Safer streets for cyclists, pedestrians

This "Forward View" op-ed piece by Jeanne Sparks was published in the Lompoc Record on March 18, 2015:

Do you ride a bicycle? Do you walk around town? Do you feel like your streets are safe for bicyclists and pedestrians?

The state encourages cities and counties to make streets safer and more accessible so more people will choose to ride or walk as a transportation alternative.

The Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) is in the middle of a planning process to bring together the plans created by Santa Barbara County and cities to create the Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

SBCAG staff will hold a workshop Wednesday, March 25, from 6-7:30 p.m. at Casa Nueva, 260 N. San Antonio Road in Santa Barbara, to solicit input and feedback. They will talk about the planning process, conduct roundtable discussions to hear from the public, and answer questions.

The city of the future encourages people to walk and bike, to get out of their cars for their health, while reducing the need to expand roads. It creates safe places for children to walk or bike to school. It reduces pollution. It is good for business. It is friendlier. Many cities are improving their streets to make them safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

In Lompoc, some great crosswalks in the center of town help remind drivers to share the road and let pedestrians know roads belong to them, too. These crosswalks are brick-patterned and colored, also improving the look of the street. More of these would be great, as well as other types of painted or patterned crosswalks. Flashing lights might be appropriate at some mid-street crossings or other crossings that don’t have traffic signals. Perhaps other improvements could help.

There are also some good places to bike in Lompoc — Cypress Avenue has wide bike lanes all the way from 7th Street to Ryon Park; there is a bike path across the river parallel to H Street; there are some other off-road bike paths.

There are some places where bike boulevards might be feasible, streets with low automobile traffic that could be enhanced for bicycle use with signage and bicycle stencils on the street that indicate the lane is to be shared with bicycles.

Perhaps there are places where cycle tracks could be installed. This involves placing a physical barrier along the side of the traffic lane that separates the bicycles from the vehicles. Perhaps, also, some colored bike lanes. These visually remind motorists to share the road with bicyclists.

In Buellton’s Avenue of the Flags green stripes across the bike lanes show where cars can turn into driveways and crosshatched white stripes give a three-foot buffer between cars and bikes. Also, sensors could be installed at intersections to detect the presence of bicycles to change the lights.

The Highway 246 bridge over the Santa Ynez River has been identified as an accident waiting to happen. Mayor Bob Lingl urged SBCAG to find funding to alleviate the hazard. Other board members agreed it should be a priority.

If we want to see safer streets, we need to let our elected officials know this is important to us. If you can’t attend, you can email comments to [email protected] no later than March 27.

At Santa Barbara County Action Network, we are getting together with others who are interested in making our streets safer. If you are interested in joining us, visit our website at for more information.