Bike Month kicks off Thursday along the Central Coast
A wide range of activities to celebrate bicycles as an efficient and healthy form of transportation are planned for the month of May in both San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties.
CycleMAYnia, a project of Traffic Solutions, is Santa Barbara County's effort to get more people on bicycles.
“The number of people bicycling to work is on the rise both nationally and in the Santa Barbara South Coast," said Traffic Solutions Director Kent Epperson. "I don’t have tallied numbers of people who participated or will be participating at a bike to work day event, but I do know that the trend is upward as far as more bicycling in urban areas, which is really exciting.”
Despite the rise, some believe the greatest obstacle to an even more robust increase in ridership is a lack of safe, convenient bike routes. The CycleMAYnia director says that issue is one of his organization’s top priorities.
“We really want to make sure that there’s a connected network of bike paths, bike lanes, and bike routes that are good for people of ages from 8 to 80, so anybody can feel comfortable riding a bike, and that is by far the biggest concern that we hear—people may not feel completely safe or comfortable riding in traffic,” said Epperson.
In terms of how local cities are doing on that front, Epperson believes there is progress being made.
“There were the first green lanes added just a few months ago in the City of Goleta, and the City of Santa Barbara and many other communities throughout the county right now are going through their planning processes, and so they’re looking at green lanes, and protected buffered bike lanes, and some other innovations that have taken shape and seeing how we can adopt and adapt some of those here locally.”
In San Luis Obispo County, the City of Pismo Beach is moving toward bicycle transportation as a way to ease congestion and boost tourism. The coastal community is currently testing a proposal that would make it the first local community to embrace bike sharing. City Attorney David Fleishman introduced the idea and is optimistic about a sharing option working well with the city’s layout.
“Pismo Beach has unique geography in that it’s long and thin, there’s not a lot of steep hills that would deter people from using a bike-share program, and people would have an opportunity to get out of their cars and enjoy the great weather that Pismo has most of the year ‘round,” Fleishman said.
Pismo is also among the Central Coast cities hosting the Amgen Tour of California, which runs the second full week of May. Monterey, Cambria, Arroyo Grande and Santa Barbara will also host tour events— representing a full third of the tour schedule.
The San Luis Obispo county-wide bike month effort is unique as it is organized by Rideshare, a project of the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG), but the activities are all generated from within the community.
“I think this year we’re going to have about 60 events throughout the month of May in the entire county, and they’re all volunteer led,” said Stephanie Hicks, Rideshare’s program manager. “Rideshare does the legwork in terms of marketing and outreach, and we provide mini-grants to event organizers, but other than that it’s the people of the community who make Bike Month so successful.”
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