City crews have begun painting bright green lane striping along the center of State Street in Santa Barbara with the aim of giving bicyclists their own path along the corridor and easing pedestrian-bicyclist conflicts.
“We’ve had ongoing concerns about conflicts between bicycles and pedestrians on State Street,” Rob Dayton, the city’s transportation planner, told Noozhawk. “The green lanes are intended to reset the pedestrian and bicycle traffic every block.”
The painting began on Monday, and is expected to be completed with additional white striping and signage next week, Dayton said.
The new bike lanes will run down the center of State Street from Victoria Street to Sola Street.
With the new lanes, pedestrians will be guided towards the outer edges of the street and the sidewalks, Dayton said.
“The hope is that pedestrians will remain on the sidewalks and visit the State Street businesses,” he added. “These lanes are meant to bring more safety and cooperation between pedestrians and bicyclists.”
Santa Barbara BCycle, a bicycle rental service in the city, said it is working on getting additional bikes out to State Street to support this effort.
“We are working voraciously with the city to send more bikes down and promote this effort,” said Jesse Rosenberg, general manager at Santa Barbara BCycle. “Our intention is to put as many stations that correlate with the city of Santa Barbara, and make biking easy and smooth for the local community and visiting tourists.”
The city has received complaints about pedestrians walking in the streets while cyclists speed by, Dayton said, but he encourages pedestrians to remain on the outer perimeters of the street to avoid conflict.
However, the green lanes have ruffled some feathers in Santa Barbara’s architecture community, and many feel that they don’t belong.
“I think that these green lanes are a standard type of solution for use in large cities where there is heavy traffic in bikes and automobiles together,” Cassandra Ensberg, a local Santa Barbara architect, told Noozhawk. “However, I think these green stripes on State Street are overkill, confusing, and a very inappropriate solution that does not solve the problem.”
“Instead of telling the bikes to slow down, to me this kind of signals them a green light to say ‘go.’”
Paul Rupp, an architect with AB Design Studio, also voiced his concerns about the green striping hindering pedestrian safety.
“These bright colored lanes are intended for high-speed traffic environments, and they make no sense in a pedestrian-friendly environment,” he said. “This change is negative because it basically says that pedestrians no longer have the right-of-way everywhere, which they should.”
Rupp said that these initiatives should be design-driven and not engineer-driven, and that there are subtle, more creative ways to manage circulation along State Street.
He also asserted that the bike lanes do not fit Santa Barbara’s known and loved aesthetic appeal.
“A lot of people live in Santa Barbara because it’s a beautiful place, we care about the signage and we care about the street-scape,” he said. “It’s fairly easy to wander off those standards and just become another California coastal path.”
“I don’t think this is a balanced approach, and I don’t think that the artistry of our town has been included,” Ensberg echoed. “We’ll have to wait and see if this will solve the problem, but I don’t think it will.”