Tam Valley Improvement Club
P.O.Box 1446
Mill Valley, CA 94942
Message line: 415-383-3691

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    Tam Valley Traffic

    by Brenda Grantland

    Traffic is a major problem for Tamalpais Valley. Tam Valley is a gateway community to Muir Woods, Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Mt. Tamalpais parks, hiking and biking trails, and all of West Marin. All of this traffic has to funnel through narrow winding mountain roads along Route 1.

    The spectacular Route 1 corridor -- a tourist destination in itself -- is a two-lane road, around narrow mountain ledges, often with a sheer cliff above on one side and a steep drop to the ocean on the other. You can't drive over 30, and speeding is not an option because of the traffic in front of you. Occasionally there are pullouts to let the slower traffic pull over and let others pass, but usually the slower drivers are spellbound tourists, oblivious to the pull offs. Sometimes they stop dead in their tracks to admire the scenery and even take pictures, while traffic piles up behind them. As a result, traffic can't move any faster than the slowest car, until the slowest car finally pulls over and lets everybody pass. And then there's the next slowest car in front of you. And, even if you manage to pass all the cars in front of you and get to drive maybe 40 m.p.h. for a minute, you catch up with the traffic going 25 or less again.

    We also have to share the narrow roads with bicyclists.

    Route 1 -- and most of Tam Valley for that matter -- is a fabulous place for mountain biking. The road signs say "Share the Road" and what that means is, when you drive your car around the next blind corner, expect to see a mountain biker in your lane. But that's only a problem on the uphill stretches. On the downhill stretches, the mountain bikers will outrun you.

    This is all for the good. This is some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, and we all need to slow down and enjoy the drive. Otherwise, why be here?

    Still, there are limits. Sometimes developers' plans or business relocations add exponentially to the traffic. When the major routes into and out of a community are all two-laned roads, additional traffic quickly becomes a problem.

    The solution is not to turn Route 1 into a four or six lane turnpike (and fortunately, that would be impossible because of the terrain.) Instead we all have to be vigilant about policing proposed changes in our community that would drastically increase traffic traveling through here, and cars parking here.

    As much as we may be made to feel like NIMBYs when we complain about changes to our community, it's our right and duty as citizens and neighbors to preserve the way of life we moved here for in the first place. Otherwise, we might as well move to a real suburb.

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