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Local News

Goleta Residents Express Concerns Over Old Town Traffic Congestion, Safer Bike Routes

City kicks off project to improve safety, reduce vehicle tie-ups and make Hollister Avenue a more pleasant travel experience


As efforts to revitalize Old Town Goleta gain momentum, the city is looking to tackle the neighborhood’s often-congested and inconsistent traffic infrastructure.

On Thursday, a few dozen residents turned out at the Goleta Valley Community Center to provide initial input on a new city project to improve safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers, reduce cut-through traffic and make Hollister Avenue, which anchors Old Town between Highway 217 to the east and Fairview Avenue on the west, more appealing to walk, shop and visit.

Topping the concerns were congestion and bicycle safety.

City surveys revealed that the three-quarter-mile stretch of Hollister sees 20,000 vehicles per day. Without congestion, Goleta planners found that it takes about 4 minutes to drive the length of Old Town, versus 6½ to 7 minutes with heavy traffic.

While limited parking has been another concern, surveys found that at noon and 6 p.m., about 30 percent of on-street spots are available. At 10 a.m., roughly half are unoccupied.

Among cyclists, top concerns were gaps in bike lanes, their narrow widths and very close proximity to passing cars.

Where the space for one mode of transportation ends and another begins is not always clear, said Julia Zaratzian, who owns Bicycle Bob’s, at 320 S. Kellogg Ave., with her husband, Bob.

“I think a lot of times, people don’t know what to do, they don’t know how to get out of the way, because the street is not designated in a way that you can translate it,” she told Noozhawk.

Part of promoting cycling in Goleta is having good relationships between the cyclists and drivers who share the road, which requires adequate space for both, said her daughter, Kathleen Zaratzian, a Santa Barbara attorney.

“When the bike lane is squished into the traffic or everybody’s stuck at a light and it’s all congested, then it makes it so that there’s tension between both groups,” she said.

City planner Teresa Lopes said the Hollister Avenue Complete Streets Corridor Project is scheduled to be completed in summer 2019.

In September, city planners will return to the public with the results of analyses and studies to present project alternatives based on residents’ priorities.

A similar project is also underway that will fill in sidewalks in Old Town residential areas. Last year, the city installed a high-intensity activated crosswalk signal across Hollister next to the community center, signal improvements at Hollister and Orange avenues, and a path-lighting project along the side of the community center.

Further west, Goleta is also pursuing plans to revamp the bike lane on the south side of Hollister between Pacific Oaks Road west of Camino Real Marketplace and Ellwood School.

Residents can provide input on the complete-streets project by taking the city’s online survey.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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