Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition

August
2009


Programs and events forge our future
Alexa.com provides website traffic information
July Coalition meeting topics
Coalition asks for safety on Foothill
Bike count data
August 2009 Youth Bicycle Programs in Santa Barbara
Commuter Challenge reduces road traffic
Google Maps to include bikepaths
Synthetic sea by bike
California is—ahem—not #1
Bike parking a hit at Santa Barbara Bowl
We thank our active members
Bici Centro adds Spanish-only night
Why we never forget how to bike
Bike sales increased in 2008
"Online on Wheels" held for Citrix workers
Solvang becomes a cycling magnet

Quick Release Newsletter

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Programs and events forge our future

photo of people on bikes photo of kids on bikes

(Left) Our Street Skills for Cyclists classes are offered throughout the year. Here Sarah Grant, right, talks to participants about road situations. (Right) The Santa Barbara Kid's Triathlon followed a week class introducing young people to safe and healthy swimming, biking and running.

photo of youth safety classphoto of BMX kids

(Left) Christine Bourgeois helps students practice emergency turns at a Bike Adventure class, sponsored by SB Parks and Recreation. (Right) BMX summer classes were held eight times at Elings Park, led by Chantel Blanchet. The individual classes attract up to 35 students. Photos by Ralph Fertig.

  • The year 2009 has seen a 16% jump in the number of people bicycling in Santa Barbara. And throughout our county we've witnessed a large increase in the number of tours, classes, workshops, and general bicycling activities.
  • Especially exciting is the increase of youth activities available to young people, and the number of bike tours offered to those choosing to vacation in our county. While it's thought that the rise in utility biking may be due to the recession and the cost of gas, the surge of all the healthy activities for everybody suggests that the changes are not fleeting, they are here to stay—and with our help—will increase.

Alexa.com provides website traffic information

  • There are so many website information-gathering resources available, it's hard to keep track. One of the more interesting ones is www.alexa.com that provides worldwide visitor statistics for websites.
  • You go to Alexa, type in your website address, and up pops information about the rank in traffic and how many other sites direct users to your site. For older and popular sites, it also tells you when it went online, whether visitors come from the US or overseas, and how long they spend on the site. Here are recent Alexa data for a handful of sites:
  • Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition. 65 other sites link to us. Ranked at 1.7 millionth in traffic. 100% visitors are from the US. Online since 1997.
  • Bici Centro. 8 other sites linked to us. We're ranked at 2.4 millionth in traffic.
  • Traffic Solutions. 33 other sites linking to it. It's ranked at 1.9 millionth in traffic. 100% visitors are from the US. Online since 2001.
  • Santa Barbara Car Free. 42 other sites linked to it. It's ranked at 2.7 millionth in traffic. 65% visitors are from the US. Online since 2000.
  • COAST. 11 sites linked to it. It's ranked at 21.5 millionth in traffic.
  • California Bicycle Coalition. 103 other sites linked to it. It's ranked at 4.0 millionth in traffic. 54% visitors are from the US. Online since 1999.
  • Adventure Cycling. 459 sites linked to it. It's ranked at 0.2 millionth in traffic. 71% visitors are from the US. Online since 1999.
  • League of American Bicyclists. 1083 sites linked to it. It's ranked at 0.3 millionth in traffic. 87% visitors are from the US. Online since 1996.

July Coalition meeting topics

  • Our July 7th monthly Bicycle Coalition meeting was held at Rusty's Pizza in Santa Barbara, with 6 participants talking about these topics:
  • Ralph Fertig described the Momentum magazine discount available to members.
  • The Bike Week (or Bike Month) 2010 possibilities were discussed. A second meeting organized by Kent Epperson will be held July 13th.
  • Possibilities for an ongoing Santa Barbara Bowl valet bike parking program were considered.
  • Contention over the parking along Foothill Road was discussed, with the Coalition monitoring the developing situation.
  • Ed France reported on the success of Bici Centro's summer youth mountain bike and street skills classes to date.
  • The County's Planning Commission was unable to agree over the Santa Ynez Valley Community Plan, including a Santa Ynez River Trail "Action item." There's more to come.
  • Ed France announced that "Spanish only" open shop hours will be held each Tuesday.

Coalition asks for safety on Foothill

photo of Foothill construction

This view of Foothill Road looks west at the new shoulder covering a large storm drain. Paving and striping are yet to come. Photo by Ralph Fertig.

  • For nearly a decade, we have been pursuing safer conditions for bicyclists on Foothill Road (Highway 192) west of Mission Canyon in Santa Barbara's unincorporated county. Caltrans has identified that section of Foothill as prone to crashes and in need of better drainage to prevent flooding. So they funded a project that is now nearly finished.
  • As the project nears completion, a discussion of parking along the roadway by local residents has heated up. In anticipation of the county Supervisors taking up the issue at their July 7th meeting, we sent them a letter saying:
  • "Bicyclist safety is a great concern along that busy stretch of Foothill Road. We have been working since 2001 with Caltrans and the Mission Canyon Association to obtain paved shoulders where residents on foot and bicycle can safely use our public right of way."
  • "Bicyclists using an unimpeded paved shoulder will not slow traffic-lane motorists, who otherwise might endanger others as they attempt to pass. However, if cars and trucks are allowed to park there, bicyclists may have to swerve into traffic, endangering everybody."
  • "Additionally, prohibiting parking there will offer a place for motorists to pull over for emergency vehicles, an especially vital concern in light of our three recent wildfires."
  • Supervisor Salud Carbajal, whose district includes that section of Foothill, struck an appeal for safety. He said that the safety of our community at large has to come before the convenience of a handful of residents. The supervisors unanimously passed the Public Works staff recommendation to prohibit parking on the south side of the road, and to meet with Caltrans, the Mission Canyon Association, fire officials, and the residents to resolve north side issues.
  • Recently, the California Highway Patrol has come out in favor of not only prohibiting parking on both shoulders, but to make them official Caltrans bikelanes. It would remove the "No parking" sign clutter, and also make it easier for highway patrol officers to determine whether vehicles were illegally parked or not. Stay tuned, it's not over yet, but looking promising.

Bike count data

  • This is a follow-up to last month's Quick Release report that our 2009 bicyclist counts showed a 16% increase in Santa Barbara.
  • Other data collected included helmet use and sidewalk biking. Compared to four prior years, there was only a 1% decrease in helmet use to 25% overall, and a 1% increase on sidewalk riding to 18% overall. Neither change is a significant amount.
  • The most helmet use was 68% at the Meigs/Cliff intersection; the least was 3% at Milpas/Gutierrez. The most sidewalk riding was 50% at San Andres/Micheltorena; the least was 2% at Garden/Canon Perdido.

August 2009 Youth Bicycle Programs in Santa Barbara

  • Mountain Bike Camp, Elings Park, ages 7-15
    classes start 8/3 and 8/10, cost $130, hours 9:00-12:00
  • BMX Summer Camp, Elings Park, ages 5-12
    classes start 8/3 and 8/10, cost $180, hours 9:00-3:00

Commuter Challenge reduces road traffic

graph of mode split

  • For the second year, SBCAG's Traffic Solutions has successfully induced many people to forego driving alone to work and other places, and use alternatives instead. Their Commuter Challenge pitted 341 teams of five against one another for 61 days in May and June. Each day a participant used an alternative—like carpool, bike, foot, bus, vanpool, or something else—they scored another point. They entered their miles and mode each day online. Incentives were not only glory for the best teams, but prizes like iPhones, gift certificates, and cash.
  • The result was that 58,457 trips were not drive-alone, but something more sustainable. The pie chart shows that car pooling was the most popular, but bicycling came in second with a healthy 26% of all trips.
  • Traffic Solutions' director Kent Epperson reports (modestly) that he logged alternative trips on each of the 61 days, joining 129 others who did the same. Avoiding the temptation to drive, he notes, "takes resourcefulness, commitment and persistence." A number of employers competed against others in their size category. Those winners are Pay Junction, Community Environmental Council, Natural History Museum, Yardi Systems and Santa Barbara City.

Google Maps to include bikepaths

  • Google maps are great if all you want to do is drive. However, for bicyclists, the best routes are often missing. Google, to their credit, is changing that with a camera-mounted, human-pedaled tricycle.
  • To start, they are pedaling around college campuses and adding the pictures to their Streetview service. After that, they will pedal onto off-campus (but paved) trails. This will allow you to preview a trail in the US, UK and Italy (so far) before riding it.
  • Besides photos of trails, we're hoping that the next Google step will be to create bike trip routes from A to B, a special benefit not only for bicycle tourists, but also for all people wanting to know their community better by bike. A senior Google engineer observed, "Much of the world is inaccessible to the car. We want to get access to places people find important."
  • Let us know if you see them pedaling around our campuses and trails.

Synthetic sea by bike

photo of Erikesn and Cummins

Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen with one of their bicycles before their presentation. Photo by Ralph Fertig.

  • A couple came through Santa Barbara on June 15th for a stop and "Synthetic Sea" presentation during their 2000-mile "JUNKride" from Vancouver to Tiajuana. It's called JUNKride because they are raising awareness about throw-away plastic pollution that is rapidly spreading across the Pacific Ocean and imperiling all sea life.
  • Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins bought their second-hand bikes on Craigslist, outfitted them for touring and set off with no support vehicles. All their props and material for presentations to schools and groups came along for the ride in their panniers. Eleven days after leaving Santa Barbara, they celebrated their ride's end with margueritas in Tiajuana.
  • Eriksen had previously sailed from Long Beach to Hawaii on a raft made from 15,000 plastic bottles, sampling sea life all the way, and discovering a vast vortex twice the size of the US filled with plastic junk. Their message is avoid using any plastics, and properly recycle of all those you must use.

California is—ahem—not #1

  • The League of American Bicyclists has been evaluating US communities for "bicycle friendliness" for several years, but only in 2008 did they start evaluating states. For each state, they assess 75 questionnaire responses dealing with legislation, policies, programs, infrastructure, education, encouragement, evaluation, planning, and enforcement.
  • One would think that, since 24 out of the 85 "Bicycle Friendly Communities" (including Santa Barbara) are in our state, California would be stellar. However, it seems state policies and programs are largely separate of all our great local biking efforts and successes.
  • For 2009, California came in 14th place. We were beat by WA, WI, ME, OR, MN, IA, AZ, NH, DE, NJ, WY, IL and CO in that order. What's worse, California was ranked 7th in 2008, meaning that the efforts of other states propelled them ahead of us. You can read about the Bike League's many programs at www.bikeleague.org.

Bike parking a hit at Santa Barbara Bowl

photo of valet parking

Valet volunteers accept and tag bicycles for safe keeping during Santa Barbara Bowl concerts, shown here on July 12th. Photo by Ralph Fertig.

  • The Santa Barbara Bowl is becoming more environmentally responsible in three ways. They are using goats to clear the chaparral on their hillside. They are recycling nearly all trash, and composting food scraps. And perhaps best, they're working with us on a bicycle valet service.
  • It started on July 10th and 12th, with a team of volunteers from our Bicycle Coalition, Bici Centro, and the Goleta Valley Cycling Club. The Bowl management cleared a fenced-off area for secure bike parking, they supplied 2-part tickets to stick on the bikes and hand to the bikers, installed flood lights, and attached a plank ramp for rolling the bikes up stairs to the new parking area.
  • The bike racks were supplied by Bob McFarland from the GVCC. We're hoping to negotiate a seasonal contract with the Bowl people, and our Board of Directors gave Ed France direction in securing an agreement. It's anticipated that the Bowl will supply new bike racks, and pay for our service.
  • On both evenings, the 4500-seat Bowl was sold out. About 40 people biked there to beat the traffic jams, and they were delighted to find the service. Perhaps best, the others who walked by the bike valet table (offering info about us and Bici Centro) and the bike corral, hopefully realized that they too might choose responsible transportation next time.
  • In the past, some people would bike to the Bowl and lock their steeds all over the place, often creating hazards to others. The Bowl's chief of security John Thayer, a former Santa Barbara police officer and avid cyclist himself, was very pleased to see the new service.
  • According to volunteer Robert Rainwater, all the valet folk had a blast. He expects that the program will become a staple Bowl service, along with their other environmental efforts. (Go goats!) If you want to volunteer for future concerts, contact Ed France at 252-9064 or edfrance@gmail.com.

We thank our active members

  • Please thank and support these Bicycle Coalition business members:
  • Bicycle Bob's, Santa Barbara
  • Nett & Champion Insurance Services, Santa Barbara
  • Pedal Power Bicycles, Santa Maria
  • Chris King Precision Components, Portland, Oregon
  • Hazard's Cyclesport, Santa Barbara
  • Dr J's Bicycle Shop, Solvang
  • Big Bang PR, www.bigbangpr.net, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara Pedicabs, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara Bike Repair, Santa Barbara
  • WheelHouse, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara Bikes To-Go, Santa Barbara
  • We welcome our new member: Marc Nelson. Plus we greatly appreciate those who renewed their memberships: Karen Gumtow, Bob Swinney, David Madajian, Lane Anderson, Robert Young, and Don Bullick.

Bici Centro adds Spanish-only night

Bici logo

  • For two years now, Bici Centro of Santa Barbara has provided "open shop" hours for all people to come, learn, and work on their bikes. Starting in July they added a "Spanish only" evening when those only speaking Spanish are welcome. This means that there are now three open shop times:
  • Wednesdays 4:00-7:00 PM, Spanish only
  • Thursdays 4:00-7:00 PM
  • Saturdays 1:00-7:00 PM
  • Feel free to stop by to check out the action during an appropriate period, you don't need a bike problem to just visit.
  • In addition, there is another 8-week adult "Learn Your Bike" class starting August 10th. You can sign up for all eight evenings, or just one that you might be interested in (if space is available that evening):
  • Mondays 7:00–9:00 PM
  • You can send your questions or register for the class by email at info@bicicentro.org.
  • Finally, Bici will offer fall "Earn a Bike" classes for young people at South Coast schools that have not yet been selected.

Why we never forget how to bike

  • It takes a while to learn the skills to properly balance and pedal a bicycle. However, once the motor skills are learned, we apparently engrave them in our brains forever. The expression "it's like riding a bike" tells us that once learned, some skills persist in our brains.
  • A team of neuroscientists from Scotland, Italy, the UK, US, and Netherlands have identified a key nerve cell in the brain that structures electrical signals into a code that is engraved more or less permanently as memory for new motor skills like bicycling.
  • It's reassuring to know that we don't have to re-install those training wheels after a break from cycling.

Bike sales increased in 2008

  • The National Bicycle Dealers Association reported that 18.5 million bicycles were sold nationally in 2008, up from 18.2 million in both 2007 and 2006. That's a 2% increase for our $6 billion bicycle industry of bicycles, parts and accessories.

“Online on Wheels” held for Citrix workers

photo of Citrix event

Our Bicycle Coalition, Bici Centro, Traffic Solutions, bike shops and services helped make Online on Wheels a successful noontime event for Citrix. Photo by Ralph Fertig.

  • Citrix Online is one of our county's largest employers. The web-based software company has over five hundred workers at two sites in Goleta, many of whom bike commute to work.
  • Citrix management is keen on keeping their employees happy and healthy while endorsing responsible use of our planet's resources. So they invited about 10 organizations and companies to tell their workers about bicycling.
  • On June 26th, our Bicycle Coalition joined others at Citrix Online for an "Online on Wheels" event. It was a success as both dedicated cyclists and just-curious people came by. What was impressive was Citrix's efforts to promote an active lifestyle among its employees. They hopefully know that those who engage in regular physical activities are more productive and have lower health insurance demands than their sedentary counterparts.
  • It may not be coincidence, but the sponsor of our Bike Week 2000 was Expertcity, the firm that was acquired by Citrix Systems in 2003 and renamed Citrix Online. Many of the key Expertcity developers are still there, continuing the supportive business climate.

Solvang becomes a cycling magnet

  • The city of Solvang, and the Santa Ynez Valley in general, have been marketing themselves for years as providing a European ambiance without a passport. That has been shifting over the past decade to a cycling destination.
  • More cyclists have come to know the area through thousand-person rides like the Solvang Century. Plus, early season training camps for major cycling teams brought additional attention. Touring companies took notice, and started offering spring and fall tours in the whole area between San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara, but concentrating on the Solvang area.
  • The biggest boost, however, has come from the Amgen Tour of California that has held time trials in Solvang since 2007. Each year, more cycling fans jam the hotels and restaurants for miles around—bringing welcome revenue to businesses and effected jurisdictions. In 2008, there were 15,000 fans, and last year it swelled to 25,000.
  • The Versus TV channel coverage has been broadcast worldwide, and the exposure has been invaluable. Such promotion would have cost many thousands if purchased separately. Each year, not only multitudes of fans, but also hundreds of media representatives bring in major revenue—and their cameras—to the city and valley.
  • Will the Tour return in 2010? We all want to know, but will have to wait for an answer when AEG announces the Tour route in September. Rumors suggest a mountain top stage finish at Big Bear, and a possible stage in the Sierras. About 40 other cities are bidding against Solvang for a Tour stage. Stay tuned.
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