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Santa Barbara Designated a Gold-Level Walk-Friendly Community

The city is recognized for its pedestrian-friendly policies

Santa Barbara has been awarded a gold medal for its walk-friendly policies by Walk Friendly Communities, a national organization.

The designation was based on the city’s outstanding efforts to make it an inviting place to walk — efforts that are ongoing.

Here are some highlights of these efforts:

» The city’s Pedestrian Master Plan highlights “paseos” — pedestrian-oriented shopping streets that were created after the removal of parking lanes behind businesses in 1969. The paseos’ initial success as parking pass-throughs and additional retail frontage has motivated the city to highlight their maintenance and expansion in the plan.

» The Circulation Element of Santa Barbara’s General Plan is a complete streets document. The element lists four goals, and three of them highlight this philosophy: Strive to Achieve Equality of Choice Among Modes; Increase the Availability and Use of Transit; and Increase Bicycling as a Transportation Mode.

» Santa Barbara prides itself on good pedestrian data. In conjunction with community partner COAST (the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation), Santa Barbara staff and citizens committees regularly produce pedestrian counts as part of Capital Improvement Projects prioritization.

» Santa Barbara has a model Safe Routes to School program implemented in partnership with COAST in which virtually all city schools participate. Currently, the Master Plan has maps of safe routes for all 16 schools in the city limits. The program helps schools host a Walk to School Day in October, encourage regular walking to school and teach children vital safety skills.

» Santa Barbara Car Free is a project of the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District with support from the city of Santa Barbara, Amtrak California and other partners. It encourages car-free travel through discounts and by providing information on walkable destinations such as farmers markets, parks, trails, and bus and shuttle services.

» As part of standard operating procedure, curb radii are designed with a focus on increasing the pedestrian staging area, shortening the pedestrian crossing length, and slowing the speeds of turning vehicles. This is also known as a curb extension and can be found in the west downtown area along Anapamu and Ortega streets.

— Caitlin Carlson is a project director for COAST.

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