Recreation & Sports

Smoother ride for bikes on Portola Drive? What to know about county’s temporary makeover

A Santa Cruz County project that runs through July 21 cuts space for cars between 36th and 41st avenues in Pleasure Point and adds protection for cyclists and pedestrians. And the county is offering pizza and other freebies to tempt you to take a survey about it.

Portola Drive in Pleasure Point is getting a makeover, albeit a temporary one, as Santa Cruz County eyes improving bike and pedestrian safety.

The 0.3-mile stretch between 36th and 41st avenues will have more room — and more protection — for bikes and less room for cars through July 21, and county officials are hoping for feedback from anyone who travels through the area.

Portola Drive has been reduced from two lanes each way to one, with a center turn lane. Workers added so-called wave delineators to protect the existing bike lane on one side of Portola, while on the other side parking areas will separate the lane for car travel from the bike lane. They also painted pink-and-purple curb extensions around crosswalks, to shorten the crossing distance for pedestrians while making them more visible.

“Portola was selected because we got a lot of comments from the community as part of our bike and pedestrian plan process about the need for improvements on Portola,” Amelia Conlen, a transportation planner with nonprofit Ecology Action, told Lookout’s Kevin Painchaud on Tuesday.

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“We want to test out the idea of using the separated bikeway concept that has the physical barrier,” she said. “Separated bikeways have been shown to really dramatically increase cycling — young people, new cyclists, you know, people with kids, anyone who’s less confident on their bike to feel safer when there’s some kind of physical barrier between them and moving traffic, and separated bikeways also decreased collisions. So it’s a safety measure, it’s an encouragement measure.”

Among the encouragement measures the county is using to convince people to take an anonymous survey about the project — which you can find here — is an official kickoff event Friday featuring giveaways and free pizza and tacos. The event next to Back in Shape Chiropractic at 3811 Portola Drive runs 5-7 p.m.