COLUMBIA — Columbia residents gave written comments at a meeting Wednesday evening on a proposed "bike boulevard" that would close off the median of College Avenue between Windsor and Ash streets.
Nineteen people filled the library of Benton Elementary School at the busiest portion of the meeting hosted by GetAbout Columbia. Upon conclusion, concerned citizens had submitted 17 written comment sheets.
“A bicycle boulevard is a street where all types of vehicles are allowed, but through traffic is displaced. The roadway is modified to enhance bicycle safety and convenience and also calm traffic and improve pedestrian safety,” according to a fact sheet supplied by GetAbout Columbia.
The proposed bike boulevard plan would discourage traffic on Windsor and Ash streets by closing off the median on College Avenue between the streets to vehicles.
This would open up the median for pedestrians and cyclists to use in order to get across College Avenue, but it would prevent left-hand turns into the residential area that runs along Windsor and Ash streets.
“The current left onto Windsor is the main way to get into the neighborhood," said Jim Ronald, who lives on Windsor Street.
“We need to have a dedicated left-turn lane at Paris Road to allow access into the neighborhood, but overall I am very supportive of the plan,” he said.
Experienced cyclist Frederick Schmidt has an overall positive impression of the plan, as well.
“If you’re going to do a bike boulevard experiment, this is a wonderful place to do it," Schmidt said. "But I really don’t like restricting the car access to get bicycle access."
Kurt Albert is concerned about the limitations the bike boulevard will create for residents.
“This provides a decreased viability for the homeowners of Windsor Street,” he said.
Albert submitted three typed pages of his questions and concerns for the bike boulevard project, asking how homeowners will be compensated for the taking of land value and whether the speed limit on Windsor Street will be changed or enforced properly.
No traffic surveys have been conducted on either Ash or Windsor streets, said Scott Bitterman, a traffic engineer with the city.
GetAbout will submit the comments to the City Council for the council members to take into consideration when deciding whether to approve the project, said Ted Curtis, of GetAbout Columbia.
The approximate cost of the bike boulevard project is $10,000, which would come from GetAbout’s street striping budget, Curtis said.
Pending approval, the project could start as early as this summer and will take two weeks to complete, Curtis said.