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Community supports Sebastopol bike lanes

Getting Caltrans approval of bicycle lanes on Highway 116 through Sebastopol may be the biggest obstacle the city faces in implementing a network of bicycle facilities.

"It is challenging sometimes and it is a process," said Sue Kelly, Sebastopol's director of engineering. "It will take some fairly detailed engineering and it takes time. We are pretty confident based on prior discussions they are receptive to us doing this and they will bend as far as they can to make it happen on state highways. But it is not a done deal."

The Sebastopol City Council on Tuesday directed the staff to continue moving forward on a master plan for a network of bicycle lanes, bicycle routes and shared bicycle-vehicle routes.

Kelly said the plan will be back to the City Council in March for final approval and it could be implemented over a number of years as funding becomes available.

Caltrans' basic requirement is that a bicycle lane be continuous through the city before it would approve one on a state highway, such as Highway 116 through Sebastopol.

It also will have to approve any proposal to narrow traffic lanes or reduce streets to a single lane, which the city is considering on North Main Street and is studying for Petaluma Avenue from Palm Drive Hospital to Fannen Avenue.

The proposal would eliminate 185 parking spaces along some major streets, but that has not generated opposition. Similar proposals stirred heated controversy in the cities of Santa Rosa and Sonoma.

Kelly said that postcards were sent to people living on the streets that would be impacted, but there has not been criticism.

More than 100 people attended a City Council study session Tuesday and all speakers endorsed the plan.

"Literally nobody objected, it is just not on people's radar screen," Kelly said.


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