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Does Santa Barbara need more bike lanes or unencumbered car lanes?

Paul Wellman (file)

Does Santa Barbara need more bike lanes or unencumbered car lanes?


Bikes and Cars

What Do You Prefer?


Wednesday, August 13, 2014
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City of Santa Barbara planners are proposing to eliminate car lanes and on-street parking in hopes of luring bicyclers to commute to work. This might also reduce traffic and lessen pollution, however slightly. But since only about 3.5 percent of all Santa Barbarans ride bikes — and most of them are recreational riders, not commuters — the actual benefits of this would be negligible. People are just not interested in riding to work.

By Paul Wellman

Frank Hotchkiss

Is this bike push a good idea? Frankly, I don’t think so. Why? Because reducing automobile travel lanes would increase congestion. Reducing on-street parking, particularly for local businesses, could be disastrous because patrons couldn’t park near shops and stores and therefore wouldn’t patronize them.

Transportation planning should facilitate getting from here to there quickly and conveniently. Initiatives that defeat this purpose do not benefit ordinary people but a select few with a narrow agenda: bicycling. That’s my opinion, but your opinion is more important than mine. What do you think?

Staff bicycling enthusiasts, along with advocates such as the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, maintain that if biking is made more convenient, you, I, and many others will join them (actually, only some of them, since many of them don’t ride bikes to work, either) in pedaling to work every day. To that end, the city is planning a number of “outreach” sessions where the public is invited to comment.

Jaded as I may be, I suspect that this will be pointless. Bicycle enthusiasts/advocates will show up en masse to promote any expanded biking plans, while the rest of the city shrugs and gets on with its life. Then the staff will report back to the City Council “overwhelming support” for changes that staff and the advocates wanted all along. Enthusiasts will prevail, while the majority of Santa Barbarans remain unrepresented. Remember, about 96 percent of Santa Barbara residents aren’t bike riders and probably never will be. They want the daily convenience of automobile transportation to facilitate their lives.

Councilmember Dale Francisco and I have suggested that to gauge public opinion and preference accurately, we should conduct an independent telephone poll to determine what you really want, whether it’s increased biking lanes and facilities, retaining what we have now but not increasing them, or reducing the number of lanes designated for biking, and returning them to greater automobile usage. This will cost about $15,000 and will be free of bias.

I don’t know if there is a clear-cut consensus on these questions. Some folks think that bicycling is the way of the future. They may be right. Others think bikes are fine for some but by no means for all. They are never going to ride to Trader Joe’s, Ralphs, or CVS to pick up goods. For them, their cars are their sole, best means of transportation.

I’d like to know what you think.

Please feel free to send me an email at fhotchkiss@santabarbaraca.gov. I look forward to your response.

One thing is for sure: Bike riders are obligated to follow the Rules of the Road just the same as automobile drivers. I hope they take their responsibilities seriously to avoid accidents, particularly to pedestrians who can get mowed down by a speeding biker ignoring a stop sign, crosswalk, or traffic direction.

Comments

Independent Discussion Guidelines

Oy, Frank Hotchkiss!

There you go again, citing the mythical silent majority of imagined bicycle haters and cars are basic micro minority, just like you did with your utterly failed and imagined silent majority of residents who were invisible to support your utterly failed gang injunction.

Your telephone poll-as-policy style of governing lost in 2011 along with your yes-woman Mrs. Self.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 11:18 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I thought this was an Onion piece at first.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 11:47 a.m. (Suggest removal)

if the CC is considering replacing car lanes with bike lanes, then they are mental. as is the telephone poll idea. who has a landline anymore.

more like mad magzine KV.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 12:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This same tripe -- citing the same incorrect data -- has been published in various local sources. Since you asked, Frank, I'll let you know what I think. I think you're trying to stir up anti-bicycling sentiment, but for what purpose I do not know. Our community would be better off if more people rode bikes instead of driving. It's in our collective self-interest to promote cycling and make it safer and more convenient. There would be less pollution, less road congestion, and less cost to the tax-payers. Why do you oppose this?

Nockamixon (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 12:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

And decriminalize skateboarding.
I have to laugh when Hotchkiss claims he and Francisco want to follow the voter's wishes considering their fervent campaign to shutdown medicinal cannabis dispensaries.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 1:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"who has a landline anymore."

People who hate bikers still have landlines. They are set in their ways.

I'll bet Hotchkiss has a landline.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 1:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I have one, a landline, but only because cell phones may go out but landlines rarely fail. Having said this, I never get calls on it and the wife wants it gone.

Aas for the bike lanes, build it and they will come is a poor way to plan stuff but hating on bikes is dumb. I ride to work as much as I can, say 3-4 times a week. A nice bike path uncluttered by pedestrians or skateboarders would be nice.

sslocal (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 2:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)

more like mad magzine KV.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 12:04 p.m.

These blogs are like Mad Magazine. That's why we're all here.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 2:15 p.m. (Suggest removal)

A nice skateboarding path unencumbered by bicyclists and pedestrians would be nicer. And a city council unencumbered with Hotchkiss and Francisco would be better yet. :)

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 3:34 p.m. (Suggest removal)

shut down State Street from Micheltorena St to Fwy 101 with just an emergency center lane for ambulance/cops, make it all bike... SB is quite primitive for bicycles

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 10:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Let's shut down 101 too and make it all skateboards.

Botany (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 10:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Dr Dan that is a great vision, but the resulting traffic on Chapala and Anacapa would create gridlock.

Herschel_Greenspan (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 10:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hotchkiss got schooled by some of the commenters over at Noozhawk:

http://www.noozhawk.com/article/frank...

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 11:49 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hotchkiss is a total tool. I'll never forget his surprised schoolgirl act when he "learned: the conservative police org was against the dispensaries. Like hadn't he done ANY homework before the council meeting? He needs to spend less time in governance and more time in The Actor's Studio.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 12:11 a.m. (Suggest removal)


"shut down State Street from Micheltorena St to Fwy 101 with just an emergency center lane for ambulance/cops, make it all bike... SB is quite primitive for bicycles"

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 13, 2014 at 10:20 p.m

How do the physically handicapped get down there?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 1:04 a.m. (Suggest removal)

How do they get through highly crowded State St sidewalks now, BC? Of course I'd retain the current sidewalks, for all.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 2:45 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Just look at the volume of traffic that exists in bike lanes vs. the volume of traffic that exists in traffic lanes.

There's your answer.

Botany (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 6:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

agree, KV, Hotchkiss IS a total tool: read this from a Noozhawk commenter:
"Actual bike commute rates are 7% in SB according to the 2012 census, doubling in the last 10 years from the data Frank references. This was in the Council report, so I don't know why he would disingenuously cite old data. With biking doubling in the last 10 years, the City needs to make better bike infrastructure so people can bike safely. Also, many more than 7% ride recreationally - my mom drives to work but loves biking around for exercise. Remember you can fight trends but you always lose..... look at Kodak. There is plenty of free parking in all the downtown garages - that's just a red herring.
Also, Frank's last paragraph is pretty ironic as he almost hit me in his Porsche while I was walking across the street.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 6:58 a.m. (Suggest removal)

'shut down State Street from Micheltorena St to Fwy 101 with just an emergency center lane for ambulance/cops, make it all bike... SB is quite primitive for bicycles'

basis for a good idea, maybe have the center lane for the electric shuttle.

lawdy (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 7:36 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Creating bike lanes with white paint in traffic lanes is not the answer.The age of the earth saving pedacommuter peaked in the 80's as that demographic ages out.The new majority dreams of getting off a bike and into a pimped out full size truck or SUV and ride their bikes on the sidewalk anyways,while the spandex crowd never ride on bike paths as they can't ride 3 abreast and piss off drivers and my kids need both hands for their Iphones.How about a caged in elevated metal bike path along the train tracks which take a perfect flat route right through town-how fun would it be to draft the Amtrack each way to work or school!

garfish (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 9:15 a.m. (Suggest removal)

"Frank's last paragraph is pretty ironic as he almost hit me in his Porsche while I was walking across the street."

Frank Hotchkiss? Nope, it's just Chuck Testa.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJP1Dp...

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 10:46 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Which bike lanes to you propose to remove that will make my driving easier? Valid question right?

skaterspoint (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 1:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Driving on State between 101 and Micheltorena servers only as a route for people watching. totally agree that it would make downtown a much more interesting and ped/bike friendly place, see the 4th street promenade in Santa Monica. Since Chapala and Anacapa are both one-way streets, I don't think there would be more congestion from State closing. Share lanes are an alternative to more bike lanes without reducing car lanes, but like communism, they really only work in the minds of idealist.

SB2SB (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 3:09 p.m. (Suggest removal)


"How do they get through highly crowded State St sidewalks now, BC? Of course I'd retain the current sidewalks, for all."

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 2:45 a.m.

DrDan: That doesn't answer my question. How does someone who can only get around in a wheelchair or with a cane get down to the parts of town you want blocked off when up to this point they have been able to rely upon either driving down there or being driven down there?

As SB2SB says "Like communism, they really only work in the minds of the idealist".

OK, back to my question: What about the non-able bodied? Do we really want a modified version of Logan's Run?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 4:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

bill, you can't park on State Street as it is now so someone who is handicap would simply park in the handicap parking spots in a parking structure next to state street and they would be able to access downtown just as easily as before.

I think a better option would be to make State Street a one lane, one way street heading south with slant parking going in the same direction with some spots reserved for passenger loading and unloading. Each block would look more like a parking lot with a 20mph speed limit, and thus cars would rarely use it as a thoroughfare for going all the way through.

Slant parking should be mostly 3 hours free 9-6pm (white), and then there could be some 15 minutes (green) and passenger loading slots (yellow). The existing parking lots should provide spill-over parking for State Street with their hourly rates along with inexpensive monthly and annual parking passes for regular commuters instead of making them pay an hourly rate or go look for street parking in the neighborhood. This would all alleviate many of the parking issues downtown.

Then have a big two-way bike lane on the other side of State Street and keep the sidewalks as-is. Allow skateboarding, but give out $15 fines for wreckless skateboarding, such as going to fast in a crowd of people, bumping into people, doing dangerous skateboard tricks too close to other people, etc. If they are too young to have an ID, they could take their skateboard and have the parents come pick it up where they will pay their kid's $15 reckless skateboarding fine to get it back.

People using State St. in these areas would generally only pull onto the one way lane for 1 block max, 2 blocks if they end up getting on too early.

The best way to get around downtown is using the one way streets, Anacapa, Santa Barbara, Chapala and Bath.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 5:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Hotchkiss' numbers are just random and picked out of a body cavity. All serious data shows biking is increasing… think, did Bici Centro just appear out of nowhere in a *declining* biking environment? Where do the 1,000's who do the Fiesta ride come from? Sadly, our City doesn't do even a single bike event for regular people (well, there is being an Amgen host city, which costs something like $50K in taxpayer $, I think, but regular people are neglected).

Serious data like the census shows about 6% commute, and many more kids ride to school every day. Most surveys show 20% of the population bikes.

An obvious goal is to connect the Class 1 bike path the intersects Modoc through a negotiation with Hope Ranch up to Las Cumbres. Better, negotiate with the railroad to continue Class 1 all the way into town. Our city is so Neandertalistic we don't do the obvious.

sevendolphins (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 7:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

"bill, you can't park on State Street as it is now so someone who is handicap would simply park in the handicap parking spots in a parking structure next to state street and they would be able to access downtown just as easily as before". loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 5:05 p.m.

Loon, DrDan wants everything below Micheltorena closed to motor vehicles so how can the handicapped get past that point to get to the parking structures in the first place?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 14, 2014 at 11:01 p.m. (Suggest removal)

MrClausen, Your concern for the physically handicapped is understandable, as U R mentally handicapped.

Get wit the pogram dude. SB aint about the weak and the old, its about young, athletic, rich, and beautiful people. Y do U care about homeless people and those who cant get around? If you dont like the way SB does things, move. Nobody is forcing you to live here, if U dont like it, move to bakersfield.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 2:13 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Furthermore, he doesnt want everything shut off, just state street. U really R special needs clausen.

dolphinpod14 (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 2:19 a.m. (Suggest removal)

BC, I stated keep one lane down the center for legally required ambulance, cops, fire trucks, as someone noted, sure, add the shuttle, too. I never wrote "blocked off" -- that was your twist on my idea. Loonpt thoughtfully suggests one-lane, thus handicapped could get down St. St. that way. I agree our City is Neanderthal in it's bicycle thinking.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 3:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Dear Mr. Hotchkiss,
You state suspicion that outreach sessions for public comment will be pointless. Elected public officials of course must ascertain public opinion on not just biking, but a variety of crucial matters facing our community - this challenge needs to be addressed by the community as a whole, otherwise democracy fails. I am sorry to see you reject the town-hall public comment forum as meaningless, but I see your point that special interests can tend to dominate these. Is there a way to prevent this and to get fair representation? It seems that a telephone survey would not be enough to give accurate results. There needs to be a systemic way for our government to inexpensively check the pulse and ideas of the populace.
If you do find an unbiased survey mechanism, I would think the City Council would want to include other issues that require public input, such as water desalination, fracking, land use, public services, etc.
As for bike lanes - please do everything you can to improve and expand them. As a local teacher who has observed teens in our town for over 20 years, I am certain our youth would bicycle to school if there were better bike routes, and more bike racks on buses. I've seen too many kids tangle with cars and the results are devastating. Obviously bikes are not for everyone, but the health, economic, and community environmental benefits are very real. Remember, support for commuter bicycling benefits you as an automobile driver too, because every bike you see on the road is one less SUV in front of you.

kstar137 (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 9:25 a.m. (Suggest removal)

The partially veiled hostility towards the citizens of Santa Barbara in Hotchkiss' letter is just astounding.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 9:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Let's take this SILLY ARGUMENT to its end, shall we? There are only a handful of the population who use wheelchairs, so WHY then do we build ramps for them at public facilities and on every street corner and business entrance at taxpayer expense? Are you supporting your buddies in the auto business over others who make a living selling bikes? You see, the problem with Santa Barbara is (and has always been) the over-use of automobiles and the propensity of council members to take the easiest solution requiring the LEAST amount of intelligent thought. This in turn has changed an otherwise beautiful and quaint downtown district into a frustrating and unpleasant experience for both drivers, diners and pedestrians alike. Mind you, just because everyone drives into the downtown area does not mean the majority of local citizens would CHOOSE to drive downtown given the alternative to ride their bikes in a safe environment. There are currently NO SAFE ALTERNATIVES for bike transportation that are being addressed!
There are no safe bicycle routes into and around town because we have people in council who choose to fund projects that have an option of doing NOTHING AT ALL. A painted line in the road will NOT protect my kids from a careless driver. There have been numerous deaths due to folks drifting over that white line. Safe bike passage is not only a convenience, it SHOULD BE your responsibility to ASSURE the people of this community that you care enough to address this elephant in the room! I can tell you this, if you build it THEY WILL USE IT. At the moment, it happens to be roads designed for automobiles. My rights as a cyclist are EQUAL to that of the rights of a person who chooses to drive a car, yet you have the gall to insinuate that we would swallow your line that since only 3% of the people ride bikes that this proposition would not be used! As if the numbers would not change DRASTICALLY if proper lanes were constructed on our streets! Please do not insult the people of this community. Let me end by asking you this... would YOU allow your kid to ride into town on a bike today?

RickWorth (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 11:38 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Here's how we do it ok....
Tell em all that gas will return to two bucks a gallon see.
That every driveway will be sport cadillacss and porches like ours....
Instead of cash for clunkers we'll start a "Free Rides For Freedom"
program. Turn it your ten speed for a government funded V-!0!

touristunfriendly (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 12:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

It's really embarrassing how out of touch politicians are, especially most Republicans.

In Florida, where polling for legal medical marijuana is at 88% in favor, Jeb Bush (Governor) said he is opposed to medical marijuana.

"Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush spoke out against legalizing marijuana in the state, saying the action would hurt the state’s family-friendly reputation.

“Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire,” Mr. Bush said."

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2...

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 2:39 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Point taken Dan, but will it just be confined to State Street?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 4:45 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Yes, I can assure you he only meant State Street, which completely shuts down in the same general area for Farmer's Markets on Tuesday afternoon from around 4-7ish.

loonpt (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 4:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Loonpt: Do you pinky-swear me?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
August 15, 2014 at 5:13 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Most of your town's fancy downtown shops are staffed by people so poor they don't drive, and they commute from outside your retired bedroom communities. Just look at the mopeds and Huffy's parked on the numerous side streets. Pick any restaurant and you'll see a minimum wage transport option out front. That's the 7% that bike to work.

kubtastic (anonymous profile)
August 17, 2014 at 11:48 p.m. (Suggest removal)

just have to say: I love riding my bike in SB and do it almost every day from my home - that's a 10 mile round trip. Funny part is that door to door - it takes about the same amount of time as driving my car, finding parking and walking to the destination.

I'm guessing that the same traffic which makes riding worthwhile also intimidates a lot of people. So it's not impossible that more bike lanes would encourage more people to ride. Better bike racks would help too! I doubt that more bike lanes would make traffic any worse.

ramey (anonymous profile)
August 27, 2014 at 9:35 p.m. (Suggest removal)

@RickWorth

"There are only a handful of the population who use wheelchairs, so WHY then do we build ramps for them at public facilities and on every street corner and business entrance at taxpayer expense?"

FYI, access ramps are also used by parents with strollers, and are easier for the elderly to use. There are also some people that are a mix of handicapped/older, who can walk but use electric scooters. Also, the sloped parts of "every street corner" are also described as "curb-cuts", and are (arguably) safer and more navigable for fully able-bodied walkers.

I realize that you were not arguing against having them, but I just wanted to take a moment to spread a little extra knowledge.

equus_posteriori (anonymous profile)
August 28, 2014 at 1:51 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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