Believing in Community

Please know advocates for a Micheltorena bike want local businesses to thrive!

This is an all-of-us-for-all-of-us thing.

Business owners want clients to park close to their businesses. The proposed lane converts 125 parking spaces. Within one block, city staff found 300 spaces available midday. Additional mitigation will make more parking available. Solutions we can all advocate for include the city purchasing existing, empty lots; enforcing parking zoning; and adding loading zones/handicap spaces on adjacent streets.

A thoroughfare for all commuters — people on bikes and in cars — is good for businesses. Businesses are visible, accessible to a greater swath of the community. The street is full of people. (Think lower State.) Studies on the effects on businesses of replacing car parking with biking thoroughfares have shown businesses were not affected negatively. In fact, a Seattle study showed revenue increased.

Bike lanes are about social equity. Many Santa Barbarans travel by bicycle — to jobs, schools, and local businesses — for economic reasons. Micheltorena is the only available route from the Westside. Sola isn’t an option; it would require installation of traffic signals, costing millions the city doesn’t have. Our city’s transportation element vows to provide routes for all, and a Micheltorena bike lane has been planned since 1970.

Bike lanes improve the safety of all road users. I could detail bike-on-car collisions that would pull your heartstrings.

The roads in front of our homes and businesses are public spaces. We must come together to ensure public space benefits all. That’s why, as a stalwart advocate for equally safe, equally accessible bike routes, I also advocate for you, for the convenience of your clientele who travel by car.

I ask you, please join me — join bicycling and community advocates and city councilors and planners — in finding solutions. Please don’t rally against the bike lane. Please rally for both bike lanes and parking mitigation. Please consider the rights, needs, and safety of your neighbors who cycle, along with your own concerns when you consider and speak on this issue.

A freelance writer and editor, Holly Starley often writes for the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition.


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