Street improvements with cyclists in mind
The street pattern in front of the Chico News & Review office has changed greatly in the past year with a roundabout replacing the intersection where First, Second and Flume streets come together. The change has created a bit of a learning curve for the drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians who pass through with the occasional honk of a horn, squeal of a tire or angry yell.
As part of that reconfiguration, First and Second streets were turned into one-way routes between Flume and Salem streets and Flume and Broadway, respectively. The bike lanes along those streets are 4-feet wide, painted green and run between the parallel parking spaces and the right car lane. Bob Greenlaw, a senior civil engineer for the city of Chico, said the Second Street bike lane runs from Walnut east to Annie’s Glen, where it joins the tunnel under Pine and Cypress streets and heads into Bidwell Park.
“This is a continuation of the projects that we had beginning with the Transit Center [at Second and Salem streets] and the tunnel at Annie’s Glen,” Greenlaw said. “When we rolled out this project, our concept was to have a facility that you could ride your bike all the way from the orchards west of town into the foothills to the east.”
The section of the bike path along Second Street north of the parking lot that holds the Saturday farmers’ market runs between the pedestrian sidewalk and the road. In fact, it looks very much like a sidewalk, which initially confused responsible bikers who do not ride on pedestrian walkways.
The path takes the bicyclist to the pedestrian crosswalk at Flume Street south of the roundabout and then leads to either a path to Annie’s Glen or the green bike lane over the Camellia Way bridge. Some cyclists choose to ride directly in the roundabout rather than in the bike path that surrounds it, and that is perfectly legal, Greenlaw explained.
“There are three classes of cyclists,” he said. “Group A is the high-end Chico Velo-type of cyclist. Group B may be bike commuters who know how to use the existing facilities. Group C is the younger group or those who just don’t ride a bike that often.”
He said those in group A can and do ride through the roundabout with the flow of vehicle traffic.
“If you are going to be in there, you have to occupy that lane so that everybody can see you,” he said. “Whereas group B or group C riders maybe don’t feel safe out there. That is why we created a multi-use path on the outside edges as you come into the roundabout so you can cross at the crosswalks.”
That path is marked with the image of a bicycle in two places but otherwise has the same color and surface texture as the pedestrian sidewalk that runs alongside it.
“We did put special symbols on it and we’ve had some comments that maybe some additional ones are needed,” Greenlaw said. “We will be making modifications; those aren’t the final improvements. And we’ve been waiting to hear from users. What can make this better?”
He said the next project will be a two-way lane running from First and Broadway north to Memorial, past Children’s Playground and the Bidwell Mansion.
“We are going to have a very wide concrete multi-use facility that is bidirectional,” Greenlaw said. “It will allow both pedestrians and bikers to go from the campus on First up to Memorial without having to get onto The Esplanade.”