COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council approved the construction of a bike boulevard on Windsor and Ash streets Monday night.
Cyclists traveling on Ash or Windsor will be able to use a pilot pedestrian safety island in the middle of College Avenue.
There was some controversy at Monday's meeting on whether to make the safety island temporary or permanent. Bollards, or the reflective, low posts used to define some medians, would be used to set it off from the rest of the street. If made permanent, the pedestrian island would be made from concrete. The council decided to keep both options open.
"It could be bollards; it could be concrete; it could be asphalt," said John Glascock, director of Columbia's Public Works Department. "We're going to do whatever is probably cheapest."
The bike boulevard was up for a public hearing during a Sept. 8 council meeting, but approval of the project was delayed so that city staff could study the intersection and analyze safety concerns. A crossing at the top of a small hill on College Avenue was also added to the bike boulevard plans to make it safer for those who are not using the street to cross.
“The purpose is to separate vehicle and bike traffic from each other as much as possible," Glascock said. “Both bikes and cars can get along better when they are given their own space."
Most members of the City Council were supportive of the new initiative.
"I think you'll find that this project will move the bikers off Walnut and onto this side street and help the motorized traffic," Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said. "I see it as a good example of the two working together."
Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade and Fifth Ward Councilwoman Laura Nauser opposed the implementation of the bike boulevard.
Wade, while not disagreeing with the design of the project, said he felt overwhelmed by "project-itis."
Nauser agreed and said she was experiencing "pilot project overload."
Several Columbia residents approached the podium to show support for the proposal. Columbia resident John Schultz, however, stood out against the other speakers when he expressed concern about the elimination of the left turns and the possible traffic it might force onto other residential streets, such as Melbourne Street and Hinkson Avenue.
“I’m not against the bike boulevard," Schultz said. "I just think we have roads that are serving that area of town right now pretty well."