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Petaluma 'bike boulevard' to get public airing

Petaluma's bicycle boulevard proposal is set to come to the City Council on Dec. 20 for possible approval, but neighbors are already objecting to the lack of public input in the controversial project.

At Monday's meeting, the council was set to approve an agenda item for next meeting that called for the "approval of the final project design and authorizing construction" of the East D Street proposal.

But two citizens spoke out against the process, which they said appeared to be bypassing public participation.

Both asked the council to seek neighbors' input and hold a public hearing before moving forward. One warned the council to expect a large crowd at the Dec. 20 meeting.

At a bike committee meeting in October, the vast majority of 60 people in attendance raised objections to a pilot plan to replace stop signs with yield signs and traffic circles at three intersections on a quarter-mile section of East D Street between Payran and Wilson streets.

Worries included pedestrian safety and whether replacing stop signs with yields would help or hinder the flow as cars and bicycles try to share the road.

Petaluma received a $50,000 air-quality grant to make bike-friendly changes to the street.

A similar, ongoing pilot project on Humboldt Street in Santa Rosa has been met with strong criticism by some neighbors and drivers, while bicycle advocates are hoping it will continue when the new, less bike-friendly council takes office next year.

Mayor Pam Torliatt directed city staff to schedule a neighborhood meeting before Dec. 20 to explain how the traffic circles would look. The Dec. 20 meeting also will now include public input.


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