San Luis Obispo cyclists got some good news from the City Council on Tuesday, with the approval of two bike-friendly traffic projects.
Funding to complete the Bill Roalman Bike Boulevard, which runs the length of Morro Street between Upham and Marsh streets, was approved after dozens of cyclists and neighbors showed their support for the project. It will cost the city an estimated $436,000, of which more than half is to cover the cost of scheduled maintenance.
Although the money for the project had already been allocated, the city has had to reconsider many projects in the city in light of a worsening budget outlook. Council members considered cutting certain safety and ornamental features, such as “bulb-out” curbs at the Pismo Street crossing, and a roadblock at Leff Street. Ultimately, however, the council passed the total project with a 5-0 vote. When it is completed, the boulevard will be closed to cars, except to allow them to cross the boulevard and to allow access to arterial streets.
Bike Coalition Executive Director Adam Fukushima said the strong show of biker support for the path led to its approval.
The Bike Boulevard is just one of several trails that will someday link-up and connect Cal Poly to the south side of town and the downtown area, as well as the Bob Jones Trail to Avila Beach.
Earlier this year, the city opened up a portion of the Bob Jones Trail, a sort of disconnected but beautiful path, which begins at Prado Road and winds around the back of SLO’s water reclamation facility before dead-ending at Highway 101 near Los Osos Valley Road. The council approved plans to build an overpass at that site, and many cyclists hoped that it would also include an underpass for bikes and pedestrians to access the path from Los Osos Valley Road. It didn’t, but the council did approve 12-foot-wide sidewalks, which can accommodate bike lanes in the future.
The Land Conservancy, a nonprofit organization devoted to preserving green space, hopes to connect the newest section of the trail to the historic Octagon Barn on South Higuera. The eventual goal is to connect the trail all the way to Avila Beach. Land Conservancy Executive Director Brian Stark said that while money is an issue right now, he was optimistic about the eventual completion.
“When the Bob Jones Trail is finally finished,” Stark said, “and bikes can get from downtown to Avila without having to get on a road, it’s going to be a priceless experience.”
For now, priceless seems a little steep for county and city budgets.