Highway 101 Redesign Creates Roadblock for Walkers and Cyclists

January 22, 2013

Lucky Drive pedestrian crossingMarin Mommies presents a guest article from Cindy Winter of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC).

For the past 15 years, Marin parents and civic leaders have worked to create safe pathways and road crossings that encourage walking and cycling to school, short-distance errands, and recreation. We’ve seen astounding progress in the numbers of kids transporting themselves safely, healthily, and happily. But now, there’s a problem.

Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) has nearly completed its plans to widen Highway 101 from Corte Madera Creek to a short distance south of Wornum Drive. The project is needed to resolve the difficult merging of traffic lanes, both north and south. However, as part of their plans, the pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the freeway from Fifer Avenue to Industrial Way will be torn down and not replaced.

Without this bridge, walkers and cyclists who want to go from one side of the freeway to the other will have to use a remodeled Wornum Drive underpass, intersected by freeway on-ramps and off-ramps, with multiple crosswalks—some across several lanes, and deal with drivers in a freeway speed mode.

Wornum Drive is already dangerous at certain times of day, with too many drivers going too fast on what is, after all, a suburban street. Families who live in the area must have safe routes for their kids to use when they walk, scooter, roller skate, and cycle, but even under adult supervision, the redesigned Wornum Drive will be a place where parents would not want to take young children on a family bike ride.

Wornum may even become a place where adults themselves would not want to walk or cycle. Numerous studies have shown that women, especially, do not want to cycle where traffic poses more than the most minimal of hazards.

The current multi-use bridge over the freeway cannot be replaced exactly where it is now, for technical reasons. However, a different overcrossing design can be built in a somewhat different place, and the result would be the same: it would give kids, students, grandparents, local residents, and workers a convenient and safe way to cross the freeway.

Beyond taking care of our kids’ safety, we need to promote active, non-motorized transportation for the health of our families, and also for the health of the planet that our children will be inheriting. A multi-use overcrossing will be consistent with the general plan policies of the County of Marin, the City of Larkspur, and the Town of Corte Madera.

The Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) has a special website, at www.marinbike.org/GCIP, where you can learn more about why a replacement overcrossing is needed and sign a petition. Though the MCBC is taking the lead on this issue, the needs of walkers are most definitely included. You can e-mail Andy Peri, the MCBC advocacy director, at andy@marinbike.org.

TAM can be contacted at www.tam.ca.gov. This website provides numerous official maps and documents. Bill Whitney is the project manager, and you can e-mail him at bwhitney@tam.ca.gov.

There will be a TAM board meeting where the public can speak on January 24 at the Marin County Civic Center, Board of Supervisors Chambers, at 7 pm. If you wish to attend RSVP with Andy Peri.

TAM has scheduled an open house and less formal public hearing on January 29 in the Redwood High School Cafeteria at 395 Doherty Drive, Larkspur from 6–8 pm.

Once the new concrete is poured, it will be set for decades to come. It’s important that all concerned citizens make their voice heard now!