How Does the City Decide to Mark Bike Lanes?

We’ve traveled around California a lot over the last four decades and noticed that many cities have adopted green pavement markings for bike lanes and shared lanes. But Santa Barbara hasn’t followed suit. Cabrillo Boulevard, in particular, has become very dangerous for cyclists—motorists don’t see the white markings that indicate the right lane is supposed to be shared, and they get angry, tailing and almost sideswiping us as they pass. —N.

I reached out to SBBIKE+COAST, as the merged Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition and Coalition for Sustainable Transportation is known, to see if anyone there had an idea of whom at the city I should speak with. “We at SBBIKE+COAST and many bike and active transportation advocates aren’t very supportive of the existing shared-use markings (a.k.a. ‘sharrows’) on Class III bike facilities (where motorists and bicyclists must share the same travel lane),” responded programs administrator Barry Remis. “The city has recently started installing green ‘conflict striping’ along (Class II) bike lanes on some streets, and ‘green-backed’ sharrows on a few shared-route streets, but yes, more could be added throughout the City, along with increased shared-use signage. We’ve been told the green paint isn’t very cheap to maintain (especially amid these city budget deficit years).”

Indeed, I soon came upon green-backed sharrows on Constance Avenue, near Chapala (above right). Why are they green, but not the ones on Cabrillo (above left), which has much more traffic, which is much busier?

“Essentially, the strategy is to use the green markings along the ‘spine’ and the Eastside/Westside Community Paseos projects that connect the eastside/westside communities to the spine,” explained Behdad Gharagozli, supervising transportation engineer at the city’s Public Works division. Gharagozli sent over these two graphics, which explain the “spine” and “paseos” (a word the city is co-opting for bike lanes). According to the text in the first graphic, many more green bike lanes are likely in the works.

But the question remained: why not Cabrillo?

“The green sharrows, as opposed to the white sharrows, are meant to help bicyclists find their way along a route/cross-town connections—sort of a wayfinding means through the City’s network,” said Gharagozli. “The sharrows on Cabrillo are more intended to alert motorists of the shared use condition within the roadway.”

Got a question you’d like investigated? Email [email protected] or text 917-209-6473.


Previous Burning Questions:
••• What’s the story with this house on W. Cota Street?
••• What are those little houses on Santa Barbara Street?
↓↓↓ Which Highway 101 exits are getting renamed?
••• Why is so much of the Macy’s store empty?
••• Will Delta Air Lines ever reinstate service to Santa Barbara Airport?
••• Is the Music Academy of the West adding pedestrian gates?
••• Is the county really taking private property for trailhead parking?
••• Why does the Coast Village Road median look so bad?
••• Is Santa Barbara going to introduce residential compost bins?
••• When will Santa Barbara Junior High’s flagpole be replaced?
••• What’s the point of this light pole near the freeway?
••• Why is the Hermosillo exit on the 101 closed?
••• Has Victor the Florist closed for good?
••• Why are the city’s parking lots scanning license plates?
••• What’s inside Paseo Nuevo’s State Street tower?
••• What’s the point of these markings on Laguna Street?
••• Why is there a giant red shoe off Highway 101?
••• Will the Dorinda Triangle ever get beautified?
••• Are we no longer allowed on the SBHS baseball field?
••• What does “SBTP” on this post mean?
••• What’s up with the “no e-bike” signs on local trails?
••• Why is Franceschi House in a holding pattern?
••• Why is there a train station inside this State Street storefront?
••• What’s happening with this derelict house in Summerland?
••• Is there a story behind Lucky Penny’s bell?
••• Why is there wood on some power lines?
••• Can you explain how sundowner winds work?
••• Why is there a pressure cooker attached to this utility pole?
••• What’s this concrete ramp thing on East Beach?
••• Why does “USA” get written on the street?
••• What are those poles in the ocean near the Ritz-Carlton Bacara?
••• Are people really allowed to set fires in the middle of Montecito?
••• What’s the story with the half-finished lot next to the Montecito Country Mart? 


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