At the corner of Madonna Road and Dalidio Drive, the city of San Luis Obispo opened its first protected intersection intended to increase safety for drivers, bikers and pedestrians.
The new intersection provides a more comfortable way to make left turns by bike without having to merge across several lanes. There will also be wider sidewalk corner curbs with an island to help reduce the crossing distance for walking.
“This intersection really tries to separate the modes of traffic as much as possible, just because all those modes are going at different speeds. It’s just better to keep them separated. It also makes them more visible to each other,” said city of San Luis Obispo Active Transport Manager, Adam Fukushima.
The protected intersection is open, but it will be fully completed later this summer when a shared-use path is connected to Madonna Road.
Motorcyclists say this development will help mitigate the impacts of traffic, because their mode of transportation is less protected than others.
“For us, a lot of the time is people crossing over lanes without even looking,” said Noah Bowers, sales associate at Cycle Gear. “It’s a bigger deal because we’re not in a several thousand-pound metal box. We’re on a 200 pound bicycle.”
“I’ve already had a pretty bad motorcycle accident, kind of had to do with the way the road was set up. So the fact that they’re just taking the additional precaution to make that right is really, really awesome,” said motorcyclist Merit Miller.
Some residents, on the other hand, have concerns about the intersection’s design.
“If you’re trying to turn right into the post-office, that curb comes out really far. So a lot of people like to swing past and cross all the lanes,” Bowers said.
The city described getting used to this type of intersection to when people first got used to traffic signals.
“What we’re trying to do is get the word out about how to use these facilities,” Fukushima added. “Throughout history, we’ve had new devices that have come out. People at first don’t know what they are, but they get used to it over time.”
Another goal of the protected intersection is to encourage people to bike and walk, as part of the city’s climate action plan to reduce carbon emissions.
Fukushima said, “We know transportation is the largest contributor to the carbon emissions. So this is just one aspect of the climate action.”
San Luis Obispo will begin developing more of these protected intersections throughout the city next year.
The next one will be at the intersection of Froom Ranch Way and Los Osos Valley Road.