New Bike and Ped Path over Corte Madera Creek

Some bike love in Larkspur

A cyclist enjoying the new path over the creek Thursday afternoon. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless indicated
A cyclist enjoying the new path over the creek Thursday afternoon. All photos Streetsblog/Rudick unless indicated

Some 50 advocates, politicians and Caltrans officials held a ceremony Thursday to celebrate a new bike-ped greenway path across Corte Madera Creek in Larkspur. “Doesn’t it look beautiful,” said Eric Lucan, Mayor of Novato and a past chair of the Transportation Authority of Marin. “It still has that new multi-use path smell.”

The bike and ped path replaced a sidewalk that was less than four feet wide and was reminiscent of the ledge cyclists are forced to ride in the Posey Tube between Oakland and Alameda, only outdoors. “It was similar, except you wouldn’t die of lung cancer,” quipped Warren Wells of the Marin County Bicycle Association (before and after images in their Tweet below).

“With the old crossing, we couldn’t even access it,” said Cheryl Longinotti with the local Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee who also runs “Cycling Without Age,” an organization that takes disabled seniors on rides using a specially designed bike (as seen below).

Cheryl Longinotti and Jean Severinghaus with "Cycling without Age" at the ceremony.
Cheryl Longinotti and Jean Severinghaus with “Cycling without Age” at the ceremony.

The new bike path was far from a sure thing when a project to upgrade transportation through the exchange was first introduced. Caltrans and TAM originally wanted to “upgrade” the 101 highway exchange the bike path is part of with an even larger, multi-lane freeway complex. But local advocates fought against it and got regional transportation agencies to, in addition to less destructive road “upgrades,” improve the bike path so it would be suitable for “all ages and abilities.”

Aerial map of the pathway. Photo from TAM documents
Aerial map of the pathway. Photo from TAM documents

Stephen Hesson and Vince O’Brien, former board members with the MCBC, remember a tragedy that also helped get the new bike path built. “Two little girls were walking on the old one and got hit by a drunk driver,” said Hesson, adding that the original path was separated from freeway traffic by only a small curb. That’s why “families and causal riders don’t want to mix it up with cars.”

Stephen Hesson and Vince O'Brien fought for the improved bike path.
Stephen Hesson and Vince O’Brien fought for the improved bike path.

The significantly upgraded path meanwhile, is now completely separated with a strong steel fence, a crash barrier, and a gap that even a completely maniacal motorist would find it hard to cross. From TAM’s web site:

The North-South Greenway Gap Closure Project is part of a regional effort to create a more extensive non-motorized transportation network in Marin County. It closes a key pedestrian and cyclist gap between the Central Marin Ferry Connector and the existing multi-use paths at the intersection of Old Redwood Highway and Wornum Drive.

The first phase of the North-South Greenway Gap Closure Project replaces the existing 4-foot-wide sidewalk along the US-101 northbound off-ramp with a 12-foot-wide multi-use pathway/bridge over Corte Madera Creek. This first phase, managed by Caltrans and built by Disney Construction, begins on the north side of Corte Madera Creek, at the touchdown of the Central Marin Ferry Connector (CMFC) Bridge and ends on Old Redwood Highway in Larkspur. Construction of the new multiuse path/bridge started in February 2021, the path was partially opened in March 2022 and will be complete in summer 2022.

MCBC Director Tarrell Kullaway on the new path
MCBC Director Tarrell Kullaway on the new path

Further work will:

…continue the 12-foot-wide pathway along Old Redwood Highway to the Greenbrae Pedestrian Overcrossing on the east side of US-101. Construction of phase two is expected to begin in the spring of 2023.

The new path, said advocates and politicians at the event, is a welcome connection to the Larkspur Ferry, the SMART train, and bike paths heading in all directions, including to the Richmond-San Rafael bridge.

Tony Tavares, Caltrans’s new Director, talked about how it would give people an opportunity to use “alternatives to vehicles.” But he also talked about how wider shoulders and car lanes that were nevertheless part of the project would “reduce traffic.”

Caltrans director Tony Tavares
Caltrans Director Tony Tavares

But that sounded like the old Caltrans to many; the one in denial about induced demand. “No, it won’t reduce traffic,” said MCBC’s Wells, in an aside with Streetsblog.

And, for now at least, as soon as one gets south of the bridge, this bicycle nirvana degrades into the more typical Bay Area traffic sewer, complete with sharrows and speeding, oblivious motorists. But more improvements are coming.

Now that's the California we all know and dread. Not for much longer we hope..
Now that’s the California bike “infra” cyclists all know and dread. Not for much longer hopefully.

More photos of the event below:

Paul Marmaro and his dog Kona
Paul Marmaro of the nearby New Wheel electric bike shop and his dog Kona
The event was held in a parking lot near one of the landings of the new bridge.
The event was held in a parking lot near one of the landings of the new bridge.
Bike parking at the event.
Bike parking at the event.
A woman walks her dog across the path
A woman walks her dog across the path.
A view of the path from the Larkspur landing side
A view of the path from the Larkspur landing side.

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