A new bike lane is now ready for cyclists traveling eastbound across Santa Barbara on Haley Street, filling a gap for cross-town bike lanes.
The new lane spans from Chapala to Alisos streets, and even though some pavement marking symbols have yet to be added, city officials say the bike lane is striped and ready for use by bicyclists.
The idea to put a lane on the street came up during the recent Eastside Neighborhood Transportation Management effort, and the lane was identified as an improvement to help Eastside residents travel from downtown to the Eastside.
The city is studying ways to provide a nearby westbound route, according to Derrick Bailey, supervising transportation engineer for the City of Santa Barbara.
Where that would go is still under discussion, however. Westbound Gutierrez Street is narrower than Haley Street, "so there is not the same opportunity to make a simple striping change to provide a westbound bike lane," Bailey said.
Haley Street was wide enough to add the bike lane without removal of any parking or traffic lanes. In addition to the bike lane, a very short right-turn lane has been added at State Street, the goal of which is to improve traffic flow on Haley Street.
Also new to the strip of road is a yellow line on the left side to separate the parking aisle from the traffic lane.
Bailey said about one-third of reported crashes in Santa Barbara involved parked vehicles, and if the painted line is successful in reducing the number parked vehicle involved crashes on Haley Street, "it could be used on other streets."
Ed France, executive director of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, said the group was encouraged by the move and for further efforts to connect a westbound route.
The coalition coordinated its volunteers with the city to count bicyclists along Haley before the change, France said, and they'll conduct another county next year to evaluate the impact of the new lane on ridership.
"Hopefully, we can secure a return route by then so that those who choose to take an east-west trip by bike don't have to mix with high-speed vehicular traffic on their return trip," he said
The group's bicycle repair shop is located on Haley along the route, and "we are encouraged as we see new infrastructure being implemented to serve the growing number of Santa Barbara Bicyclists," he said. "We are keeping a close eye to see how the new lane functions."