Apologies for a topic that I am sure will have differing opinions, but I'd like to share my letter and reasoning to the City Council of Petaluma and City Staff. If you'd like to share your opinion and reasoning as well, please email them at:
City Clerk: email@example.com
Subject: Please Forward to City Council re: D Street Quick Fix Proposal
Christopher Bolt: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bjorn Griepenburg: email@example.com
Subject: Input on current D Street Quick Fix Proposal
Additionally, I recommend that you fill out the current City survey seeking input on the current D Street Quick Fix Proposal: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HJNWPTV
The survey is open until May 22.
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Dear Mr. Griepenburg,
As a 9 year resident of Petaluma, I am writing to express my deep concern on the current City of Petaluma's Quick Fix Proposal to remove parking on D Street in order to widen existing bike lanes.
The existing bike lanes, one in each direction of D St, are 10' 9" wide when a car is not parked in the lane. I also measured from a parked car to the white line of the bike lane, and that measures 4' wide.
The City is proposing to make the bike lane 5' wide. So for 1 extra foot, the City will eliminate approximately 120 parking spaces? If we use the 3 data points on parking utilization that the City engineers looked at during the late fall and winter of 2022, where they concluded from weekday studies (not weekends when visitors who spend money come to town), parking is utilized on average for 14% of the D St area, so it follows that 86% of the time, bicyclists have a generous 10'9" wide bike lane.
It does not make a lot of sense to give up 120 parking spaces for a nominal extra 1 foot of width on 14% of D St riding area, which by the way, many people I know avoid riding anyway due to the volume and nature of car and truck traffic on D St, coupled with the road fractures and bumps/potholes on D St.
More importantly, data from Sonoma County, which identified D St as part of Sonoma County's High Injury Network (meaning traffic collisions on D St occur more frequently and with greater injury severity relative to most Sonoma County roads), shows that there have been zero car to bicycle accidents for the 4 year period 2017- 2021. Of the collisions in the study, 49 were car to car (including 27 broadside and 18 rear end), and 8 were car to pedestrian (7 in a crosswalk, 1 outside a crosswalk). There was 1 bicycle to pedestrian accident that occurred at D St and 1st St during the 4 year study period, where it appears that the cyclist coming down the slope of D St bridge failed to stop for a pedestrian crossing at D St. There were zero car to bicyclist dooring accidents during the period, which tends to be the most common car to bike incident. Thus, it is even more confusing that the City proposes to take away parking in the name of increasing safety for bicyclists, when it's not an issue according to accident occurrence data that is driving the Quick Fix proposal. The other Quick Fix proposals by the City make a lot of sense to address the goal of traffic calming and collision safety - better / blinking light crosswalks, improving visibility and sight distance at intersections and crosswalks, speed feedback signs for drivers, progressively reduced speed markings which give drivers the impression that their speed is increasing - and none of these come at the cost of losing 120 parking spaces.
In the October 2022 community survey by the City, the top three priorities by respondents align with the non-issue of bike lane safety:
1. Improve pedestrian crossings
Tied 2. Slow traffic
Tied 2. Improve traffic congestion
It appears that the City is trying to solve a problem that doesn't need solving, and the cost is 120 parking spaces that are needed and utilized heavily for the Butter & Eggs parade, American Graffiti parade, Spring Antique Fair, Fall Antique Fair, Saturday markets at Walnut Park, Clover half marathon/10k/5k, Heritage Home tours, Art & Garden festival, Santa's River Boat ride, Lighted Boat Parade, Walnut Park Tree Lighting, Petaluma Historical Walking Tours, D Street Halloween, Rivertown Revival, and on and on and on. Petaluma is a very active community with year round events that peak in the Spring/Summer and weekends. Reducing by half the convenience of parking on D St will more likely than not make attendees to these economic engines feel less welcome and the events feel more of a hassle to attend, especially to those who have made attending Petaluma events a family tradition for a generation or more.
I bike with my children around the neighborhood of D St and to downtown, and we ride on the sidewalk when we are on D St. Even if there was a dedicated bike lane, the number of drivers who speed up and down D St and the volume of large commercial trucks discourage me from riding with my children on D St itself, so we use the sidewalk, or we take B St or F St and avoid D St altogether. Eliminating parking will also cause residents of D St to place trash and recycling bins in the proposed widened bike lanes, which will decrease safety for bicyclists by forcing them closer to traffic. If the goal is to calm traffic and reduce accidents, widening bike lanes an extra foot will not do that, and the cost / benefit does not make sense.
Thank you for your consideration.
Sincerely, Mike Sarmiento