Margaret Mead was right. 25 years ago, bicycling didn't have a lot of traction in our county. Great infrastructure and cycling gains in the 60's and 70's had hit a standstill. Meeting in a conference room in the County Administration building pictured here, a group of thoughtful, dedicated individuals set out to promote the idea of bicycling for transportation and recreation, and bring in new federal dollars to help make that happen.
1. It’s not about the Bike
The bicycle is the tool but the real goal is strengthening our cities. Bicycling is a means to a stronger economy, social connectivity, better health, equity and personal mobility. As we transform our streets block by block, it’s important to emphasize how individual projects can achieve a city’s livability, equity and sustainability goals making our cities stronger and better.
2. Visible improvements (done well) count
Visible, physical changes to the street (like adding bike lanes or parking) is the number one way cities communicate that they are serious about supporting people biking. It’s absolutely essential to work with your community when you’re re-thinking a street. Have a meaningful and sincere dialogue about what the neighborhood needs (it might be even more than a bike lane) and be serious about considering not doing a project. If you’re ready to build, talk to businesses and residents to design the best possible details for the needs of the neighborhood. Bicycle Coalitions like SBBIKE have a huge role to play as we have strong ties to neighborhoods and can build the case for how biking can benefit people in these conversations.
3. Biking is fun and Even more fun in groups
Group bikes rides are building community from rural towns to big cities throughout the U.S. Social bike rides build relationships, and city pride in ways that have the potential to be more inclusive and fun than any other type of venue. They remind individuals of the independence and interdependence of transportation in our communities. Last but not least, the bonus benefits of group rides is they help people think critically about streets, feel more comfortable biking on their own, support local business and get people moving.
SBBIKE Member Art Ludwig at the underpass with daughter Maya in tow, 1994
If you bike in Santa Barbara, chances are you’ve navigated the murky Castillo Underpass at some point. Watery conditions make the underpass an uncomfortable and dangerous place to ride a bike. Issues related to drainage (or lack of) are documented as far back as the 90's and as recently as 2017 when SBBIKE’s newest Board Member covered the topic.
SBBIKE announces with mixed feelings that the infamous underpass will undergo minor re-construction beginning next week. The good news: this is a major advocacy success that will be a long-term solution to a serious safety issue. Less than a year ago, SBBIKE led the charge asking Caltrans to address conditions at the underpass after we received reports of a major rise in bicycle crashes at the site (bicycle crashes doubled over the course of 2016). The challenge: the underpass will be closed from June 19th through August.
SBBIKE Member Art Ludwig at same underpass with daughter Maya, 2016
In August 2016, SBBIKE members asked Caltrans to fix the underpass and shared personal stories of crashes or near misses in the underpass. Caltrans responded offering a range of temporary solutions (increased scrubbing of the algae, signage discouraging biking) while assuring SBBIKE that they would consider a long-term solution (such as reconstruction).
Reconstructing the surface of the underpass is a serious capital project ($1.5 million). It required serious advocating from SBBIKE together with then Assemblymember Das Williams, later Assemblymember Monique Limón, SBCAG and the City of Santa Barbara to finally convince Caltrans that this investment was not only necessary but essential to ensure the safety of bicyclists in Santa Barbara.
Thank you to all of the SBBIKE members who shared their stories. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to convey the urgency at this site. You can rest assured that because of your input and SBBIKE’s leadership advocating for a long-term fix, future bicycle crashes have been prevented.
Readers, please note that the next few months will be a serious travel inconvenience as this key connection will remain closed from June 19th to late August. That means closed to people biking, walking, driving and MTD’s buses (which will undergo rerouting). However, if all goes as planned, Caltrans’ project will finally stop the underpass issues and make Santa Barbara an even better place to ride a bike. In the meantime, we will advocate that the street is open to people on foot and bike as soon as possible!
Bear with us!,
SBBIKE Advocacy Coordinator
Confusing advice from Caltrans. Note the lack of curb cuts to access sidewalk.
Alternatives while Castillo is closed from June to August.
Imagine a fleet of well-tuned, self-service bicycles available 24/7 in locations all around Santa Barbara, enabling commuters to jump on a bike for a quick trip around town, to run errands, or to connect to transit. A newly released study, the South Coast Bike Share Feasibility Study, imagines and analyzes this concept in detail. Bike shares, already a staple in some 700 cities around the globe, allow users to temporarily rent bicycles from strategically located spots, returning them at other spots for their convenience. These public networks of bicycles are an important part of a city’s transportation system, as they increase equity for all road users, connect communities, and enable people to conveniently utilize a healthy form of transportation that is low impact in terms of congestion and pollution. The study, can be read at issuu.com/sbbike/docs/bikeshare-6__1_ or downloaded here. It shows Santa Barbara is a prime location for such a network and sets forward the first vision of a thriving bike share system locally.
8th Annual Tour De Tent
As I started writing this post and began gathering our stories of the Tour de Tent experience, the idea of Six Word Memoirs came to mind...
Tour de Tent 2017: Cycles*Camping*Cooking*Creeks*Cosmos*Community.
After a weekend of intense training, 14 cyclists have earned the prestigious certification of League Cycling Instructor (LCI) from the League of American Bicyclists, a 125-year-old national bicycling organization.
LCI seminar participants learn how to teach bicycle safety and skills to all levels of riders. They receive the LCI designation only after qualifying for the seminar and demonstrating excellence in these skills and the ability to teach them.
Last week-end seminar was a collaboration between the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition (SBBIKE) and the San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition (Bike SLO). Of the 14 new LCIs, two are from Santa Barbara, three from Santa Maria, one from Lompoc and eight from San Luis Obispo.
For the first time since SBBIKE has hosted instructor trainings for local cyclists, a waiting list of prospective instructors was generated. Education Director, Christine Bourgeois, is excited about what that means for the community. “Cycling is booming all over Santa Barbara & San Luis Obispo Counties,” she says. “People want to educate themselves, but they also want to educate others.” The group’s diversity, she notes—the new instructors range from PE teacher to fire fighter to bike mechanics—ensures education on safe cycling will reach a wide audience, including students, city officials, public health workers, businesses, and commuters.
The role model aspect is an important factor in spreading the message. “All of these new instructors are ambassadors for cycling,” Bourgeois explains, “examples riding around the community and showing how to do so safely.” Safe cycling is a leading way to reduce bicycle-involved accidents. A fleet of new instructors and more to follow adds up to an ever-growing wave of safe, confident cyclists sharing the roads. Both modeling and direct instruction mean fewer cyclists endangering themselves and others by making inappropriate riding choices, such as cycling on sidewalks or running red lights.
The 2 new LCIs from Santa Barbara are Christy Lozano, PE teacher at McKinley Elementary School and Diana La Riva, SBBIKE volunteer coordinator. Ian Sadecki, a firefighter in Lompoc will use his bike teaching expertise at the Lompoc Open Streets. Angela Ojeda, Robert Hatch & Jeff Spalinger who have been volunteering at the new Bici Centro Santa Maria are looking forward to expanding bike education in Santa Barbara North County.
Thank you to Bike SLO County for partnering with SBBIKE and for hosting the seminar in San Luis Obispo.
To learn more about becoming an LCI, contact Bourgeois at firstname.lastname@example.org or 805-699-6301.
It may be April 1, but this bike giveaway’s no joke! On Saturday, April 1, 2017, at 10 a.m., 32 preselected children will receive refurbished bikes at the kick-off of Carpinteria’s first Open Streets. The giveaway will be at Carpinteria Children’s Project, 5201 8th Street. And you can be part of the SBBIKE/Bici crew that will ride to Carp and facilitate the distribution!