicycle advocates. Two days later, LaHood issued a new "Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations" and called for full equality for non-motorized transportation modes within federal transportation programs.
Marin County has been an early leader in this effort, through our participation in the federal $20 million Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program to complete our bike/ped network. Los Ranchitos has been completed and Puerto Suello Hill-to- Central San Rafael and the Cal Park Tunnel are almost complete.
This new federal policy underscores the benefits of walking and bicycling.
If bicycling is new to you, I invite you to give it a try on Thursday, May 13, for Bike to Work Day.
Join thousands around the Bay Area in celebrating bicycling as a fun healthy way to make your local trips - to work, school, the store, library or movie.
MCBC will host 18 energizer stations around the county that day to support new and veteran riders on their spring morning bicycle commute.
Biking is a healthy way to reduce traffic congestion and improve the environment. In just one hour, the average person can save 52 cents per mile on gas, reduce carbon emissions by 15 pounds and burn 450 calories.
With all these obvious benefits, I hope to see you on your bike on May 13.
Kim Baenisch is executive director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.