The mass of bikes and bicyclists that reigns at the intersection of Pardall Road and Embarcadero del Norte in Isla Vista is in for a rapid realignment. By about mid-September, a new set of traffic lights will attempt to control the free-for-all of bicycle riders, skateboarders, pedestrians, and lowly automobile drivers and reduce the number of collisions that are routine at that intersection. Once class at UC Santa Barbara begins on September 28, County Public Works wants students coming and going through Pardall Tunnel at the campus to remember to heed the new signal at Isla Vista’s busiest intersection.
The county had considered options there since about 2006, including a roundabout, a four-way stop, the lights, and even closing Pardall to automobiles. Discussions took place across about a dozen UCSB graduating classes during Isla Vista’s Master Plan process and, most recently, this year during I.V. Community Services District meetings. The lights were chosen to reinforce the need for cyclists to stop at the intersection, never a custom among Isla Vistans of any vintage.
The pell-mell flow of bicyclists before class time and the anticipated horde entering Pardall Tunnel at the same time is expected to be metered by the 20-second delay at the stoplights, which is about how long it takes a pedestrian to cross the street. Anyone trying to turn left, the county acknowledges, may have to wait to turn legally on the red if they are in the intersection.
To keep on eye on whether the light controls are effective — and whether traffic headed to I.V. backs up into the tunnel — Public Works plans to monitor the intersection for anticipated conflicts. Law enforcement will be present, too; a first-time Failure to Stop at Stop Sign citation can cost $200 and add a point to a person’s driver license.