DUBLIN -- Saying it would worsen traffic jams on an already busy road, the City Council has rejected a proposal to convert two auto lanes to bike-only lanes on a downtown section of Dublin Boulevard.

The East Bay Bicycle Coalition sought the change, saying the city should seize the opportunity to make its growing downtown friendlier and safer for cyclists in a suburb largely planned around the automobile.

"You need to honor your commitment to making your streets safe for everybody," Dave Campbell, the coalition's program director, told the council Tuesday. "You're moving in the right direction, but there is a big problem without Dublin Boulevard having safe bike access."

Cars travel along Dublin Boulevard between City Hall and San Ramon Road in Dublin, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)
Cars travel along Dublin Boulevard between City Hall and San Ramon Road in Dublin, Calif., on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

His group asked for the conversion of two of the six traffic lanes to bike-only lanes on a mile-long stretch of Dublin Boulevard between San Ramon Road and Village Parkway.

The council late Tuesday unanimously rejected the proposal in favor of a more modest plan to put bike lanes on less traveled side streets.

Council members said that as much as they want more people to walk and pedal downtown, it's too high a price to saddle motorists with more auto congestion on a boulevard used by some 29,000 vehicles each weekday.

"I don't think jeopardizing the traffic interests of the community and the needs of our merchants downtown justifies that cost benefit trade off," said Councilman Abe Gupta. "That said, we have to be willing to revisit this issue as dynamics change, gas prices change, and we see the resurrection of the downtown."

Gupta noted that few cyclists use the downtown section of Dublin Boulevard, especially during rush hour.

Cycling advocates said riders are afraid to pedal the road because it's dangerous and has no bike lanes.

Under the option favored by the City Council on Tuesday, the city would continue to allow cyclists to use Dublin Boulevard at their own risk, but install pavement signs called "sharrows" to warn motorists to share the far right lane with cyclists.

Councilman Don Biddle said it's difficult to promote cycling on a busy and narrow travel corridor. "We only have one main east to west thoroughfare," Biddle said. "Trying to squeeze everything on that thoroughfare we want is all but impossible."

Biddle said he worries that narrowing the boulevard from six to four lanes would discourage people from visiting downtown stores and restaurants.

The Dublin Chamber of Commerce had opposed the lane conversion proposal.

Council members said they plan to stripe bike lanes on less busy roads such as St. Patrick's Way, which runs parallel to Dublin Boulevard.

Cyclists said using less known and less direct side roads is a poor substitute that won't do nearly as much to promote bike use in a downtown where officials want people to relax, stroll and pedal.

The council will designate areas for new bike lanes as it directs city staff members on the updating of the city's 2007 bike circulation plan, which calls for many new bike lanes.

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff.