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Controversial SLO bike boulevard proposal could be decided this week

The San Luis Obispo City Council will address proposals for potential bicycle pathways on the city’s north end at its next meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
The San Luis Obispo City Council will address proposals for potential bicycle pathways on the city’s north end at its next meeting on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Tribune

Two options for a proposed controversial bicycle path connection in San Luis Obispo from downtown to Foothill Boulevard will be considered Tuesday — likely packing council chambers with groups of people divided over the proposal.

In past meetings and city polls, community members have criticized adding bike pathways on the city’s north end, including Broad, Mission and Ramona streets. They believe bicyclists will be in harm’s way of motorists and disrupt the neighborhood’s parking and traffic flow.

Others say it will provide needed safe cycling routes to Cal Poly and Foothill Boulevard, as well as for area children getting to school.

The proposals are an attempt to provide a “low-stress, priority route for bicyclists and pedestrians connecting the downtown core to Foothill Boulevard and neighborhoods north of Foothill.”

The council may choose to adopt one of the concepts, implement a hybrid of the two or decide not to alter the roadways at all.

Here’s a look at the two final project alternatives:

Preferred Alternative (Protected Bike Lanes)

This Preferred Alternative would created a bike pathway route alignment following Chorro, Mission, Broad and Ramona streets.

It would convert one side of on-street parking to protected or buffered bike lanes for most of the route.

Protected bike lanes separate bike traffic from vehicle traffic by dividers such as curbs, posts or planters.

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This is the route for the Preferred Alternative. City of San Luis Obispo

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The Preferred Alternative aims to created dedicated lanes for bicyclists, with four different road configurations. This is how the Chorro Street stretch from Lincoln to Mission streets would look. City of San Luis Obispo

Lincoln Street Alternative (Minimal Parking Loss)

This alternative would create a shared street configuration where bicyclists and drivers use the same travel lanes.

The bike pathway route alignment would follow Lincoln, Mission, Broad and Ramona.

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This is the route for the Lincoln Street Alternative. City of San Luis Obispo

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Bicyclists and drivers would share travel lanes under the Lincoln Street Alternative. City of San Luis Obispo

Opposition to the plan

San Luis Obispo architect and planner Richard Schmidt recently slammed the proposal, calling it a “terrible idea” in a recent Tribune Viewpoint.

“The ‘Broad/Chorro Bikeway’ is a mishmash of cycle tracks, cycles mixed with vehicles, cycles moving against the flow of traffic, dozens of unmarked intersections, and busy intersections with bikes forced into dangerous diagonal movements,” Schmidt wrote. “None of this provides safety.”

City officials issued a public statement Friday noting that the designs are based on federal and state design guidance and industry best practices for bicycle facility planning, according to city officials.

“The Preferred Alternative is anticipated to offer the greatest potential to increase bicycle ridership by providing physically (protected) bike lanes — the type of facilities that are most attractive to users of all ages and ability levels,” the city’s statement notes. “This benefit comes with the trade-off of reduced neighborhood street parking. It also presents an initial learning curve as local drivers and bicyclists become accustomed to protected bikeways.”

Trail Peek founders Zach and Dane Petersen take you on a mountain bike ride down Cerro Alto, on Highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero. It's one of the highest points in San Luis Obispo County.

Both alternatives would add neighborhood traffic-calming features, intersection crossing improvements and other features intended to benefit all road users.

Protected bikeways have been found to increase bicycle ridership by 75 percent on average in the first year and reduce injury rates for cyclists by approximately 30 percent (two-way facilities) to more than 50 percent (one-way facilities on each side of the street), compared to streets without dedicated bicycle facilities, according to the city.

Information regarding the upcoming City Council meeting, set to start at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 990 Palm St., including a detailed staff report on the proposed project, is available at www.slocity.org.

Residents may visit the project website at www.slocity.org/opencityhall to review past meeting summaries, analysis, cost estimates, implementation strategies and concept designs for each alternative.

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