County spends $500,000 for bike lanes in Sonoma Valley

The funding comes from Sonoma County’s Climate Resilience Fund, which is investing in transportation infrastructure|

Sonoma County announced Tuesday it would use $500,000 from its Climate Resilience Fund to support the creation of Class II bike lanes in Sonoma Valley.

The county plans to expand Arnold Drive and add nearly 2 miles of bike lanes between Country Club Drive and Madrone Road. Class II bike lanes are defined by striping along roads and signage to more safely delineate part of roadways for bicycles.

“The additional bike lanes,” project overview states, “provide alternate transportation connectivity to commerce and retail resources in this economically disadvantaged community... This extension of bike lanes will promote the use of bicycles as an alternate form of transportation, and will lead to lowering vehicle-miles-traveled.”

Executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition Eris Weaver said while “widening the road is a positive,” the lanes will not be enough to encourage more bicyclists who are fearful of riding next to traffic.

“This will make cycling more comfortable for those of us who are already confident cyclists,” Weaver said. “It will not, in my opinion, change the behavior of the large number of folks who’d like to bicycle more but are afraid; therefore it really isn’t going to do much to achieve climate goals.”

The Climate Resilience Fund was created in May 2021 following a settlement related tot he 2017 fires, according to a news release announcing the appropriation.

First District Supervisor Susan Gorin, an avid bicyclist herself, has worked to create bike lanes along Highway 12 as part of a commitment to make the roadways of Sonoma Valley safer and more accessible to bicyclists.

“One of the goals of the climate resilience ad hoc... is that we work aggressively on expanding bicycle access and networks throughout the county, and this project rose to the top” Gorin said.

Weaver said the current lanes for bicyclists are not well defined, “there’s not much of a shoulder on some of that stretch,” she said referring to Arnold Drive.

“However, paint does not save lives,” Weaver said. “We and other advocates have argued for Class IV protected lanes in this area. Class IV lanes put a vertical barrier between vehicles and bicycles, increasing safety.”

While Gorin acknowledged that many would like to see protected bike lanes, she said it’s taken nine years to acquire funding for cycling infrastructure in Sonoma Valley – which she said was “absolutely essential” for the future community at the Sonoma Developmental Center.

“I understand that many people would prefer protected bike lanes... We barely have enough funding to do the project at hand. Let alone go back to the drawing board,” Gorin said. “Let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Contact Chase Hunter at chase.hunter@sonomanews.com and follow @Chase_HunterB on Twitter.

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