June 30, 2006 - Ed's a Lane Brain
In the City of Santa Barbara, they have moved on past mini traffic circles and garages filled with empty parking spots. The traffic fix d’jour is the new bike lane on Chapala Street between Mission and Alamar. What used to be a bumpy, two-lane, one-way road has now been transformed into in a smooth, black asphalt expressway with one-lane for cars and one lane for bikes – and never the two should meet.
Robert Frost said, “Good fences make good neighbors.” In the traffic world, good fences are the lines on the road that separate different modes of transportation.
When you have enough road width to give every type of vehicle its own lane, the world-on-the-go is a happy place.
Castillo and Bath Streets have been one-way with a bike lane ever since Santa Barbara went one-way many years back. Ed has nothing against one-way streets, but (once again … yawn) he thinks that all the one-ways in town were made to go the wrong way. In fact he’s considered running for Mayor on the “Change the direction of Santa Barbara” platform. But even Ed agrees, right way or wrong way, that the share-the-road mentality of Castillo and Bath make them the best bike routes in and out of downtown.
Yesterday the dedicated staff of edhat.com took some bike/car/pedestrian counts on Castillo, Bath, and Chapala. We wanted to see just how much people moving was going on by
means other than cars burning $3.29/gallon gasoline. For our survey, we took ten-minute counts at each location during the noon hour. Here are the results of our noontime count:
Bath – 26 cars, 2 bikes, 7 pedestrians
Castillo – 47 cars, 2 bikes, 2 pedestrians
Chapala – 58 cars, 0 bikes, 3 pedestrians
Total – 131 cars, 4 bikes, 12 pedestrians
For bikes, that’s a poor links-to-lane to ratio. After all, this is the road that they travel. If not here, where? Using the average of 1.3 people/car that we found in January, 2004, bikes are making up 2.1% of all noontime traffic. Certainly demand is not the reason we're adding more bike lanes to our roads.
And, what about the new bike lane with no traffic at all? Since the road remodel cars are going faster,
but bikes are just as scarce. It could be because the climb up Chapala is as steep as the stage through the Pyrenées in the Tour de France. But, more likely, there was no bike traffic there because there just aren’t enough bicyclists in town to to go around.
At Edhat we like to get things right. During the day, yesterday, we received some comments from our dedicated subscribers suggesting that noontime was the wrong time to count bikes. Ed, still pondering his mayoral campaign, told the dedicated staff to go back out on the street during rush hour for a recount. Here the results of our afternoon counts:
Bath – 51 cars, 5 bikes, 2 pedestrians
Castillo – 92 cars, 4 bikes, 4 pedestrians
Chapala – 51 cars, 3 bikes, 0 pedestrian
Total – 194 cars, 12 bikes, 6 pedestrians
Using the same calculation as above, we found that during rush hour bicyclists make up 4.4% of all traffic on bike-friendly streets.
The biggest rush in our rush hour was spotting the 3 bikes chugging up Chapala. To our knowledge (and some of our subscribers who wrote in) these bicyclists were the first ones ever seen taking this route. We took their pictures for posterity and proof.
Yesterday contest was to guess the total number of bikes we would count in our 3 ten-minute noontime counts. That number was 4. It seems we all want to live in a community where everyone bikes. Wishful thinking would explain the average contest guess of 29. Bitchin Bob was the only contestant who guessed 4 bikers. He wins an Edhat t-shirt, what we like to think of as the yellow jersey of Santa Barbara.
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