Around Town; Shuttle 24

A sign designating the walking paths

One sign that designates the walking paths.

Sebastopol is a great town for walking and cycling. The Joe Rodota Trail comes in from the east, stopping just southeast of the post office, and picks up again north of town on High School Road. A dedicated walker/cyclist can go all the way to Forestville on that trail. Due east of town, just beyond the Barlow complex, the Laguna de Santa Rosa trailhead is a lovely walk with plenty of bird-watching opportunities. Within the town itself, the Plaza makes a nice landmark and staging area, and the two shopping districts, Main Street and the Barlow abut each other there.

When I write “shopping districts,” I don’t mean Rodeo Drive. Each one is two square blocks at the most.

Recently the city council made changes to the bike lanes on Main Street, which runs south through the center of town before going back to being a two-way state highway, and Petaluma Ave, which runs north before doing the same thing. This should improve conditions for cyclists.

The city is not friendly to cars. The one-way street configuration and a lack of adequate parking actively discourages driving in town. While I prefer walking in town anyway because it’s fun, I worried about what this meant for people with mobility issues. Certainly the city has the required number of spaces for handicapped people; it’s not clear whether their location is convenient for people and whether they truly provide access.

Shuttle 24 goes a long way to addressing this issue and providing transport for people who are frail, have mobility issues, or just don’t have a car. This great collaboration between Sonoma County Transit and the City of Sebastopol got a face-lift last week when they unveiled the latest bus for Shuttle 24; it’s 100% electric. And, for the riders, 100% free.

The shuttle’s route stops at major interest areas; three of the five grocery stores (Lucky’s, Safeway and Community Market) downtown Main Street which includes banks, clothing stores and bookstores. Rite Aid pharmacy is one parking lot over from Safeway. The shuttle swings through the Barlow, stopping at Community Market, and the hub which is a kiosk next to the Rialto Cinema. On the west side of town it stops at the Senior Center and Burbank Heights Senior Living Apartments. On the south side of town it stops at the post office and the Fairfield Inn south of town, where you can connect with a bus to take you to the Cotati SMART depot. That’s very cool, actually.

If this were better publicized, the SMART/shuttle connection might be a draw for shoppers. Frankly, while the idea is good, the number of pickups available right now doesn’t give a shopper much choice, but maybe, with the advertising and word of mouth, and a couple more runs to the train depot, a SMART ride up to Cotati from San Rafael or Novato, a short bus ride to Sebastopol and a fun day spent cruising the shops and eating good food (or wine/beer tasting!), heading home without the hassle of driving, can become a reality.

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