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.


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  1. So why doesn’t this article indicate who the top bike cities are? How difficult to list the top 5? The article even says “Santa Barbara placed in the top five across the nation”. Why such a secret?

  2. What propaganda. Why do the real people of this town care if bicyclists are happy here? Bikes are an alternative transportation mostly useful to people for recreational urges and those who have jobs that allow them to dress casually, shower in the office and carry small loads. Working people need trucks and cars. Certainly it is sweet to provide for bikes but we should not sacrifice the real needs of people for this luxury. Do not let them take your street parking, traffic lanes and public motor vehicles for this phantom will of the wisp imagined world.

  3. Electric bikes are a game-changer, especially in our mild climate. Expect to see many bikes in coming years, with smart features such as electronic locks, under-your-desk fast battery recharge, GPS/IoT tracking, built in lighting, etc. Some parking spaces will be converted from car parking to secure bike parking. This isn’t to say that contractors still won’t need pickup trucks – just that not everyone needs one.

  4. I think they should require quite a few things from bicycle riders…… like , side mirrors, staying on streets with a bike lane, follow the rules of the road, signaling when turning, staying off the line closest to vehicle traffic… etc. oh , and riding single file.

  5. Dude, driving a car or truck is the luxury. You could buy 40 top of the line bikes for the price of a modest new pick up truck. Also it doesn’t cost you anything to ride a bike whereas insurance and fuel prices can eat up the budget of someone barely getting by. Might want to recheck your priorities if you think biking is a luxury.

  6. Bicyclists should only ride where there are bike lanes? FFS. Are there bike lanes on every street? How are the bicyclists supposed to get TO the streets with bike lanes? They’re gonna magically beam themselves to the lanes? Walk their bikes over? Pffft.

  7. Ticket bicyclists NOW! Most are dangerous to drivers and pedestrians wherever they go and the fraction that are not are few an far between. They can’t seem to figure out how to use hand signals, that riding 2, 3 or 4 abreast in the street is a no no and they can’t stay off the sidewalk! I am really getting tired of seeing them on State St. too. They are seriously dangerous to pedestrians. They need to be ticketed. Maybe then they would get the message that they need to follow the rules like everyone else.

  8. We have very few dedicated bike lanes that are separated from traffic. Edhat regularly carries stories of bike vs cars incidents and guess who loses? No way we are really the 3rd best city for biking. Still don’t have the Sola cross-connector several years after the Micheltorena cross-connector fiasco.

  9. The SUVs get fatter every year, hog more of the road–no wonder their drivers get mad at the bicyclists who take up a skinny bike lane, inhibiting their “freedom” to pour lots of CO2 into the atmosphere. They could care less when they drive the planet off the cliff of habitability, as long as they can park at Costco.

  10. Because this is a propaganda scam. One of the main categories this group rates cities on is if they have future plans for bike lanes In their general plan. They are given high marks for something that may never exist. I don’t think the people rating cities have ever actually been on a bike in them.
    Go to their website and look at how they rank each city. Last year SB ranked poorly on most categories but had desire for bicycle planning. This helps the city secure grant funds etc for their bicycle master plan. It’s all a joke.

  11. Why is the man riding with his kid in a car lane, when he could ride on the back streets or other paths. These are not commuters. Actual bike count levels are on State Street are way down over the years. Costco parking is not down. Get it?
    Don’t forget that Das Williams and the Board of Supervisors gave them $386,000 for their admitted failed safe routes to school program in Santa Barbara? Now they are trying to destroy traffic in SY Valley.
    This propaganda piece should be titled, ” While vehicle traffic gets more pathetic in the City and County, recreational bikers are happy.”

  12. The article states-
    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.”
    So why do they use transportation funds for these projects while neglecting potholes, instead of Parks and Rec Department?

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