Cycling provides a level of visceral gratitude that is hard to quantify. Cool air expanding into full lungs, legs pumping in infinite circles, the quiet peace of self-propelled motion.
Santa Barbara cyclists are especially fortunate. In addition to a beautiful backdrop and amazing year-round weather, many residents share a vision for safer, more sustainable transportation. Across the state, funding has been proposed for 40 projects with the goal of increasing biking and walking. As the result of hard work from local advocates, California’s Active Transportation Program has recommended several key features for Santa Barbara county, and over $15 million to fund them.
If the recommendations are approved by the California Transportation Commission in December, major improvements will be on the horizon, including bike boulevards for both the Eastside and Westside neighborhoods, and a paved path connecting Carpinteria with Ventura. These projects will contribute to better traffic flow, safer streets, and a more connected community.
While the evolving infrastructure creates tremendous resources for residents, there are some substantial and direct ways individuals can contribute to the perpetuation of cycling joy. Here are some ways to help spread the cycling love this season.
Bici Centro, Santa Barbara’s community bike hub, DIY shop, and bike thrift store is hosting a holiday bike drive. They are seeking used children’s bikes as well as volunteers to help get the bikes into good working condition for their A Bike for Christmas event.
Bici Centro shop shift leader Lynneal Williams said, “Community members can donate kids’ bikes that are no longer of use to them. They will be repaired and cleaned up by reliable staff and volunteers and given to kids who can experience riding a bike, maybe even for their first time.”
Williams believes the benefits go beyond the immediate gift. “The actual receiving of a physical bike is significant, but the story behind it is so much more … Being aware and informed of where the bikes came from and who volunteered their time to the program will demonstrate to these kids values like generosity, teamwork, and giving.”
Donated holiday bikes should have a tire size of 16’’-24’’, and may be dropped off at Bici Centro anytime between noon and 7 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday. Bikes will be gifted to pre-identified students at McKinley Elementary School on December 10. Volunteers will be needed to help repair bikes and to help match children with the bikes on the day of the event. For more information go to sbbike.org.
Across the Continent
iCanShine helps people with developmental disabilities learn to bike for health, transportation, and fun. The nonprofit operates camps in cities across North America. Read more here to see how the organization has impacted local children. Financial donations, and volunteers help keep this organization running.
Around the World
World Bicycle Relief knows that the impact of bikes is even more substantial in areas where people have limited transportation options. For many people, a bike can mean access to health care, to education, and to work opportunities. Over the last 10 years, World Bicycle Relief has distributed over 300,000 bikes to people in developing countries.