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Sonoma County Gazette
Jenner Jottings by Tim McKusick

Our Busy Highways and Byways

Jul 30, 2017
by Tim McKusick


Bicycles, motorhomes trailers & RV’s, logging trucks, locals & vacationers, wine tasting limousines, delivery trucks and pedestrians are all sharing our narrow (shoulder-less in most areas) rural roads and highways these mid-summer days and nights. Throw in a few ‘road cows’ and deer wandering through the traffic lanes and you have a good idea of the picturesque landscape along our coast and inland roadways.

You can always tell when there is a ‘bicycle event’ scheduled for our beautiful coastal area, as the hard-core ‘spandex and spokes’ people are out in droves trying out the routes prior to race day. The companies that offer ‘bike treks’ set packs of amateur bicyclists out into the busy traffic are also very busy these days. Drivers must plan ahead to make a mad dash around the cyclists on the winding, hilly roads; not always an easy task, often leading to close calls with oncoming traffic and the cyclists.

The Pacific Coast Bike Route (PCBR) is a cycling route that runs from the border with Canada to the border with Mexico.

In 1976, in honor of the Nation’s Bicentennial, the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of California and the California Department of Transportationdeveloped thePacific Coast Bicentennial Bike Route. The designated route through the Golden State begins at Hwy 101 at the California/Oregon State line, and ends adjacent to Interstate 5 at the Mexican border. In the early 1990’s the California State Legislature re-designated this Route the Pacific Coast Bike Route.

Cal Trans commissioned the Pacific Coast Bike Route Survey Final Report (For Cal Trans District 1). ( In the summer of 2015 Caltrans District 1 Office of Transportation Planning surveyed 535 touring cyclists riding the Pacific Coast Bike Route in Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties. The survey had three components: An online version, a paper version, and in-person interviews. The goal of the survey was to capture data beyond the numbers. They asked the touring cyclists questions about demographics, how they are using the route, any potentially difficult experiences, if they could identify improvements that would help, which navigation tools they are using, and if they had any positive feedback they were willing to share.

Other areas along the CA Coast have developed their own bike-friendly routes to help make cycling along our world-class coastline safe and enjoyable for all.

I have long felt that we have the technology and resources available to create a biking trail along our coastal highway that would assure safe passage for bicyclists and pedestrians while providing a way to ‘underground’ the utility and communication cables that are so unsightly.

Ductwork would be placed in the bicycle pathway that the phone and power companies could use. The utility companies would in essence subsidize the installation and maintenance, taking the burden off of the government. A bonus would be readily available cell service even in the most remote areas of our coast.

As 911 call boxes are currently being decommissioned along our Sonoma Coast (for reasons unknown) this would offer reassurances to both motorists and bicyclists in true emergency situations. Solar panels could be incorporated into the roadbed as is being done in other (more bicycle friendly) countries.

Great News!

The long-awaited parking lot at the Jenner Headlands Preserve is finally under construction! Giant earth moving equipment is busy grooming and reconfiguring the landscape for this Highway One based parking area for the 5,630 acre preserve just above the ‘River Meets the Ocean’ town of Jenner.

The end result will be an easily accessible, aesthetically pleasing and environmentally friendly parking area for the preserve. It should be opening in the Fall. Check out their website for artist renderings of this unique parking design, concealed from the highway in a most interesting manner.

River Mouth Opened

The Sonoma County Water Agency ( in keeping with the mandate of the Russian River Biological Opinion has once again mechanically opened the sandbar at the mouth of the river. It appears that within a matter of a couple of days, the engineered opening had ‘scoured’ to the point that the Estuary was under the influence of the tidal forces.

This, once again, defeats the goal of the SCWA of somehow maintaining a fresh water estuary environment through man-made efforts. Considering that this took place during relatively low flows with little resistance from Mother Nature, it is obvious to most observers that this is a failed experiment.

Meanwhile coastal communities world-wide are making plans to deal with the inevitable rising sea levels. Time to shift our priorities to saving what little habitat is left for our endangered aquatic species.

Ken Sund of Jenner witnessed the dramatic rescue by Pendergraft and was inspired to promote a “thank you barbecue” for our Coastal Emergency Responders. He proposed the idea to his Board at the Jenner Community Centerand went about inviting the various Local Volunteer Fire Departments and Fire Stations as well as the CHP and Sheriffs. It was a huge success as shown in these photos.

 Local Fire Captain Steve Baxman did the honors and the Jenner Community fed them all! The Jenner Community continues to humble us all with their spirit of Community and Giving in all circumstances. They are the small town with the Huge Heart! Please visit their website and consider a donation.

For those of us who are lucky enough to call this coast home, we know when we hear sirens, it is a serious situation. Whether it is a fire, an automobile accident, a cliff or ocean rescue, all of these agencies respond. It is an “all-in effort”. On behalf of myself and my West County/Coastal neighbors, as well as all of the visitors who enjoy the beauty of our Coast, Thank You!



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