Money sought to fill Vine Trail gap

A bicyclist travels south on Soscol Avenue in Napa in 2015. The Napa Valley Transportation Authority is seeking comments on how to improve cycling conditions. 

Register file photo

Bicyclists and potential bicyclists have a new venue where they can flag Napa County cycling weak points, be it a bumpy trail or lack of a road shoulder.

But this is more than an electronic gripe session. Rather, it’s a way for the Napa Valley Transportation Authority, the county and local cities to decide how to improve the area’s cycling network.

The NVTA is updating the 2012 Napa Countywide Bicycle Plan. It has posted a county map on its website where people can mark locations they think pose challenges to cyclists and leave comments.

Take the experience of one rider who has used the asphalt Stanly Lane trail leading to south county vineyards and wetlands. The entrance to this aging, former road is located along Highway 121 west of Highway 29.

“The trail under the eucalyptus trees near Stanly Lane is very bumpy and always has debris from the trees on it,” the rider wrote on the website map.

Another rider noted that bikes aren’t allowed on Highway 29 on the Butler Bridge over the Napa River. Bikers heading from Sonoma County to Vallejo must take Imola Road to the north, adding miles to the trip.

“There are perfectly good shoulders on the Butler Bridge,” the person wrote. “Bikes should be allowed.”

One commentator is concerned about Redwood Road as it transitions between the Browns Valley area and Dry Creek Road.

“My kids refer to this as ‘death corner,’” the person wrote. “Shoulder disappears and blind corners.”

A rider sees a barrier to biking in St. Helena at the left turn lane from Highway 29 to Pope Street.

“Sensors do not detect bikes,” the person wrote. “Need to wait for a car or go through red light.”

NVTA Associate Planner Diana Meehan said one goal of the bike plan is to encourage more people to ride bikes. The agency wants to have 10 percent of Napa County trips made by bike by 2035, up from about one percent today.

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“We’re trying to relieve congestion,” Meehan said. “Multiple trips that are taken throughout the county are short trips, trips that can be made by bikes.”

But perhaps some people don’t ride a bike because the bike network is incomplete and they don’t feel safe, she said. The online map allows them to point out where improvements can be made.

People can find the online map at http://bit.ly/NapaCountyBikes. Meehan said comments will be taken through September and perhaps into early October. The NVTA’s schedule calls for releasing a draft countywide bicycle plan in summer 2018.

One outcome of the bike study work will be to create a “comfort measure map” rating routes as easy, moderate and difficult, Meehan said. Then people can figure out the best routes for biking between two points based on their comfort levels.

The agency’s Active Transportation Advisory Committee is to discuss the evolving Napa Countywide Bicycle Plan update at 5 p.m. Sept. 18 at 625 Burnell St. in Napa.

Toole Design Group is working on the bicycle plan update for the NVTA at a cost of $198,000. Meehan said the undertaking will involve doing bike counts that could cost an additional $10,000 to $15,000.

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Barry Eberling covers Napa County government, transportation, the environment and general assignments. He was worked for the Napa Valley Register since fall 2014 and previously worked 27 years for the Daily Republic of Fairfield. He is a graduate of UC Sa