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More bulb-outs for Manteca
Are they coming to a neighborhood near you?
Enhancing pedestrian safety is part of the proposed update of the city’s traffic element used to plan future development.
Bulb-outs - the bane of many who get caught during heavy traffic periods traveling Main Street in downtown - may soon pop up all over Manteca.

And the odds are they will be appreciated instead of slammed.

Bulb-outs are included in the traffic circulation plan being reviewed by city leaders as a way to reduce crossing distances for pedestrians and “calm” traffic at intersections in new residential subdivisions.

They have already been included as a condition of a new subdivision proposed slightly to the northeast of Joshua Cowell School in a bid to discourage speeding at intersections adjacent to the future extension of Springport Park immediately north of the campus.

Bulb-outs in residential neighborhoods essentially extend the sidewalk into the parking lane with landscaping. It effectively narrows the street at the crossing to a width large enough for two vehicles to pass. Not only does it shorten the distance that one must walk on the street but even without pedestrians present the narrower street serves to slow traffic. The effect is similar  to the landscaped bulbs placed on Crom Street north of the golf course as well as narrower streets or streets with extensive shade tree coverage that have canopies that reach well across the street. In all three cases the illusion of things being too close slows drivers down generally.

Two other proposals that are designed to improve pedestrian safety in neighborhoods are:

•The use of marked mid-block crossings near schools, parks, or other neighborhood attractions with possibly a landscape median refuge island added to the mix.

•Providing a landscaped buffer to separate the street from the sidewalk.

The traffic plan also addresses a way to make downtown pedestrian friendly. It specifically notes ways to enhance the pedestrian experience on Main Street, Yosemite Avenue, as well as in other high use areas. They include:

•constructing wider sidewalks where ever feasible to encourage more pedestrian use.

•providing improved crosswalks, landscaping buffers between sidewalks and travel lanes, and enhanced pedestrian lighting.

•improving the walking environment by providing benches, allowing for café seating, and constructing monument elements and other public art.

•providing improvements that enhance pedestrian safety and convenience such as bulb-outs extending into intersections and at crosswalks to reduce walking distances and create a safe peninsula for pedestrians. An example is the bulb-outs that exist at the southern end of Maple Avenue at Yosemite Avenue.

Traffic is the focus of a 501-page document the Manteca Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing for on Jan. 25. It involves traffic standards and goals that will impact the lives of every Manteca resident for years to come.

The document is the environmental impact report for the circulation element to Manteca’s general plan that serves as the city’s blue print for growth.

It addresses acceptable levels of service - how long it takes to get through key intersections at heavy traffic times - plus explores expressway to move traffic quicker, ways of slowing down traffic in neighborhoods, ways of softening the visual impact of streets, plus ways for pedestrians, bicyclists and even transit riders to get around Manteca.

In cobbling together such a report, planners must take into account that actions can’t take place in one location without impacting another. Such is the case with proposed changes in downtown.