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I’m happy to report that the #RideWithDamon challenge, swearing off single occupancy car trips, was a great success in 2018! I was on my bike, Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), Marin Transit, Golden Gate Transit buses, Golden Gate Ferry, BART and took carpools. This year’s challenge was extended to 45 days!

The challenge started off wet! It rained (and hailed) on the first day when I rode to work. Late spring rains are something I hadn’t experienced in the prior two years.

I tracked my trips with 511.org. Some days I logged eight different “legs,” attending meetings and events. The #RideWithDamon 2018 challenge reduced 1,116 single occupancy vehicle miles. I also reduced 1090 pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere and saved $340 in fuel and maintenance costs.

The game changer this year was SMART. For each trip on SMART I took my bike, and then rode the last mile to the SMART board meeting or event in Petaluma or Santa Rosa. One evening was particularly fun when I hopped on SMART at the Civic Center Station with County employees heading to their homes to the north. I heard from County employees about how the train has allowed them to talk with their colleagues and the effect the train has had on their overall quality of life. Some Parks employees described it as “life changing” and “train euphoria.”

bike on SMART track

I used at least eleven different bus lines on Marin Transit and Golden Gate Transit. Trips included Marin Transit routes #245 and #257 that stop by my house, Golden Gate Transit routes #70 and #101 to and from San Francisco, and route #40 across the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge (including for an A’s game). Locally, Marin Transit route #35 has been a workhorse getting to and from the Bettini Transit Center in downtown San Rafael, as is Marin Transit route #49 for local trips in San Rafael and Novato. Marin Transit Connect is a new on-demand van providing service across Northern San Rafael, it is convenient and punctual.

                                                                                          Marin Transit route sign in front of civic center's golden spire

My standard bike ride was 15 minutes from my home to work, and I found that I could travel most places by bike in 30 minutes or less (especially in combination with other transit). No spandex and no shower needed! For those with longer rides or more difficult terrain, e-bikes are certainly becoming more visible on the roadways and providing another option. The New Wheel and Marin Bicycle Coalition hosted a community gathering with families and older adults testing e-bikes, and a forum on bicycle commuting and infrastructure.   I see where e-bikes can potentially expand the number of people and places where bikes are a viable transportation option.

#RideWithDamon always gives me the opportunity to look at where we can do better. I’m happy to report that on transit, I did not miss a connection in Marin. I brought to the attention of Golden Gate Transit that route #40 across the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge needs major improvement. The buses across the Bridge are delayed due at least in part to the congestion on that span, but the problems with reliability and schedule are known and should be addressed by management.

Riding a bike east/west through San Rafael remains difficult. There is a pinch point along the south side of 2nd Street between West End Ave. and Miramar St. It is a quarter-mile gap in an otherwise continuous route of neighborhood side streets that allow people biking to stay off busy, high traffic roads between Fairfax, San Anselmo, and San Rafael. The Tamalpais Avenue bike pilot was a great idea from the City of San Rafael, and I look forward to hearing what they learned from the pilot.

Another pilot set to launch early next year, although not without controversy, is a proposed westbound third lane for bikes across the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge. Transportation planners are designing connector infrastructure to the Bridge, and this project is seen as a way of adding to the Bay Trail. I am actively pushing for consideration of vehicular use for this new west bound lane during the peak morning commute – including bus and carpool incentives - given the congestion problem through that corridor and the plan for a movable barrier. The east bound evening commute has improved exponentially with the addition of a third vehicular lane for those using the Bridge, providing much-needed relief on the connectors as well as the bridge itself. Stay tuned as MTC is exploring options for shared use of the westbound third lane.

Lorenzo Cordova riding the Sausalito Multi-Use Path with Mt. Tam in the foreground

Bike to Work Day was a highlight as always. My Aide Mary Sackett and Supervisor Rodoni’s Aide, Lorenzo Cordova, and I met at the Bettini Transit Center in the dark; we used our Clipper cards to get on the Golden Gate Transit route #101 and got off at the Golden Gate Bridge at 6:15am. We stopped at seven energizer stations as we rode north across the Bridge, on the Sausalito-Mill Valley Multi Use Path, on to Corte Madera, then the Central Marin Ferry Connection Multi-Use Pathway. There we were joined by Supervisor Katie Rice. We had a beautiful ride through the Cal Park Hill Tunnel linking Larkspur and San Rafael. However, once we exited the tunnel we were on the busy streets of San Rafael. I’m anxious for the completion of the multi-use path that is being built along the SMART extension to Larkspur to provide a safe route through this part of San Rafael. Our last energizer station was 8:45 a.m. at the Civic Center, with some tasty waffles and a great start to the work day!

Supervisor Rice riding through the Cal Park Tunnel

#RideWithDamon started as a challenge from my participation in Resilient Neighborhoods, to adjust my own transportation habits toward a more sustainable and healthy lifestyle. This challenge has provided me with crucial insight as I make policy decisions on the SMART Board, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the Marin Transit Board, Transportation Authority of Marin, and of course on the Marin County Board of Supervisors.

What I’ve learned is it’s possible to navigate all around Marin and our larger region without a single occupancy vehicle. It just takes some planning and flexibility. I’ve met new people and tapped into a side of Marin that I don’t see when driving. To paraphrase a quote I heard recently from New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, “ride a bike – and see things.”

I want to thank everyone who joined me, met with me, and for all of those of you who shared your transit and cycling experiences with me. The winner of the drawing is Terry Bunton, who I will treat to lunch for participating. Terry is 85 years young, and still riding strong. It has been a great challenge, and I look forward to continuing to take transit and ride my bike as much as possible throughout the year.

Supervsor Connolly, Connolly's Aide Mary Sackett, and Sean Boyd owner of Red Whale Coffee in front of Red Whale Coffee with bikes








Marin County Board of Supervisors, District 1

3501 Civic Center Drive, Suite 329, San Rafael, CA 94903

Direct Tel: (415) 473-7331