Some neighbors were quick to emphasize the potential of slower traffic and access to and from neighboring streets and driveways. But they were outnumbered at a public meeting by proponents of the plan, who argued that the city must act on improving pedestrian safety and riding conditions for cyclists.
City Recycling Coordinator Kreigh Hampel, speaking on his own behalf, maintained that the plan accounts for parking, traffic patterns, pedestrians and bicycles.
“It actually creates a very positive improvement in livability and options in mobility,” Hampel said.
City officials drafted the proposal six years ago as part of the Bicycle Master Plan.
The plan is on the city commission circuit and will appear before the City Council in December.
Proponents of the plan said accommodating cyclists is a natural progression for a city full of riders, many of whom avoid major streets for safety reasons.
“This will make it safer for bikes to have a space,” Hampel said. “It will make it safer for drivers to maneuver around those bicycles.”
Others asked the council to recognize the city’s population will continue to grow, adding that its roads were built for an infrastructure more than 60 years ago. What’s needed is support for all forms of mobility to work, shop and play rather than deferring to those who want to race through the city, said Nicholas de Wolff.
“In my mind the solution is to learn from other urban centers large and small that have successfully implemented livability initiatives,” he said.
But Fran Avery, who lives on Fairview Street, joined a smaller choir of voices arguing that practicality should come before sustainability, stressing that residential streets are more favorable to bicycle travel.
“To cut it down to one lane is only going to create a bottleneck,” Avery said. “You can call it the cute little buzzword of ‘calming’ if you want, but all you’re going to do is create rear-end collisions much more frequently.”
But Councilman Dave Golonski said nothing was permanent, especially if people’s worst fears were realized.
“If it doesn’t work we can always restripe it and put it back,” he said.