Sausalito city council considers cracking down on bike traffic

SAUSALITO, Calif. (KTVU) - Summer is just over a month away and that means more people will be hitting the roads on bicycles.

In Sausalito, that is not necessarily a good thing. There is talk now on the city council of cracking down on the bike traffic.

The view from Sausalito is priceless. "We did a hard bike ride over the Golden Gate into Sausalito," said Erin Sweeney of San Francisco.

The proximity to the bridge is a big part of why the Marin County city is such a destination. "The bikes have gone up in volume from roughly 50,000 a year to 500,000 a year, and we're a town of 7,000 people, that's a mile long," explained Ed Fotsch, Chair of the Sausalito Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Problems come with the extra bike traffic. "It can get really chaotic, there are thousands of bikes that come in and as the summer goes on, it gets worse and worse," said Sausalito Bike Ambassador, Chris Robson.

Many people who ride, stand in long lines for the ferries back to the city, and impact other passengers with their bikes.

One bike parking area can hold about 400 bikes at a time, and on a busy summer day, there can be upwards of 3,000 bikes that cycle through.

So, the city council has been considering some extreme measures to slow the roll of bikes - especially rental bikes - into Sausalito.

"There's an existing ordinance that says you can't park on the sidewalk, that's never really been enforced. And it's never a bicycle parked to a meter, they come in groups, and the average is four, but you can have up to eight all parked at one meter, and then no one gets by," says Fotsch.

There's talk of limiting the amount of bikes in the city, requiring all bicycles that come in be licensed, or eliminating all the free bike parking, charging each cyclist a fee instead.

"Once you get you get here, you just want to park and walk around and enjoy yourself. So, if there's a limitation on that, it's kind of annoying," said Erin Sweeney, adding that those changes could keep her away.

But not all cyclists would stay away. "I'd do it again, come back and do it, even if you did have to have a license or a fee," said Daniel Rinner of Liverpool, England.

At Bicycle Odyssey, store owner Tony Tom is not pleased with this effort to slow bike traffic. "There is an issue here, but you can't create a police state in order to address the issue."

Next Tuesday's city council meeting could have many people voicing strong opinions as the city struggles to find a solution.