Group Bike Ride
BICYCLE CLUB A March 2024 group ride of Move! Healdsburg at Orsi Family Vineyards, with Walt Niederberger, center, giving directions. (Photo by Christian Kallen)

Sonoma County Transportation Authority (SCTA) continues to seek feedback from the public for an updated “Active Transportation Plan,” one suitable for residents of its nine cities as well as its unincorporated communities.

The goal is to update the 10-year-old 2014 Countywide Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan in light of shifting community priorities and a growing emphasis on “active transportation.” That is, getting from one place to another using human power for mobility instead of high-emission combustion engines.

“Sonoma County currently has more than 317 miles of built bicycle infrastructure, over 75 of which were built in the last five years,” states the SCTA at “The vast majority of the bicycle infrastructure is in the form of bike lanes on street networks. Almost 1,000 miles of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are planned to be built throughout Sonoma County in the years to come.”

The SCTA is now reaching out directly to local residents in various cities through community Open Houses to share information about Sonoma County’s extensive bicycle path system and walking trails. While Petaluma and Santa Rosa are already updating their Active Travel Plans (ATP), ATP Open Houses have recently taken place in Sonoma, Rohnert Park and Sebastopol.

The Healdsburg meeting will be held next Wednesday, June 5, at the Community Center (1557 Healdsburg Ave.), from 5:30-7:30pm. A similar ATP Open House will take place in Cloverdale the next night, Thursday, June 6, starting at 5pm at the Cloverdale Performing Arts Center (209 N. Cloverdale Blvd.).

As well as hearing details of the SCTA plan, attendees can learn about the city’s progress on developing its own Active Transportation Plan by reviewing draft projects, programs and policies in development. Attendees can suggest additional ideas not currently in the draft, perhaps working in study groups to develop cogent suggestions.

One key feedback mechanism has been and continues to be an interactive survey on the county website at, which gives residents the opportunity to “pin” their ideas to an ArcGIS map, designed for easy navigation and posting of notes to the ATP.

Similar sharing of ideas are encouraged at the ATP Open House events as well, ideas that help define priorities for bicycle and pedestrian improvements, identify strategies for the implementation of associated projects and programs, and support countywide bicycle and pedestrian coordination.

Bike pathway
PATHWAY Bikes, pedestrians and other non-motorized transportation are welcome on the Foss Creek Pathway, Healdsburg. (Photo by Christian Kallen)

Healdsburg’s ATP

While the Foss Creek Pathway is a noteworthy addition to the city’s active travel opportunities, many bicycle riders in particular feel that more could be done to not only encourage two-wheel transport, but to make it safer. This despite the city’s own Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan, last revised in 2013.

“The idea behind it is obviously to develop a much better integrated transport system, if you will, for pedestrians and bicyclists and public transport—so-called active transportation, everything except for cars,” said Walter Niederberger.

He’s a key member of the Move! Healdsburg group that holds public events to call attention to bike and pedestrian safety in town. He’s also one of 10 members of the city’s Active Transportation Working Group, overseen by Michael Harrington of the Public Works Department.

But Niederberger is as much a critic of the city’s ATP as an advocate. “Believe it or not, we don’t have one single inch of green painted bicycle lanes in Healdsburg. That’s very unusual,” he said by phone from his native Switzerland earlier this week. “In Europe right now, everybody walks, everybody’s on a bicycle. It’s just a different world, you know?”

On the other hand, said Niederberger, “Healdsburg, if you will, is not very advanced when it comes to safe and specific infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians.” He emphasized that pedestrians, too, are in need of infrastructure improvements for hearing- or sight-impaired residents, as well as those who rely on mobility support for their cross-town travels, like Christine Weber’s electric three-wheeler. Weber is also a member of the city’s Active Transportation Working Group.

Niederberger and the Active Transportation Working Group have already put together their own list—still growing—of “hot spots,” locations that are unsafe or marginally safe for bicyclists or pedestrians. “And the list is very long,” he said, including uneven sidewalks, unsafe streets due to pavement deterioration, lighting or design, and dangerous intersections. 

Although pedestrian travel is a major component of a city’s Active Transportation Plan, Niederberger is particularly focused on bike travel. 

“You remember the Climate Action Plan, right?” he said, referencing the city’s Climate Mobilization Strategy adopted in October 2023. “A major item in that plan was that because we have to reduce the emissions by cars, there’s only two or three ways to do it—we walk or we bicycle or we use public transport.”

The next community bike ride from Move! Healdsburg is this Friday, May 31. It begins at 5:45pm at the Healdsburg Community Center and ends there at 7pm. For more information, see

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2008, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.


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