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Eyes on the Street: Santa Cruz Green Contraflow Bike Lane

Cyclist on Santa Cruz’ one-way contraflow Pacific Avenue bike lane. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

On June 27, downtown Santa Cruz celebrated the opening of Pacific Avenue's one-way green contraflow bike lane. The bikeway extends about 1/5 of a mile - three blocks - from Church Street to Cathcart Street.

Pacific Avenue was and still is one-way northbound for cars. The new configuration adds the option for cyclists to legally ride southbound. Cars have one lane northbound, plus parking on both sides of the street. Northbound cyclists share the lane with cars; that lane has sharrows.

Though this is a somewhat unconventional treatment, other cities have added coutraflow bike lanes in situations where there were issues with "salmon" cyclists going the wrong way on segments of one-way streets. Sometimes, where it is too difficult to curtail wrong-way cyclist behavior, and where there is enough space, one good option is to make it legal with a contraflow bike lane. According to Cruz511, Mayor Cynthia Chase stated that the new bike lane "will also help to deter the common occurrence of people riding the wrong way on Pacific Avenue or riding on the sidewalk.”

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Cyclist riding south on the contraflow lane. At intersections, the lane is signed "do not enter, except bicycle." Drivers cross the contraflow lane to park on the west side of the street (the right in this photo.)
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At the T-intersection of Soquel Avenue and Pacific, cyclists can turn left or right while cars must turn right.
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Pacific Avenue's southbound contraflow bike lane is painted bright green. The northbound shared lane has sharrows.
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