By Alex Pujo, COAST Advisory Board Member
The City of Goleta’s proposal to widen Storke Road south of Phelps to complete a full-blown arterial from El Colegio to Hollister caught local residents and sustainable transportation activists flat footed. Are cities still addressing the transportation needs generated by new developments by widening streets? Really? Doesn’t current State law now require the study of vehicle miles travelled (VMTs) instead of the old-fashioned level-of-service analysis in the consideration of proposed projects and mitigations?
Many of us thought that these “capacity improvements” that defined the 1960-80’s concept of transportation planning had gone the way of bell bottoms and shoulder pads. The trend has been in the direction of “road diets” (eliminating traffic lanes in favor of bike lanes and wider sidewalks) as done on upper De La Vina and Chapala streets, the top of Milpas, lower Cliff Drive, Shoreline and elsewhere.
It is troublesome when a road widening project is seen as a solution for an area where bicycle use is the number one mobility choice for a large segment of the population. Particularly egregious is the proposed removal of a bike path currently used by children and their parents on their way to Isla Vista Elementary School. Its replacement with bike lanes painted on the roadway is not an acceptable solution, especially when the road itself will become more dangerous and fast in a four-lane configuration.
“If you build it, they will drive” –a simple way to describe the effects of encouraging automobile use, and discouraging walking/biking. How safe is a bike lane painted on a fast, four-lane road compared to a separated bike path? Would you let your children use it, or would you feel compelled to drive them to school –thus adding to the problem?
Safety, especially the safety of children, should take precedent over automobile convenience. A degree of congestion –the ‘lead car’ slowing down the rest- is an acceptable alternative to the denial of a whole generation of future cyclists. Storke Road is an area where bicycle access has historically been prevalent. We believe that a complete re-evaluation of this project is in order. Please share your thoughts with your Goleta officials.
Project webpage: http://www.cityofgoleta.org/projects-programs/road-improvements/storke-road-widening
By Deborah Schwartz, City of Santa Barbara Planning Commissioner
The new “sharing economy” is defined as “collaborative consumption as a phenomenon is a class of economic arrangements in which participants mutualize access to products or services, rather than having individual ownership.”1 Those are a lot words to describe what is part of a socio-economic paradigm shift. It is made possible due to virtualization and cloud services in the tech sector, and it is irreversibly changing our way of life.
I sat down with transportation experts, Rob Dayton and Peter Brown from City of Santa Barbara Transportation Planning, to discuss this paradigm shift and the new Carshare Vehicle Permit Program. The Program was enacted by the City Council after significant research to determine community interest, contracting with Zipcar after vetting their track record and flexible capacity to ramp up and down the number of Zipcars deployed around the city, based on usage. Zipcar, based in Boston, has 1 million “members” (enrolled users), and 12,000 vehicles worldwide! There are approximately 80-100 members using athe Zipcar, typically within a 10-15 minute walk from a site. The transportation paradigm shift also reveals that on average for each carshare user who owns one car, that car is often “shed”; an owner has two cars, one car is “shed”. The term being used for this phenomenon is vehicle shedding or displacement.
Zipcar makes/models are Subaru Impreza, Honda Fit, and Honda CR-V. Curbs will be painted and signs posted to designate the “home base” for each vehicle. To start Zipcar vehicles will be located at City parking lots 6 (Granada garage) and 10 (lot at Ortega and Anacapa), Amtrak Depot lot, Cottage Hospital garage, and the corners of Sola and De la Vina, Figueroa and Chapala, De la Guerra and De la Vina, Micheltorena and San Andres, and Milpas and Gutierrez. Zipcar will monitor and evaluate usage to, in partnership with the City, identify optimal locations.
Zipcar offers business and residential memberships, so the hope is that local businesses will offer this carsharing option to employees. More information is coming through City water bill inserts, online City News In Brief, etc.
Go to www.zipcar.com to learn more or to join Zipcar.
COAST provided support to a group of concerned mothers on the Eastside of Santa Barbara who wanted to see infrastructural improvements to make walking and biking to school safer for their children. Our organization helped facilitate meetings and walks with local government officials including City Councilmembers and the Santa Barbara Unified School District.
We also showed up to public hearings to make our voice be heard about the unsafe conditions on a foot path at Cleveland Elementary School. This is an access and exit point for many of the children who walk to school. As you can see in the slideshow the foot path was very unstable, not level, and poorly lit at night.
All the hard work of the residents and COAST has paid off! The Santa Barbara Independent reports that the Board of Education has authorized an additional $20 million dollars in bond sales in conjunction with the dispersal of voter approved Measure I funds for school improvement projects including the stabilization and improvement of the foot path.
A special thanks to Cleveland School mothers for their efforts.