Mad River Union
McKINLEYVILLE – The County of Humboldt is kicking off a pedestrian and bicycle safety education program in McKinleyville, with a whole series of events planned for later this year. Banners with safety messages will be hung on light poles on Central Avenue, presentations will be given to school children, and community group bike rides will be organized.
The McKinleyville Municipal Advisory Committee heard about the program and discussed the topic at its meeting March 28 at the Middle School Conference Center. More than 35 people were in attendance, which is a relatively large turnout for a government meeting in the unincorporated community.
Areli Cupp of the Healthy Communities Division of Humboldt County Public Health discussed the upcoming education program and solicited input.
Cupp told that committee that there were 16 collisions involving bicycles or pedestrians from 2013 to 2014. Cupp said that the county does not have more recent statistics.
Cupp said her program is giving out free helmets to students at schools and is working with the McKinleyville Teen Center on a bicycle safety education program.
The efforts come on the heels of the completion of the Central Avenue Improvement Project, finished in 2016. That project involved the installation of pedestrian islands on Central Avenue, lighted signs warning motorists that pedestrians are crossing and green bike lanes.
Committee member John Corbett asked Cupp if she thought the Central Avenue Improvement Project had increased pedestrian safety along the busy thoroughfare.
“So I think the pedestrian improvements do work,’ Cupp said. “The beacons really catch your attention and make people slow down.”
Cupp, however, acknowledged that the county does not yet have statistics to prove that the improvements are helping. Such numbers may not be available for years.
Corbett said that he thought the people who need the most education with regard to bicycle safety are adult motorists.
“I think our biggest need is the adults and them being conscious of bikes, because they haven’t driven in a place where there are a lot of bikes,” Corbett said.
Committee member Craig Tucker noted that there are different kinds of bicyclists.
“I think there are two kinds of cyclists,” Tucker said. “There’s the commuters and kids going to school... and there’s the middle-aged guys in spandex group.”
Tucker, who acknowledged that he’s part of the spandex group, said “McKinleyville is an outstanding place to ride a bicycle, If you’re not riding a bicycle in McKinleyville, you’re missing out,”
“But the places we’re afraid of getting killed is Azalea Avenue, North Bank Road, Dow’s Prairie Road and Murray Road,” Tucker said.”So those are places where the road gets super narrow. There’s no shoulder.”
Tucker also suggested paving the shoulders on Central Avenue near the county’s main airport and paving the gravel section of the Hammond Trail just below the Vista Point.
During public input, a woman told the committee that McKinleyville can be a confusing place for young cyclists. There are some roads where they can ride down the middle of the street. There are other roads with sidewalks on only one side. There are roads with full bike lanes and roads with no bike lanes. ”It’s just kind of mixed up here in McKinleyville to ride a bike,” she said.
The discussion was informational only and the committee did not make any recommendations.