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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 4:43 pm | Fair 61º


Inaugural Safe Routes for Seniors Walk Travels Along Goleta’s Hollister Avenue

COAST leads residents and community leaders in an effort to identify ways to improve the corridor for pedestrians

A group of Goleta residents crisscrossed Hollister Avenue with a sense of purpose Wednesday afternoon, eyeing passing cars until they stopped before repeating the process at the next marked crosswalk.

The assortment of locals and community leaders were taking part in an inaugural walk for Safe Routes for Seniors, a recent project of the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST).

Walkers of varying ages gathered at the Goleta Valley Community Center to begin the walk down Hollister in Old Town Goleta — an area identified as one that seniors have the most difficulty walking through — to see what can be done to improve the corridor.

Most participants expressed an interest in reviving the area, understanding that pedestrian safety would be key in achieving that goal.

“The purpose of the walk is informational,” COAST project director Caitlin Carlson said.

Similar COAST walks have been conducted on Santa Barbara’s Eastside, but Wednesday’s walk honed in on issues affecting seniors, with uneven pavement that hampers wheelchairs and walkers among them.

The organized and orderly stroll also helps raise awareness for drivers who tend to disregard the flashing pedestrian lights, Carlson said.

Goleta Mayor Pro Tempore Michael Bennett and City Councilman Ed Easton joined the walk, which utilized the “safety in numbers” concept.

Seniors expressed dismay at recent cases of pedestrians being struck while crossing well-marked walkways, especially those near the often-busy community center.

“They don’t stop,” said Violet, a longtime Goleta resident who frequents the senior center four mornings a week. “Those safety things have to be taken care of.”

Many said they were grateful for the chance to talk about problems with others like them and with officials who have the capacity to effect change.

Assistant city engineer Rosemarie Gaglione was on hand to answer any questions and to listen.

She said the city is working to develop a list of priorities where improvements are most needed, and soon will add a new crosswalk system that would make flashing lights more visible to drivers.

“We’re excited about this,” Gaglione said. “This is a great way to get their concerns.”

Walkers assembled at the final destination of Natural Cafe were assured they would be notified of future walks and public meetings on the subject.

As a longtime resident himself, Easton encouraged seniors especially not to let fear or uneven sidewalks keep them from being out and about.

“Walking is probably the best exercise you can do,” he said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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