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Councilman Hotchkiss Shares Community Input on Santa Barbara’s Bicycle Master Plan

Before the City of Santa Barbara starts its official community outreach for updating the Bicycle Master Plan, Councilman Frank Hotchkiss solicited ideas with an opinion piece printed in local media.

He believes the city shouldn’t lose any parking capacity or driving lanes to make room for bicycles.

Hotchkiss and Councilman Dale Francisco are concerned that the public outreach workshops will only be attended by cyclists and biking advocates so the city would get a “skewed result.”

Hotchkiss received more than 200 responses to the op-ed and presented the results at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. He said everyone agreed that the city should work to make it safer for bicyclists but disagreed over how to do that.

In his proposal, the city would focus on specific streets to become designated bike routes without reducing any car traffic.

He presented a map of the downtown core and suggested that some streets become major arterial routes for bicyclists, which would make motorists expect the bike traffic and create a sort of “freeway for bikes,” he said.

The city has narrow roads with no room to widen, so the city needs solutions that make biking safer and more accessible without reducing car traffic, he said.

He also briefly talked about staging separation between cars and bike lanes to promote biking in certain areas of the city.

There were only four public speakers at Tuesday’s meeting, but there’s no doubt more people will come out to give input as the city works to update its Bicycle Master Plan.

The Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition was pleased with Hotchkiss’ initiative because it started the discussion, Sam Franklin said, adding that the year-long public input process will hopefully lead to an inclusive plan.

“Biking should be something that people can do without feeling like they’re taking their life into their hands,” said Michael Chiacos of the Community Environmental Council.

Surveys continually show that more people would like to bike but don’t feel safe, he said.

The City Council listened to the report and took no action.

Since the Bicycle Master Plan was last updated comprehensively in 1998, the city has expanded to 40 miles of bike lanes from 13 and added 2,000 new locations to lock a bike, according to city staff.

The City Council voted to hire a public relations consultant to develop the community engagement strategy for the plan update, including interviews, an online survey and meetings with various stakeholders.

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli 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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