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Santa Rosa 'bike boulevard' experiment takes hold

  • Dan Calvert, with the city of Santa Rosa, installs the new sign for the Humboldt St. bicycle boulevard.

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.

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