It's one stretch out of 500 miles of roads in Santa Rosa, but by next year, Humboldt Street could become the first to cater equally to motorists and bicyclists.

"It would be the first bike boulevard in our street system," transportation planner Nancy Adams told the City Council during a study session Tuesday to unveil the idea.

Under the shared-street concept, motorists and bicyclists would both be in the travel lane, one following the other.

"If you're a cyclist in front of a vehicle, that car has to stay behind you. It's single file," Adams said.

Plans to convert the two-lane, mostly residential street now traveled by more than 4,000 motorists a day to one where bicyclists and motorists have equal privileges have been in the works almost since Humboldt Street was designated in the city's general plan as a bicycle boulevard several years ago.

"A bike boulevard is simply a facility that is geared toward cyclists of all ages and experience levels. Little kids can ride it with their family or students going to the junior college," Adams said.

A design of the newly defined dual-purpose street is supposed to be before the city's Bicycle Advisory Board in November for its approval and to the City Council in December.

Adams said the current plan is to have a pilot project in place by spring at a cost of around $25,000.

If the proposal works out, the cost to install permanent traffic circles at four intersections, add some additional pedestrian safety features and other improvements would run around $200,000, she said.

Council members, cognizant of the city's budget crisis, were quick to point out they would seek grants to build the project.

As tentatively proposed, the testing area would include a 1.5-mile, 14-intersection stretch of Humboldt Street between Lewis Road and Fifth Street.

"The logic behind it is this is one of the most bicycled areas in the city, and it connects both to the (Santa Rosa) high school and middle school and to the junior college," Adams said.

Adams said Humboldt provides a much quieter, safer cross-town route for cyclists than traveling Mendocino Avenue, a congested thoroughfare several blocks to the west.

Adams said neighborhood reaction to the idea has been mixed.

Humboldt Street homeowner Patricia Foster, while undecided on the issue, criticized what she said has been the city's failure to adequately solicit neighborhood input on the plan.

"It's very irresponsible not to be notified," she said.

City officials said 1,100 notices went out to area residents about a meeting held several months ago, attended by about 120 people.

You can reach Staff Writer Mike McCoy at 521-5276 or