Bicycles As Alternative Transportation
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This report is the culmination of a year long debate by board members over the effectiveness of building bicycle paths as alternative transportation. It does not represent a position against bike paths for recreational use. A full report will be furnished you (supporting appendix) upon request.

 

Beginning Phase As a concept Bicycle path development as alternative transportation in the South County of Santa Barbara started with the City of Santa Barbara in the 1970's. This concept was part of the anti-growth sentiment that led to down zoning and the attempts to limit business development in that city. Using the official planning document published in 1975 as a starting date, this program has been in effect for 27 years. Past Implementation For almost 30 years there has been a formula to develop the City of Santa Barbara and immediate surrounding communities as car restricted or banned areas.

 

The City of Santa Barbara was supposed to be the template for the county. It began with the goal of keeping the area as semi-rural small urban boundary designation where high tech. industry would make up for the intentional demise of medium and heavy industry. With this concept there would follow a reduced need for automobiles and trucks. The intent was to have the population stabilize at 70-75,000 people in the City of Santa Barbara. As part of this concept a hard >>urban border around the then existing population centers would be created. The reduced expansion would then make bicycle commuting reasonable as an alternative because of reduced distance.

 

South Coast With the failure of anti-growth measures that started with Down Zoning, went to Proposition E (restricting business growth), Water Moratoriums, and now the intentional Degradation of Existing Traffic patterns the propaganda continues to be "Just one more piece of the puzzle will do it.", and "The existing plan for cars and streets have failed". When >>reminded of this growing string of failures of bicycles and other forms of transportation to achieve their ends this crowd dismisses this as just so much complaining. The catch phrase now being used is "It is a matter of quality of life", regardless of the statistics.

 

Millions of dollars have been spent on creating specialized bike paths and placing bike lanes on City of Santa Barbara streets. The result has been a 28% decline in bicycle usage from 1980 to 1990. From 1990 to today any increases actual or imagined have failed to keep pace with population expansion. Despite these failures, the anti growth anti car groups have continued to praise a "Successful Program." Looking mainly at the City of Santa Barbara the following facts appear. A group of independent residents, formed by Fred Vega did a bike usage count on the Upper State Street corridor in September of 1997. This was prior to the bike path construction from 5 points to De la Vina Street. Bicycle usage dropped after placement of the bike path on this stretch of State Street. The bicycle count has consistently remained down from that baseline on this stretch of State Street.

 

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