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Santa Rosa council downsizes ‘bike boulevard’

Humboldt Street in Santa Rosa

By KEVIN McCALLUM
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The new Santa Rosa City Council mapped out a new route for its “bicycle boulevard” Tuesday night, voting to rip out the much-maligned temporary traffic circles on Humboldt Street and install speed humps to slow down traffic.

The council voted 5-1 to spend $60,000 on a series of modest changes to the street through the heart of the Santa Rosa Junior College neighborhood, rejecting a controversial and far more expensive plan to install four permanent traffic circles at a cost of over $800,000.

Councilman Gary Wysocky, an avid cyclist, cast the no vote. “I hate to see this project go by the wayside,” he said.

Mayor Ernesto Olivares said the scaled-down plan represented a good compromise that still achieves a key goal of slowing traffic on the narrow residential street.

“It’s OK to say we tried it and it didn’t work out for us,” Olivares said.

The decision should not have come as a surprise to advocates of the project, who have known for weeks that the election of Jake Ours and Scott Bartley to the council put the project at risk. Both cited it during their campaigns as an example the previous council majority’s skewed priorities.

Former Mayor Susan Gorin reminded her fellow council members that the project was identified by the city in 2001 as an important way to get people downtown with using cars.

But she admitted the temporary traffic circles were “ugly” and after it was clear the new majority supported a scaled-back plan, Gorin went along with it, saying it still accomplished “three or four” of the goals of the original project.

“Let’s hold out for what we can afford right now, move forward and bring the neighborhood together,” Gorin said.

The pilot project has stirred passionate debate since it was launched in August 2009. Advocates have touted it as an important way to encourage people to and from the downtown without using cars by creating an artery where bicyclists were on a more equal footing with cars.

“The bicycle boulevard gives me an incentive to get out of my car,” said Tanya Narath.

But others felt their street had been hijacked by a special interest group that ignored the desires of those who use the street most.

“This is what happens when ideology collides with reality,” said Rosa Koire, a member of the Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition.

Some lamented said the project has disrupted their neighborhood. “This project has created a lot of divisions among neighbors, neighbors who used to be friends,” said Diane Test.

Under the latest plan, seven speed tables — basically large flattened speed bumps — would be installed mid-block to slow traffic.

A four-way stop would be restored at the busiest of the four intersections, McConnell Avenue. But the other three would have stop signs reinstalled only in the east-west directions, leaving no stop signs on Humboldt in the north-south directions.

The council held off spending an additional $40,000 on other items, including a radar sign informing driving how fast they are traveling.

Councilwoman Marsha Vas Dupre was absent.





28 Responses to “Santa Rosa council downsizes ‘bike boulevard’”

  1. cyclist says:

    Well may be Wayne should have worded it with want instead of need to get people out of their cars. I need my car to go to Costco but I don’t need to get in my car just to get a loaf of bread at the grocery store. I want to ride my bike with my kids to their school but I need to drive them there because their school don’t allow bike there. May be the bicycle coalition is a little over the top and I don’t always agree with them. Case in point the bike boulevard and the bridge over 101. But the issue still remains that bicyclist like feel safe every where they go. We are talking about a 5000 lbs vehicle versus a 20 some lbs bike. Just want the motorist to be aware that there are other beside themselves that are on the road.

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  2. Bradley Miller says:

    I was with you, Wayne, until that comment about getting people out of their cars. What’s it to you if we drive? Personal vehicles are many things: transportation, private, free mobility, social moving living rooms etc. Fuel innovations are allowing for electric, bio fuel, hybrid, and who knows what next.

    You can ride your bike if you like but for me, picking up groceries, loading lumber, carpooling kids, traveling, will be done in a car. Cars are a great method of transportation and your sloganeering is just meaningless rhetoric.

    We don’t need the bike coalition to redesign our streets or our lives. Get over yourself.

    Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  3. Wayne Clarke says:

    I agree with the vote regarding not going thru with those roundabouts. I have a son, Matt who will probably never get a drivers license (24 yrs old) and is more then an avid bike mechanic and cyclist. He is a commuter (public trans. & biking) and said the circles were dangerous when vehicles entered with pedestrians or cyclists present.

    I hope they come to the same conclusion in Petaluma along East D street, which are even smaller streets. Just not a good idea and a money waster.

    We need to make people more aware of cyclists, and get more people out of their cars & trucks to the point where those folks will be in the minority.

    Wayne Clarke “Conscience”
    Peace Out!

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  4. cyclist says:

    @ NOTUTOO
    Ok may be I should say some of us. You do what you want. I am not telling anyone to do what they don’t want to do. Just a suggestion if you don’t want to be that 67 percent.

    Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  5. Dave Madigan says:

    This is slightly off topic but I have to comment on the “attitude” towards the Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition. I was involved in a similar situation in the Downtown area. All of the “insiders” were part of the Downtown Development Association which became the Downtown Association. When that group stopped representing the small businesses, we formed the Downtown Business Association (DBASR). The City Council tried to tell us that we could not form our own group and that we would not be acknowledged at meetings. We went ahead anyway. When we had a vote of ALL of the Downtown businesses, only 12 supported the insider DDA group. Those 12 were all officers and directors of the DDA.
    I am trying to say this: Don’t let the bad attitude of the insiders get to you. Stand your ground! They are mad because you are successful. Keep up the good work!

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  6. Steveguy says:

    One more on this.

    For the new imposed without any real input speed bumps , why speed bumps when no speeding has been observed. I have spoken with (rode my bike there) to my old neighbors. ALL are opposed .

    The ones in favor ? The renters that have a feel-good survey to be ‘Green’ with.

    If I still lived there, I would be livid..

    Thumb up 11 Thumb down 4

  7. Steveguy says:

    The bike blvd was bad enough (I use Slater) and now they want speed bumps for an street that is not known for speeding ?

    That is a ‘compromise’ ???

    That folks, is a waste.

    (I lived on Humboldt for years, near Bill’s)

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  8. Jeffrey says:

    One problem with the Humboldt St. experiment is a lack of clarity on signs in the area. For example, consider a roundabout or a traffic light at which the instruction to “STOP” has not been completely erased from the ground. Confusing.

    Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  9. Steveguy says:

    I lived on the 1400 block of Humboldt for years. Even lived on Pacific.

    I always rode my bike on Slater, like all of the other neighbors on bikes. There are some nice alleys there too.

    Waste of money on a ‘feel good’ target street.

    And now they want to put huge speed bumps where speeding was never a problem.

    SCRAP the whole thing !!!

    Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

  10. phoebe says:

    The whole Humboldt Bicycle Blvd was a fiasco from the get go & the deception that surrounded the project was both insulting & annoying & went on way too long. It was enough to make me seriously consider my votes in the last election & the most recent election & make sure to vote for people who will listen. It will be a while before I forget the Restore Humboldt Street signs being torn down & others with I (heart) Humbolddt Bike Blvd. being slapped on top on them. Eventually the Restore signs were put up very high to avert vandalism. If there are many from the SCBC reading here I will mention that the negativity you are creating will probably create a lot more discourteous behavior on the roads.

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  11. NOTUTOO says:

    @cyclist…You said; “Most of us don’t need to get in the car to go to work.”

    That statement is absurd. I’m assuming you mean that we should all spend our mornings and nights commuting on buses or riding our bicycles? Because you do it? You should decide whats right for you and let others decied whats right for them.

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  12. JC Neighbor says:

    I feel like our JC neighborhood is breaking free from the stranglehold of the bike ‘progressives’. Rosa Koire and the rest of the people who wrote flyers, walked them around, held meetings, did an excellent website, attended meetings, sent us emails,hey, these people at the SRNC have been a REAL neighborhood association. The Junior College Neighborhood Association has been run like a secret club and it seems like their run is over. People like Rosa and the SRNC really care about the neighborhood and don’t have some ridiculous agenda. I support the SRNC and I’m glad they have the guts to stand up to the machine. I’d like to see Rosa on the council. How about it, Rosa?

    Thumb up 23 Thumb down 5

  13. Alex says:

    I am thankful to the hard work of the Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition. I have for years tried to get involved in Santa Rosa Junior College Neighborhood Association…talk about secret meetings and privacy…they don’t return calls, they don’t return emails, there is no website and this is a non-profit which the city helps by giving them funds and a soapbox. Then you get this message from them left on their paper at your doorstep with political endorsements…unbelievable that this non-profit gets away with this. I thought there were Federal rules against endorsing or commenting on elections.
    In contrast, Rosa, at Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition has always identified herself and responds to any comments that I have asked. When they are meetings, everyone is invited to attend and they don’t try to shutter anyone out. I never, NEVER had a problem speaking with her. However, with the JC Neighborhood association, absolutely NOTHING. It is clear where the SRN Coalition stands on issues of being a watchdog on these special interests and politicians so I guess some progressives don’t like it because the Coalition airs out the dirty laundry of these special interest groups and slimy politicians.
    Great job Rosa, thank you for helping us stay a community in the JC and not have some special interest groups try to pull us apart to forward their agenda. Thank you for standing up to those who refused to listen to us and tried to steam roll over our community…it is disgusting how Sonoma Bicycle Coalition tried to push their agenda in our neighborhood without any concerns for those who live, walk, ride, or drive in our neighborhood. I am tired of the self-righteous do as I want you to do behavior and thank God for people like Rosa who helps those who feel their voice is drowned out by politicians and special interests groups. I applaud the City Council for getting rid of those dangerous diverters and roundabouts which not only caused danger to those who tried to cross the street but do add traffic and dangerous situations to the neighboring streets too. Special thanks to Mayor Olivares for taking the lead in already saving the city over $700,000 by not advancing “the million dollar bike boulevard to no where but Gary Chu’s”. Finally, some fiscal responsibility and, above all, a politician and council that listens to the constituents…Thank you!

    Thumb up 24 Thumb down 4

  14. cyclist says:

    Mud slinging is good for politics as long as it doesn’t hit the fan.
    We have 2 sides here and may be both are a little over the top but it is all good. The winner is the public as long as it is settled fairly. Me I just want to ride my bike with my kids somewhere safe and teach my kids to be “green” at the same time. Most of us don’t need to get in the car to go work.

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  15. Jim says:

    @Grey Whitmore

    Perhaps you can pick up the telephone and ASK?

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

  16. Bob Knight says:

    Sounds like Grey Whitmore is a sore loser. People successfully pushed back on the bicycle boulevard. The SRNC has been out in the open for years. Your mudslinging is pointless. Our group represents the interests of the people, not special interests. I know Grey (not real name) is with the competing Neighborhood Alliance and wants that group to be the only group that has any influence in Santa Rosa. But it’s not going to be that way. We are here and will make our voices heard as well. The NA does not have a monopoly on neighborhood issues.

    I’m sorry if people like you want to stifle the public’s involvement so that your ideology can be pushed on people. We have as much right as anyone else to organize and participate in the public process. The last election proves that the majority of people are not in support of extreme views. You must also afford all of the rest of the people their rights to be heard.

    The Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition is a group available for all the rest of the people who are not in agreement with an extreme ideological agenda. Our steering committee has been highly active and visible and we have many other supporters and affilliated groups that support our efforts. In fact, the more the extremists push their agenda, the more our group grows. Maybe this is the silver lining to the obsession of some who feel so threatened by our group.

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  17. Beef King says:

    @ ‘Grey’ Whitmore-
    I am a member of the group that supports Rosa Koire and Kay Tokerud.
    Your ultra left strategy of discrediting your opponents instead of engaging in useful debate stamps your position as not having a foundation to argue from.

    Thumb up 19 Thumb down 5

  18. Steveguy says:

    Compromise ?

    I lived on Humboldt for years and ‘the compromise’ has large speed bumps to calm traffic. The was never any problem of speeding cars on that street.

    And taking out the stop sign at Humboldt and Silva is a crazy and dangerous idea.

    So the City removes one ludicrous idea with another cheaper ridiculous idea.

    Humboldt Street was fine before all of this. Build speed bumps somewhere else, where people are speeding !

    Loony tunes. I hope the old ‘hood nixes the speed bumps too. Our block wouldn’t want one.

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  19. Grey Whitmore says:

    @ Jason Valez

    So the SRNC does have members? Shouldn’t it be time for them to identify themselves?

    Koire and Tokerud are always running around “shinning light” into back-room deals and other orgnaziations, is it not time they did the same? Identify their members. Sources of funding. etc. etc.

    Even their website domain name is hidden behind a layer of “privacy”.

    Sorry Koire and Tokerud time for your group to stand up, or shut up just like all the other Santa Rosa special interest groups.

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  20. Jason Valez says:

    I see there are still some jerks bashing Rosa Koire and the Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition. What a town. Ms. Koire and the members of her group (I was at the council meeting and at least 5 other people besides her said they were on the steering committee, and they had a petition with almost 700 on it) are heros. Period. Now we can go down Humbolt Street without risking our lives.
    Thank you.

    Thumb up 30 Thumb down 6

  21. NOTUTOO says:

    Awesome, it looks like they may have chiseled the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition out of the city council.

    Thumb up 38 Thumb down 8

  22. Dave Madigan says:

    If there are any further bike coalition proposals for roundabouts or bike friendly/auto unfriendly “improvements”, they should first be installed and tested in the streets surrounding City Hall. If it’s good enough to inflict on the taxpayers, then it’s good enough for the politicians to have to suffer thru each day.

    Thumb up 34 Thumb down 7

  23. Grey Whitmore says:

    ahhhhh. The great Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition speaks.

    Now, remind me. This is a “group” of concerned citizens that has “members” that nobody know except for Rosa Koire and Kay Tokerud.

    This is the same group that seems to know everything about development. Looses most, if not all, of the time.

    So beware young Santa Rosans … The SRNC does not speak for all, if any at all but two.

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  24. phoebe says:

    QufuThank you to Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition & to Rosa for all the effort put into restoring sanity in the JC neighborhood. The flyers that were delivered a few months ago & the many members of the coalition who went door to door collecting signatures were a valuable asset in eliminating this disaster. Hopefully the new City Council will be more willing to its citizenry rather than special intrest groups.

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  25. Jamie Simon says:

    Did you know that similar devices (speed tables) are present in modern day french villages throughout that country. They seem to work in that cycling mad country.

    Problem with SR’s experiment with roundabouts was no clear sight lines at the roundabouts, and not enough roadway to fit them in at those intersections. Meaning, one has to come to a complete stop at the roundabouts just to be certain there isn’t a car or cyclist one might collide with. As a motorist and cyclist I’d be happy to see “traffic circles ” disappear ASAP.

    Thank you city council.

    Thumb up 32 Thumb down 5

  26. bikeNdrive says:

    As an avid cyclist, as much as I appreciated what they were trying to do with Humbolt, it was a disaster. Not because it was trying to make flow easier for bikes, but because there are few in Sonoma County who understand the proper use of traffic circles. It was clear that few drivers understood that if a vehicle was IN THE CIRCLE they have right of way until they are clear. There were a number of times that I was in the circle and a car traveling north or south cut me off while I was transitioning from N or S to E or W. That said, I was almost crunched in my car at the old T.L.Harris and Cross Creek round about when some jackwagon went flying through when I was already in the RA… HE screming at the top of his lungs that I “had a yeild sign”, not noticing that he did too… Bottom line, DON’T propose any more roundabouts, we have no idea how to use them…

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  27. Rosa Koire says:

    The citizens of Santa Rosa and the members of the Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition are celebrating a victory today. The ideology of a ‘bike boulevard’ collided with the reality of the dangerous imposition of an obstacle course in a peaceful neighborhood.

    This project has been vigorously opposed by SRNC and the neighborhood for the 18 months that we have been subjected to it. Our petition, with 684 neighborhood signators, called for the restoration of Humboldt Street.

    We reported the City of Santa Rosa to Federal Highways Civil Rights Division for violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and this is most likely what finally stopped it.

    Besides the danger, besides the price-tag, besides the arrogance of ignoring the concerns of the neighborhood, besides the fanatic adherance to an ideology that diverts radically from just the healthy experience of riding one’s bike, the arm-twisting, the deception, and the manipulation involved in this project has exposed the City and the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition to light.

    We applaud the citizen activists who refused to give in after countless meetings and pressure. Those who stand together to say that they will not allow their neighborhoods and neighborhood associations to be taken over by special interest groups have won a victory today.

    Now, instead of admitting defeat, the City is attempting to impose seven speed tables on Humboldt while refusing to re-install all of the stop signs. Although the City did a survey of homeowners on Humboldt and asked who would support speed humps in front of their homes, only 67 of the 258 responded. Be aware: the City will assume that you do not object to having a speed hump in front of your home if you do not alert them. See our website for more information: http://www.SantaRosaNeighborhoodCoalition.com

    Rosa Koire
    Steering Committee
    Santa Rosa Neighborhood Coalition

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  28. cyclist says:

    Thought some might disagree but I think this is what it should have been in the first place except for the speed tables. The speed limit around the residential area has always been 25 mph. Now the bumps on the road will cause more wear and tear cars and bicycles alike.

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