The Santa Barbara City Council is scheduled to discuss the Chapala Street Design Guidelines, specifically the impact of existing and planned curb extensions on traffic flow. Our volunteer planning group, the Mesa Architects, believes that the most important consideration in all street and sidewalk design is safety.
Curb extensions are one important way to increase safety on our streets. They increase safety by making pedestrians more visible to drivers and by reducing the time pedestrians are in the street. They also increase safety by reducing the speed of vehicles at intersections, thus reducing the chance of collisions.
In relation to other important considerations like traffic flow and parking, curb extensions are essentially neutral. Properly designed, they do not impede motorists or bicyclists and they do not eliminate parking spaces. Since curb extensions offer very important safety benefits and few, if any, disadvantages they should continue to be part of street and sidewalk design in Santa Barbara.
The proposed curb extensions on Chapala Street should be thoughtfully designed, but arbitrarily eliminating them would be a serious mistake. We should never make our streets more dangerous by reducing our design standards.
We encourage every citizen who agrees that curb extensions can provide a safer pedestrian and vehicular environment, to write to the city council and share their opinion.—Jim Bell, Chris Cottrell, Derrik Eichelberger, John Kelley, Jeff King, Tom Morrison, Tom Ochsner, Laurel Perez, Dennis Thompson, and David Van Hoy (The Mesa Architects)