Ellwood Students Get Safer Route to School

New bike and pedestrian path allows children an active commute.

Hundreds of Goleta children now have a safer way to get to school in the morning, thanks to the newly completed Class 1 bike and pedestrian path on Hollister Ave. Funded by measure A, and a Safe Routes to School grant, the fourteen foot wide path begins at Pacific Oaks Road and ends at Ellwood School Road, creating a corridor for kids on bikes, scooters, and foot.

Ellwood School Principal Ned Schoenwetter says that the path is helping the school promote health and safety as well as “strengthening our community as neighbors walk and ride together." PTA president Kim Hurley sees the community coming together each morning as her eleven-year-old son, and nine-year-old daughter gather with a large group of neighborhood friends and pedal the half mile along the path to school. Hurley, who had previously been driving her children every day, says the path is a huge improvement. "I didn't feel safe letting them ride before. Now I feel like they can do it."

COAST staff recently spent a week on site, educating K-6th graders on how to use the new bikeway safely. "Our instructors took every class on walking field trips to talk about how to use the path and how to stay safe," coordinator Kim Stanley said. Donning high visibility vests, the children were led along the route, stopping at each intersection to discuss right of way rules and the importance of making eye-contact with drivers.

As the first of its kind in Goleta, the planning and building of the path is providing some lessons for future projects. Due to permitting problems the wide path abruptly narrows several yards before reaching the school crosswalk. Delays in removing utility poles from the path also present hazards, and many parents would like to see the speed limit lowered along the one mile route.

With the city of Goleta working toward creating infrastructure that supports varied modes of travel, Mayor Paula Perotte is seeking feedback from users. "We want to know, now that this project is complete, what can we do to make it better? It's going to be really important to follow up with the community and see what the users think."

"Everybody is learning in the process of these new projects," says SBBIKE Education Coordinator Christine Bourgeois. "People are beginning to see the importance of different types of transportation. As the city continues to learn more about different planning and design features, things will continue to improve."

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