It is 12.6 miles from Agua Caliente Road in Fetters Hot Springs, to Melita Road in Santa Rosa. So says Google Maps.
It is a familiar commute route to hundreds – if not thousands – of people who travel up and down the Valley of the Moon each workday. And to many thousands more of annual visitors, who come from around the country and around the world, it is a stunningly scenic, if short, drive through Wine Country.
On a bicycle, traveling mostly slower than 20 miles per hour, the scenery is even more stunning, but the route sometimes feels a thousand miles long because the entire trip is wrapped in terror.
Highway 12 is, and (we hope) always will be, a two-lane road, because most of us understand that the four-lane alternative would destroy the beauty and the spirit of the Valley. The price we pay for being freeway-free is frequent congestion and traffic speeds that are often closer to 30 than to the posted 50 miles per hour.
It would be easier to live with the congestion, however, if it came with substantial bike lanes, so that pedalers could safely transit the same route cars take, but more slowly and with no carbon pollution.