Bicyclists v. Pedestrians

Ryan Cruz’s article of October 20 concerning the need for the city to “explore other options” to address the competition between the pedestrian and bicycle traffic on State Street is prescient.

In 2006, having lived in the western area of downtown for over one and a half decades, I decided to sell my car and commit to pedestrian methods of getting to and from work, shopping, and running errands. Almost all I needed was within walking distance. No need to spend a bunch of money to maintain an automobile I used rarely.

In those years since I made my commitment to walking, my health has improved, but I have also suffered six collisions with bicyclists on the sidewalk. One incident was so distressing that I asked the police to file an injury report. The cyclist had sped up in the downhill slope of the Castillo underpass in order to intimidate and force me off the sidewalk; then, enraged, he stopped, dismounted and beat me to the ground. The officer advised me instead to “make way” for these walkway cyclists. It became clear to me that the police were apparently not committed to enforcing S.B. Municipal Code 10.52.030 to protect pedestrians. I believe they remain uncommitted. Until a serious and perhaps debilitating injury occurs, they have other priorities.

The introduction of electrical bicycles on Santa Barbara walkways has substantially increased the dangers to Santa Barbara’s pedestrians. The velocity and mass of these increasingly common motorized vehicles on pedestrian walkways has made the possibility of serious injury matter not question of “if” but “when.” Civil lawsuits and hospitalization may now be in the future for any of us who walk the streets of Santa Barbara. I hope safety caveats will not be printed in the city’s future tourist guides.


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