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New San Luis Obispo protected intersection gets mixed reviews from residents

Courtesy: City of SLO
A new intersection in San Luis Obispo is designed to help increase safety for bicycling, walking and driving.

The final touches are being done on a new protected intersection in San Luis Obispo that is expected to be completed later this summer.

Now some residents are expressing mixed feelings about the design.

The new intersection is on Madonna and Dalidio roads. It’s the first of its kind in San Luis Obispo County and it’s designed to help increase safety for bicycling, walking and driving.

Adam Fukushima is the Active Transportation Manager for San Luis Obispo. He said this intersection was approved several years ago and two more are planned for the city.

They mirror similar designs in cities like Davis, San Jose, Salt Lake City and Austin.

Fukushima said it’s designed to prevent right hook collisions with bicycles, which involve a vehicle turning right and hitting a cyclist.

The intersection is also meant to provide a more comfortable way for cyclists to make left turns without having to merge across several lanes of vehicle traffic. And it reduces the crossing distance for pedestrians.

“With a protected intersection, you’re seeing a separation of the modes as much as possible because we know that people traveling in a car or traveling by bike or on foot — they’re all going at different speeds,” Fukushima said.

Fukushima said high speed is almost always a factor in traffic collisions and this intersection addresses that issue by reducing it.

Many community members have expressed gratitude for the new intersection, saying it’s an improvement for the area and makes it easier for kids to safely get to school.

But others have expressed concern, saying the intersection is confusing and harder for drivers to navigate with the added curbs and islands.

Opponents say the intersection could be dangerous for pedestrians waiting near these corners. Some have even asked the city not to continue with this kind of construction at other intersections.

Fukushima said the city understands there may be a learning curve with the new design. He said they are trying to do more public outreach to spread the word about how to properly use the intersection.

“This is a new intersection, a new design type. So we expect some period of time where people will be getting used to it,” Fukushima said.

But he said the intersection is meant to be beneficial and safe for everyone.

“There’s also a benefit for drivers as well too. It isn’t just for bicycling and walking,” Fukushima said. “What a protected intersection does is it makes those other modes more visible to them so that there is less confusion about, ‘Where is the bicyclist next to me? Where is the pedestrian?’ It really positions them to see them better.”

Fukushima said the city is planning to come out with an instructional video about how to use the intersection once it is complete. Other tips about how to properly use it are available on the city’s website.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020, reporting daily for KCBX News until she moved to the Pacific Northwest in July of 2022. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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