Four new pedestrian trails help guide walkers
The City of Sebastopol received approval from CalTrans to move forward with four color-coded, self-guided walking tours. Known as Ped Lines, these walking tours create safe paths for pedestrians to take around the city, instead of driving.
The Ped Line project was created by Cittaslow Sebastopol, the city’s nonprofit community development partner of the city’s “park-once-and-walk” campaign.
Cittaslow has outlined four Ped Lines that will use yet-to-be-designed sidewalk markers. Three of the walks take visitors from the Sebastopol Plaza to local attractions, including the Laguna de Santa Rosa, the Florence Avenue Art Walk and Ives Park. The fourth walk takes pedestrians and bicyclists from the trailhead of the Joe Rodota Trail on Petaluma Avenue to Ives Park.
“I’m thrilled to see that CalTrans is helping us reclaim our city for pedestrians," said Sebastopol City Manager Larry McLaughlin. “Allowing us to put the Ped Line markers on their sidewalks helps to offset the impact of the highways through our town.”
The city required Caltrans approval, as the sidewalks and streetscapes along Highway 116 are owned by the state transportation agency. The Barlow development, which owns the sidewalks along McKinley Street, also gave Cittaslow permission for Ped Line markers to be placed on the sidewalks.
“We love the Ped Line concept and are glad to be able to support this community walking initiative,” said Yolanda Mathew, property manager at The Barlow.
The Ped Line has been several years in the making. In August 2014, Cittaslow conducted a pilot study of the Sebastopol Ped Line. Nearly 100 people went on the three Plaza walks and answered questions about safety, impact on driving and activities while on the walk. One-third of respondents in the study were local residents while two-thirds were visitors.
According to participant surveys, 64 percent of respondents said they walked when they would otherwise have driven, 72 percent said they stopped at a restaurant or store they would not have visited otherwise and 82 percent got in a conversation during their strolls.
On average, walkers spent money while they were out and about on foot. Local residents spent about $30 while visitors spent $41, according to survey results.
“It’s good for business to get people out of their cars and walking,” said Clare Najarian, co-chair of Cittaslow Sebastopol. “This project is not only good for the environment, it's good for people's health and it helps our local merchants.”
With clearance granted by Caltrans, the Ped Line will be included in the city's new wayfinding signage program. With the wayfinding signage program, Studio L’Image, a consultant hired by the city, created new signs to direct drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians to important landmarks within the city, such as the police station, hospital and Ives Park. Currently, no city funding has been earmarked to bring the signs from concept to a reality.
The Ped Line project still has a lot of work before completion. Designs for color-coded markers, which will be roughly three inches by five inches in size, directing pedestrians still need to be determined. These markers will provide directions to pedestrians along a designated route.
A call for Sonoma County graphic artists to gather design ideas for these sidewalk markers has been issued by Cittaslow with $500 prize for the winning design. Information is available at cittaslowsebastopol.org/artists. The deadline to enter designs is March 31. Information about the Sebastopol Ped Line is at email@example.com.