CLOSE TO HOME: Humboldt bike lane is no 'success' story

  • 9/17/2009:B1: Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Doug Schlief hands out bicycle safety information to Matt Barnes and Lindsey Benjamin on Wednesday after pulling Barnes over for using no hands while riding as the two were headed to class at Santa Rosa Junior College.

    PC: Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Doug Schlief hands out bike information to Matt Barnes and Lindsey Benjamin after pulling Barnes over for riding without hands as they were heading to class at SRJC City officers are educating bicycle riders and drivers about how to properly use the Humboldt St. bike boulevard. Barnes was offered free lights after the officer discovered he has no reflectors.

Along with some family members and Humboldt Street-area neighbors in Santa Rosa, I attended the same meeting at the Steele Lane Community Center that your reporter Mike McCoy attended (?Humboldt Street bike lanes ?starting to work,? Oct. 9). But I didn?t recognize it by the article he wrote about that meeting.

The meeting was well attended, but most folks there were not ?feeling more comfortable with the street.? At least half of the people living and working in that area were opposed to this idea in the first place. But the city progressives decided to impose this experiment on Humboldt Street anyway. The primary use of Humboldt Street should be for parking and safe access to houses and businesses for those people who live and work along Humboldt.

At the meeting, the area residents were clustered around city staff members who recorded comments on a chart. Most comments were concerns about safety, access, visibility, traffic flow and speed. By far, most comments were critical of the experiment.

The staff members were pleading with us to give them at least some positive feedback. The positive was, yes, traffic is flowing more smoothly now that the stop signs have been removed and temporary roundabouts set up in their place. Yes, some bicyclists are beginning to feel safer, but only as long as some changes are made.

Because her bicycle was her only form of transportation, one young woman moved to Humboldt Street expecting to find it a safer transportation route. Now she finds herself afraid to enter the roundabouts because the car and bicycle traffic are forced into the same lane when moving around the circles. This is not safer.

The city claims that average speed has been reduced to 28 mph. The average speed is still above the speed limit of 25 mph. With no stop signs, some cars speed down the street and swerve through the roundabouts as if it were an obstacle on a race track (no more stop signs).

It?s great for the bicyclists who never stopped at the stop signs in the first place. This is not safer.

Fire trucks, other emergency vehicles, delivery trucks and vans have to make a three-point turn to make a left turn. This is not safer.

Pedestrians are fearful of crossing the streets. Cars are now forced into the crosswalks when making the roundabout turns. Many drivers don?t know how to negotiate the turns and turn the opposite direction across traffic. Pedestrians are fearful to cross the streets with any moving car in the area. Visually impaired pedestrians are particularly fearful. This is not safer.

The greatest number of comments was about traffic safety education. Drivers need to slow down, learn how to use the roundabouts and be more aware of bicycles. Bicyclists need to abide by all traffic laws just as drivers do. Traffic laws are not just for cars. Bicyclists need to use lights and wear reflective clothing (not black) at night, stay on their side of the road and bear to the right so that faster moving cars can safely pass them by.

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