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Top Five Reasons to Bike the Twin Cities

An inside look at the amazing paths that make Larkspur and Corte Madera a pleasure to bicycle.

The “Twin Cites” of Minneapolis and St. Paul have received a lot of attention since being cited as the top cycling city this year. In Marin, the “Twin Cities” of Larkspur and Corte Madera share at least one common characteristic with their northern twins: abundant bike paths that foster a healthy cycling community.

The Twin Cities are rich in cycling infrastructure such as paths, bridges, and tunnels. Cyclists of every age and ability can ride car-free and care-free for miles to almost every destination. These are the top five features that make our Twin Cities a pleasure to ride.

5. The Sandra Marker Trail

As my feet spin effortless circles I glance up and examine Mt. Tam. The view from the Sandra Marker Trail is my favorite perspective of the mountain. It's so scenic I almost forget that the groceries in my panniers are my reason for the ride. As I continue to gaze in all directions the vistas alone seem a suitable reason to be on my bike.

In Larkspur, the Sandra Marker Trail is the main east-west thoroughfare. Despite being only a mile in length it connects to an astounding number of useful locations. The west end of the path elegantly combines with the north-south Corte Madera-Larkspur path and as you head east popular off-ramps include:

If you follow the Sandra Marker Trail to its end you are rewarded with ongoing paths to Cost Plus Plaza and the , The Village at Corte Madera, and access to Paradise Dr.

4. Cal Park Hill Tunnel

The  makes riding from Larkspur Landing to San Rafael a breeze. This modern tunnel for non-motorized traffic includes all the bells and whistles, such as video cameras and ventilation, to make you feel safe and comfortable. Before the Cal Park Hill Tunnel cyclists faced a daunting hill climb on busy roads. Now the route is much flatter and infinitely more relaxing.

The trick to this tunnel is finding its location. The path begins beside the Century Theaters Larkspur Landing. When crossing Sir Francis Drake Boulevard I prefer the pedestrian overpass from the ferry to Larkspur Landing Shopping Center.

3. Corte Madera Creek Path

The Corte Madera Creek Path has distinct east and west sections. East creek path heads to Larkspur Landing and west creek path meanders into downtown Ross. Both stretches offer scenic views and access to a myriad of destinations which are detailed in .

*Currently the west section of the path is closed for construction from Bon Air Bridge to Kent Middle School. There is an official detour, but I prefer the dirt path found on the south side of the creek. The dirt ends at College of Marin and a block down College Ave will put you back on the creek path.

2. Sharing with Sharrows

When cyclists ride on the road in the Twin Cities they are usually accommodated by considerate drivers and appropriate road markings. I'm not surprised when traffic waits patiently behind me as I follow one of the freshly painted “sharrow” lane markings (share + arrow = sharrow).

Although not every road is a jewel for bikes, by and large, cyclists get respect from drivers and that is equal in value to miles of separate bike path.

1. Alto Tunnel & Corte Madera-Larkspur Bike Path

The Corte Madera-Larkspur Bike Path is the main drag for cyclists going north-south. This rail to trail path would run continuously to Sausalito with the opening of the Alto Tunnel. Within minutes families would safely roll between Mill Vally and the Twin Cities instead of following a lengthy detour over “Horse Hill” alongside Highway 101.

The historic heart of Corte Madera would find itself the center of life again. Menke Park, home to Piccolo Pavilion and surrounded by small businesses, would be integrated to a degree not seen since the area was known as “Railroad Park.” Another former railroad stop would now cater to those who power their own adventures.

The Alto Tunnel has the potential to become the Twin Cities' greatest cycling asset and the power to complete one of the nation's best bike path networks.

For more information on the effort to reopen the Alto Tunnel or for the Marin Bicycle Map contact Marin County Bicycle Coalition.

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