The 2016 Bicycle Master Plan is a major step forward for this community in building a functional and complete bikeway network that will increase safety, stimulate more bicycling, and reduce demand on constrained downtown parking and congested intersections.
Don't just take my word for it: Listen to the over two thousand people who lent their voice to a dynamic, iterative process that has minimized costs and impacts to other road users while achieving a blueprint for a complete bikeway network.
Consistent with the 1st Bikeway Master Plan in the 70's and the BMP from 1998, Micheltorena has again been identified as the only way to adequately serve the Westside west of 101 with a bike route. Counter to some uninformed assertions, there is no single contiguous bike lane from West of 101 to the Downtown Core. The current state is unsafe and completely inconsistent with the City’s General Plan.
West of 101 is home not only to many interested potential bicycle commuters, but the highest proportion of bicycle dependent, low income bicycle commuters. These individuals do not have access to a car and bicycling is their only reliable means of crossing the 101 to get to work. We have a responsibility to serve this most vulnerable commuting group in the South Coast.
These are the reasons that a safe, connected, Micheltorena crossing has been on the plans, consistently, since the 1970s. This is why Planning Commission twice affirmed the need for this exact crossing. Many have proposed simple sounding alternatives to serve this critical connection. Without going into too much detail, observation that no such alternative has been pursued in 40 years and that hours of Planning Commission hearings couldn't find a viable alternative clearly show: Micheltorena is the only way to go.
A group of Bicyclists on Micheltorena passing Castillo St.
To finally build the first safe connection to the Westside, will require a simple trade off. 4 blocks of parking will be restriped as bike lanes. The roadway that once held just under 100 parking spaces will be dedicated to serving a few hundred daily cyclists - a number likely to grow to over 1,000 cyclists - and would likely free up well over 100 needed on-street parking spaces on the Westside. In addition the City will release some 200 parking spaces that have been used for 'part-time' bikeways that have not worked well. So, in all, the impact to 4 blocks of parking Micheltorena will be more than offset throughout the Eastside, Westside and Downtown. These are the type of decisions that require real leadership. This is one key decision that is being asked of City Council February 23rd.
The Micheltorena connection to the Westside has been identified as part of the spine of the bikeway network, it serves an immense need and is the only way for riders on the Westside to safely cross the 101 divide.
Thank you for your interest on this important issue,
Ed France, Executive Director
Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition