By Kim Stanley, COAST Safe Routes to School Coordinator
At Carpinteria Open Streets three youth on bikes caught my eye. They were comfortable in the saddle, helmets properly fitted and appeared to be close friends.
I wondered if COAST’s educational programs at the Carpinteria elementary schools had any influence on these kids’ biking knowledge so I asked them a few questions. Soren Fourquean remembers when he participated in the 4th grade bike rodeo- he remembers the stop signs and riding right, but points out that his grandmother was the one who taught him all about bike safety. Diego Nieves remembers the “Bici Familia- Family Bike Night” (a COAST/SB Bike Partnership) at Aliso School where he got a free tune-up for his bike and rode the bike courses, but also states his key influences were his grandparents. Ivan Vargas does not remember any formal bike training. He learned on his own and cannot specifically remember being taught about the rules of the road, he “just knows them!”
When asked if they could choose to get to school in any way possible, what mode would they choose, they all three said: BIKE. They all alluded to biking being fun, feeling the wind in your face, healthy, that biking was good for the earth and that it was fun to bike with friends. We talk about these reasons a lot in the Safe Routes to School program, but these boys didn’t just know it intellectually, they were living it. I think that’s why they caught my eye.
As much as I wanted the evidence to point to the Safe Routes to School program, it turns out there were many factors involved, including their experience with Safe Routes to School and Bici Familia, but also- adult family members, quiet, safe streets, places that are easy to get to, friends close by and the wind on their faces. It makes sense!
As we move forward encouraging our youth to use active transportation we cannot rely on any one method to shift transportation choices. The solution is “complete streets” and education combined.
To find out about upcoming Safe Routes to School events visit http://coast-santabarbara.org/safe-routes-to-school/calendar/
Shock and Awe - Storke Road Widening
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
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.