City won’t eliminate MacArthur bike lanes
Responding to a charge that bicycle lanes on West MacArthur are not used, the Sonoma City Council vowed on Jan. 28 to beef up its bicycle education and promotion programs to encourage more cyclists to use them.
“It takes time, effort, and education to encourage usage,” said Councilmember Steve Barbose. The West MacArthur Street lanes were installed less than a year ago and, while a count on “Walk and Roll to School Day” found 25 bicyclists in the lanes, neighbors contend the average usage is far less.
Sandy Sprague, a West MacArthur resident, brought the initial complaint to the Traffic Safety Committee, which in turn asked the council for the stepped-up promotion programs.
“Parking has been taken away from me on West MacArthur,” said Sprague. “If the bike lanes are used, it would be fine. But they’re not.”
Rosemary Sutcliffe, Traffic Safety Committee member, told the council that while she supports bike lanes, there are parts of the West MacArthur bike lane that are not safe. She suggested Bettencourt would be a better east-west alternative.
Gary Helfrich, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, spoke in favor of keeping the lanes intact because bicycle lanes are important both for safety and for economic development. He noted that bicycle tourism is the second highest producer of transient occupancy tax in Sonoma County.
Other speakers in favor of retaining the lanes said bike riding helps climate change, slows traffic and cuts down on automobile usage.
While councilmembers did not support removing the lanes and restoring parking on West MacArthur, at a cost of $24,000, there was support for doing another count in six months to see if usage has improved.
“Bicycle safety is a big issue,” said Councilmember Laurie Gallian. She suggested looking into striping lanes (and crosswalks) in different colors.
David Goodison, director of planning, said staff is researching outreach and safety efforts and will report back. To date promotional materials have included maps, bike safety information and materials associated with National Walk and Roll to School Day. The council suggested additional outreach to schools and service clubs and use of the bicycle coalition to help with safety education.
The Class Two bike lanes were completed in March of 2012 as part of a comprehensive bicycle improvement project, along with lanes on Fifth Street West. A segment planned for West Spain Street was not implemented. The two completed projects included removal of off street parking on one side of the street and the installation of signage to improve safety. The West MacArthur lanes, which connect to both Broadway and Fifth Street West, were installed at a cost of $148,000, which came from redevelopment funding and grants.
In other actions, the council:
• Unanimously adopted a resolution decrying the growing and disturbing trend of gun violence and supporting efforts and measures aimed at reducing senseless gun violence in the United States, including but not limited to banning military type guns and assault magazines. The item appeared on the consent calendar and was approved without discussion. Similar measures have been passed in Petaluma and Santa Rosa.
• Approved an application for a One Bay Area Transportation grant in the amount of $480,000 for the resurfacing of sections of Napa Road that are within the city limits. With the abolishment of redevelopment, grant funding has become more important for street improvement projects.
• Granted 2 percent salary increases to city employees in 2013 and another 2 percent in 2014. Employees have not had a raise since 2008.
• Appointed Jeff Baptista as alternate to the Design Review Commission and Harry Blum to the Community Services and Environment Commission.