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For the past few years Carrie Abraham has closely monitored the play of her twin children in her Humboldt Street front yard, partly because of motorists treating the two-lane road as a speedway.

But over the past few weeks she has deposited her 3-year-olds into a cart attached to her bicycle and pedaled down the the tree-lined residential street that parallels busy Mendocino Avenue two blocks west.

?I feel safer,? she said, a reference to a city-approved project that has converted the 15-block stretch of Humboldt between Fifth Street and Lewis Road into the city?s first bicycle boulevard.

But the changes, which gives cyclists equal footing with the 4,800 motorists who drive Humboldt daily, are only temporary.

They are part of a six-month trial to see how well the changes work and to decide what tweaks might be needed should the City Council decide to spend the $200,000 to make the changes permanent.

The current project involves the installation of temporary stanchion-lined traffic circles at four intersections ? Spencer, McConnell, Carr and Silva avenues ? and the use of stanchions to extend sidewalks into the streets at some intersections to slow traffic and make it easier for pedestrians to cross.

Yield signs, painted outlines of cyclists on street pavement and street signs denoting Humboldt as a ?bicycle boulevard? also remind motorists it is now a shared street.

Humboldt has been long designated in the city?s general plan as a bike boulevard where cyclists would be entitled to share the lane with drivers rather than forced to dodge around parked cars.

The shared system requires that motorists and cyclists follow each other in single file but allows drivers to pass bike riders when there is no on-coming traffic. To make that more comfortable, the center lane dots that once divided Humboldt into two lanes have been removed.

City transportation planner Nancy Adams said it?s too soon to assess how the configuration is working.

She said the real test whether Humboldt becomes the biking community?s alternative to busy and significantly more dangerous Mendocino Avenue will come over the next few weeks as classes begin at several neighborhood schools, including Santa Rosa High School and Santa Rosa Junior College.

With the test only three weeks old, Adams said she?s seen no difference in the number of bike riders or cars on Humboldt.

?It?s just about the same. I haven?t seen any difference,? she said. ?It will be interesting to see how it works when school is in.?

So far Abraham, who lives near the Spencer Street roundabout, likes what she sees.

She and her husband bought their house four years ago, partly because they knew Humboldt was to become a bike-friendly street. ?It was one of the selling points,? she said.

Abraham said motorists, in general, have been slowed down by the conversion, enough to convince her to it?s safe enough to ride on the street with her children.

Abramson admits she?s much more cautious riding near the round-abouts, which she said have created confusion among motorists.

?We?ve seen people pull up and look like they don?t know what to do, although over this past week people have seemed to be getting it,? Abraham said.

Abraham said her cycling foray onto Humboldt as an equal partner hasn?t been without its hassles.

?A woman drove up behind me and my children and there was plenty of room for her to get around us. But as she passed by she laid on her horn,? Abraham said.

Southwest Santa Rosa resident Ann Bogges, recently laid-off from her job as a dental assistant, has ridden Humboldt for years to get to Kaiser Hospital, the junior college and now the state?s Employment Development Department.

She said the change in Humboldt ?is great, I feel safe.?

From what she?s seen motorists and bicyclists are co-existing. ?People,? she said of drivers, ?aren?t angry about it and that is positive.?

Still, there are some shortcomings.

Driving speeds have not slowed enough and motorists aren?t yielding, or looking around for bicyclists as much as they should, at the traffic circles, she said.

Both problems should lessen as <NO1><NO>bike-riding students join the cyclists who have been using the road, she said.

Kenny Crews, a retired Santa Rosa firefighter, and his wife Suzanne, a former wine industry advertising executive, are cyclists who say the conversion of the northern end of Humboldt in front of their home has advantages.

?I enjoy the reduction in traffic,? said Kenny, who believes fewer motorists are using the 15-block Humboldt straightaway as a shortcut between Lewis Road and downtown.

?I can tell there is less traffic when I back out of my driveway. It used to be I?d face a train of cars and wondered if I?d ever get out of my driveway,? he said.

Suzanne, however, still sees drivers traveling at 40 mph in the 25-mph zone. The round-abouts replaced stop signs posted that had forced motorists to stop.

?Now they keep their momentum going,? she said.

She attributes some of those problems to people unaware how the round-abouts and a bike boulevard are supposed to function.

At several of the traffic circles, the city has erected signs advising passersby that the 20-foot-diameter circular outlines are tests of ?traffic circles? and ask those who want to comment to call the city at 543-3828.

Adams said she?s received 200 calls, evenly divided between supporters of the changes and those with concerns.

?The two most frequently cited concerns are drivers don?t know how to drive around the traffic circles and about pedestrians crossing at the intersections where the temporary traffic circles have been installed.?

Abraham said from what she?s seen, ?crossing the street is a challenge? at the round-about near her home, particularly after the city erased the crosswalk outlines.

Adams said the city did so to eliminate the false sense of security pedestrians might get. She said because of the diameter of the traffic circles, motorists and bicyclists are being forced into the former crosswalk areas.

She said the planned solution is to repaint the crosswalks but move them a bit farther from the intersections.

Adams said the city also plans a full evaluation of the bike boulevard over the next few weeks. ?We?ll count bikes, we?ll count cars and we?ll do speed surveys,? she said.

A meeting with Humboldt Street residents will be held in October to get their input, she said.

Once the information is gathered, it will be up to city leaders to tweak the project further, make the temporary improvements permanent or abandon the concept.

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