Family-friendly Glen Ellen bike trail proposed
Old idea gets a new lease on life
Arthur Dawson decided back in 2010 that his community, Glen Ellen, needed a family-friendly bike path through the town, someplace he could ride with his small son and wife and feel comfortable. As a professional consultant on history and properties in the area, it didn’t take him too long to work out a path from Dunbar School, through town, through the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC), all the way to Madrone Road.
The route barely touches Arnold Drive and is easily available to most people in Glen Ellen and Eldridge.
Dawson floated the idea with county powers a few years ago and he was encouraged to keep it up. Life, however, intervened, including the major fires of 2017, as well as a number of other important projects, but the pending transformation of the SDC grounds into public and private property has given the older plan a new lease on life.
Dawson presented his idea to the Glen Ellen Forum’s Sept. 9 meeting and it got a very friendly reception, although some people thought that existing plans for a Sonoma Valley bikeway were already underway.
The county-proposed 13-mile Sonoma Valley Trail, currently in the funding phase, would parallel Sonoma Highway from Melita to Agua Caliente roads.
“That major bikeway is for through cyclists and pedestrians and follows major roads and arterials,” Dawson said. “I’m proposing a community friendly path that avoids traffic wherever possible and will be comfortable for families and children.”
The county is currently entering into a three-year planning mode to determine just what to do with the SDC’s sprawling campus, a campus that includes over 750 acres of open spaces and another 140 acres of buildings in various states of disrepair. The county has received state funding to hire a consultant to develop a Specific Plan for the property, a plan Dawson hopes will include his proposed bike path.
The county has chosen one of three bidders on the Specific Plan project, but has not announced which one, pending ongoing contract negotiations, according to Permit Sonoma Deputy Director Milan Nevajda.
“We have an outstanding opportunity to establish a bikeway between Glen Ellen and Eldridge,” Dawson wrote in his proposal.
The proposed path would run more than four miles north from Madrone Road, linking residential neighborhoods to Sonoma Valley Regional Park, downtown Glen Ellen, and Dunbar Elementary School, at the other end.
“The bikeway will give everyone a chance to get out of their cars, reduce emissions, improve their health, and strengthen ties within our community,” said Dawson.