<b>KEEP ON TRUCKIN’:</b> Census data from 2012 reflects the nationwide trend of people hopping onto their bikes rather than into their cars.

Paul Wellman

KEEP ON TRUCKIN’: Census data from 2012 reflects the nationwide trend of people hopping onto their bikes rather than into their cars.

Bike Commute Numbers Spike

City to Revise Bicycle Master Plan

Sunday, September 22, 2013
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The percentage of Santa Barbarans who commute to and from their jobs by bicycle has spiked from 3.5 percent in 2000 to 6.9 percent in 2012. That number was 4.4 percent in 2010. These new numbers, released as part of the U.S. Census 2012 American Community Survey, shows that for the first time ever, a greater percentage of city residents are getting to work by bike than by bus. In 2012, 6.1 percent of all commuters availed themselves to mass transit. Despite such gains, biking still lags behind walking to work — 7.3 percent — and driving to work, 71.3 percent. Of those who drive, 62.3 percent reported driving alone.

These numbers reflect commuting patterns within Santa Barbara city limits. Countywide, the trend is consistent, though the percentage of bicycle commuters — 5.5 percent — is not so dramatic.

The new figures reflect the persistence of gender-based commuting patterns. Among city bicycle commuters, 9.6 percent were male and 3.6 female. The new census information indicates that more than half of all city residents reported it took them 15 minutes or less to get to work. Slightly more than 14 percent reported taking half-an-hour or more to get to their jobs. Countywide, the numbers were 44 percent and 21.9 percent.

According to Kent Epperson of Traffic Solutions, a countywide government agency that promotes alternative transportation, the shift in commuting patterns is part of a broader national trend that prompted The Christian Science Monitor to write a cover story this summer on the new bike boom seizing the United States. Driving the shift, Epperson said, was the price of gas and the bicycle’s growing popularity and respectability. Younger workers in their 20s, he said, were especially open to jumping on their bikes. “They’d rather spend their money on new electronic gadgets than on their cars and are much quicker to try the bus or the bike,” said Epperson. “That’s certainly the case compared to older generations.” Nationwide, about one percent of all trips are taken by bicycle. That compares to 26 percent in the Netherlands and 10 percent in Germany.

In the coming months, the City of Santa Barbara will be revisiting its bicycle master plan, a lengthy bureaucratic process which will set broad new policy goals for maximizing Santa Barbara’s road space to attract cyclists. At the same time, the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition will be conducting an ongoing planning process — much more informal — to study what other cities are doing to make their cities safe and attractive — often the same thing — to cyclists, and to determine what menu of infrastructure additions would make most sense for Santa Barbara. The fact that more than half of city commuters get to work within 15 minutes suggests that there’s a sizable population for whom cycling might be a viable option.

The key, said Epperson, is rider safety. He said recent surveys indicate that a sizable number of people would consider cycling but only if they thought it was safe to do so. Currently many do not. Contributing to this perception, said Epperson, is the reality that Santa Barbara County has one of the higher bicycle fatality records — relative to its population size — in the state. He said segregating bike lanes from the flow of traffic reduces collisions and increases bike ridership. This, he said, has been achieved by reconfiguring the architecture of roads such that bike lanes are located to the right of parked cars and to the left of curbs, creating a significant buffer.

Later this fall, on November 2, Epperson said, Santa Barbara will be celebrating its first Open Streets event, in which a large swatch of Cabrillo Boulevard — as well as the Funk Zone — will be declared off-limits to cars and opened up to cyclists, roller bladers, live bands, buskers, and anyone else who wants to join the festivities. The event is modeled on the CicLAvia celebration held in the City of Los Angeles twice a year. “It’s an amazing event,” said Epperson. “Imagine ten miles of Los Angeles free of cars and filled with cyclists,” he said. “You can’t really imagine what’s that like until you’ve been there.”


Independent Discussion Guidelines

I just got an electric bike. Soooo fun. I commute from TV Hill to Montecito 3-4 days a week. I use battery on way to work (to not get schvitzy) and get exercise on way home (except hill - all battery). And I'm not light. Perfect for farmer's markets, meeting friends for breakfast, everything. I wish I had started saving all my gas money years ago. I haven't ridden a bike in about 25 years and it's still just as fun. Took me a while to get over the fear of cars. Well, fear has subsided let's say. Peddling or using battery power has made it that much more fun.

Loca (anonymous profile)
September 22, 2013 at 9:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Amen to the electric bike. Love mine too.

Noletaman (anonymous profile)
September 22, 2013 at 9:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I am outraged at this continuous plot to force us out of our cars.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
September 22, 2013 at 11:14 a.m. (Suggest removal)

we're way behind the times: permanently shut down State Street below Victoria to cars making it all bike all the time [keep a one-lane safety lane for police/fire/ambulance]. Let's have Open Streets all the time.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
September 22, 2013 at 12:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Oh Mr. Adams......I'm outraged that you think your right to drive is more important than my right not to breathe your pollution, that your right to drive is more important than all the political chaos and world turmoil that our dependance on fossil fuels brings, that your right to drive is a god given or an American right, that paving the planet so we can all drive around in our cars is somehow ok because the collective delusion says so.

Ok, I'm not really outraged but no one is really trying to force you out of your point is that more cycling infrastructure is good for all of us and the planet. We are running out of room for more pavement and sooner or later we are going to have to accept that bike lanes and other alternative transportation options are not responsible for the ever increasing congestion on our roads, cars are.

billd (anonymous profile)
September 22, 2013 at 1:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I also live and bike in rainy Portland where 6% commute to work so SB has room for improvement considering its small size and perfect weather. There's clearly a need for more bike lanes (love Bath Street's) and would love to see one where the sidewalk and bike lane are integrated so the bikes are completely off the street (a trend in Portland and Holland). Also, I have close encounters on almost every ride in SB with distracted drivers swerving into the bike lane without looking first - head's up please!

Jilt (anonymous profile)
September 22, 2013 at 3:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Frank Hotchkiss told me to be outraged.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
September 22, 2013 at 8:47 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Sounds like a great idea... but, I'm only tipping the organ grinder, if their monkey can ride a bicycle, and their parrot has a sense of humor.

sbsavage (anonymous profile)
September 22, 2013 at 10:06 p.m. (Suggest removal)

DrDan: What about those not physically capable of riding bikes? How do they get downtown?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
September 23, 2013 at 4:57 a.m. (Suggest removal)

They should check out Fort Collins Colorado, they are seriously bike friendly, have bike trails all over that keep people out of traffic and they maintain those trails as they do the regular roads, same priority. It is AWESOME! I don't ride a bike, my balance is too bad....

santabarbarasand (anonymous profile)
September 23, 2013 at 6:17 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Maybe I missed something. "The new figures reflect the persistence of gender-based commuting patterns. Among city bicycle commuters, 9.6 percent were male and 3.6 female. "

What gender were the other 86.8% ?

freshpavement (anonymous profile)
September 23, 2013 at 6:42 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Nobody answered your question billclausen because the answer is that if you aren't physically capable to bike-n-hike, you're just kinda screwed in this projected New World. Funny how the disabled are always left out of these Utopian scenarios.

Holly (anonymous profile)
September 23, 2013 at 7:06 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I don't think anyone ever suggested we take away your cars Holly. You could probably just drive where you want. Why does better infrastructure for cyclists always have to mean no cars in the drivers mind.

Maybe you could even do the rest of society a favor and carpool or take public transit. With more focus on alternative transportation maybe the bus would be practical.

billd (anonymous profile)
September 23, 2013 at 7:52 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I'm with you freshpavement: " Among city bicycle commuters, 9.6 percent were male and 3.6 female." Is this a typo--96% male?

As for cycling infrastructure, I'll return to my old gripe: the new separate bike path along El Colegio are awful: narrower than the old one, with sharp turns where each road crosses them. For that, they wasted space making *additional* bike paths on the roadway. What a waste, stupid planning, get some bicyclists in on the design phase. Lots of room for improvement in signage (stop cross traffic on main bike routes with stop signs, or use yields to put cyclists on notice), improve the pavement, make separate paths wide enough. I love the Obern bike trail along Atascadero Creek & Modoc, makes getting from Goleta to SB so nice & super-safe! (But, you planners: why make cyclists stop to cross Puente, for instance, or Patterson??)

hmarcuse (anonymous profile)
September 23, 2013 at 2:30 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@Billd: You've just proven Holly's point by evading the issue. Idealism has it's downside when it isn't thought through.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
September 23, 2013 at 3:08 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Please enlighten me Mr. Clausen. I don't really like what cars have done to our society but I doubt their going away anytime soon.

I've never heard anyone pushing for more bike infrastructure saying cars should be banned. As for the Utopian society, I'm a realist, I'm sure you'll be able to drive your car for many decades to come.

You pro car guys just like to scream "the sky is falling" and whine about how everyone is trying to take away your cars.

If you think building a few protected bike paths is a "utopian society" then maybe your the one that needs to think things through a bit more.

billd (anonymous profile)
September 23, 2013 at 8:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There is always the Alternative fuel vehicle, Hybrid models and Motorcycles in place of single occupant cars & trucks?

dou4now (anonymous profile)
September 24, 2013 at 10:09 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I love my Pedego too! I got it about a month ago and my commute to work has cut in half and I can just wear my work clothes biking vs. having to bring them with me to change into. I have been a bike commuter for 5 years and have no desire to go back to driving, esp. since I've got my electric bike. It is possible to be car free in SB!

Ryliedog (anonymous profile)
September 24, 2013 at 8:33 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I remember when SB had more registered bikes than residents.

Any bike master plan will need to address electric and motorized bikes

passagerider (anonymous profile)
September 28, 2013 at 3:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I commuted for years from downtown to upper State Street; shopping, recycling, lunchtime errands all easier than messing with a car. Now, for one year I've lived in northern Connecticut; no safe streets, no designated paths, no parking facilities, lousy weather. Oh, and no coffeehouses. These are my top criteria for judging a place liveable, let alone civilized. So of course I am coming back to SB/Goleta. People, I'll see you out there! By the way, have customized fenders put on, wear your crazy-bright gear, and join your bike clubs and the Bike Coalition. Your safe future is in your own hands.

monarchsrule (anonymous profile)
October 2, 2013 at 12:25 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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