The Goleta City Council has adopted a $15 million interim bicycle transportation plan that proposes to add 30 new bikeways to Goleta in the next 20 years.
Erika Lindemann, bicycle coordinator for the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments, said the city council endorsed the interim bike policy in a unanimous vote on Feb. 22 in order to make the city eligible to apply for grant funding through the California Dept. of Transportation’s Bicycle Transportation Account. The plan will create six new Goleta bike paths by 2010, five by 2015 and 19 more by 2025.
Under the plan, 31.8 miles of off-street bike paths, on-street bike lanes and designated bike routes will be added to the 23.7 miles of preexisting bikeways in Goleta.
The Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, an advocacy group for safe and convenient bicycling, has made suggestions to the city council for improving biking conditions in the city. Ralph Fertig, president of the coalition, said a bike path along San Jose Creek is one project the council wants to begin within the next five years.
“The San Jose Creek open trail would go from Cathedral Oaks to Goleta Beach,” Fertig said. “Students in Old Town Goleta and north Goleta could get to campus by bike paths.”
The Bicycle Transportation Account, Lindemann said, is providing $7.2 million to both California city and county agencies to fund projects that will improve safety and convenience for bicycle commuters. Lindemann said Goleta created the interim bicycle plan so that the city will be eligible to receive a portion of this funding to support its bicycle programs.
“Any jurisdiction who wants bicycle money needs an updated plan approved by Caltrans,” Lindemann said. “They will ultimately pass the plan and provide funding.”
Goleta City Council member Jack Hawxhurst said the proposed improvement plan will cost about $1 million per year to sustain. However, because of the state’s budget problems, he said the city might not receive all of the grant money within the plan’s stated timeline.
The Dept. of Transportation is scheduled to distribute funds to selected applicants in July 2005.
While the state’s grant money is earmarked for projects that help people commute to work by bicycle, Hawxhurst said those who use the paths for fun outnumber commuters.
“I like bikes and bike paths,” Hawxhurst said. “I like them more for recreation than actually believing people will use them to get to work.”