Bike vs. car debate leads to Santa Rosa council delay

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

The test of Santa Rosa's first bike boulevard originally expected to take six months will now stretch to 10 as the city scrambles to find middle ground between warring factions.

The City Council has asked the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board to study two controversial traffic-reducing measures, which will postpone until May council consideration of the project's fate, said Transportation Planner Nancy Adams.

The delay arose over proposals to prohibit left turns from College Avenue onto Humboldt and to install a concrete diverter to block the intersection at Pacific Avenue to prevent traffic crossing from one side of Humboldt to the other.

Supporters say both approaches would make the street even more bicycle friendly, while neighborhood opponents told the City Council on Tuesday that the experiment is making it harder for them to use their cars.

A city traffic survey indicates the College Avenue prohibition would reduce the number of cars turning onto Humboldt during peak hours to around 40.

The Pacific Avenue diverter, which would impact traffic continuing north and southbound on Humboldt as well as those attempting to make left turns from Pacific onto Humboldt, would reduce traffic on Humboldt by more than 230 cars during peak afternoon hours.

Adams said the proposals should further reduce traffic on Humboldt by hundreds of additional cars a day while creating a less threatening environment for cyclists.

A survey in September of four sections of the roadway found vehicular traffic dropped from 2,887 to 2,333 cars daily compared to 2008 and the number of cyclists riding specific sections of Humboldt during the heaviest hours of use — morning, mid- and late-afternoon — rose from 385 to 485.

Adams said the two new proposals are efforts to make the 1.5-mile-long boulevard, which stretches from Lewis Road to Fifth Street, safer for cyclists.

The idea of a bike boulevard is to have a street that cyclists and motorists share equally.

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