City of SB chooses to move forward on Sola St. Bike Blvd. and 2 other big biking and walking projects
On Tuesday night, Santa Barbara City Council decided to move forward on applying for grant funding for a Sola St. Bicycle Blvd and 2 other bicycling projects on Las Positas, Cota and Alisos Streets. These projects will be reviewed by the state over the next few months. In September of 2016, it will be announced whether they have been chosen for funding.
In addition to the infamous Westside Gap project, new bikeways were discussed for the Eastside and Mesa neighborhoods. One project will construct a bicycle blvd. along Alisos Street and a bicycle lane along Cota Street from Alisos to Chapala. The other project is the construction of a bicycle path along Los Positas Street from Cliff Drive to Modoc Rd. This would eventually connect to a future bicycle path along Modoc Rd. from the Las Positas interchange to Calle de Los Amigos (where Santa Barbara County Jurisdiction begins). Both projects will also move forward to compete for grant funding.
This meeting was also the culmination of a 6 month long debate over two projects that both aimed to close the Westside bicycle gap between Micheltorena Street bridge and downtown Santa Barbara. No bicycle lanes connect the Westside to downtown, between State and the Micheltorena Bridge. This presents a huge gap in Santa Barbara’s Spine Bicycle Network- a set of connected streets for bicycling that are safe and inviting to residents of all ages and abilities. By closing this gap in the Bike Master Plan, the City of Santa Barbara hopes to make streets safer for everyone and more appealing to new bicyclists.
Specifically, Council voted on the Micheltorena vs. Sola St. decision, Rancheria St. bicycle lanes, Cota Street bicycle lanes, and lanes on Cabrillo Blvd. All of these bikeways were being further reviewed for whether their parking removal or lane reconfiguration would impact roadways for cars.
We’re happy to report that the City did decide to move forward with these great bike network improvements. Several great supporters came out to support this decision including our community partners at the Community Environmental Council, Santa Barbara City College, and the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST). In addition, a number of other individuals who took the time to attend, speak and write letters. Thank you to all of you for supporting better bikeways in Santa Barbara.
The City also showed its commitment to the Bicycle Master Plan by applying for grant funding this year in 2016. If awarded these grants, bikeway construction would begin in 2019 at the earliest for the Alisos Bike Blvd, Las Positas Pathway and Sola Bike Blvd. projects.
Sola Bike Blvd. Re-Design
The new design of the Sola Street Bicycle Boulevard that was approved will connect from Santa Barbara High School on Nopal and Anapamu, jog over to Sola St. and continue on Castillo St. to the Eastern end of the Micheltorena St. Bridge. From there, it will connect over the bridge and connect to a Chino St. Bike Blvd. A bicycle boulevard is a street that is made calmer and given signage that promotes bicycling. While the user still shares the street with cars, physical barriers are used to discourage through traffic and reduce the traffic on the road. These barriers do allow for the movement of emergency vehicles and have been approved by the Santa Barbara Police & Fire Departments.
While initially, City Council decided on February 23rd to move forward with buffered bicycle lanes on Micheltorena Street, this new Sola Street design is longer, connects to other bikeways and to Santa Barbara High School. It's also grant fundable where the older version was not considered to be. According to City Staff, this design will be as safe as Micheltorena Street Bicycle Lanes. In part because it will include the installation of new traffic signals at De La Vina, Chapala, Anancapa and Santa Barbara street. However, City Staff did report that it’s unlikely to attract as many new bicycle riders as the Micheltorena Street bicycle lanes because it does not provide the level of separation between bikes and cars that appeal to new bicycle riders. However, this design does not require the removal of parking spaces on Micheltorena Street. When asked about a follow-up plan for the Westside Gap should Sola Street not be chosen for grant funding, Gregg Hart encouraged bicyclists to be optimistic.
SBBIKE supports this new connection because it is a far more tangible project compared to what was proposed in earlier drafts of the Bike Master Plan last year. Moving forward, we’ll participate in the design process to ensure that it’s a high-quality connection that puts the safety of bicyclists first. We’re happy to see a design come forward that will finally address a 40 year old gap in our bicycle network.
So, When is the Bike Master Plan being adopted?
The Bike Master Plan will be back before City Council in August, likely on August 2nd although that date is not concrete. At this point, all the hard decisions have been made so this meeting should be a breeze. We hope it’s a time for Santa Barbara residents, city staff and decision-makers to celebrate the end of a year-long process of meetings, emails and discussions and the cumulative 29 projects in the Bicycle Master Plan.
On Tuesday night, at the Westside Listening Meeting, 11 new options for the Westside to Downtown bike connection were revealed by city staff. The routes explore a range of new ideas including building the connection on Arrellaga St., Sola St., extending the Bike Blvd. to Laguna St. and even using contraflow bicycle lanes (a Santa Barbara first!).
City staff revealed a plan to add 77 new parking spaces to the adjacent neighborhood including four new spaces in front of South Coast Deli. This would replace all but 8 of the 85 parking spaces originally slated to be removed by bicycle lanes on Micheltorena. We're also interested in the new potential to build a connection all the way to Laguna (only 1 block away from the Olive St. Bike Blvd. the community has asked for). It remains to be seen which of these projects will be competitive for funding by the State ATP Program but first, we'll need to narrow down one design to apply for.
Each project has a unique effect on nearby parking, bike friendliness, and mobility in the surrounding neighborhood. We'll discuss the benefits and drawbacks in our Policy Meeting at SBBIKE's office on April 19th at 6:00 PM. In the meanwhile, read through the designs and cost-benefit of each design at the bottom of this post. Send your feedback to email@example.com and directly to city staff at PBrown@santabarbaraca.gov.
Finally, If you don't have a lot of time, take a look at options 1A, 1B, 6A, & 6B which propose the most realistic designs. Head over to http://bmp.santabarbaraca.gov/ to view or download a PDF of these designs.
1 A- Micheltorena Bike Lane- No Intersection Widening
1B- Micheltorena Bike Lane- 3 Intersection Widenings (San Andres, Bath, State)
1C- Micheltorena Bike Lane- 6 Intersection Widenings
2- Micheltorena/ Arrellago One Way Couplet
3- Micheltorena/ Sola One Way Couplet
4- Micheltorena Bike Blvd. - No Through Traffic
5a- Sola Bike Blvd. to State- Contraflow on Castillo
5B- Sola Street Bike Bike Blvd. to State St. Via Bath/ Micheltorena
6A- Sola Bike Blvd. to Laguna- Via Contra Flow lane on Castillo
6B- Sola Street Bike Blvd. to Laguna St. via Bath/ Micheltorena
7- Bike Lane to Bath/ Castillo Couplet Only
City's Cost-Benefit Matrix
This Cost-Benefits Matrix includes details such as cost, benefit to drivers, benefit to bicyclists, & Other project details.
Design of the Las Positas Multi-use Path is moving forward! This project creates an off-street bike and pedestrian path along Las Positas Road from Cliff Drive to Modoc Rd. and along Modoc Road to Calle de Los Amigos. The Las Positas project will also add Class 2 on-street bicycle lanes along the same extents. The City of Santa Barbara received an ATP grant to design the project and will be applying for more grants to move forward with construction of the project.
In January, City Staff and RRM Consultants hosted an open house on the Mesa to showcase initial designs and get feedback from the public. The summit was well-attended with over 45 residents and familiar bike-friendly faces Councilmember Cathy Murillo and Transportation and Circulation Committee Member Rodriguez.
City Staff incorporated feedback from the open house into the latest project design which will undergo review by Santa Barbara elected officials over the next 2 months. You can show support or give input on the project by attending any one of the upcoming public meetings:
- Architectural Board of Review (ABR) - March 14, 2016, David Gebhard Public Meeting Room, 630 Garden Street
- Transportation Circulation Committee (TCC) - March 24, 2016, David Gebhard Public Meeting Room, 630 Garden Street
- Planning Commission (PC) – April 14, 2016, City Hall, 735 Anacapa Street
ABOUT THE PROJECT:
The Las Positas path is exciting for a number of reasons. First, it addresses a gap for 100's of bike riders travelling to and from the Obern Trail daily between Goleta, Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara County. Projects that fix gaps are great for our community because they give our city the biggest bang for our transportation dollar by creating connections that encourage new ridership and by supporting existing ridership.
This project is also part of the California Coast Bikeway. The California Coastal Bikeway is a popular route that brings 1000's of bicycle tourists and tourism revenue to the Pacific Coast every summer.
The bike-path will feature a lane in either travel direction. Interestingly enough, there will be mini on and off-ramps for bicyclists to enter or exit the path onto the street. This is especially useful if let's say, you want to take the path to the Modoc intersections but need to get off because you're heading straight on Modoc towards downtown rather than along Las Positas to the Mesa.
The on-street bike lanes will feature green paint near intersections and driveways. These spaces are referred to as conflict zones because they are areas where a bicyclist and a car cross or are likely to interact on the roadway. Cities all around California are using green paint to help drivers be see and be alert to people on bikes at these spots. It also helps bicyclists to be more visible and positioned in the safest section of the street.
Green paint will striped through the intersection to make people on bikes more visible at the intersection of Modoc and Las Positas. This is one of the largest intersections in the city and is built on a slope that minimizes visibility so this is a helpful feature that will improve intersection safety.
The Las Positas project will also add a roundabout at the intersection of Cliff Drive and Las Positas. The roundabout will have striped continental crosswalks that improve the visibility of pedestrians. SBBIKE Members, what do you think of the project design? Share your comments or questions with firstname.lastname@example.org
The design portion of this project was funded through a grant from the State's Active Transportation Program (ATP) (the largest grant funding pool for biking and walking projects in California). Next up, city staff will apply for more ATP and other grant funds for construction. Due to the project's size and cost, it is likely that it will be funded and constructed in multiple phases with the goal of the project being complete by 2025.
Can every kid learn to ride a bike?
With the support of outside funding, Santa Barbara School District will be piloting 2nd grade bicycle education in PE at three Schools. Four parochial schools in the county will also be providing this opportunity to all of their 2nd grade students. With help from SBBIKE and COAST staff, PE teachers will get up to date with the best methods to teach how to ride, and safely. Tune in for updates on this program as we all work together to share the opportunity to learn how to ride a bike with public and private school students throughout Santa Barbara County!
February 23rd was a historic night in the City of Santa Barbara government. It is reported that attendance at the Bicycle Master Plan hearing was more than any City Council hearing of recent memory. The outdoor balcony, the overflow room, and even the City Council offices were all full to capacity, and many of our members had to wait outside, temporarily locked out from the hearing due to fire code. But in the End, City Council passed the Bicycle Master Plan, and Green Lanes on Micheltorena, pending some legal hurdles that may be small.
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.