Protecting cyclists, skunks from cars

Dear Street Smarts, Q: I am not really satisfied with [the city's response last week to the question regarding the safety issue along Soquel Avenue between Branciforte and Ocean Street]. Have you been to the area described? The only thing that keeps bicyclists from getting mowed down at the top of that hill is the fact that most drivers are local and know the problem, and we move into the left lane to give bicyclists room to move, then merge back, creating a traffic mess. Otherwise, it is flat out dangerous all the way to Ocean Street. As for the parking necessary they describe: This area is where the huge building is that houses a few small businesses, including an Italian restaurant. There is parking in front, alongside and a large area behind that building. The other side of the street also has businesses but not the type that would require extra parking space. I think that with the present focus on protecting bicyclists, this is an issue that needs further exploration. There really is no need, from what I have experienced, to have a turn lane that pops up without warning a half block before Ocean. That whole lane from Branciforte could be made a bicycle lane without hampering parking or traffic, and that lane could suffice as a turn right lane, as most streets do. I'm no expert, granted, but it's pretty obvious there are solutions and the city is not prepared to look into them to protect the vulnerable bicyclist. Gloria Sams via email A: "I understand the writers concerns, having cycled there," said Chris Schneiter, assistant director for public works. "It involves a public process and technical review to propose removing parking, which takes time and resources. The Soquel bike lane project addressed this area, though it was several years back. Currently we are working on quite a few other transportation projects and I do not see resources available at this time to restudy this issue." With Schneiter saying not now, doesn't mean a fix isn't in the future. The city keeps track of complaints and safety concerns to help identify future projects. Stay tuned. Skunk mating season February through March is skunk mating season. It's also the time of year when there is an increase in the number of them being hit by vehicles and being seen in some neighborhoods. To protect skunks and homes, Wildlife Emergency Services encourages people to limit food sources and eliminate access to shelter. For information and help dealing with skunk, contact the organization at 866-WILD-911, 866-945-3911 or
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