Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

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Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California
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Photo: Fiesta Cruiser Run in Santa Barbara

Source: The City of Santa Barbara

Last week, Santa Barbara received excellent news: Places For Bikes, a data-driven national nonprofit bike advocacy organization, ranked Santa Barbara the best place for bicycling in California!

Places For Bikes ranked Santa Barbara based on five key areas of bicycling infrastructure or culture: 

  • Ridership – how many people ride bikes
  • Safety – how safe it is and feels to ride bikes
  • Network – how easy it is for people to get where they need to go
  • Acceleration – how rapidly the bike network is expanding
  • Reach – how well the network serves all neighborhoods in the community

Places for Bikes uses scores derived from hundreds of data points, with sources including updated maps showing different types of bike lanes, Census Bureau data on how people commute to work, transportation-related injury and death statistics, and a community survey filled out by at least 50 residents of the city.

Santa Barbara’s score increased from last year’s ranking of 104th in the nation in large part due to the current and planned improvements to our bicycle infrastructure. Santa Barbara has been leading California in winning Active Transportation Planning grant money that will be used for many upcoming bike projects. These projects include the Las Positas/Modoc Multiuse Path (fall 2020), the Eastside Bike Lanes and Sidewalk Upgrades Project (summer 2021), and the Westside Bike Boulevard Gap Closure Project (summer 2021), as well as the implementation of a Bike Share Pilot Program. These projects, once implemented, will increase the bikeability of our city and support a thriving bicycle culture here in Santa Barbara.

Click City’s Bicycle Master Plan to find out more about Santa Barbara’s biking future.

Despite our high ranking, the survey revealed several areas where the City of Santa Barbara could improve. Bicycle ridership, while high compared to the other cities, has remained relatively unchanged over the past decade. The Safety indicator includes data on all types of transportation injuries, and we’re hoping to see a steady score increase as a result of the City’s Vision Zero efforts, which are just beginning. Finally, the bicycle network score will improve once the above projects are constructed, creating a network of “low-stress” facilities where Santa Barbarans using bikes are separated from higher-speed motor vehicles.

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Ehdat May 29, 2019 08:55 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

Bicycling is a piece of cake in this town, so is driving and parking. So many damn complaining snowflakes in this town. As if great weather and beautiful surroundings don't satisfy you enough to have to complain about something so minor in this town. The bigger more pressing question is whether or not you like pineapple on your pizza....or dare I say jalapenos...

AdamVant May 20, 2019 11:46 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

"I'm tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is that there aren’t enough bicycle paths." -- George Carlin

rwelsh May 20, 2019 11:04 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

Pure PR and propaganda. Motivated by companies that rent bikes & companies that want to attract employees who bike so the employer doesn't have to supply parking. I have been shocked over the years per capita how many bike accidents there have been. I used to ride 6 miles to school in some of the heaviest traffic in what was once LA County. As children bicycling, we aggressively looked out for cars. Now the bikers expect car drivers to see them coming out from every corner at any speed, and the bikers usually are not following traffic laws.

Bug Girl May 20, 2019 08:20 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

I find this news really weird. SB always feels unsafe to ride bikes to me, has for a long time. What surprises me the most is that Santa Barbara ranked so highly, and Davis, CA (known to be a very bike friendly town, with nearly all streets having a marked bike lane, designated cross-town bike lanes, and even bicycle traffic lights at a few intersections) didn't get highly rated at all!! Very strange indeed.

PitMix May 20, 2019 08:58 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

The article says that the improvement in the ranking is due mostly to planned improvements to our bike network. It is very unsafe for bikes in SB with the lack of bike lanes separated from the cars. I don't ride much anymore but when I did saw several cars blow through red lights as the light was green in my direction-either tourist being distracted or locals texting.

s.b.ron May 19, 2019 09:01 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

I am a cyclist as well as a driver. SB has done some great things to accommodate riders. However, it’s become a parking nightmare around Cota/Haley area since 60 parking spots were eliminated on Cota to put in a bike lane.

a-1563723041 May 19, 2019 10:54 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

It would be interesting to compare the numbers of motorists and bicyclists using Cota Street and Garden Street at a specific hour. I imagine the difference is huge. Not that it should ever be equal but the money spent on that little-used bike-way would have been better spent on Gutierrez, resurfacing it so that it is safe for bicyclists! Taking away parking does NOT mean noticeably fewer motorists; it means more circling for spaces, more parking in the neighborhood ... with, maybe, the positive side that motorists have to walk a couple more blocks (until they get scooters) and so get exercise.

jak May 19, 2019 08:08 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

Lucky 777, it seems that with respect to biking in Santa Barbara as a basic means of transportation most people are not buying it. So your assessment is spot on. When I still lived in Goleta/ Santa Barbara biking was my main means of transportation. We were a two-car five-driver family and since I enjoyed biking I was happy enough to be the one who most often made the “sacrifice” of letting someone else use one of the family cars. Once we moved to a bid city in North Carolina (Greensboro) my biking became mainly a recreational/exercise activity. We had great bike routes but they just didn’t cover many of the places I needed to go. By contrast, SB is biker’s paradise for errands and commuting. Bottom line is that the survey’s message seems to be that nowhere in the USA is as good for biking as the publisher would like it to be.

a-1563723041 May 18, 2019 03:13 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

The bike path that runs alongside El Escorial and The Bird Refuge is in shockingly bad condition. How can our City be voted "Best" for any kind of bicycling, when it's safer and more comfortable to ride out in the road than on the bike path?

a-1563723041 May 18, 2019 03:10 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

If only the Goleta Bike Path, from Nogal St. west, was repaved. That would be one heck of a good thing. As it is now, I would hardly call that uprooted, seriously cracked and humped up asphalt "safe" or even fun to ride. While riding my bike last week, I narrowly missed a bike tire-wide crack in the asphalt which runs parallel in the path. If my front tire had got stuck in that, I'd be in a hospital bed, with multiple casts on, typing this.

EastBeach May 18, 2019 12:54 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

Yep, for those who take the time to read/understand the survey and it's component ratings, SB is doing well overall compared to other cities in CA. The top scoring cities were in other states and many of them have unique advantages that allowed them to score highly in certain categories.

andrewbaker77 May 18, 2019 11:49 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

As a core rider, this is fantastic. And yes, SB is by far on of the places not just in California but the world, to spin pedals in circles. To all those here who can find nothing good in this article, go for a ride, you'll feel way better about the world. Bicycles = Happiness. - AB in SB

PitMix May 20, 2019 09:02 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

Studies have shown that it is safer if cyclers don't come to a full stop at an intersection because they can get through it more quickly if they maintain their momentum. Some cities have recognized the data by passing laws saying that the cyclers don't have to stop but must treat the intersection as if it was controlled by a yield sign.

Luvaduck May 19, 2019 11:20 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

The bright clothes they wear make them more visible to drivers and less likely to get hit by vehicles. Also makes them more obvious to pedestrians preparing to jay-walk and drivers preparing to open car doors into the bike lane which is protective to everyone. They may be a fashion statement (or lack thereof) but apparently they're very flexible w/o being bulky. No idea about temperature control.

a-1563723041 May 19, 2019 10:49 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

And add riding on sidewalks! There are two side paths along Cabrillo Blvd. One is a sidewalk; the other is a multi-path, ex bike-path. The sidewalk is often used by bicyclists. Signs have been put on Shoreline Park, noting that bikes and skateboards, etc., are not to be used on the sidewalks. That seems quite effective. How about something for the Cabrillo sidewalk? ...It's potentially dangerous for those not limber or for dog-walkers -- we are in the latter category and a startled dog on a leash with an approaching (from the rear) bicyclist is an accident-waiting-to-happen.

a-1563723041 May 19, 2019 10:14 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

And add riding on sidewalks! There are two side paths along Cabrillo Blvd. One is a sidewalk; the other is a multi-path, ex bike-path. The sidewalk is often used by bicyclists. Signs have been put on Shoreline Park, noting that bikes and skateboards, etc., are not to be used on the sidewalks. That seems quite effective. How about something for the Cabrillo sidewalk? ...It's potentially dangerous for those not limber or for dog-walkers -- we are in the latter category and a startled dog on a leash with an approaching (from the rear) bicyclist is an accident-waiting-to-happen.

andrewbaker77 May 18, 2019 04:21 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

I stop at all lights. Many don't. It's been this way for decades all over the USA. It happens in many other countries too including the one I live in in SouthEastAsia - but in most countries, people don't get upset because they aren't Americans who look for reasons to be upset all day long. Sorry, but it's the truth. -AB

a-1563723041 May 18, 2019 01:27 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

Your argument was going well until you threw in their fashion sense...so, if you want them to follow the laws of the road, you can not go bagging on their biking outfits too! You are just pissing them off and no change at all happens.

a-1563723041 May 18, 2019 09:58 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

Bizarre rating metrics, "acceleration" tells nothing and obfuscates the results. Cities with great existing bicycle facilities are ranked low because they aren't "growing", and cities with crap bicycling that have plans make it even slightly less crappy get ranked highly. Hmmm

EastBeach May 18, 2019 01:02 PM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

Amazon ratings are subjective and therefore results look normalized. In scoring systems that have objective criteria (like this one) results won't look normalized - this allows you to figure out where there's room for improvement.

a-1563723041 May 18, 2019 09:13 AM
Santa Barbara Ranked Best Bicycle City in California

So strange! I feel like our city is awful for bicyclists, especially anywhere downtown, because bike lanes are few and far between, roads are narrow and they are forced to be out in the roads with cars because of street parking. I've done a lot if traveling and there are cities, like Fort Collins and Denver, CO where the bike roads get as much attention as real roads and they are so separated and safe. We are nothing like that here, with the exception of the bike path that goea out to IV. I'm glad to see SB stepping it up and know it's hard when the city wasn't planned to be bike friendly to begin with. Towns that had horse routes separated from roads have a leg up in us for sure because they can just modify those routes to be bike friendly.

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