Sonoma drops plan for West Spain bike lanes

  • Pamala Garant, standing on the eastbound side of West Spain Street in Sonoma, is concerned that the proposal to take out parking on the westbound side to create bike lanes would create parking problems on her side of the street and be detrimental for surrounding businesses.

The Sonoma City Council on Wednesday dropped a plan to put bike lanes on a key thoroughfare after opponents packed the meeting to denounce the idea.

"I can't remember if this is the most people we've ever had speak," Councilman Steve Barbose said following the lengthy hearing, during which most people said putting the lanes on West Spain Street was not a good idea.

The council voted unanimously to scuttle the lanes for West Spain while approving bike lanes on sections of three other thoroughfares: Fifth Street West, West MacArthur Street and Napa Road.

The plan for West Spain, which connects the city's Plaza to Highway 12, proposed eliminating 91 parking spaces to accommodate the new lanes.

The City Council, on a 4-1 vote, had previously approved the lanes in 2008 as part of a master plan for bicycling improvements in the city. Wednesday's hearing was triggered by the council's consideration of an environment analysis the city commissioned as part of the plans.

Barbose, who originally voted to approve the plans, reversed course.

"When you get this much opposition from so many people, you have to begin to wonder whether this is for the greater good," he said.

Councilman Ken Brown, who also was an early proponent of the West Spain lanes, was pleased that three of the four proposals for bike lanes were approved.

"I'm a practical person," he said.

Councilwoman Joanne Sanders said she would have supported putting less restrictive bike improvement on West Spain, such as directional signs for cyclists. But that idea did not get council support and was not approved.

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