.Letter to the Editor: Why It’s Here

Recently I was delighted to bike from downtown to the Westside Farmers’ Market via the California Street bike lane to the new section of the Rail Trail. Answers to Ginger Jacobs’ question “Why is it here?” (Letters, 12/23) rushed into my mind.

This short bit of Rail Trail is part of a longtime dream come true, and the folks I encountered on the trail have answers: a tiny child on a bike too small for pedals striding along with their family; groups of mountain bikers heading to and from Wilder Ranch; people with bikes loaded with groceries. Then there were babies in strollers waiting for their own bikes or skateboards so they can eventually get to school safely without sitting in those 8am lines of idling cars.

It has been a long road to get this short trail, and many have tried to derail the Rail Trail dream. At the same time, many individuals and nonprofits are contributing their money and time toward this vision of a safe, scenic route connecting our county from end to end for locals and tourists alike. If you are skeptical about the rail part, take a ride from Marin to Santa Rosa on the electric SMART train and bring your bike to pedal the flat panoramic trail alongside.

So, why is it here? It is here for all of our well-being, for our resilient community including the neighborhoods, schools, stores, trees, parks, restaurants, and breweries along the way. As lengths open over time, the effect will multiply. Pedaling this trail takes me to a joyful place of gratitude for this beautiful place we live. Take a walk, ride or roll and find out for yourself why it is there and where it takes you.

K. Groppi | Santa Cruz

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  1. Hmmm. Seems like the FORT propaganda machine is out in force. This letter is very similar to a recent one in the Sentinel.

    Did you notice the poor design and poor execution? That this came in at over fourX the cost & way over time completion? That you were liable to get mangled on the fence and to run into parked cars right on the trail? That no more than two cyclists can use the trail at any one time because of blocked intersections , with curbing and signs as obstacles? This only 1.3 mile section out ot 31 more miles to go shows that our RTC is incompetent.

    Also, you’re not up on the latest FORT propaganda. They are no longer (well at least most of them) are pushing the SMART Train, sonoma-marin. This is because it is a catastrophe with only wealthy citizens being able to afford the fares, needing extreme subsidization at the same time, and with low ridership. This is in an area of higher population and higher quality of living. .

    Stop embarrassing yourself!

  2. I have ridden this section and I actually felt safer on the 12 miles of road I took to get there than the 1.3 miles of poor design that I went to check out. You can see my journey at http://bit.ly/segment7 . The issues with the trail are numerous
    – Only 12 feet of the 75 foot corridor is used
    – The trail is set to the side of the corridor rather than centered in the corridor which leads to awkward jogs to accomodate intersections
    – Fences are placed directly against the trail which will lead to serious injuries
    – Intersections do not use 4-way stops which will lead to collisions with vehicles
    – Curbs drop off with no warning or are at an uneven height at intersections which will lead to injuries
    – No separation from pedestrians, slower users, dog walkers that will lead to collisions and injury
    – No separation from parking lot intrusions where cars can block lanes, shopping carts can easily be left on the trail and other debris and vendor items can block the corridor.
    – Confusing intersections and blocking on Bay Street make entry onto the path awkward at best
    – No blocking of the trail from motorized vehicles, several cars have mistaken the trail for a street.

    This design and implementation is simply a mess and this was the easy part! The next sections will required expensive excavation to attempt to fit a trail next to an unused and unfunded rail line. We have asked taxpayers to pay for caviar and got a hard boiled egg.

    Time to get real about a world-class trail design that will cost a fraction of what this mess is costing and focus our efforts on real mass transit by correcting all the mistakes done to Metro over the decades. We’ve seen what the RTC and the train groups have done to sacrifice a trail for a train and it’s time to fix this mistake while we still can!

  3. From everything I have seen, actual rail, light or heavy, isn’t physically or economically feasible within this corridor. On the ither hand, excellent capacity, rail-like transit approaches, such as Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) are indeed feasible and more appropriate for our area, while also allowing for a world-class bike/pedestrian trail.

    The corridor was purchased to be used directly in the alleviation of our chronic traffic woes. That purpose is not accomplished by reforming Metro and tearing up surface infrastructure elsewhere in the county to accommodate new modes of Metro operation, while the corridor itself becomes primarily recreational. The buses weren’t all that popular before COVID, anyway, and now that social distancing is necessary, cramming crowds of strangers into either buses or rail cars is both unwelcome and unwise.

    Let’s rededicate ourselves to making direct use of the corridor for effective mass transit that will not further contribute to the spread of disease, and that will accommodate the long-desired trail, as well. PRT is one way forward in that direction, and deserves more serious consideration than the RTC has given it so far. To learn more, Google “Santa Cruz PRT,” or search for it on Facebook.


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