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Santa Barbara Considers Green-Painted Lanes, Removing On-Street Parking in Bicycle Master Plan

City transportation planners and Los Angeles-based consultants propose projects geared to make bicycle transit safer and more convenient around town

The City of Santa Barbara is considering projects to improve bicycle transit as part of its Bicycle Master Plan, including a proposal to paint green bike lanes on State, Haley and Cota streets. On Haley Street, shown here, there is an existing bike lane on the right side of the one-way street.
The City of Santa Barbara is considering projects to improve bicycle transit as part of its Bicycle Master Plan, including a proposal to paint green bike lanes on State, Haley and Cota streets. On Haley Street, shown here, there is an existing bike lane on the right side of the one-way street. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara transportation planners want to create green-painted bike lanes, remove on-street parking and create "bike boulevards" throughout the city. 

The city is spending $200,000 to create a Bicycle Master Plan that makes it safer and more convenient for people to ride a bicycle around town.

Los Angeles-based planning firm Melendrez was hired to conduct community outreach and create a plan that the City Council will consider for adoption in December.

Principal transportation planner Rob Dayton and staff from Melendrez shared the results of the outreach and ideas for a bike master plan at a joint Planning Commission and Transportation Circulation Committee meeting last Thursday.

Several members of the public spoke in support of the proposals, which include the green-painted bicycle lanes.

"This is the tofu, for our vegetarians out there, for our network," said Cullen McCormick, a transportation planner with Fehr & Peers, a Santa Monica-based consultant firm that is also working on the master plan update.

Santa Barbara is considering more than two dozen changes, geared toward bicyclists, to the city's transportation planning. 

Proposals in the master plan include painting green bike lanes on several streets, such as State and Haley streets (where there are already bike lanes in place) and Cota Street, which could result in eliminating some on-street parking.

The city is also considering eliminating a lane of traffic on what McCormick called "low-volume streets," to add two wider bike lanes. He said the eastern end of Cabrillo Boulevard is one possibility. 

"East of Milpas Street the traffic tends die out," McCormick said. "There's not as many folks who are driving out there."

Also on the table for study is a proposal to convert Laguna and Olive streets into one-way "couplets" with cars and bikes going in the same direction, rather than two car lanes going in opposite directions.

The consultant received 1,440 responses to its voluntary online survey about bicycle habits, concerns and goals for the community. 

Half of the respondents, according to Melendrez, said a car was their primary mode of transportation and another 30 percent said biking was their main way of moving around town. 

Of those who responded, 59 percent said Santa Barbara is a "moderately" safe place to ride a bike and 36 percent said they don't ride a bike because it is "too dangerous."

Thirty eight percent of respondents said they ride regularly and nine out of 10 respondents said it should be the city's goal to "accommodate more people to ride bikes for work and recreational trips."

Jeff Rawlings, a homeowner, parent and business owner, told the commissioners he welcomes the proposed changes.

"For the business community, for parents, having a safe way to get on your bike, get to work and get to school is the No. 1 way to encourage more usage of the bike as a mode share," Rawlings said. "The kinds of employees that are starting businesses and working in the technology sector are strongly interested in having that as an option and having Santa Barbara be a world-class bicycle city."

Commissioners and committee members expressed optimism in the consultant's findings, while recognizing decision makers — including the City Council — will have to make priorities about what moves forward, based on funding. 

"Although bicycling is not my most frequent mode of transportation, in looking at this it makes a lot of sense," Planning Commissioner June Pujo said. "I know that any plan like this is ultimately going to result in some things that are different and new and I know that will result in some change that we are not accustomed to, but it's for the greater good.

"I think it will all really be an exciting improvement once we kind of get used to the idea of that."

Planning Commissioner Michael Jordan said he is supportive of the many of the ideas presented, but that he would like more specific information on streets that might lose street parking.

Without it, "it certainly makes me less of an advocate of standing in the shopping line at the supermarket when someone is ready to yell at me at loss of parking in front of their house," Jordan said. 

The latest recommendations will be presented to the Santa Barbara City Council, which will decide what proposed projects to have staff and consultants study for the bicycle master plan.  

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina 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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