The City of Santa Barbara finally made it onto the League of American Bicyclists’ officially designated list of 496 “Bicycle Friendly Cities,” winning a silver medal designation along the way. By contrast San Luis Obispo won gold, and Ventura took home a bronze. Last year, Santa Barbara didn’t make the list at all, and this year, 1,900 communities applied.
The designation reflects the increased investment City Hall has been putting in new bicycle infrastructure, most notably the new Class I bike lanes — which separate cyclists from cars. The biggest — which cost $20 million — runs along Las Positas Road and Modoc Road with an option to snake across the Arroyo Burro Creek and wind up at Arroyo Burro Beach. In addition, City Hall is creating a new bike “paseo” connecting the city’s Westside with downtown by building a bike boulevard along Sola Street; it’s extending that one from downtown Santa Barbara to the Eastside by Santa Barbara High School. Bike lane buffers or extensions are also slated for Chapala and De la Vina streets as well.
By creating these new specifically designated bike lanes, the thinking goes, additional riders will be enticed out of their cars and onto their bikes. Right now, about 3.9 percent of all Santa Barbarans commute to work via bike; statewide, that number is 5.1 percent. Santa Barbara’s number of crashes — 485 per 10,000 commuters — is nearly double the statewide average of 287. But for 2021, Santa Barbara’s number of fatalities per 10,000 miles was zero; statewide, it was 2.2.
Also winning recognition from the nationally based bicycle advocacy group was UC Santa Barbara, which has been winning platinum honors for several years running. Likewise, Deckers, Sonos, Telescope Network, Service Objects, and Dr. J’s Bicycle Shop won awards, as did the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, which won platinum honors for organizational advocacy.