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Santa Barbara Ranked Top Bike City in California

PeopleForBikes Survey Measured Ridership, Safety, Demographics, and Upcoming Infrastructure Improvements

About 130 riders gathered for last week’s two-wheeled town hall forum and confab in the Santa Ynez Valley. | Credit: Len Wood, Staff

The City of Santa Barbara ranked first in all California cities when it comes to bicycle ridership for both commuting and recreation, bicycle safety, demographic breadth of ridership, and infrastructure improvements on the way. The ranking was issued by PeopleForBikes, a bicycle advocacy organization made up of major players in the bicycle industry. Santa Barbara got an overall score of 3.1 for the year 2019, up from 1.9 the year before. Typically, the City of Davis has long dominated most surveys on bicycle-accessible cities, but ranking ahead of Davis this year were Ventura, Lompoc, Goleta, Santa Maria, Carpinteria, and Buellton.

The survey ranking was announced just on the heels of last week’s bicycle tourism summit held in the Santa Ynez Valley. The summit, organized by 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, focused on how bicycle tourism can enhance the Santa Ynez tourist economy by, among other things, extending the length of the tourist season. About 130 riders, including Hartmann, several elected officials, and a handful of transportation wonks and bicycle advocates, showed up for a rolling, two-wheeled town hall forum prior to the late-afternoon confab, where cycling evangelist Russ Roca demonstrated how bicycle tourism had helped invigorate the sagging economy of Eastern Oregon.

Photo: Len Wood, StaffAn electric bike with a mobile boombox and photographer join the “Two-Wheel Town Hall Bike Ride” in Solvang on Wednesday.

On the table are proposed new bike paths that might run along the Santa Ynez River from Buellton to Solvang and along abandoned, narrow-gauge railroad tracks from Los Olivos to Los Alamos. Ed France, reigning czar of the Bicycle Coalition, gushed afterward, “Hartmann was on fire,” adding, “In the past we’ve had supporters on the Board of Supervisors; now we have a champion.”

In the meantime, the City of Santa Barbara just voted to issue a request for proposals for a new bike-share program with as many as 500 bikes ​— ​including electric bikes ​— ​to be strategically located throughout the city’s urban cores. The soonest a vendor could be selected and operating would be sometime this fall.

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