The bicycle boulevard has reached a fork in the road.
The year-long experiment to turn Santa Rosa's Humboldt Street into a bicycle-friendly roadway returns Tuesday to the City Council for a vote that could decide its features and future.
Public works officials plan to ask the council whether the 1.5-mile-long pilot project should be made permanent, with modified roundabouts and added speed bumps, or whether it should be abandoned.
Public opinion on the subject appears divided as ever.
“Neighborhood sentiment on this is absolutely split,” said Councilman John Sawyer.
Humboldt Street resident Barbara Gude, who describes herself as a single mom with three children and two dogs, wrote a letter to the council saying that after the roundabout was installed at the intersection of Silva Avenue near her home, “our neighborhood is much safer and quieter.”
Instead of cars slamming on the brakes as they come to a stop and “peeling out” as they accelerate again, traffic flows around the circle more smoothly, she said.
Plenty of others, however, dislike the temporary roundabouts, saying they are confusing and dangerous for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike.
“I am not sure than anyone really understands what is supposed to happen when traffic approaching in all directions encounters a yield sign,” commented resident Clarke Lancina.
The test began in August 2009 as a way to create a street that cyclists and motorists share equally. Four-way stops at four intersections between Lewis Road and Fifth Street were replaced with temporary roundabouts designed to help drivers and cyclists keep their momentum.
Cars were encouraged to travel single file behind bicycles until it was safe to pass. Signs and road striping were installed to help educate drivers about the circles and warn of the road's dual emphasis.
The city originally envisioned a six-month trial but extended that in hopes of working out the kinks. Now the time to make a decision has arrived, said Vice Mayor Gary Wysocky.