Study Proves Bike Sharing Beneficial for Santa Barbara
By the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition
Imagine a fleet of well-tuned, self-service bicycles available 24/7 in locations all around Santa Barbara, enabling commuters to jump on a bike for a quick trip around town, to run errands, or to connect to transit. A newly released study, the South Coast Bike Share Feasibility Study, imagines and analyzes this concept in detail. Bike shares, already a staple in some 700 cities around the globe, allow users to temporarily rent bicycles from strategically located spots, returning them at other spots for their convenience. These public networks of bicycles are an important part of a city’s transportation system, as they increase equity for all road users, connect communities, and enable people to conveniently utilize a healthy form of transportation that is low impact in terms of congestion and pollution. The study, available in full at sbbike.org/bikesharestudyrelease (just click on the study cover), shows Santa Barbara is a prime location for such a network and sets forward the first vision of a thriving share system locally.
The study finds that bike share in Santa Barbara would enjoy high participation rates nearly year round. The most highly desired locations are in downtown Santa Barbara, on the SBCC campus, in Isla Vista, and on the UCSB campus. High usage rates are projected throughout the South Coast, focused around those key nodes. The study supports developing a unified and compatible bike share system that would allow for interchanging bikes between Santa Barbara and Isla Vista with potential future connections in Goleta and Carpinteria. A robust system, the study finds, would be highly complimentary to transit, to Santa Barbara’s new Zip Car share service, and to ride share services and would provide point-to-point transportation options for short trips. “Between the study’s detailed research, public workshops, and multiple reviews with the Bike Share Study Commission we are all proud to be part of this needed assessment,” notes SBBIKE Executive Director Ed France. The study was funded by the UCSB Office of Sustainability, the Santa Barbara City College Foundation, and the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition.
New technology and funding structures, detailed in the feasibility study, make building bike share systems easier and more affordable than ever. The study’s market analysis examines ways to reduce installation costs and avoid other potentially prohibitive requirements faced by early adopters of bike share systems. For example, modern bike share systems require far fewer (or even no) on-street or sidewalk “kiosks” and can instead rely on existing bike racks, public space, and technology built into the bicycles themselves. Smart phone apps help users find bicycles, get routes to their destinations, and locate spots to leave the bicycles, which are only intended for short, one-way transportation.
The South Coast Bike Share Feasibility Study will be presented at the Santa Barbara City Transportation and Circulation Committee on June 21, 2017, at 5:30 pm at Santa Barbara City Hall.