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'Bike boulevard' stirs sharp divisions

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

These days Santa Rosa's Humboldt Street would probably be more aptly named Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Street.

For those who travel it, or live there, it's become a street with a dual personality since the launch in August of a six-month test as the city's first official bike boulevard — a route shared equally by cyclists and motorists.

Keven <NO1>(cq)<NO>Brown said he used to ride his bike alongside that of his 8-year-old daughter from their Hidden Valley home to the downtown library, choir practice or his family's business, Corrick's.

"We used Humboldt a lot. It is a direct route," he said.

But he said it doesn't make sense now that the 1.5-mile stretch of Humboldt from Fifth Street to Lewis Road has been, at least temporarily, converted into an experimental bike boulevard where stop signs at several intersections have been removed and replaced with traffic roundabouts along with other changes he believes make the road more dangerous to ride.

"The roundabouts seem precarious. I love the idea of roundabouts but the area is too small for good visibility," he said, noting he sees motorists and cyclists shooting around the traffic circles without looking, sometimes speeding.

"It seemed it was much safer when there were stop signs," he said.

Others claim the safety issue along the 15-block straightaway is further complicated by the narrow, tree-lined street where long lines of parked cars make it somewhat of an obstacle course.

And, they say, the danger is heightened at night when most street lights are doused, part of a cost-cutting measure that ultimately will result in half the city's 16,000 street lights being turned off.

But Spencer Street resident and avid cyclist David Cooper sees the other side of Humboldt's personality.


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