About the Colony

Atascadero’s plans for bike lanes on Highway 41 leave some skeptical

The long-term plan for the Highway 41 corridor calls for improvements that could include expanded bike lanes and planted buffers to separate vehicle and bicycle traffic.
The long-term plan for the Highway 41 corridor calls for improvements that could include expanded bike lanes and planted buffers to separate vehicle and bicycle traffic.

I don’t often hear from readers in any given week. I will get one or two comments on any given topic.

But my report this past week on Highway 41 bike lanes brought a dozen comments from people — not just in Atascadero but throughout San Luis Obispo County.

The most-asked question was who decided there is a need for all these bike lanes?

I reported on plans by the city of Atascadero to put in bike lanes from Atascadero Lake Park and Charles Paddock Zoo all the way to downtown along what is being called the Highway 41 corridor. It includes a portion of Highway 41 from San Gabriel Road east to El Camino Real, with a jog at Atascadero Avenue to take the bike/pedestrian lanes below the high school and terminate at the Highway 101 tunnel.

One person emailed me and pointed out that he lives in a part of town that requires him to traverse this portion of what is known locally as Morro Road several times a day. He said he never sees bicyclists or pedestrians along the route. He questioned the need for such access for what he described as a very small portion of the community. I’m thinking that maybe if you build it, they (bicyclists and pedestrians) will come.

I reread the feasibility study the city gave me, and it sought to “examine transportation alternatives that would enhance mobility, connectivity, safety and accessibility for roadway users of all ages and abilities, including automobiles, trucks and other large vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians.”

The city’s public works director explained that workshops were held to get input from the general public and business owners along the right-of-way.

One person suggested that providing room for bike lanes that were separated from the traffic lanes by some kind of barrier would squeeze down the area available to motorists. A second glance at one possible design shows that there is indeed room for bike lanes separated by a barrier, traffic lanes and even a U-turn lane.

To those skeptics I say, it will all fit.

I did, of course, get a couple comments from some who worry about teen drivers trying to negotiate a traffic circle below the high school.

And one older citizen who added: “And me, too.”

It appears traffic circles are in Atascadero’s future, whether below the high school or at Del Rio and El Camino Real in front of the proposed Wal-Mart.

Lon Allan’s column is special to The Tribune. He has lived in Atascadero for nearly five decades and his column appears here every week. Reach Allan at 466-8529 or leallan@tcsn.net.

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