Novato Narrows Widened – Huge ROI Compared to Bike Paths

Novato Narrows Widened – Huge ROI Compared to Bike Paths

This coming Friday Caltrans is set to open up a new section of carpool lane northbound from Atherton Avenue/San Marin Drive exit to the Birkenstock warehouse, about 1.3 miles in length.

This carpool lane will increase the capacity of 101 by 1,200 cars per hour – which at 1.67 occupants per hour (US DoT figure) and 3 hours of peak hour travel equates to 6,012 people getting where they need to go faster in that lane – not withstanding the additional congestion removed that speeds up the other lanes.

This means $9m was spent helping 6,012 people = $1,497 per person

Comparison to Bike Path ROI per Person

Kinsey Bike Paths

Supervisor Kinsey Promoting $100m investment in Marin’s bike paths

Walk Bike Marin and the Nonmotorized Transportation Program identified three locations where $27.7m was spent to build bike (and pedestrian) paths. On average locations transport 53 riders an hour or 159 riders.

This means $9.2m was spent helping 159 people = $58,071 per person
This is 3,779% higher than the cost per person to improve 101 via a carpool lane.
(although some of this was pedestrian so this gives bikes an unfairly low number)

According to the Marin County Bicycle Coalition the total estimated cost for building Marin County’s complete bicycle and pedestrian network is over $100 million (Source).

Comparison to SMART

Here are the ingredient numbers. SMART will cost $1.2billion, at best using highly optimistic figures, it might transport 330 people daily. I’ll let readers do the math.

Moral of the Story

Our county supervisors and planners need to keep their eye on the ball and recognize that job #1 for dwindling, hard earned transportation funding is to move as many people around as possible. A secondary priority is to reduce emissions – but now that cars have lower emissions than transit, that gap is widening, and transit within the county increases emissions (vs driving) we really should not be focusing on reducing transportation emissions as a primary goal – it is a FALSE GOAL as is transit oriented development/high density housing which remains a policy of our county, regional government, regional transportation agency and Sacramento.

To reduce climate change far more cost effectively we should instead be further focusing on:
- encouraging people to drive electric cars and hybrids
- charging these cars with solar (not dirty coal produced power) that can easily fit on the roofs of single family homes
- encouraging people to install insulation to reduce a/c and heating costs (which cause emissions via coal fired power stations)
- encouraging vegetarianism (a grass fed cow emits as much as a car does! Methane is 4x more potent as a GHG than CO2). Read “Livestock’s Long Shadow” from the UN to learn more, there’s also a really good BBC documentary covering this