At Marin County Bicycle Coalition, we promote the bicycle as a tool for good-
At Marin County Bicycle Coalition, we promote the bicycle as a tool for good–for the environment, our health, and our happiness. But under the looming threat of wildfires and natural disasters, we also see the bicycle as a tool for survival.
Over the past weekend, 185,000 people were ordered to evacuate Sonoma County under the threat of a wind-fueled wildfire. Gridlock ensued as thousands took to the roads in their cars at the same time. Fortunately, the evacuation did not take place in eye of the firestorm, and everyone was able to evacuate safely.
But that isn’t always the case, as we learned last year from the Camp Fire in Paradise, CA, where several people died sitting in traffic and many were forced to abandon their cars to flee on foot.
“I knew we had to get out,” she said. “There was no way we were going to make it through in the car.”
With Red Flag Warnings becoming increasingly frequent and the threat of fire on everyone’s minds, now is the time to think about emergency preparedness and create an escape plan, if you haven’t already.
Should a wildfire occur, most areas of Marin County will be susceptible to traffic jams like the one that occurred in Paradise, with hilly neighborhoods funneling traffic onto heavily-congested evacuation routes with few alternatives, if any. In these cases, your car may not be the best escape option.
In addition to being able to circumnavigate traffic jams, bicycles–and especially cargo bikes–are gaining traction as an essential disaster-response tool due to their ability to go where cars cannot, including on sidewalks and pathways. And it’s much easier to get over and around obstacles, like fallen trees or power lines.
As Marin prepares for another Red Flag Warning and Public Safety Power Shutoff, we encourage you to carefully consider escape routes and whether your family will be able to evacuate by car or bike should a wildfire occur.