As an avid cyclist at 80 years old, I want to respond to the opinion piece by Bonnie Donovan titled, “Don’t leave trees’ fate in county’s hands” from the July 31 Voices section.
Although I share her concern about saving native trees, I also recognize the multiple and varied interests at stake. The statement about the “overbuilt bikeway” is especially concerning.
I frequently ride the multipurpose trail from UCSB to Hendry’s Beach (Arroyo Burro Beach) and back. Note that it is a multipurpose trail and not a bikeway. While riding, I share the trail with pedestrians, parents pushing children in strollers, people walking their dogs and frequently people with disabilities walking with assistance or being pushed in wheelchairs. The path is heavily used by a wide variety of people.
Since the pandemic, the multipurpose trail is getting heavy increased usage. Some of the increased traffic consists of families including very young riders who are not stable enough to be safe riding on public streets. We are certainly seeing more e-bikes and e-assist bikes. In fact I have transitioned to an e-assist bike. With the increase in traffic, we have unfortunately also seen an increase in unsafe cyclists.
There is currently an approximate 2-mile gap between the existing multipurpose trail between Modoc and Calle de Los Amigos.
Suddenly the multipurpose trail becomes a deadly path where motorists are separated from other users by a 3-inch line of white paint. A motorist need only be distracted for seconds to easily cross the white line. It is deadly for pedestrians, cyclists or any other users of the shoulder. Coming from Calle de Los Amigos, cyclists must cross Modoc twice without signals and with no crosswalk at Calle de Los Amigos.
Suddenly we no longer see parents with baby strollers. We don’t see families riding together. We see no way for disabled to enjoy an outing.
Electric bikes or skateboards do not inherently have a lack of safety. Some riders certainly do misuse the trails and the streets and the sidewalks. Although I am not sure what can be done, serious cyclists, pedestrians and other users of a multipurpose trail are as concerned about them as Ms. Donovan.
The solution, however, isn’t to have fewer multipurpose trails.
I recognize there is an element of danger in cycling. I also recognize it as a great way to enjoy the outdoors and to exercise.
Due to back issues, I am unable to walk very far without pain, but I can cycle for miles without discomfort. I long for the day when we can have a multipurpose trail that is complete from UCSB to downtown Santa Barbara.
Yes, cyclists need to be safe and courteous on the trail, just as other users also need to be aware of cyclists. Walking side by side across the entire multipurpose trail is dangerous for both the pedestrians and the cyclists.
Surely, we can cooperate enough so that all can enjoy this beautiful place we call home.