In April a new program called “Slow Zone” will begin on some of the roads and trails around Lake Lagunitas on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed in Marin County. The goal of the Slow Zone program is to increase visitor safety and to reduce trail user conflicts. The program designates roads and trails circling Lake Lagunitas as a place for all users to become more aware of safe trail behaviors. The program is a collaboration of Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) and the Trail Partners – a consortium of Marin County Bicycle Coalition, Marin Horse Council, and Marin Conservation League.
For the greatest level of participation the initiative will target all trail users. To achieve this, the program will focus on a variety of responsibilities including following speed limits, not blocking the road or trail, and being aware of surroundings. New distinctive signage that promotes safe trail behaviors will be installed to identify the Slow Zones.
The permanent signs ask cyclists and runners to reduce their pace in the zone from the legal 15 mph maximum down to 10 mph, and 5 mph when passing or around blind corners. In addition, temporary trail signage with key safety messages will be positioned to boost messaging during outreach events. The temporary signs ask all users to announce themselves when passing, not to wear headphones so they can hear other users approach, and to not block the trail.
Along with the new signage there will be outreach events to coincide with the watershed’s peak season for visitation. The first two events will be held April 9 and April 16, 2016 from 9 a.m. to noon at Lake Lagunitas. Trailheads at the Lake Lagunitas Picnic Area will include interactive exercises with incentives to help deliver the Slow Zone program message.
For example, visitors who stop to test their knowledge of trail rules and courtesy will win prizes such as hats, cups, and t-shirts. Radar signs will be used in the parking lot so that cyclists and runners can learn to gauge their speeds. Additional events will be scheduled for later in the summer. Following these events, MMWD ranger staff will focus their patrols in the Lake Lagunitas area to reinforce the Slow Zone messages.
Last year, all of the county’s public land managers contributed funding to the Trail Partners’ “Slow and Say Hello” program. The Trail Partners have used this funding to develop messaging and branded materials that seek to change behaviors for all users in concrete ways to improve trail safety (see http://www.safetrailsmarin.org/).
Mike Swezy, MMWD’s watershed manager stated, “We are excited to get all users to work together to create a safe experience. This is a first of its kind pilot that if successful could be replicated at other MMWD sites such as Phoenix Lake.”
Marin Municipal Water District: Mike Swezy, 415-945-1190, firstname.lastname@example.org
Marin Conservation League: Nona Dennis, 415-250-8765, email@example.com
Marin County Bicycle Coalition: Tom Boss, 415-272-2756, firstname.lastname@example.org