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A few blocks of Mendocino Avenue may be reconfigured
photo credit: GoogleMaps
Officials meeting in Santa Rosa Tuesday batted around concepts aimed at making part of Mendocino Avenue more of an extension of downtown, and less of an escape route.  
 
While no decisions were made, it seems nearly inevitable that one of the two northbound lanes between Fourth Street and College Avenue will be re-allocated. Since reconfiguring old courthouse square, Mendocino Avenue is seeing far less traffic. About 60 percent less, according to city officials.
  
Paving, planned for next year prompted a study. Big changes, such as adding street trees, widening sidewalks and adding 'bulb-outs' at intersections for pedestrian safety weren't considered as each is beyond the budget. Think of it as more creative re-striping than reconstruction. With those constraints in mind, officials received more than a thousand responses to a  public survey. Most sought by the public---protected bike lanes and more outdoor dining booths--or parklets.
  
Calum Weeks, who commutes downtown by bicycle said the need for safety is real.
  
"In the past two months alone, I've almost been clipped twice. It is not safe to bike downtown."
  
Problem is, officials aren't sure there's enough space. The road may not be wide enough for two lanes of traffic, bike lanes with three foot buffers and parklets too. There may only be space for ordinary bike lanes. 
 
While Weeks said he'd take a painted lane over nothing, commenter Adrian Covert was dismissive.
  
"An unprotected bike lane isn't a bike lane at all, it's just a car shoulder with a bike painted on it."
  
Another concept---bike lanes adjacent to the sidewalk with parklets separating them from motor vehicles, raised concerns about collisions of a different kind. 
  
"A waiter coming out with four plates of food having to look in both directions, and if they were not totally careful, I just think that is a disaster waiting to happen," said Councilman John Sawyer.
  
A single, two-way bike lane, or cycletrack, was also floated, as was diagonal parking on one side of the street. 
 
Eris Weaver, of the Sonoma Bike Coalition says officials talk up climate and carbon free transit, but seldom deliver.
 
"I feel safer bicycling in Oakland and Richmond than I do here in Santa Rosa. And it is because they have prioritized cyclist safety and put in protected cycle lanes."
  
A group representing downtown businesses is scheduled to weigh in on the proposals on the nineteenth and the city's bicycle and pedestrian advisory board in mid-November.
 
 
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