In a huge win at Solvang City Council this week, the Sunny Fields Spur went from an idea to a state grant application.
This week at Solvang City Council, the Sunny Fields Spur, connecting Santa Ynez High School to Sunny Fields Park has come from an idea to a state grant application in record time. We have a lot to be proud of. SBBIKE’s affiliate, the Santa Ynez Valley Spoke, took an idea of connecting the only Class 1 path in the valley to a community park and made it a project that is applying for ATP grant funds in less than nine months! That’s huge. While we didn’t get the Creekside Bridge, we can get that out of a future generation of Creekside residents. We will see the first Class 1 multi-use trail built in the Santa Ynez Valley in over 40 years! That’s a huge win—it took numerous standing-room-only city council meetings to get there.
The Sunny Fields Creekside Spur is only a small piece of a movement to reshape the Santa Ynez Valley into a more connected, more sustainable, and healthier community. There are many valley residents and visitors who wish to see over the next 10, 15, 20 years something special built here. When completed, the Santa Ynez Valley Trail Network will positively change our community, enhancing everyone’s quality of life, even for those who never go for walk, never go for a ride on a horse, or never pedal a bike.
The Sunny Fields Creekside Spur isn’t the first piece of this puzzle. Previous transportation and recreational safety improvements have happened in Buellton and other parts of the valley. These improvements are many—things like 3-Foot Law signage being installed, Class 2 bike lanes on the Avenue of Flags and Highway 246 in Buellton, and sweeping existing bike lanes on Alamo Pintado and Refugio Roads.
All of our bicycle infrastructure advocating efforts have been noticed by SBCAG and the two incorporated cities. And in a supportive response, SBCAG has stepped up to fund the SYV Bicycle Master Plan, which is underway now.
The vision of the Santa Ynez Valley Trail Network is not just to build the Sunny Fields Creekside Spur but to continue the forward momentum by:
- Building the Class 1 Santa Ynez River Trail between Refugio Road and Riverview Park in Buellton and connecting every major street in between with Class 2 bike lanes
- Building the Mission Trail, a Class 1 connector path from the western end of this Alamo Pintado Path, under Highway 246 when Caltrans replaces the current 246 bridge in 10 years, behind Union Bank, through the State Park, up to Lot 72 connecting to Alisal Road
- Replacing parking on Mission Drive with Class 2 bike lanes
- Adding sharrows in the traffic lanes leading to every valley elementary school
- Building Class 2 bike lanes on Baseline Avenue, Edison Street, and South Refugio
- Converting the century-old Pacific Coast Narrow Gauge Railroad bed outside Los Olivos to a Class 1 multi-use path that would not only be used by bicyclists and walkers but would also be used by the often forgotten Santa Ynez Valley equestrian community. Supporters envision this path continuing south along Highways 154 and 246 into Santa Ynez and north along US 101 to Alisos Canyon Road, connecting to Los Alamos.
- Adding sharrows to surface streets in between to further connect all these improvements
There ya go. We’ve now connected every city and town in the Santa Ynez Valley, most of the parks, all of the elementary schools, the high school, the soon-to-be-built aquatic center, and the YMCA. Most importantly, we will have connected neighborhoods—all through proper planning and investing in future bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. During this two-decade process and when appropriate, we’ll even take into consideration the forgotten equestrian element, in an effort to embrace this valley’s rich history with that activity, by adding parallel decomposed trails to Class 1 paths. This isn’t a unique concept. Communities all around us have been making this type of connectivity a priority for a very long time.
This is an investment that probably should’ve started 30 years ago. But it’s not too late to start it now. After all, this isn’t as much about those who’ve lived here in the past as it is about those who’ll live here for the next 10, 20, 30 years and beyond.
The Santa Ynez Valley Trail Network would be complete with trailheads, map boards, and interpretive informational rest stops on many paths and lanes.
Decades from now when this network is complete, we will have reshaped the entire Santa Ynez Valley into a true bicycling destination, a Mecca; made it safer for kids to ride bikes to school; and made it safer for residents to bike commute to work and to ride bikes for recreation. And we will have taken car drivers and passengers and changed their mind-sets, converting many into new bike riders, which will reduce traffic and improve their health. We will have provided cyclists a safer place to ride, other than in the traffic lane, which as of today is their only choice. And all this will positively benefit our local economy to the tune of millions of dollars every year.
This is a critical first step in the vision for a safe, convenient way to bike, walk, and even ride a horse in Santa Ynez Valley.