SANTA CRUZ, Calif - Santa Cruz city leaders and dozens of members of the cyclist community came together Tuesday for the unveiling of new contraflow bike lanes cutting through the heart of downtown. A stone's throw away from the new lanes on Pacific Street, owner of the Spokesman Bicycle shop, Wade Hall, is optimistic that the new lanes, bright in color, will help drivers be more aware of cyclists.
“It’s not blurry, it’s not ambiguous, it’s clear. This is the road way, this is the bike lane, the two are very separate. If you are in that lane you are probably in the wrong place. And it helps the cyclists know where they should be as well so I think it’s good for everyone,” said Hall.
Pacific Street still allows through-vehicle traffic one way, the only change now it that the road is “basically a two-way street it’s just that one direction is for bicyclists only,” according to Jim Burr, transportation manager with the city of Santa Cruz. The hope is that new lanes help the city stay on path with their climate action plan. Right now 10 percent of the traveling public ride bikes. The goal is to get up to 12 percent by 2020, according to Burr.
“Riding bicycles to run errands, to ride to work, to ride to school...things like that lessens your carbon footprint,” said cyclist Skippy Givens. Givens says he very pleased with the new lanes because “it creates a safety corridor for cyclists,” but says he hopes the city looks at other countries for ideas on how to make Santa Cruz even safer for cyclists.
“I’ve been to the Netherlands, downtown Amsterdam and you go somewhere like that and you can see an enlightened perspective and an enlightened approach to bicycle safety where it really is part of their culture,” said Givens.
Protected lanes established in other countries could be tricky on Pacific Street since it is so narrow, according to Burr. However, the city says it’s going to continue making roads even more bike-friendly. According to Burr, there are plans to continue to add bike lanes and revamp bike lockers downtown.
The lanes were paid for by a grant for the state and cost about $47,000, according to Burr.