Sebastopol's PedLine is Ready for Walkers to Explore Downtown
The small colored ovals popping up on sidewalks in and around Sebastopol’s downtown area are the final “step” in the City’s launch of its new PedLine: four color-coded, self-guided walking tours designed to get people out of their cars and walking around town. Spearheaded by Cittaslow Sebastopol, the City’s non-profit community development partner, the PedLine is the culmination of more than six years of collaborative work with community organizations, local government and merchants, and the public.
The estimated 20 to 40-minute loops take pedestrians to the Laguna (The Green Line), Florence St. Art Walk (The Pink Line),Ives Park and the Sebastopol Center for the Arts (The Blue Line) and to the Trail Connector linking the Joe Rodota Trail to Ives Park (The Purple Line).
The routes were determined based on the results of a Cittaslow Sebastopol pilot study conducted in 2014 as well as a series of community meetings, forums, test runs and design ideations. The pilot study revealed that the PedLine reduced driving, supported local merchants, and contributed to community spirit with increased conversations and interactions.
Maps for the PedLine routes are available on PedLine.org. Individuals with mobile phones can access the website and use their geolocators to help them follow the routes. There are also Park Once and Walk maps at the four main parking lots downtown to assist those driving into town to “ditch the car and get around on foot.” Or simply follow the color-coded ovals that appear at each intersection and indicate which direction to continue: left, right or straight ahead.
Says Sebastopol Mayor Neysa Hinton, “The new PedLine makes it easy to explore different areas of our city on foot. It helps both locals and visitors find their way around once they’ve left their car in one of the several convenient parking lots distributed throughout town. It’s my belief that getting out and walking whenever possible makes for a healthier and more vibrant community, and you just might discover something new along the way.”
The PedLine concept began as an idea floated by Planning Commissioner Paul Fritz at a 2013 Cittaslow Sebastopol community forum on eco-tourism. The purpose of the forum was to gather community input and solutions for problems residents anticipated if Sebastopol were to become more of an eco-tourist destination. Fritz was looking to develop a pedestrian-friendly wayfinding system to navigate to different destinations around town.
While traffic congestion was a concern, the idea continued to develop as a way to encourage visitors and locals alike to park their cars and walk rather than driving around once arriving in downtown Sebastopol. Since many destinations were within easy walking distance of downtown, this dovetailed with the City’s “Park Once and Walk” campaign. Thus, the PedLine was born.
Cittaslow Sebastopol advanced the project over the next few years by working with several groups includingComplete Streets (the City’s advisory committee on non-car transportation),iWalk Sebastopol (a grassroots, docent-led walking group), members of theCore Project (a group of local designers active in Sebastopol community projects),Studio L’Image (a local wayfinding sign company) and interested individuals.
A variety of routes were tested with the final pathways determined by factors such as disabled access (e.g., not too steep), crosswalks and safety, scenic qualities, local landmarks along the way, and maximum exposure for merchants. The ovals for the sidewalk markers were designed by Deborah Garber, winner of the county-wide design contest.
The PedLine has also been incorporated on the large blue and green wayfinding signs erected at the Plaza and at select parks.
Because the walks began and ended at the Plaza, permits were needed from CalTrans to place markers and signs.
“CalTrans has a surprisingly high priority to emphasize non-car travel, so they were very supportive of the project,” said Cittaslow Sebastopol Co-Chair, Tasha Beauchamp. “They also understand that their highways are our Main Street. The team we worked with definitely respected that and wanted us to be able to express our town values and spirit through the PedLine project.”
To learn more about the PedLine, go to PedLine.org. Merchants on the PedLine who wish to pass out information about it and other Sebastopol attractions can request Experience Sebastopol brochures firstname.lastname@example.org, or direct visitors to the City’s visitor website at ExperienceSebastopol.com.