“Scramble is On” to Save a Marin, CA Pedestrian Crossing

By Mary Lauran Hall on January 17, 2013

Advocacy Advance, the collaborative advocacy team composed of staff from the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking, recently awarded a series of Rapid Response Grants. These quick-turnaround grants help state and local advocacy organizations take advantage of unexpected opportunities to win, increase, or preserve funding for biking and walking.

In this series of blog posts, we talk with recipients of the grants about their advocacy campaigns.

Without a safe crossing, a highway can turn a perfectly nice walk or bike ride into a dead end. So when a transportation agency decided to take out a bike and pedestrian crossing over the busy 101 freeway in Marin County, CA, the Marin County Bicycle Coalition had to get involved.


This pedestrian flyover in the “Twin Cities” of Larkspur and Corte Madera in Marin County, CA provides a safe, accessible way for people biking and walking to cross Highway 101. But as part of a new interchange project, the Transportation Authority of Marin proposes tearing down the crossing, requiring instead that people walking and riding bikes use a highly congested and far more dangerous undercrossing.

image“They’re going to reroute pedestrian crossing to an existing undercrossing,” explained Andy Peri, Advocacy Director of MCBC. “When they finish construction, the undercrossing will have several freeway onramps and offramps intersecting it that pedestrians will need to cross. In terms of safety, there is no comparison with having a completely separate-from-cars overcrossing.”

For the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, that’s an unacceptable solution. The undercrossing would require children and elderly residents to navigate multiple surface streets, onramps and off-ramps in order to get across the freeway.

“MCBC doesn’t support any projects that create an impediment or a total barrier for people to walk and bike,” Andy said.


Marin County residents bike along one of the county’s popular paths

Before bringing their campaign to local officials, the Coalition enlisted pro bono help from a world-class engineering and design firm. When designers found several potential locations for a new safe overpass, Andy and his team knew that “what’s lacking is not physical geography and space, but will and creativity on the part of the agency.”

Now, Andy and fellow Marin advocates are asking the county to replace the existing crossing with an equally accessible overpass.

“The scramble is on,” said Andy.

The Coalition created an online petition for the campaign to garner public support. “Using signatures from petitions for campaigns that dated back to 2006, we assembled a database with about 5200 names,” said Andy. “From that list, we’ve now gotten over 1,000 signatures on this current petition in less than a month — a 20% return rate.”

The petition demonstrates public support, a boon when the Coalition approaches local elected officials to discuss the project. The Coalition also sends updates to petition-signers with updates about the campaign information about how to help. Advocates have met with officials on the 16-member Transportation Authority of Marin agency to explain the importance of a safe crossing, and the Coalition expects to drive a strong turn-out to a public hearing scheduled for later this month.

The Advocacy Advance rapid response grant helps keep the campaign going. “The grant primarily support our staff team, but also pays for the tools that we use, including Survey Monkey for the petition and Constant Contact for our email to members,” Andy explained. “This campaign is going to continue on for up to 6 months at a very high level.”

“Until I get the answer that I want from the Transportation Authority board, we are going to continue to push for a safe crossing of Highway 101” he said.


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