Bicycles on State Create a Vibrant Cultural Scene
COAST (the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation) and the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition (SBBIKE) have advocated for greater than a decade for the creation of a secure, people-focused and car-free stretch of State Road — an inviting and thrilling downtown plaza that welcomes all folks — pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, the mobility-challenged, younger and previous, native and vacationer — to deliver our neighborhood collectively. When the pandemic hit and town created a promenade for financial restoration, we applauded; out of the blue our dream may very well be coming true! We all know there may be extra to be executed to make the dream a long-term actuality.
We love what has developed, however are disheartened that the “Wild West” of the Promenade has fostered an abundance of damaging discourse and even a number of harmful actions in the direction of cyclists on State Road. We perceive some pedestrians really feel unsafe with bike riders and skate boarders sharing their house. Likewise, cyclists really feel unsafe when pedestrians stroll out in entrance of them. There was a palpable air of disdain (and disrespect) from members of each teams, some questioning if bicycling ought to stay on the Promenade. All of us must put ourselves in one another’s sneakers, hear, study, and have empathy. We’re ALL on State Collectively!
Why do bikes belong on State? There are extra folks biking downtown now than ever earlier than — households, associates, residents, and vacationers alike. Driving on State Road creates a extra energetic and vibrant downtown tradition. Bikes equal extra enterprise; practically 50 % of downtown retail and restaurant patronage arrives by bike and enterprise homeowners see the myriad advantages bikes deliver. Individuals selecting to experience bicycles assist our surroundings; extra downtown visits by bike imply much less greenhouse fuel emissions. Bikes additionally assist lots of of locals commute to work day by day. Lastly, State Road is the “backbone” of the S.B. bicycle community as outlined by our metropolis’s 2016 Bicycle Grasp Plan. There is no such thing as a different secure and direct solution to get to and from Stearns Wharf. Certainly, it’s crucial the State Road hall stays open to all folks — on foot and on wheels. All of us simply want the house to be there collectively, but aside.
With out of doors eating encroaching far into the road, some really feel as if their State Road was taken away; that it’s not for them anymore. Nobody ought to really feel inadvertently excluded. We ask metropolis officers to implement modified guidelines for sharing public house throughout COVID-19 and to make “folks site visitors movement” enhancements (maybe a middle two-way bike lane) alongside the Promenade as quickly as doable so all the neighborhood can really feel secure, welcome, and included. It’s our public house — let’s preserve it that means!
Melissa Cunningham is govt director of the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation, and Heather Deutsch is govt director of the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition.