Santa Barbara County releases its first Active Transportation Plan
The County of Santa Barbara has released its first ever Active Transportation Plan. The plan aims to develop a more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly infrastructure in Santa Barbara County.
County Active Transportation Manager Mark Friedlander said the plan uses community feedback to make existing roadways more accessible.
“We talked to the public about what their needs are: ‘What would you like to see? What's preventing you or your child from walking to school?’” Friedlander said.
The plan proposes nearly 50 active transportation projects, both large and small. These projects include a new road connecting the city of Guadalupe to Santa Maria, as well as a paved pathway in New Cuyama that will connect the town site to the local high school.
Friedlander said the county began developing the plan during the Covid-19 pandemic, in late 2020, when residents were feeling an increased need to go outside and walk around.
“People were kind of thinking about their streets, not just as a place to drive, but as a place to walk their dogs, or go on a bike ride, or get some fresh air,” Friedlander said.
Caltrans awarded the public works department a grant to fund the Active Transportation Plan in 2019. Friedlander said more accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists can improve Santa Barbara County residents’ quality of life.
“The benefits of active transportation can include things like reduced traffic congestion, improved mental and physical health, improved air quality, economic fidelity and quality of life in general,” Friedlander said.
But Friedlander said the plan isn’t just good for pedestrians and cyclists. It’s also meant to benefit drivers through ensuring they can share the road more safely with people walking and biking.
“Let's think of our road network holistically and come up with improvements that benefit all road users,” Friedlander said. “Not just pedestrians and cyclists but also drivers.”
Santa Barbara County Public Works will present the plan to the Board of County Supervisors for review on May 2.
For additional information and updates on the Active Transportation Plan, you can visit countyofsb.org.