Mill Valley – Sausalito Multi-Use Path *
Many people don’t realize that there is a wide, paved path that allows people to easily travel between the northern edge of Sausalito and Blithedale Ave. in Mill Valley, a length of about 2.4 miles. It also extends northward from there for almost another full mile into the Scott Valley and Chapman area of Mill Valley, where it dead ends.
We focus on the Sausalito-to-Blithedale leg on this page because it connects directly or indirectly to so many other streets, trails and sidewalks at Blithedale, and this segment is part of the San Francisco Bay Trail. Over 3,000 people use the path on a typical day, and it’s a shorter route than either Highway 101 or Miller Ave. because it follows the route of an old rail line that was a key link to San Francisco via Sausalito a century ago.
The path also offers spectacular views, narrow wooden bridges and a sense that you’re out of the city and close to nature.
To reach the path from the Sausalito side, go to the corner of Gate 6 Road and Bridgeway, where Bridgeway meets Donahue and merges with Highway 101 (see map below). You’ll see the opening to the path between the small shopping center on the edge of the Bay and the 101 North Freeway on-ramp.
To reach the main section of the path from the Mill Valley side, go to the corner of Blithedale Ave. and Lomita Drive, a short block from the intersection of Blithedale and Camino Alto (see map below). You’ll see the north end of the path directly opposite the entrance to Lomita and stretching southward from there..
The Safety Issue
By any standard The Mill Valley – Sausalito Multi-Use Path is a safe and beautiful way to travel. In that context, it has made occasional appearances in local headlines. Local governments and the Bicycle Coalition have worked as a team to address the rare but significant problems, and progress has been made.
This path is often referred to online as a bike path, but it’s designed for and used simultaneously by walkers, dogs, joggers, horses and riders, wheelchair users and skateboarders as well as bike riders and some other folks I managed to leave out. Because it is wide and smoothly paved, for years it presented a tempting route for speeding bike commuters hurrying home and for serious cycling fans in training. There were many complaints about unsafe speeds, and buzzing pedestrians was common.
There were a handful of collisions in recent years where children were badly injured, and where an 80-year-old woman suffered a broken hip. On the flip side, bike riders who are obeying all the rules have had to deal with off-leash dogs (it’s an on-leash path), 16-foot leashes that block the path, and people walking in groups when the rules ask that pedestrians never walk more than two-by-two to leave room for others to pass. There’s plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the causes for the problems.
Although the path is controlled by and managed by the County of Marin, the City of Mill Valley has stepped in and made extensive modifications to the signage and road markings on portions of the pathway where kids cross the path to attend school or soccer games. A coalition of the County, the City and the Bicycle Coalition set up a (well-written) website called Share the Path to provide guidelines to all groups and users, and to direct faster-traveling people to use Miller Ave. instead of the path.
Speed Limits on the Mill Valley – Sausalito Multi-Use Path have been reduced to 15 mph (24 kph) in open areas and 10 mph (16 kph) in areas with pedestrian crossings. Mill Valley Police have also issued speeding tickets, and there is some optimism that the measures have had a positive effect.
In the meantime, be careful and kind to each other on the path!
* Although this pathway is usually called the Mill Valley – Sausalito Multi-Use Path, this is obviously an error, since we all can see that it should really be called the Sausalito – Mill Valley Multi-Use Path. Although I suppose it could be considered a compliment since it implies that everyone wants to come to Sausalito!