Plan to make East D Street more bicycle friendly stirs neighbors' objections

  • Annie Van-Maaren of Evermay Garden is part of a group of business owners, Donnie Figone, left, of Mario and John's Tavern and Andy Cordano of Complete Auto Service who are protesting the city of Petaluma's plan to convert Wilson Street at D Street to a bike corridor complete with roundabouts to accommodate more bicycle traffic. The business owners say that roundabouts will take away parking spaces and make it difficult for delivery trucks to navigate the intersection near their business establishments (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2010

A Petaluma plan to turn an historic neighborhood street into a bicycle boulevard similar to Santa Rosa's Humboldt Street is being met with opposition from businesses and neighbors.

City engineers stress that the plan is only in its preliminary stages and nothing has been decided.

Still, business owners said they are ramping up resistance so their input is considered before the process is too far down the road.

"The idea is to install the interim bicycle boulevard and evaluate it over the course of a year or so and see how it performs with respect to traffic volumes, traffic safety, operational issues and pedestrian and bicycle issues," said city engineer Curt Bates.

"We want it to be a ... safe situation for riders and vehicles."

The focus is a quarter-mile section of East D Street between Payran and Wilson streets, northeast of Lakeville Street.

In the 2008 general plan, the city's long-term planning blueprint, the segment was identified as a test location for a bicycle boulevard where bikers can safely and comfortably ride through town. It is considered a safer route than the crowded East Washington Street thoroughfare it parallels.

The area is a mix of homes from the early to mid-1900s, some newer homes and a few small businesses.

The city received a $50,000 air quality grant through the Sonoma County Transportation Authority to design bike-friendly changes that include lane striping, corner curb reshaping and signs at East D Street intersections with Payran, Vallejo, Edith and Wilson streets.

The theory is that by converting stop sign-controlled intersections to all-way yields, vehicles idle less and create fewer emissions. The changes also reduce the number of vehicles that go through the area, Bates said.

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