The Humboldt Street bike boulevard project is an opportunity for Santa Rosa leadership to take a stand for the safety and health of its citizens, as well as for the environment.
Though the bike boulevard has been controversial, everyone seems to agree that it is still not safe enough for bicyclists, pedestrians and motorists alike. Considering the recent rash of teens injured or killed by cars in Santa Rosa, it's clear that the city needs to improve the safety of our streets for citizens who choose not to travel by car. The bike boulevard is designed to do exactly that, but the traffic calming measures taken so far have been inadequate.
No one would argue that it isn't better for our health to walk or bike than to drive, so let's make it safe to do so and encourage our citizens to take care of their health. No one would argue that it is better for the environment to walk or bike than to use fossil fuels &#8211; let's make it safe to do what is right for our planet.
Moreover, if we reduce vehicular traffic on Humboldt Street, we will be creating a place to build community. With less traffic, people will feel safe enough to come out with their bikes, skates and kids and see each other's faces, even get to know each other.
Soon city leadership will be debating whether to try to calm traffic further on Humboldt Street and how to do so. The Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board has suggested speed bumps and increased signage, as well as the possibility of prohibiting lefts turns from College Avenue onto Humboldt and a traffic diverter at Pacific Avenue if speed bumps are not possible. The exact interventions are still up for negotiation, but the need for more traffic calming is undeniable.
To those who say that traffic calming measures would impair emergency vehicle response times, please note that in Berkeley and Portland, Ore., bike boulevards have been constructed without adversely affecting emergency vehicles. We could do the same.
To those who claim that not enough bicyclists use the boulevard to justify inconveniencing motorists, please know that this is because there is still too much vehicular traffic for inexperienced riders to feel comfortable.
To those who say that we will increase carbon emissions if motorists have to drive around the block to reach their destination, please note that the point is to make it safe for people to walk or bike instead of drive, so we produce fewer greenhouse gases.
To those who say they do not want traffic to increase on neighboring streets, the goal is to keep traffic on nearby Mendocino and North avenues so that all of us can enjoy quiet, residential streets.
To those who say the pilot project has had the allotted six months and is a failure, consider that to give up on the bike boulevard project now, before traffic is calmed, would be like building a sea wall two feet tall and then giving up when the waves crash over it.
Finally, to those who say they do not want to be inconvenienced as motorists by not being able to speed down Humboldt Street when they want to cross town &#8211; isn't it worth a slight detour for the sake of safety, community, healthier bodies, and a cleaner environment?