A Year In Mill Valley

Getting Things Done In Marin County

Nathaniel and I have been biking to school in the mornings…he on his 5 speed, me on my mountain bike. I drop him at school, then continue on to work in Sausalito. It’s one of those simple pleasures that means a lot to him, and even more to me.

We ride down the hill until we reach Almonte Avenue, cross the street at Rosemont, then head back towards Mill Valley for a little ways to get on the bike path. The mornings have been lovely lately — fresh, cool, sun glinting off the water, herons in the mud flats, the seemingly infinite greens of the marshland on either side of us — as we peddle where the train used to chug between Sausalito and Mill Valley.

Just before school started I noticed that the crossing at Rosemont was not well marked. Several times I counted more than 20 cars going by as I stood in the cross-walk, half-way into the lane, trying to cross with my bicycle. I began to worry about what would happen when school started…when kids who are a lot shorter and harder to see than me, tried to cross there. So I thought I’d see if I couldn’t do something about it.

I started by Googling for “marin county traffic department”, then “marin country transportation department”, then “marin county streets”, and after a little digging around I found the County of Marin: Public Works – Road Maintenance website. Very promising.

Figuring that it never hurts to have a couple of people on the receiving end of an email, I looked up the Board of Supervisors, and saw that Charles McGlashan is the supervisor for Mill Valley.

So I sent the following letter to both the Road Maintenance Department as well as Supervisor McGlashan:

Hi,

I live in Mill Valley, and regularly cross the road at the bottom of Rosemont, where it crosses Almonte Blvd, (just before Tam Junction if you’re heading out of Mill Valley). There is a cross-walk there, but the markings in the traffic lanes are in dire need of remarking.

More importantly though, I have stood there many many times counting over 20 cars going by and no one stopping, even though I am half way into the lane.

The road curves as you come out of Mill Valley heading towards Tam Junction, and while there is a single day glow green “Crossing” sign about 50 yards before the cross walk, the angle it presents to drivers does not make it obvious where the cross walk actually is. On top of that the markings in the traffic lane are gone, making it a very dangerous proposition for anyone to cross the street, to or from the bus stop on the other side.

Three things need to happen:

1) The cross walk needs repainting.

2) A second “Crossing” sign needs to be put up with an arrow indicating the crosswalk…I would recommend putting this up right next to the bus shelter (traveling south bound), and a similar one on the other side traveling north bound.

3) A center standup marker with “California law states that pedestrians have the right of way…” needs to be put in the center of the street (like there is at the bike crossing where Miller and Almonte junction by the end of the Tam High School fields).

Please let me know if you’re the right person to talk to about this, and if not, who is. As school starts tomorrow, and my son (and others) will be crossing there regularly, it would be great if this could be looked at immediately.

Many thanks,
– Frank Leahy

And I waited.

Well, I didn’t have to wait long, as I got a call from Charles McGlashan’s office the very next day. A very nice woman named Maureen Parton told me that she’d forwarded my email to the right person (the email on the website was that of the previous head of department), and I should be hearing something soon.

So I waited again. And on the September 13th I received this email:

Mr. Leahy:
As per your request we have added an enhanced pedestrian warning signs for vehicles traveling along Almonte Blvd. We will continue to monitor this location as scheduling permits. Thanks for your inquiry regarding traffic safety.

Amanuel Haile
Assistant Traffic Engineer
DPW -Marin County

with a followup from Maureen

Mr Leahy,

Thanks for your suggestion!

Amanuel,

Thanks for your follow through!

Sincerely,

Maureen
Aide to Supervisor Charles McGlashan
County of Marin

Wow. 1 down (signage), 1 to go (new crosswalk striping).

I sent another email to Amanuel:

Hi Amanuel,

Thank you, I will look for that today.

Any chance of getting the crossing re-striped? It is fine in the middle (where no cars hit it), but quite faded in the traffic lanes.

Regards,
– Frank

and he responded with

Hi:
There might be a chance depending on budget, there is discussion to either repave or slurry seal Almonte and that will be a good opportunity to repaint it. I will keep you posted.
Thanks

Amanuel Haile
Assistant Traffic Engineer
DPW -Marin County

And once more I waited.

And do you know what happened? This morning, when I turned the corner from Rosemont onto Almonte (no, we didn’t bike this morning), what did I see? A striping crew, adding a big X-ING to the northbound lane. And when I returned home, I found a beautiful new crosswalk.

Thank you Amanuel and the Traffic Engineering Department. Thank you Maureen and Charles. Thank you all for making Nathaniel’s ride to school just a little bit safer.

2 comments

2 Comments so far

  1. matt mcmahon September 25th, 2007 10:03 am

    Just linked in from BattelleMedia – Great post! We have the same problem right around the corner from you at Shoreline and Pine Hill. We have a newborn and it is a constant frustration when people zoom by without heed for safety of pedestrians. You have given us some good pointers on how to get the problem fixed! I think it would also be great to get inset lights installed in crosswalks that flash when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk but would not be obtrusive to nearby residents. I walk to the bus aka walking the gauntlet every morning along Shoreline and it is always a game of frogger. I love the semi-rural designation of Tam Valley, but hope that we can make some minor upgrades to make it easier for people to walk and bike in the area.

    PS – if anyone from the local govt is reading, here is a company the creates inset crosswalk flashing lights: http://www.xwalk.com/

  2. Kathy McLeod October 17th, 2007 4:25 pm

    Thank you Frank for the wonderful story. I am so happy to know there is someone like you in our neighborhood. I live across from Kay Park. Like, Matt, I also have issues about the roads. It looks like Matt got his wish for a crossing at Pine Hill and maybe the lights are yet to come.

    My son is five. He can’t even ride the bike to school because there is no room on the side of the road at Bell Lane. There should be a bike lane there instead of parked cars.

    Also, on Almonte, I would like to see the road completely paved all the way across on for striped bike lanes with stencils of a bike and arrows.

    Thanks,

    Kathy McLeod

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