Residents are divided on whether the North Main road diet has improved the street, with a slightly larger number of people preferring the changes, according to a recent survey.

Residents are divided on whether the North Main road diet has improved the street, with a slightly larger number of people preferring the changes, according to a recent survey.

In all, 48 percent of respondents said they agreed with a statement that the changes had improved the street, while 42 percent disagreed.

In fall 2012, North Main Street was re-striped from four car lanes to two with a center turn lane. That created room on the edges to add bike lanes.

The city of Ashland commissioned the Southern Oregon University Research Center to survey residents and businesses about the one-year pilot project road diet.

The mixed survey results don't provide clear guidance for Ashland city councilors, who will consider on Tuesday whether to keep the road diet in place, or paint it back to its original configuration.

The council meets at 7 p.m. in the Ashland Civic Center Council Chambers, 1175 E. Main St.

In the survey, a majority of respondents said traffic had slowed down since the road diet was put in place.

Before the changes, 64 percent said the road was congested, but after the changes, 82 percent said the road was congested.

People who lived in the road diet area were more likely to perceive high levels of congestion.

A majority of respondents — 54 percent — thought the road corridor was safer for bicyclists after the changes.

Some people reported problems with the areas on either end of the road diet, where two car travel lanes merge into one. They were most concerned with the merge area just outside the downtown.

"The merge occurs at the top of a rise and you can't see the markings until you get there," one survey respondent stated.

Residents had mixed views on turning, with many saying the addition of the center turn lane was an improvement. However, many also said they had problems turning onto North Main Street from side streets — especially if they needed to turn left.

Some people said they now avoid North Main Street in the area of the road diet, with some taking Eagle Mill Road or Ashland's south Interstate 5 exit.

Of dozens of businesses interviewed, three-quarters said the road diet hadn't impacted them.

However, one-quarter did report negative impacts, especially with deliveries.

The Ashland Community Hospital Center for Family Medicine reported losing about 10 patients because of parking lot and traffic problems.

The Rogue Valley Transportation District reported that its buses block traffic when picking up and dropping off riders. Traffic either backs up, or vehicles veer around buses using the center turn lane.

However, Recology Ashland Sanitary Service garbage and recycling company reported that its drivers have more room now on the side of the road because of the bike lanes.

To read the full results of the survey, visit www.ashland.or.us/diet.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.