Ride the Plan with us August 12!
© Paul Wellman/Santa Barbara Independent
An involved, 18-month process has at last come to a fruitful end. The endurance and dedication of bicycle advocates, the detailed work of city planners as they returned to the drawing board again and again, the hours upon hours of community input, and City Council’s deliberation have paid off. Santa Barbara has a new 15-year Bike Master Plan to be proud of!
At a Tuesday afternoon session, the Santa Barbara City Council voted 6 to 1 to approve the 2016 Bicycle Master Plan. Says SBBIKE executive director Ed France, “THE BMP passing means projects that were previously just ideas are now a reality that very quickly will start improving the quality of bike routes through our city.”
In addition, the adoption of the BMP ratifies the city’s dedication to increasing cycling road share. It recognizes the benefits of more bicycles being used for transportation, taking the pressure off roads, especially at peak hours. As Community Environmental Council’s Cameron Gray pointed out, the plan supports the city’s “climate change mitigation goals” and “long-term transportation needs.” Completing projects expeditiously, he said, will “cut greenhouse gas emissions and ensure more people in the community can access one of the most affordable forms of transportation available.”
France says expeditious implementation is key. “What’s important about this plan is that it’s not just about projects for the future,” he notes. “The plan actually has implementations built in for a number of projects that we will see immediate gains from. Because of this, finally our community can start to feel momentum. We have the ability to continue to grow our cycling community with new, interested commuters who will feel increasingly comfortable on our roads, which will allow for more bike route support and even more ridership.”
France commented too on “the quality and caliber of public comment” throughout the process. He noted that support came from many active bike coalition members, as well as from people not involved formerly and was grateful for all “who spoke eloquently” on the importance of the plan.
Among these was local architect Ellen Bildsten, who noted that the BMP is consistent with new housing policies requiring one parking spot per unit (rather than one spot per bedroom), plus bike parking. The point, she said, is obvious—“substituting car usage with bike usage.” She said the link between these two policies is abundantly clear. “The success of one is connected to the success of the other.”
Up first—celebrating the accomplishments. To that end, France and SBBIKE invite everyone to join in a celebration this afternoon (Thursday, July 28 at 4:30 p.m.) at Telegraph Brewing, located at 418 N. Salsipuedes Street. Join SBBIKE for a ride of the Bicycle Master Plan Friday, August 12th at 6pm, followed by movies and fun at SBBIKE HQ.
In September, the city will learn whether it will receive state ATP (Active Transportation Grants) for a few of the projects.
To borrow an African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We, SBBIKE’s advocates; you, Santa Barbara’s cycling community; and all who have worked tirelessly to put in place a bicycling infrastructure plan that will best serve the needs of everyone in Santa Barbara have worked together. And together, we will continue working until the network giving everyone who needs or wants access to safe bicycling routes extends far—connecting neighborhoods, people, and businesses all the way across our city.
But, France says, going far does not mean moving at a snail’s pace. SBBIKE, he says, will be pushing “so that we see more of these projects happen sooner and change happens much more quickly than the typical governmental timescale.” The coalition will work tirelessly to ensure project implementation doesn’t “move at geologic time.”
France concludes, “Fundamentally, we are going to see increased choice. We’ll increasingly be able to [comfortably] take our bikes on trips that we previously thought of as only done by car.”