While Sonoma County sports a robust network of regional cycling paths, Petaluma has long been cut off, isolated on an island from the rest of the system. That could change if county planners are able to cobble together a 13-mile bike path from Petaluma to Sebastopol.
The long envisioned trail would link Petaluma to multi-use trails in the west county, and also tie in with the Joe Rodota Trail that connects Sebastopol and Santa Rosa. Once the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit bike path is built alongside the railroad corridor that roughly parallels Highway 101, it will be possible for cyclists to make a grand tour from Petaluma to Sebastopol to Santa Rosa and south back to Petaluma.
These pathway developments are exciting, especially now that there is actual movement on these plans. While the Petaluma-Sebastopol trail is still in the conceptual phase, planners are seeking community input into the route that the path will take.
Once planned to follow the old Petaluma and Santa Rosa Railroad right-of-way, that vision is looking less feasible now that most of the former railroad land is privately owned. Instead, much of the route will likely be built along Highway 116 and other roads, removing the threat of taking private land for the public trail.
The estimated $4.5 million cost of constructing the trail is as yet unfunded, but a new state transportation bill could be a potential funding source for multi-use trails of this kind.
As the plans take shape, it is important that the community offer feedback. The next meeting is April 15 at 9 a.m. at the Petaluma Veterans Memorial Building. You can even ride your bike there.