After planners, neighbors, families, government officials, and alternative transportation advocates met last week, UCSB announced that it would preserve the bike path that runs along Storke Road. Originally a golf-cart path for the now-defunct Ocean Meadows Golf Club, the path has long been used by both cyclists and pedestrians.
Area residents became concerned when they heard that Sierra Madre, a new student family housing development, could lead to the elimination of the path. There is a “Class II” bike lane along the road in the same area, but many children take the path to get to Isla Vista Elementary School, and the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST) first raised concerns about the Safe Routes to School program. Also, many UCSB students use the path to travel to the Camino Real Marketplace shopping center. Moreover, said Ed France, executive director of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, there will be 1,000 new bike trips daily as many of the students in the new housing will travel via bicycle.
“The project was developed in a vacuum with regard to transportation,” said France, partially because, while UCSB owns the property, the roadways fall under the jurisdictions of both the City of Goleta and Santa Barbara County. That’s why, said Goleta City Councilmember Paula Perotte, “it was really fortunate to get all the parties together at one site, and that’s what made it so successful.”
As explained in a statement jointly issued by COAST and UCSB, “The multi-use pathway will be eight-foot wide and separated from the west side of Storke Road by approximately three feet of landscaping. The path will begin south of Whittier Road and eventually end at the intersection of El Colegio Road and Storke Road.” A “multi-use” path, as opposed to a sidewalk, is open to cyclists. Despite the greater concentration of students near the Isla Vista-Goleta border, car traffic is expected to decrease as students opt for walking, biking, or bussing. In fact, said France, car traffic has dipped about 20 percent over the past five or six years.