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Petaluma bike boulevard plan draws jeers

D Street in Petaluma.


A proposed bicycle boulevard in Petaluma similar to Santa Rosa’s Humboldt Street drew mostly negative responses during a public hearing Wednesday.

About 60 people attended the meeting, and most were passionate about their feelings for the pilot project.

Worries included pedestrian safety and whether replacing stop signs with yield signs would help or hinder the flow as cars and bicycles try to share a quarter-mile section of East D Street between Payran and Wilson streets.

“Three blocks? It looks like somebody needs a way to spend 50 grand,” said Dave Libchitz, who lives on Wilson. “I vote for the no-build option.”

Others said anything that helps bicyclists cross town safely is welcome.

Petaluma received a $50,000 air-quality grant to make bike-friendly changes on East D Street from Payran Street to Lakeville Street.

The plan includes replacing two four-way stop intersections with all-way yields and traffic circles. The theory is that cars would stop less, creating fewer emissions.

Many speakers compared the Petaluma plan to Santa Rosa’s, some lauding it as a success and others deriding it as a hazard for bikers and walkers.

What was billed as a six-month test on Humboldt has stretched to three times that, at times becoming a ferocious battle between drivers and bicyclists. The City Council last month voted to continue studying it until after the Nov. 2 election.

Santa Rosa planners said the pricetag would be $800,000 to complete the 1.5-mile project. Traffic on Humboldt has decreased by 29 percent and speeds have decreased by 7 percent since the changes. Three non-injury collisions have occurred, none involving bikes.

Petaluman Bruce Hagen, a self-described “hard-core” bicyclist, suggested several alternatives to traffic circles. If the goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, he said, the money should be spent to get people out of their cars completely.

“I just don’t have a good feeling about it,” he said.

Annie and Dennis Van Maaren, who own EverMay Garden Center on East D and Wilson streets, were happy to see plans with only two traffic circles – at Edith and Vallejo streets – instead of a third at Wilson. All three business owners at that corner said a traffic circle there would make truck deliveries impossible.

As planned, large trucks won’t be able to turn at the circles, city traffic consultant Allan Tilton said. Fire trucks would have to drive on the wrong side of the road and over corner “traffic chokers” to turn through the circles.

The nine-member Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee will forward its recommendations to the City Council, which will have the final say on what kind of project is approved. The council is expected to review the project in December.

3 Responses to “Petaluma bike boulevard plan draws jeers”

  1. Tired of Torliatt says:

    The Maguire’s of our world run around pushing their will on other neighborhoods. Now they have ticked off their own neighborhood by pushing this stupid 1/8 mile bicycle boulevard at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hopefully ‘his’ neighborhood can kill this stupid waste of money.

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  2. lynn says:

    It seems that those folks who so opposed the Rainer overpass in Petaluma are now reaping what they have sown. The theory behind the East D St. traffic circle proposal is that since there is no cross town connector, other than the overcrowded Washington St., bikers need to find an alternative, less crowded way across town and must choose East D st. But East D st. doesn’t go across town at all – it deadends at Payran st. Matt MacGuire and friends ‘ solution is to now use city funds to reconfigure East D st. to slow traffic down, pretending that that will somehow help out bike riders. In order to accommodate car traffic AND bikes, why don’t we just build the Rainer overpass? In the interim, at least one intelligent writer has suggested that we use Madison st. as a bike route, since it doesn’t have the commercial traffic of East D, and already parallels the city financed bike path across town and under the freeway.

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  3. My oldest son lives very close to Humboldt street in Santa Rosa. He goes to San Francisco State and works 4 days a week as a bike mechanic/sales person at this awesome “CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE” bicycle store (Levi kinda frequents the 2 shops).

    My profound observation is that the Humboldt Street Roundabouts sort of works for Santa Rosa, but just barely.

    My son Matt Clarke strongly disagrees with my observation and feels the Humboldt Roundabouts are too small because the streets are too small. Cars come whipping around them and bicyclists really don’t know what to do, other then use evasive action.

    Petaluma’s East D Street Roundabouts will probably not work if they are built and I think, the project, should be shelved, and the money better spent on some other bicycle related project in Petaluma.

    My crazy idea, is this:

    1. Build Rainier Overpass or Underpass tomorrow.
    2. Build Caulfield Overpass the next day.
    3. Give East Washington a “DIET” with middle turn lane and bike lanes on both sides, the next day.
    4. Go crazy with the SMART TRAIN, because it is going to be AWESOME.

    I will check back soon and give you all my feedback.

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