Marin's Transportation Future

Every day, hundreds of thousands of people take to Marin's streets on their feet, on their bikes, in their cars, and in buses. How we support each of those people, and where we invest our scarce transportation dollars, has a dramatic affect on the natural and human environment.

While Marin today does much of its travel by car, the future of Marin lies in giving people safe and comfortable choices in how to move around the county and the region, in promoting bicycling, transit, and walking. Our platform is simple:

Boost transit ridership within Marin, to San Francisco, & from the East Bay

Hardly anyone does it better than Marin. One in four commuters to San Francisco take a bus or the ferry to work, giving transit a bigger slice of the commuter pie than almost any county in the state. Despite this, commuter traffic continues to climb even as overall traffic falls.

Golden Gate Transit, Marin Transit, SMART, and the Transportation Authority of Marin need to come together to create a vision plan to boost transit ridership with improved service to and from Marin and incentives by employers and neighborhood associations promoting transit use. Rather that focus on corridor-by-corridor studies, our transportation authorities should hammer out a comprehensive  vision plan and a path to implementation. Without one, our traffic problems will continue to rise.

A protected bicycle lane in San Francisco. Image from the Green Lane Project.

A protected bicycle lane in San Francisco. Image from the Green Lane Project.

Create a 21st-century network of safe, protected bicycle lanes for all ages

Marin, birthplace of the mountain bike, should be the national leader in bicycling, but anyone who has biked along the roaring traffic of Sir Francis Drake or Novato Boulevard knows just how dangerous and unpleasant it can be. It's high time for that to change.

Marin County needs a connected, durable network of protected bicycle lanes for all ages and abilities along its major thoroughfares. Studies where these have been installed have found huge leaps in bicycling as people dust off their bikes and use them to get around town, cutting traffic congestion and improving physical activity.

Not only are these lanes cheap, they would keep Marin's dollars local. People who get downtown by bike spend more and stop by local shops more often, exactly what our town centers need to thrive.

The space needed for two parking spaces is almost as big an apartment. Click the image for the source.

The space needed for two parking spaces is almost as big an apartment. Click the image for the source.

Eliminate minimum parking rules

Today, towns, cities, and the county have laws dictating to developers how much parking they must have regardless of demand or need. These outmoded rules strangle infill developments and jack up prices on new homes. Professor Donald Shoup of UCLA has studied the problem extensively and came to this conclusion

[Parking minimums] distort transportation choices toward cars, and thus increase traffic congestion, air pollution, and energy consumption. They reduce land values and tax revenues. They damage the economy and degrade the environment. They debase architecture and urban design. They burden enterprise and prevent the reuse of older buildings. And they increase the prices for everything except parking.

The cost for surface parking is staggering: around $5,000 per surface parking space and up to $15,000 per parking garage space. This cost just gets passed on to residents in the form of higher prices and higher rents. In Marin, with its low-rise character, minimum parking rules also cut out on vital space for shops, offices, and homes in new developments.

It is high time for these rules to see the dustbin.