Is Sebastopol bike friendly?

  • Sebastopol bike-land advocate and Councilman Patrick Slayter walks stairs to the Sebastopol city hall on Tuesday. He is pushing for bike lanes in the city. (KENT PORTER/The Press Democrat)

Despite its environmental leanings, Sebastopol doesn't have a single bicycle lane and soon will have to choose between bike lanes or parking spaces as the city struggles to become cycling friendly.

“It's the most significant tradeoff,” said Sue Kelly, the city's engineering director, who is is proposing several streets for bike lanes.

Councilman Patrick Slayter is quite familiar with the problem. He rides a bike on city streets for most of his errands, whether it is going to the bank or to Andy's Produce.

“What in the world is Sebastopol thinking? We like to think Sebastopol is progressive and green, but if we ask people to park their car for the day, it is like you are taking away their air,” Slayter said.

The City Council will receive a bicycle network master plan Tuesday that proposes changes to several city streets to allow for bicycle lanes and bicycle traffic, some at the expense of parking spaces.

Parking was a hot-button issue in Sonoma a week ago when the council agreed to remove parking for bike lanes on three city streets, but backed off similar action on West Spain Street, bowing to residents' and business owner concerns.

In Sebastopol, where downtown parking is at a premium, it may be no different.

“The discussion is the same as it has always been in Sebastopol, the problem of creating bike lanes is about dividing up the street among the various users,” Kelly said.

Teresa Ramondo, executive director of the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce, said the topic will spark debate by the bike community and by businesses that might be affected.

“Parking is always an issue, there is never enough or not in the right place,” Ramondo said. “But bike safety is also important.”

Slayter also is proposing that a bicycle and pedestrian committee be set up with members of the council and the community.

“An advisory committee is legally required for cities of 10,000 or more,” Slayter said. “Sebastopol is clearly under that, but I see it as a value statement, that this is important to us.”

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