Bike Boulevards: The SLO Solution

2_5_10_reed2.jpgFor an image from a differnt angle, click on after the jump. Photo: Drew Reed

(editor's note: Welcome our newest guest blogger, live from Long Beach, Drew Reed.  Reed is a writer, film editor, and cycling activist based in Long Beach. He blogs about cycling issues in Long Beach and the greater LA area at LA Loyalist.  We first met Drew when we interviewed him about his experience traveling the country to go to the inauguration of Barack Obama. - DN)

San Luis Obispo, the central California town best know for its wineries, cozy inns, and occasional rowdy Mardi Gras celebrations, has quietly been building a reputation as a hub for bike-friendly innovation on the Central Coast. The San Luis Obispo Bike Coalition has helped to install sharrows along busy Monterey Street, and runs a popular bike valet service every week. But perhaps the most unique piece of SLO's bike infrastructure is its bike boulevard along Morro Street.

SLO is not the first city to install bike boulevards; they have been used in Berkeley, Portland, and Vancouver. But what's significant about the Morro Street/Bill Roalman Bike Boulevard is its effective bike-only intersection medians, which allow bikes to pass while redirecting cars to turn onto the cross street. As opposed to traffic circles and other traffic calming devices, the bike medians are more effective at encouraging cars to use alternate routes, creating a more bikeable street. Berkeley has some similar medians, but the regularity with which they appear in San Luis Obispo greatly augments their effect. They also provide an opportunity for prominent signage.

There's a lesson to be learned here. With bike boulevards in the works for Long Beach and Pasadena, and the beloved 4th Street Bike Boulevard in Central LA slowly gaining ground, we should look how our Central Coast brethren have perfected their bike boulevard and do the same here.