By Laurie Battle, Daily Nexus, February 4, 1976
Undaunted by the $348,000 price tag on the 1.8-mile Atascadero Bikeway, the Santa Barbara County Transportation Department is going ahead with plans for future bike-paths in the Goleta Valley. The paths will be built in accordance with the county General Plan for future development.
According to Sid Goldstein, assistant county traffic engineer, there are two classifications of bike lanes in the Goleta valley. Class 1 bikeways are full paths completely separate from the roads, such as those running along El Colegio and Los Carneros Roads. While being a more desirable form of bike-path, they are also the most expensive.
Class 2 bike paths are lanes along the road shoulders that have been designated as bike-lanes. The county inspects the lanes for safety and puts up no-parking signs along the route. The problem with these bikeways is one of the feasibility of removing parking from the streets and providing alternative parking elsewhere.
The Atascadero Bikeway is a Class 1 bike-path running from Goleta Beach to Gwynne Avenue. Completed in October 1975, it connects Isla Vista and the University with the Goleta Valley. Plans are underway to extend the path from Gwynne Avenue to Turnpike Road. According to Goldstein, future development will bring the Atascadero route from Turnpike Road to Modoc Road, where already existing bikeways will lead riders all the way into downtown Santa Barbara.
Goldstein broke down the cost of the first 1.8 miles of the route into five categories:
- $38,000 for widening the flood channel where the path runs through the Goleta Slough.
- $52,000 for purchasing right-of-way from private landowners.
- $43,000 for a bridge over Maria Ignacio Creek.
- $50,000 for engineering and construction costs.
- $165,000 for materials and labor.
He indicated that the next installment of the path will be considerably less expensive, in his estimate of about $50,000. This will be because no property need be acquired from Gwynne Avenue to Turnpike Road, no bridges need to be built, and since the land is flat it will be “mostly a matter of just laying down the asphalt.”
District 5 Supervisor Harold Fletcher criticized the expense of the Atascadero Bikeway. “It does seem that the cost per mile is excessive,” he said. “It shouldn’t have to cost that much to make a place for a bike ride.” He said that he and his son were both bike riders, but indicated that he would favor a system of Class 2 bikeways. “I’m not sure they’re looking into all the possibilities” (in Goleta Valley), he said. “The first thing they need are bike-paths that people can use to get to schools and shopping centers. I think they could take the same amount of money and utilize it for more people than they have in the past.”
Supervisor James Slater of the 3rd District disagreed with Fletcher. He called the Atascadero Bikeway a model for the state, being innovative in meeting safety standards and valuable as both a scenic and commuter bikeway. He cited Class 1 bikeways as the safest because “whenever you mix bikes with auto traffic it’s dangerous.”
“We try to emphasize bikes in Goleta because a lot of people use them,” he added. He envisioned a future system of complete off-road commuter bikeways, with more and more people using them regularly. This would not only cut down pollution, but would also save people money in gas and benefit their health. In this light, “the cost of building bikeways is comparatively inexpensive to that of building roads,” he said. Without a good bike-path system, “the alternative is always going to be to use the automobile.”