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.
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.”

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.)
At the T-intersection of Soquel Avenue and Pacific, cyclists can turn left or right while cars must turn right.
Pacific Avenue’s southbound contraflow bike lane is painted bright green. The northbound shared lane has sharrows.
  • No, swapping the parking and bikeway in this area would not be an improvement at all. The street in question is signed for 15 MPH and from the video above, there’s clearly a decent level of bike traffic in both directions. This type of design is also very common in Dutch cities (though usually without actually marking the lane).

  • Bruce

    It’s called a parking-protected bike lane, and it’s widely implemented in many cities around the U.S. and the world.

  • But that just sticks people in the gutter and is on the side of the car that people are most likely to be getting out of.

  • Bruce

    It should be on the other side of the parked cars.

  • …and where there is enough space…

    Which is pretty much everywhere here in America. After decades of over-built roads, space is not something that we have a problem with.



Menlo Park Gets One Step Closer to Protected Bike Lanes on El Camino Real

A report released by Menlo Park’s Public Works Department last week [PDF] recommends protected bike lanes and Dutch-style “protected intersections” on El Camino Real. The two-year El Camino Real Corridor Study, led by transportation consulting firm W-Trans, said building bike lanes protected from car traffic by a curb would provide “the most optimum safety conditions […]