Children all over Santa Barbara County snapped on helmets and rode their bicycles to school Tuesday in celebration of Bike to School Day.

Over 20 elementary, junior high and high schools participated in the event, a part of the county’s month-long CycleMAYnia bicycle gala. Organizers encouraged children to ride, walk or even skateboard to school to recognize the importance of exercise in daily life.
Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition President Ralph Fertig said Bike to School Day pushed the entire community to take a spin.

“It’s exciting that there are so many bicyclers out there enjoying this event,” Fertig said. “Lately, there seems to have been an increase in the amount of people biking to school or to work. It’s an incredibly efficient way to travel.”

Bike to School Day was only one of over 30 events planned for CycleMAYnia throughout the county, including a bicycle fashion show and museum exhibit.

Fertig said the idea of Bike to School Day was not lost on UCSB students — most of whom regularly rely on bicycles for transportation.

“I know there’s the Associated Students on campus who work hard to raise money for bike path needs through various fundraisers and lock-ins,” Fertig said. “It’s good, because bikes are a very important part of UCSB life. I know most students use that as their primary source of transportation to and from campus.”

CycleMAYnia, with its array of events, is only the first stage of the county’s bike tour.

In Isla Vista, county planners are working to accommodate increased bike traffic as part of the college town’s long range redevelopment plans. County Redevelopment Manager Jeff Lindgren said the Isla Vista Master Plan has already begun to address the needs of riders by building dedicated bike lanes along El Colegio Road, and will soon begin to improve bicycle parking.

“Pardall is the main connection between I.V. and the UCSB campus,” Lindgren said. “There’s a significant bike culture in that area. We are adding 300 bike racks to the area. It needs a lot more bike parking options.”

County redevelopment plans also include the construction of dedicated bike lanes in Isla Vista, known colloquially as sharrows, and traffic signs to warn drivers when they are in bicycle-heavy areas. New sidewalks are also in the works, which Lindgren said will improve conditions for Isla Vista bicyclists by clearing the streets of pedestrians.

“Right now, we have students walking in the streets, which makes it hard for bikers in I.V.,” Lindgren said. “This will really help bike traffic in that area. It’ll make it a lot more convenient to bike in I.V.”