Four Santa Barbara bike projects are on the short list to receive a total of $15.5 million in state transportation grants designed to promote “active transit.” Recommended for funding is the Westside bikeway much debated as part of the City of Santa Barbara’s new Bicycle Master Plan and budgeted to cost $4.4 million to build. It includes a long cross-town bicycle boulevard running along Sola Street starting at Castillo Street. Another $2.7 million has been set aside for a series of Eastside bike thoroughfares — either green-striped bike lanes or bicycle boulevards — that will connect Alisos Street to Santa Barbara High School. Santa Barbara traffic planner Peter Brown said, once built, the new bikeways will allow cyclists to ride from Chino Street on the Westside to Alisos on the Eastside on designated bicycle routes.
Plans for the Westside bikeway were the source of considerable late-night political melodrama at City Hall, engaging the focused energies and creative compromise of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition and residents of Micheltorena Street upset at the prospect of losing 80 parking spaces. The Sola Street compromise ultimately agreed upon was predicated upon this grant funding. Competition for these funds was intense. Only 50 projects out of 456 applications were funded. In addition, another $6.8 million was set aside to build a bicycle lane connecting Rincon to Carpinteria Avenue. That bike lane was required by the California Coastal Commission as a mitigation for the two new freeway bridges that are necessary to accommodate the new and wider freeway.
Final approval for the grants takes place December 8. The funds become available in 2019, and construction would start the following year.