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Any cyclist who has dodged cars on the main drag of Sausalito lately will be glad to hear the city has approved a $100,000 to study the safest bike route to the north end of town.

The city has hired Alta Planning and Design to recommend options to keep bikes rolling along the two-mile stretch between its downtown ferry landing and the start of the bike path next to US 101. The money comes from a $25 million federal grant Marin County received through the Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Project, which is aimed at encouraging people to walk and bike more.

The current bike route along Bridgeway was widened and repainted last year, but neither cyclists or motorists are happy with it. The study will look at alternate routes, including a circuitous path along the waterfront or a route over an old railroad right-of-way. It also may simply recommend upgrades to the current bike lanes, such as new pavement, landscaping, signs and bike sensors at traffic lights. City officials will use the study, which is expected to be completed this year, to apply for $300,000 to $1 million in additional funding from the pilot project.

"The relationship between the cars and the cyclists is becoming increasingly worse," said Sausalito Police Sgt. Stacie Gregory. "Both are getting frustrated they're not given their fair share of the road." 

There have already been two crashes in 2009 that resulted in police reports, and Gregory said the bicyclists were to blame for both.  The latest came Thursday when a bicyclist "injured her face" by crashing into the back of a car that stopped suddenly. Police said she was "following too closely." The other came when a cyclist crashed into a car it was "illegally passing on the right," Gregory said.

There's no study to improve the bike route through the south end of town - from Alexander Avenue to downtown - because so much of the property is privately owned and would be too costly to acquire.

"Sausalito has the enviable problem of being a destination spot in the Bay Area," said David Hoffman, planning director for the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. "For the most part, the community likes the idea of keeping traffic to a fairly slow speed, which makes it reasonably good environment for cyclists to get through. I think where the frustration really comes from is residents who feel the town is being overrun by cyclists."

Both Gregory and Hoffman noted a weekend flood of recreational riders from San Francisco, including hundreds of tourists who rent bikes in San Francisco and ride back on the Sausalito ferry or continue along the bike path to Tiburon.

"The truth is all these people who are coming into Sausalito are adding to the tax base," said Hoffman. "If they get rid of the cyclists, they're going to see a lot less tax revenue. And, times being what they are, I can't believe any city is anxious to give up all that revenue."

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