Napa County has 142 miles of bike paths, lanes and routes and another 453 miles proposed, with an eye toward serving riders who are at least somewhat concerned about competing auto traffic.
The 233-page, draft update for the Napa Countywide Bicycle Plan is out. Its goal – to improve the bicycling environment for residents and visitors.
“Napa County’s vision is to be a bicycle-friendly community with a world-class bicycling system for all ages and abilities,” said the draft Napa Valley Transportation Authority plan.
Each city and the unincorporated county has a section in the plan. The city of Napa section calls for increasing bike routes, lanes and paths totaling 49.4 miles by another 67.5 miles, for a total of 116.9 miles.
But the city of Napa faces a challenge to becoming a biking nirvana. Much of it was built before the days when communities began stressing bike-friendly streets. That means making some neighborhoods bike-friendly in retrospect.
“While there are many existing facilities throughout the city, they are oftentimes disconnected from one another or do not provide convenient, comfortable access to major destinations in the city,” the draft plan stated.
The city could add 26.5 miles of “bike boulevards,” which are designated bike routes without bike lanes. It could add 19.8 miles of bike lanes, 8.2 miles of bike paths and 1.2 miles of bike paths that fill in Napa Valley Vine Trail gaps.
Another 11.1 miles, such as along central Jefferson Street, are targeted for “corridor studies” to decide what would be best. These are areas considered too complex for easy answers.
New bike paths would be built along the Napa River, such as south of Lincoln Avenue and south of the downtown on the western banks. Trancas Street, Linda Vista Avenue, Silverado Trail/Highway 121 and Big Ranch Road are among the locations slated for bike lanes.
The Napa County Bicycle Coalition has yet to choose any of the proposed city of Napa bike projects as being most important. Executive Director Patrick Band said the situation is more complicated.
“It’s about the whole network,” Band said. “When you bike to your home to your office, you’re not just riding on one street.”
The city of Napa from 2006 to 2013 had 227 reported crashes involving bicyclists, with no fatalities, and 75 percent of the cases resulting in visible injuries not considered severe, the draft plan said.
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More than half of the crashes happened on 10 roads – Jefferson Street, Soscol Avenue, Trancas Street, Old Sonoma Road, Solano Avenue, Third Street, Lincoln Avenue, California Boulevard, Main Street and First Street.
One factor the draft plan takes into account when looking at possible, new routes is the bicyclist stress test. This measurement takes into account how auto proximity, volume and speed affect how safe cyclists feel.
For example, the typical cyclist might feel safe using a bike lane on a 30-mph street with fewer than 6,000 vehicle trips daily. But the same cyclist might be wary of using a bike lane on a 40-mph street with more traffic, the draft plan stated.
Studies show that 4-7 percent of people are comfortable riding a bike in traffic, 5-9 percent are comfortable using bike lanes, 51-56 percent are often not comfortable with bike lanes and prefer paths or quiet roads and 31-37 percent aren’t interested in cycling, according to the draft plan.
Other local cities and the unincorporated county also have proposed bicycle networks in various stages of completion. Each has a list of proposed projects.
As a sampling, American Canyon could add a bike path along Highway 29. St. Helena could create a 1.25-mile Lower Reservoir Loop Trail. Yountville could designate several streets as bike routes. Calistoga could create a 2-mile path along the Napa River. The unincorporated county could create the 2-mile Skyline Path along rural Imola Avenue leading to Skyline Park.
Linking the county from American Canyon to Calistoga is to be the Napa Valley Vine Trail, which would pass through all five cities.
Building a bike path can cost more than $1 million a mile. Bike lanes can cost from $60,000 to $230,000 a mile, depending on whether they have such features as buffers, the draft study said.
The NVTA Board of Directors is scheduled to officially release the draft Countywide Bicycle Plan at its Feb. 20 meeting. However, the public received a preview at the Feb. 7 NVTA Technical Advisory Committee meeting.
Go to nvta.ca.gov/napa-countywide-bicycle-plan to see a copy of the draft plan and to comment online. The NVTA plans to hold community meetings in coming weeks.
Editor's Note: this item has been modified to update the URL for the full report.