July 11 2013

Thinking Regionally: Sonoma County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan

View from the top of the catwalk at Naked Wines in Kenwood, California

Sonoma County has been a tourist haven for wine connoisseurs and recreationalists for decades. In more recent years, the county has gained notoriety for its commitments to climate protection, alternative transportation and sustainable communities. This is evident in the planning efforts of the Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) and the Countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. The plan helps local city governments integrate their bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure into regional networks, and incorporates urban design principles that enhance connectivity.

The effects of the Master Plan can be seen in cities such as Healdsburg and Santa Rosa, where bicycle boulevards and pedestrian walkways facilitate circulation in the urban core. Both downtown’s are made up of Class II bikeways and attractive sidewalks, which eventually link up to regional corridors such as the Joe Rodotta and West County trails. This system provides commuters with well-maintained routes, and also draws tourists who want to experience the beauty of Wine Country without a car.

Pedestrian walkway leading from the Healdsburg Plaza to Foss Creek

Specifically, the Master Plan seeks to accomplish ten county-wide objectives:

  • Create a regional bicycle and pedestrian network;
  • Utilize accepted design standards;
  • Integrate the network with existing and planned transit;
  • Encourage comprehensive support facilities;
  • Promote health and environmental benefits;
  • Make the safety and security of users a priority;
  • Encourage smart-growth;
  • Plan for future expansion;
  • Maintain system quality; and
  • Maximize funding for related projects.

These objectives serve as a blueprint for Sonoma County and its nine cities and encompass a wide range of planning goals. Transportation and land use are addressed, but so are sustainability and the intangible concept of quality of life that is unique to Sonoma County. This needs to be incorporated into any transportation plan if a pedestrian and bicycle-oriented culture is to thrive.

Multi-use pathway linking downtown Santa Rosa to residential neighborhoods and regional trails

You don’t need to be an urban planner to know that active transportation reduces carbon footprints and improves human health. However, it is important to realize that these benefits do not surface on their own; a comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian master plan is necessary to achieve and enrich them.

Are regional bicycle and pedestrian plans necessary to create healthy communities?

Credits: Images by Nick Danty. Data linked to sources.

Nick Danty

Nick Danty is a graduate of the Geography and Planning Department at California State University, Chico and currently works at the Sonoma County Regional Climate Protection Authority (RCPA) in Santa Rosa. Nick has been involved in several programs at RCPA, but is most proud of the 2013 Bicycle and Pedestrian Count Project, for which he served as the project manager and outreach coordinator. A Northern California native who calls his single-family detached dwelling home, Nick is not a stranger to the ills of suburban sprawl and the toll it takes on human and physical environments. Nick’s travels to Europe and throughout North America have shown him preventing and retrofitting sprawl is possible through intelligent neighborhood design, beautiful architecture, mitigation banking, innovative transit systems and visionary urban and rural plans. He is very excited about writing for The Grid, and plans on discussing projects and programs happening at his agency related to transportation planning, climate adaptation, livability, urban land development, and environmental conservation.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, July 11th, 2013 at 9:28 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment, Government/Politics, Infrastructure, Land Use, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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4 Responses to “Thinking Regionally: Sonoma County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan”

  1. Edward Says:

    I think what you published was very reasonable.
    However, what about this? what if you composed a catchier post title?

    I am not suggesting your information is not solid., but what if
    you added a post title that makes people want more?
    I mean Thinking Regionally: Sonoma County

  2. Nick Danty Says:

    Thanks so much for your comment Edward! I really appreciate the feedback, especially because it’s related to the promotion and attractiveness of the blog. I’ve already shared it on several social networks but I will definitely use your advice and suggestions when crafting my future titles. What was your take on the content of the post? I see you’re involved in the beverage industry and would be interested to know if you think the plan will impact the wine culture up here.
    Thanks again for your thoughts.

  3. D Jan Says:

    An interesting read and I think your title does your article justice. You focus on the need of thinking regionally and the Master Plan has serious impacts on the future economy of Sonoma. I love visiting wine country and it’s a pain when I’m traveling with others that don’t want to ride a bike. Thanks to SB375, govts are realizing how much they can make their city work better.

  4. Nick Danty Says:

    Thank you Jan. SB375 has been a boon to California, and I only wish that more counties were making the jump to smart-growth planning and multi-modal transportation infrastructure. Wine Country is a beautiful place that needs to be preserved environmentally, culturally, and economically. There are many robust resources up here and it is the responsibility of local government to make sure they stay that way. Tell your friends to research the many awesome trails and bike rides we have up here!

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