For bicyclists, it'll be a long detour

Doug McKenzie commutes on his bicycle from Santa Rosa to Healdsburg, a 27-mile roundtrip he typically makes several times a week.

With a good tailwind, he can make it one way in less than 40 minutes, cruising up Old Redwood Highway and across the vintage Healdsburg Memorial Bridge into town.

But with the planned closure of the 91-year-old bridge late next year for major rehabilitation work lasting 18 to 24 months, McKenzie and other cyclists are facing a major dilemma, if not a significant detour.

City officials said the bridge will be closed during the work to all traffic, including cars, bikes and pedestrians.

For cars and trucks, it's no big deal: They have Highway 101 to use as an alternative.

But unless the city comes up with a plan, cyclists potentially would have no other way to cross the river than riding 10 miles out Westside Road to Wohler Bridge near Forestville.

"It will definitely affect me," said McKenzie who works part time as a mechanic at Spoke Folk Cyclery in Healdsburg. "That would add probably a half-hour at least in each direction. I work out of my house too. That would cut into my other job."

More is at stake than the ride of a committed bike commuter. Healdsburg, with its surrounding vineyards, trees, hills and country roads, is a hub for cycling tourists and recreational riders.

A number of organized rides and cycling tours incorporate a trip across the Healdsburg bridge, with its leisurely 15 mph speed limit.

"It's a pretty significant connector for all of us," said John Mastrianni, owner of Wine Country Bike on Front Street. "We send hundreds of people across that bridge."

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