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City of SLO planning protected bike lanes along South Higuera Street

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Posted at 9:47 PM, Jun 08, 2023

The City of San Luis Obispo is moving forward with plans to make South Higuera Street more bike-friendly.

The plan calls for adding protected bike lanes along both sides of South Higuera Street to provide a barrier separating cars and bicyclists.

“There’s a lot of times where it’s like ‘man, that was not giving me enough room,’” said Rick Janes, who lives in San Luis Obispo.

People who bike along South Higuera Street say passing vehicles often come uncomfortably close.

“I’m heading northbound, I was near Prado Road on South Higuera, and a truck actually had its wheels, its tires into the bike lane. The lug nuts of the front wheels actually almost brushed my leg,” recalled Janes, who is an avid cyclist.

He doesn’t want to take away space from drivers but likes the city’s idea of building a two-foot-wide concrete barrier between bike lanes and traffic.

“I’m conscious of their needs and I don’t want to take away from their space, but I would like to have some physical separation as opposed to what we have currently where it’s just a painted white line, which doesn’t prevent vehicles from intruding into the bike lane,” explained Janes.

A new proposal would build protected bike lanes along most of South Higuera Street from Marsh Street south to Los Osos Valley Road.

The trade-off is that South Higuera would be reduced to just two lanes between Bridge Street and Margarita Avenue.

“This project is really envisioned to improve safety and connectivity along the Higuera corridor for all users of the road whether it be bike, walking, using the bus or even driving,” said City of SLO Active Transportation Manage Adam Fukushima.

The project also calls for reconfiguring bike lanes at the busy intersection of Madonna Road and South Higuera Street which means bicyclists will not have to cross through as many lanes of traffic.

“They’ve done an analysis that it won’t cause any more traffic beyond our accepted thresholds so we’re really happy about that,” explained Fukushima.

The city is gathering public feedback on the proposal which was the topic of a community meeting on Thursday evening.

“One thing we’ll be asking people is we have seven feet for the bikes and so we want to know ‘would you prefer that to be five feet for the bike lane and two feet of a concrete separation, or would you like just a striped bike lane separation,” said Fukushima.

One cyclist says he is glad that the new proposal is different from the newly installed bike lanes downtown.

“I’m not super impressed with the bike lanes they’ve put on Higuera and Marsh which hide us behind parked vehicles and how the bike lanes will come out from that hiding and then cross vehicle traffic making right turns,” said Janes. “There’s human error and I like to be considerate. I like to be considerate of all road users.”

The city will be gathering public input through the rest of the year and construction could begin in late 2024.

If you were not able to attend Thursday night’s meeting, you can also provide feedback via email at afukushima@slocity.org.

The city will also be hosting more pop-up neighborhood meetings this fall to gather input from residents.