For months, B Street neighbors have complained to the City Council about how the lanes on their street are configured.
According to neighbors and a July 15 city staff report, parked cars and yard debris often crowd the 5-foot-wide bike lanes in each direction on the two-lane street and force cyclists into traffic to get around obstacles, especially between what the report calls “physically constrained” Seventh and Eighth streets.
A resurfacing project for B Street is placing all the issues on the table, giving the city a chance to re-stripe the street, settle the matter and clear some complaints from its public comment period.
There are two related problems: Councilman Lucas Frerichs lives on B Street near the area of concern and cannot legally vote on the project, and Councilman Brett Lee was absent the night the matter came to the council in July, leaving only three members to essentially be forced to agree on exactly what to do.
Rather than force a unanimous decision, the rest of the consensus-minded council told city staff to temporarily re-stripe the stretch with the old lanes and address the issue again after the council’s monthlong summer break. Assistant City Engineer Brian Mickelson, who is helping to oversee the project, said the issue would come back to the council sometime in mid- to late fall.
That meets two criteria Mickelson said the council gave to city staff: requiring UC Davis to be in session and requiring the final striping to be completed on the Fifth Street Corridor Project, where temporary striping is underway The city is hedging its bets with potentially weeks-long temporary striping on Fifth Street to make sure traffic patterns after the project don’t adversely affect other nearby streets — like B Street — in ways that require new striping on Fifth and a different plan for B Street.
The B Street plan that city staff first proposed was to make the stretch between Seventh and Eighth streets one way for vehicles going northbound, while keeping the north and southbound bicycle lanes.
However, the City Council wants staff to come back with options that keep two-way vehicle traffic in the area. The original option would retain existing parking and proposes modifying the parking times between Eighth and 14th streets to restrict vehicle parking Mondays through Fridays and to allow parking Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
The July 15 report includes a promise to do public outreach and begin a bigger analysis of the plan, reporting back to City Council by fall with a new striping suggestion. The price tag is about $11,000.
Whatever the council tweaks or chooses, bicyclists already have made their voice clear. The city’s Bicycle Advisory Commission wants to remove the on-street parking from Seventh to 14th streets. This clashes with an unscientific city survey of 55 households along the route, with all 15 returned responses calling for parking to remain.
Plus, Davis Public Works officials are coming to the council with a proposal to recommend that residents of B Street use yard waste containers to ameliorate the bike lane blockage.
Whatever the result, something needs to be done differently, according to the July 15 report.
“Although no bicycle-related crashes have been reported along this block, existing conditions are considered uncomfortable for bicyclists and ultimately reflect a stressful environment and gap in the bikeway network,” the report said.
— Reach Dave Ryan at [email protected] or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @davewritesnews