Passing grades for 'bike boulevard' experiment

Santa Rosa?s first bike boulevard received high marks Thursday but the 150 people who gathered to issue its first report card suggested more than a dozen changes they believe will make it better and safer.

?It is starting to work, people (bicyclists and motorists) are feeling more comfortable in the street,? city Traffic Engineer Jason Nutt said, summarizing some of the comments about the Humboldt Street project.

The 1.5-mile, two-lane stretch of Humboldt between Lewis Road and Fifth Street was converted in mid-August into the city?s first bike boulevard, a street shared equally by motorists and bicyclists.

For the conversion, most stop signs were removed, traffic roundabouts were installed at four intersections, the roadway?s center line was blacked out and dozens of signs and pavement markings were installed to alert those using the street of its shared purpose.

Thursday?s two-hour meeting at the Steele Lane Community Center gave residents along the the 15-block project, along with cyclists and motorists, a chance to say how the pilot project is working and how it can be improved.

Transportation planner Nancy Adams said the intent is to evaluate the comments ?and see if there is anything we can implement feasibly before our next community meeting.?

The goal is to have changes that might make the road more user friendly and safer in place in time for people to get a feel for them before a second report card session on Dec. 10.

Those who attended Thursday said they were generally happy with the conversion ,noting it has increased bicycle ridership by making it safer to ride.

Part of that is because hundreds fewer cars are traveling that section of Humboldt daily and those that are, city officials said, have reduced their speeds by up to two miles per hour compared to a year ago when it served primarily a crosstown shortcut for motorists.

Still, the average speed according to police who conducted radar surveys indicate the average motorist is still driving slightly above the posted 25 mile per hour speed limit.

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