Santa Barbara Named 3rd Best City of Bicycles
Fiesta Cruiser Run 2019 (Photo: Robert Bernstein)
Source: City of Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is proud to announce that we have been ranked the 3rd best city for bicycling in the U.S. by PeopleForBikes. The PeopleForBikes City Ratings program evaluates more than 550 cities and towns in the U.S., and shows city leaders how they can invest to make bicycling better for all residents and visitors.
In 2019, Santa Barbara ranked 12th in the U.S. in the City Rankings. This year, as a result of our robust bike culture and enhancements to our biking infrastructure, Santa Barbara placed in the top five across the nation.
“Bicycling is in our DNA,” says Rob Dayton, Santa Barbara’s Transportation Planning and Parking Manager. “Before automobiles were around, it was the bicycle clubs that lobbied to pave streets for bicycling.” Santa Barbara even had the first multimodal transportation in California — a mule-drawn trolley car that included a bike rack on the back for turn-of-the-century cyclists to hang their big-wheel Penny Farthing bikes.
As early as the 1960s, Santa Barbara recognized how heavy vehicle congestion and traffic plagued our southern neighbor, Los Angeles. This prompted Santa Barbara to take action to embrace bicycling as a way to prevent LA-type traffic congestion. In the 70s, some two lane roads in town were reduced to one lane for vehicle traffic, with the other dedicated to bike travel. Road repaving projects that included the addition of a bike lane quickly helped the size of Santa Barbara’s bike network skyrocket. The addition of bike racks throughout the downtown core also helped boost the embrace of bicycles. “No matter where you want to go, if you ride a bike, you have a front row parking spot,” says Dayton. The future implementation of bicycle boulevards, streets with low motorized traffic volumes and speeds, designated and designed to give bicycle travel priority, is also a key part of Santa Barbara’s Bicycle Plan.
Thanks to the growth of California’s Active Transportation Planning grants program, Santa Barbara will fund around $40 million in bike improvements across the City over the next five years, with many new projects, including a city-wide electric bike share program, on the horizon. “I think Santa Barbara really has something to offer everyone,” says Sam Furtner, the City’s Mobility Coordinator. “Whether you’re learning to ride a bike or looking for world-class road rides overlooking the ocean, we’ve got you covered.”
The full City of Santa Barbara ratings can be seen here.