Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition


Coalition sprints into its third decade
Bicycle travel increases
Save the date, March 1st
Printed media bike articles decline
SBCAG supports open bike/ped process
Bike clinics return January 13-22
Biking one-way streets
Longtime Quick Release editor shifts gears
Two websites, what to do next?
Santa Barbara Council rejects new bikelanes
New lights on Maria Ygnacio bikepath
We thank our active members
County bike commute numbers increasing
Live long and be healthy
Bici Centro activities
December Coalition meeting
Bikesharing comes to the US

Quick Release Newsletter

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Coalition sprints into its third decade
by Ralph Fertig

photo of Pro Bike cyclists

Here participants at the Pro Bike/Pro Walk conference in 1998 are beginning one of several wind-down rides at the end of the day's sessions.

  • Over a luncheon in December 1990, County Ridehare Coordinator Trisha Davis and Traffic Demand Management Coordinator Jamie Andree felt the time was right to create an organization to promote better bicycling conditions within Santa Barbara County. It resulted in a January 3, 1991 memo from Public Works Director Marlene Demary to county South Coast bicyclists, saying:
  • "The County, along with the Association of Governments, are joining together to form a Santa Barbara County Bicycle Coalition whose purpose is to lobby for funds currently available for the improvement of bicycle lanes and paths.
  • We will be having our first meeting on Wednesday, January 9th, at 12:00 noon, in the Board of Supervisors Conference Room. If you are interested in such an effort, please plan on being there. Bring with you any ideas or information you would like to share."
  • The funds referred to were available from California's recent Proposition 116. The new group was successful in obtaining $462,000 a year later for overlaying the Atascadero Creek Bikepath and other improvements. After several months, the original 42 bicyclists decided to establish a permanent organization to further promote bicycling.
  • So much has happened over the past two decades, we can barely begin to cover it here. Our month-by-month history, however, is preserved in past Quick Release newsletters on our website Two main changes have altered us significantly: the 1998 Pro Bike/Pro Walk conference that brought 540 people from all over North America, showcased what we've done and put Santa Barbara on national radar. The other is our merging with the Bici Centro community bike program that provides a highly-visible, understandable program.
  • photo of Marty Blum and bike

    Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum is delivering an unused bicycle to Bici Centro to help with their community bike program. Photo by Christine Bourgeois.
  • Following is list of milestones in our progress. It does not include the several hundred bicycling infrastructure projects that we have fought for throughout our county for 20 years.
  • 1992 Elect officers, Tricia Davis is president. 1992 Quick Release quickly expands to four pages.
    1992 Organize committees for public relations, facilities planning, and education/safety.
    1992 Start annual participation in Earth Day, Bike to Work events.
    1993 Start sending Quick Release to 153 Employee Transportation Coordinators.
    1994 We become an incorporated business.
    1994 Bicycle Coalition email list is created.
    1994 Bike valet service at Earth Day parks 60 bikes.
    1995 Install a website presence.
    1995 Invite bicyclists to join as members.
    1996 Host consultant Walter Kulach to speak.
    1996 Start annual Santa Barbara bicyclist counts.
    1996 MTD responds to our urging, puts bike racks on buses.
    1996 Win the local "Green Award" for advocacy.
    1996 Launch Santa Barbara Bicycle Project as a community bike program.
    1997 Work on SB city's excellent Circulation Element.
    1997 Start north-south county coalition meetings.
    1997 Buy domain name "" for website.
    1998 Establish the Bicycle Coalition at UCSB; it is now the Associated Students BIKES committee.
    1998 Help launch the "Santa Barbara Car Free" program that gets visitors to bike, walk, bus, anything but drive.
    1998 Host the Pro Bike/Pro Walk conference.
    1998 Work on South Coast signage project with 497 bike route signs.
    1999 Release our Decide to Ride educational video about bicycling.
    1999 Host bicyclists Joe Kurmaskie and Willie Weir on their book tour.
    2000 Hold first Board of Directors retreat.
    2000 Start "Kids on Bikes" program.
    2001 Offer 120 extra Bike Week flags for sale.
    2002 Quick Release increases to six pages.
    2002 Print four new bumper sticker messages to give away.
    2002 Speak about biking at CEC's Transportation forum.
    2003 Bring consultant Dan Burden to study Old Town Goleta safety.
    2003 Help rename the Atascadero Creek Bikepath the "Obern Trail."
    2004 Bring Willie Weir to entertain us at Bike Week dinner.
    2004 Start "Cycle Smart" program of educational classes.
    2004 Gather 700 names on petition for Santa Ynez River Trail.
    2005 Bring Rick Cole to speak on sustainable communities.
    2005 Give presentation at Walk/Bike California on bicycle tourism.
    2005 Give 300 lights to low-income workers.
    2006 Help create a very-favorable Measure D renewal tax that voters unfortunately rejected.
    2006 Publish a survey of South Coast bollards, with design recommendations.
    2006 Promote cycling at our Amgen Tour of California booth.
    2007 Co-host Tour of California stage start in Santa Barbara.
    2007 Work with CEC to produce the bike section of their fossil-free publication.
    2007 Support the Bikestation Santa Barbara program.
    2007 Work to help craft a favorable Measure A transportation tax.
    2007 Produce bumper stickers jointly with the SB Car Free program.
    2007 Produce Hospitality for Bicyclists flyer for hotels.
    2008 Host Prof John Pucher at our Walk/Bike Forum.
    2008 Propose alternatives to UCSB's planned car-centric Ocean Road changes.
    2008 Ask for opening Cachuma Lake's north shore to mountain biking.
    2008 Work for passage of bicycle-friendly Measure A tax.
    2008 Start Bici Centro's Earn-a-Bike program.
    2009 Bring Jessica Findley here for her Aeolian bike ride.
    2009 Offer valet bike parking at Santa Barbara Bowl concerts.
    2009 Help Canadian Evision TV network film a bike ride in Santa Barbara.
    2010 Increase paid membership by 100.
    2010 Expand Bike Week into CycleMAYnia month.
    2010 Bring Jim Sawyer to speak about his Adventure Cycling organization.
    2010 Hire Ed France as first executive director.
    2010 Rewrite By-laws, increase Board membership size.
    2010 Help bring Bicycle Film Festival to Santa Barbara.
  • Overall, as we pedal into our third decade of work, we have a new energetic Board of Directors to help propel bicycling to higher levels of recognition, participation, and fun throughout our county.

Bicycle travel increases

photo of Bike and Build cyclists

In 2008, Bike and Build cross-country cyclists arrived in Santa Barbara, greeted by family and friends who flew here, all spending money locally. Photo by Ralph Fertig.

  • Bicycle tourism brings an estimated $3 million into Santa Barbara county each year. The good news is that bicycle travel is increasing. Tania Worgull at Trek Travel says that their business grew 20% from 2009 to 2010; about 14 of their 2011 tours are in our county. Bike touring websites are coming online, like Ride Oregon that had 13,000 visitors last year. The Adventure Cycling organization just had record levels of revenue, map sales and tour participants. US bike tour directors report an increase in participants, bringing over $500 million impact to host communities. Bring more rides on!

Save the date, March 1st

  • A location hasn't been set, but on Tuesday, March 1st, at 6:00 PM, Chris Quint from Long Beach will share his bicycling experiences in South America and Europe—what works and what doesn't; it's followed by a discussion of the challenges and opportunities for better facilities here in the US.

Printed media bike articles decline

graph of bicycle articles

  • Shortly after our Bicycle Coalition was founded, the secretary at the time, Ralph Fertig, started gathering local printed news articles, photos and cartoons where bicycling is a significant part ("Articles" in the graph). He kept a separate tally of letters to the editor and opinion/editorial articles ("Letters" in the graph).
  • There has been an overall decline in the past three years, perhaps because people are increasingly seeking information from online sources instead of printed media. The results may reflect that shift.
  • While we have little control over what newspapers choose to print, we can influence the content of letters that publishers continue to welcome. Here we have fallen short in 2010 where only three members of our Bicycle Coalition—David Madajian, Judy Keim and Ralph Fertig—had letters published. The total number of letters in 2010 is the lowest since 2004. People, especially decision makers in the government, are influenced by local published views, and here we are missing an opportunity to freely market bicycling and tell them and other voters the benefits that we bring them.

SBCAG supports open bike/ped process

  • Voters in Santa Barbara approved the "Measure A" transportation tax in 2008. It includes dedicated funding for bicyclist, pedestrian, and safe routes to school programs. Last spring, it was decided to include stakeholders who helped craft the measure (including our Bicycle Coalition) in establishing guidelines for funding projects.
  • However, at their December 2nd meeting, the TTAC group of public works representatives, voted to go ahead and develop guidelines, and then invite stakeholders to review it. This set off alarms, especially since it was placed on the SBCAG "consent calendar" for their December 16th meeting. The consent calendar includes items that don't warrant board or public discussion.
  • Because of complaints from bicycling and pedestrian advocates, Supervisor Janet Wolf brought it up for discussion. Ed France, Lee Moldaver, Michael Chiacos, Ralph Fertig, Eva Inbar, Wilson Hubbell, and Rosemarie Gaglione all spoke. Goleta's Gaglione is the TTAC chair. The result is that the SBCAG board directed staff to return to last spring's procedures, and include stakeholders in the guideline process from the beginning. We made a difference because we spoke up.

Bike clinics return January 13-22

photo of Skills clinic cyclists

Here participants in one of our clinics take to the road to practice what they learned in earlier clinics. Photo by Ralph Fertig.

  • Every other month, we offer bicycle clinics that help people learn what is legal, how to take care of their bikes, and how to safely navigate city streets. Details and registration for all clinics are online at All clinics cost $20, and they take place at Bici Centro, 601 East Montecito Street, Santa Barbara.
  • January 13, Get Your Bike Ready To Ride. In this clinic, you will learn all the important aspects of basic and responsible bike maintenance: fixing flats, locking up, basic adjustment and keeping your bike clean.
  • January 20, Cycling Rights and Responsibilities Clinic. Build the confidence to ride anywhere you want. Learn your legal rights and responsibilities on the road. You don't need your bicycle for this clinic.
  • January 22, Bike Handling Skills Clinic. Learn good bike handling skills to become a safer, more confident cyclist. On a parking lot, you will learn a number of skills to give you better control of your bike.
  • January 22, Cycling Group Ride around Santa Barbara. You will practice your knowledge and show a full understanding of vehicular cycling during a managed group ride.

Biking one-way streets

  • The California Vehicle Code requires bicyclists on roads without bike lanes to travel as far to the right as safely possible. However, on one-way streets with two or more lanes, we can legally bike on the left side as well. It's tricky because motorists may not be expecting and looking for us there, especially when it comes to intersections with dedicated turn lanes or optional straight/turn lanes. Basically, be alert and plan ahead.

Longtime Quick Release editor shifts gears
by Ralph Fertig

photo of Ralph Fertig

Ralph Fertig, a serious passport photo.

  • Since November 1991, I have been crafting the Bicycle Coalition's monthly newsletter that I named "Quick Release". This issue launches our third decade of education and advocacy within Santa Barbara county, and I have decided that after 231 issues, it's time for me to move on. That's what I discussed with our Board of Directors at our November Board meeting.
  • There were actually two issues in November 1991 because we were holding two meeting a month. However I realized that it would be more work than I wanted to take on, so they have been monthly ever since.
  • In the first issue, I wrote, "I hope that you like our new newsletter. I'm using the same logo that I made for our letterhead. This is the first of what I hope is a successful and fulfilling series of monthly newsletters in order to report what has happened recently, what's upcoming, and what's of bicycling interest to all Bicycle Coalition members."
  • Over the years, I have tried to include not only our endeavours and regional bicycle events, but also state, national and international news of interest or significance. I have respected Quick Release readers' time, and worked to keep my writing concise and dense with information. And finally, I have tried to make the news stories informative with photos and graphics if they serve us better. Speaking of words, I estimate that over the 231 issues, there are about 650,000 of them.
  • We know that times are changing, and electronic transmission of information is nudging aside printed media. While studies show that people read and comprehend printed material faster than online versions, it now is easier to store, retrieve and search electronic information. File transfer, email, the Internet, the Web, computer graphics, online animation, video and now social media have been changing how we interact. While I expect that printed media will continue for a long time, its role in our lives is changing. At this moment, it's unclear when or even whether future issues of Quick Release might be published.

Two websites, what to do next?
by Ralph Fertig

graph of website visitors

  • Thirty months after our Quick Release newsletter started up, electronic transmission of data was burgeoning. In May 2004, local bicyclist Tom Harvey started to upload issues onto the Usenet, essentially an early version of a blog. Then in December 1995, inspired by a Wisconsin "bicycling community page" website, I started one for our Bicycle Coalition with Gary Wissman and Robert Bernstein.
  • In October 1997, the site obtained its own domain and has since gone through three revisions. I've managed it since the beginning; it now has 90 megabytes of content, including all past issues of Quick Release. Everything is searchable on the site. Although traffic has recently declined somewhat, 35,213 people still made 44,456 visits over the past year.
  • Now that we have merged with Bici Centro with its own website that started in 2008, the question is whether and how they should be merged as well. Because Google Analytics recently told us that most visitors to are tourists seeking information on bicycling in our county, I have proposed that the site be split into two, one concentrating on tourism, the remainder to be merged with At this time, it's just a proposal, and a great deal of work would be required to merge our existing sites. Year 2011 will be a challenge.

Santa Barbara Council rejects new bikelanes

  • Medical workers and residents in Santa Barbara's Oak Park/Cottage Hospital neighborhood met twice in 2009 to consider traffic improvements in the area. The consensus that effects bicyclists was that the city should consider "circulation options", including making Castillo and Bath into one-way streets with bikelanes north of Mission, constructing an Amtrak commuter station near the Junipero bike/ped bridge over 101, and making De la Vina two way for a few more blocks. Three joint Planning Commission/TCC meetings agreed that they were worthy of consideration.
  • However, when the City Council was asked for action on December 7th, conservative council members Francisco, Hotchkiss and Self voted against even adding the topic to the city's six-year public works list for future consideration. Council members House, Schneider and White favored at least keeping the door open. It was a loss for people who bicycle, Oak Park residents, and medical workers, ominously foreshadowing future loses for us if we fail to speak up.

New lights on Maria Ygnacio bikepath

photo of LED lights

Looking north on the Maria Ygancio path, the array of new lights is very visible. Photo by Ralph Fertig.

  • The county's alternative transportation manager Matt Dobberteen is pleased that new lighting is installed and working along the Maria Ygnacio bikepath. The lights are different from the hard-wired and solar ones along the adjacent Obern Trail in that they use solar and low-energy LED bulbs.
  • The lights incorporate a 50% brightness phase during "shoulder" times of less traffic to reduce complaints from neighbors.
  • Acknowledging problems with failing lights along the connecting Obern Trail between Santa Barbara and UCSB, Dobberteen says that he wants to replace them with the new Maria Ygnacio ones, but it might take a while to obtain funding. We additionally hopes that Goleta will install lights where the trail enters their city limits.

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
  • Santa Barbara Pedicabs, Santa Barbara
  • WheelHouse, Santa Barbara
  • Santa Barbara Bikes To-Go, Santa Barbara
  • Big Bang PR, Santa Barbara
  • We welcome these new members: Amy Benner and Bob Zimels. And we appreciate those who renewed their memberships: Lee Carter, Peter Glatz, Diane Wondolowski, Robert Caiza, Marcia & Otto Engelmann, Judy Keim and Kalon Kelley.

County bike commute numbers increasing

graph of bike to work cyclists

  • While there are no measures of how many people bicycle, either for recreation or transportation in Santa Barbara County, there are data on biking to work. It comes from the US Census Bureau.
  • As part of the decennial census taken in 1990 and 2000, one in seven households received the "long form" that included the question for workers aged 16 and over "How did you usually get to work last week"? They dropped the long form in the 2010 census, instead initiating a new annual process, the American Community Survey, that asks the same question to one in 35 households. The ACS started in 2002, so we have data for each year (except 2004 when bicycling wasn't a separate choice) since then.
  • What it shows is a strange decline from 1990 to 2003, then an increase since then. It defies understanding why that happened. The most recent year tells us that 3.7% of county workers now bike to jobs. That is nearly four times the California average of 1.0% and over six times the US rate of 0.6%.
  • While the Census Bureau published data on individual cities in our county for 1990 and 2000, their ACS data has been limited to three cities, and even then to five aggregated years 2005-2009. They tell us that Goleta has 6.9% bike commuters, Santa Barbara 4.1%, Santa Maria 0.8%, and the rest of the county comes in at an average 3.4%.
  • You can obtain more data from the Census Bureau at

How to live long and be healthy

  • "What I tell people is that if you want to live to be a healthy 80-year-old, you have to eat right and exercise. If you want to live to be a healthy 100-year-old, you have to have the right parents."
  • Steven Austad, biologist of aging, University of Texas

Bici Centro activities

Bici Centro logo

  • Our Bici Centro community bike program is offering bicycle services each week. Details of their programs are at or phone 617-3255. It's at 601 East Montecito Street, Santa Barbara.
  • Tuesday, "Learn Your Bike" classes, 7:00-9:00 PM. They start January 18th.
  • Wednesday, open shop 4:00-7:00 PM
  • Thursday, open shop 4:00-7:00 PM
  • Saturday, open shop 2:00-5:00 PM

December Coalition meeting

  • Our December 7th monthly Bicycle Coalition meeting was held at the Granada Garage, with 18 people talking about these topics:
  • Ralph Fertig showed photos and talked about bicycling, cities and Mayan architecture in the Yucatan peninsula.
  • Lori La Riva shared results of Traffic Solutions' month-long Commuter Challenge. There was a lower proportion of bicyclists, but November darkness may have discouraged them.
  • Kent Epperson said that the free video production class on January 4th is nearly filled up. The intent is to help people craft "Green Shorts" videos.
  • Dru van Hengel said that installing new Santa Barbara street sharrows is delayed, but coming next spring.
  • Matt Dobberteen told us that new LED bikepath lighting is up and working. He hopes to get more for the Obern Trail.
  • Christine Bourgeois described our successful 2010 and the upcoming 2011 educational programs.
  • Ralph Fertig noted that the SB Car Free program has been around for 10 years, with bicycling an important component.

Bikesharing comes to the US

photo of Denver bikes

Denver's new B-cycle bike sharing bicycle station. Photo courtesy of Brian Russell.

  • High-tech bike-sharing systems that started in Europe four years ago have been catching on in the US. Either installed or coming shortly are plans for Minneapolis, New York, San Francisco, Denver, Washington, Seattle, Boston, Boulder, Chicago, Portland—even Des Moines, Iowa.
  • A recent cost-benefit analysis for the DC area showed that their revenues would exceed system costs. That analysis and updates from all over the world are posted at Paul DeMaio's comprehensive blog at Now, how about here?

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