How do we ensure we’ll be implementing bikeway changes that will meet users need? This was the question Sam Franklin and Omari Fuller, the new leaders of SBBIKE’s Connecting Our Community campaign, asked themselves.
The answer, stories from those who cycle the South Coast.
At Earth Day 2014, SBBIKE’s COC campaign launched a three-pronged project designed to gather those stories. The first part was a giant, interactive mapundefined18 feet long and 4 feet wide. Visitors to SBBIKE’s table used markers to draw the routes they typically used onto the map, highlighting trouble spots with--places where the path ends, intersections that are difficult to get through, and other tricky areas.
In addition, bicyclists filled out preprinted postcards featuring a photo of a well-designed cycling network on the front--“the kind of bicycle paths that people would want to use,” says Franklin. On the back, people wrote why they would want those routes and in which areas.
“The idea,” Franklin explains, “is, instead of us just sitting behind a table telling people how we think the bike paths should change, to find out what changes they want in an interactive, engaging way. The main theme of our campaign for now is to get people engaged and get people to tell us their stories--instead of it being a one-way informational thing.”
On May 31, some of Santa Barbara’s political electives will be participating in a tandem ride with SBBIKE and Traffic Solutions, and Franklin and Fuller will be handing all the postcards over to them.
So far, they have nearly 250 postcards. And they’ll be collecting more throughout the month of May. “We’ll be at all the events during CycleMAYnia,” says Franklin.
Franklin and Fuller are currently looking through photos of the map as well as the cards and compiling the data from those stories. Among the information they plan to attain is a top-five list of difficult spots. So far, Franklin’s noticed that two spots many people would like to see improved are the Castillo underpass and Fairview in Goleta. He’s also noting a trend that happens in areas where the bike path suddenly ends or disappears. The very comfortable riders will choose to cycle on the pavement, taking the lane and riding with traffic. For those who aren’t as comfortable, though, these areas present a definite problem, giving people who want to cycle a reason to choose not to.
The co-leaders of COC will present updates of the compiled data soon.
Franklin says the Earth Day launch was a huge success. “I really liked it,” he says. “I felt it was even more successful than I’d expected.” He noted that cyclists were often lining up to get to the table. “And I felt that people were really willing to take the time to draw their routes, to talk about issues.”
A side bonus was that, as people were enjoying the opportunity to show where they ride, they were excited to see how other people ride and getting inspiration from each other.
The third prong of the portion of the campaign designed to interact with the community, which Franklin says is still very much a work in progress, is an interactive SBBBIKE Web site that is a more informal, interactive site than the coalition’s main site. Franklin sees the newly launched site--check it out at sbbikelab.org--as another way of getting people involved and sharing their stories.