The city of Santa Barbara is known as a fairly safe community but earlier this decade the city council began to receive concerns from residents about pedestrian safety. After a speeding vehicle fatally struck a pedestrian while crossing the street in the crosswalk in October 2011, the Santa Barbara City Council tasked the Public Works Department with developing a pedestrian and traffic safety plan. The department conducted a wide outreach effort and held many workshops to identify areas of concern and action steps on how to address them, resulting in the Eastside Neighborhood Transportation Management Plan (NTMP).
The Public Works Engineering Division started with a plan to improve safety at the incident intersection and one further down Milpas Street. During the decision making process for these improvements, the Santa Barbara City Council learned that residents on the Eastside wanted a larger transportation planning effort focused in their neighborhood. In September 2012, the city council directed the Public Works Transportation Division to move forward with a safety plan for the whole Eastside area called the Eastside Neighborhood Transportation Management Plan (NTMP).
The goal of the plan was to improve neighborhood livability by addressing pedestrian and traffic safety issues. This included five major objectives:
- Engage the diverse Eastside neighborhood regarding pedestrian and traffic safety concerns by using a multimedia approach and innovative communication strategies.
- Identify existing traffic safety issues through crash analysis and provide traffic engineering solutions to address those issues.
- Establish and prioritize the neighborhood’s pedestrian and traffic safety concerns.
- Inform and educate the adjacent neighborhoods about this Eastside NTMP process and the potential effects on other neighborhoods.
- Propose short and long term improvements responsive to the neighborhood, and address the identified safety issues.
The Public Works Transportation Division conducted a multi-prong bilingual outreach effort to understand the neighborhood’s concerns related to traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle safety. The outreach effort began on Feb. 2, 2013 with the Eastside Listening Workshop held at Franklin Elementary School. Following the meeting, the department sent the bilingual online Eastside Resident Neighborhood Survey which was made available through various neighborhood resources and outlets, and send a bilingual elementary school survey packet sent home with students who attend schools in the Eastside area. Additionally, the city’s traffic engineer performed a Traffic Safety Analysis on the area.
As a result of the resident’s feedback six key needs were identified to improve pedestrian and traffic safety:
- Improved street lighting;
- Better walking experience;
- Reduced vehicle speeds;
- Bicycle amenities;
- Increased outreach on rules of the road; and
- Improved bus stops.
The Traffic Safety Analysis helped to identify if there were any trends and/or patterns that could be addressed with engineering solutions. While few patterns were identified that suggested safety problems, the Traffic Engineer did have concerns at three intersections that could benefit from pedestrian enhancements.
After the Transportation Division heard from the Eastside residents, an additional workshop, the Eastside Approach Workshop, was held to provide residents with potential solutions to their concerns. The city’s traffic engineer shared his suggested pedestrian safety improvements at the three intersections he cited as a concern in the Traffic Safety Analysis. An additional survey was distributed at the workshop for immediate resident feedback on the solutions and the priorities of those improvements.
All of the outreach efforts, traffic safety analysis, neighborhood concerns, and solutions were summarized in the Eastside NTMP. There were 18 planned tasks identified that could be accomplished within the city’s existing Streets/Transportation Capital Improvement Program and Operating Budget. There were 10 infrastructure related projects that were identified as priorities, but that did not have immediate funding available. Overall, the plan was highly successful in involving the neighborhood and improving transportation planning based on the needs identified by the community.
In July 2013, the Santa Barbara City Council approved the Eastside NTMP unanimously. Since then, the city has improved street lighting, enhanced the walking experience, reduced vehicle speeds, added bicycle amenities, increased outreach, and enforced rules of the road.
The planned tasks highlights included:
- Infrastructure Improvements
- Haley Street Bike Lane connecting downtown from Chapala Street to the Eastside at Alisos Street.
- High visibility crosswalk was painted at the intersection of Montecito and Alisos Streets.
- Red painted curb was extended at the intersections of Alisos and Cacique, Alisos and Carpinteria (plus a high visibility crosswalk), and Alisos and Quinientos.
- Safe Routes to School Cleveland Project: Intersection realignment and pedestrian rapid flashing beacon installed.
- Pedestrian refuge islands installed along six intersections in the Eastside near Franklin and Adelante Schools.
- 30 mph traffic signs near Franklin and Adelante Elementary Schools were removed and replaced with 25 mph signs.
- Sidewalk repairs have been completed throughout the Eastside neighborhood.
- Rules of the Road Education
- May 2013: Eastside Rides – Bicycle Street Skills and Helmet Distribution/Fitting.
- September 2013: Franklin Safe Routes to School Bicycle Rodeo and Helmet Distribution/Fitting.
- September 2013: S.B. Junior High for the Family Day and Health Fair — Bici Familia — Bicycle Street Skills and Helmet Distribution/Fitting.
- December 2013: A Bike 4 Christmas — Bicycle Street Skills and Helmet Distribution/Fitting.
- Rules of the Road Enforcement
Funding has been secured for the following capital projects that were identified in the Eastside NTMP as priorities:
- $240,000 of General Fund monies to retrofit all the existing street lights in the Eastside to LED and add approximately 14 new lights. This project will be completed by spring 2015.
- $7,242,000 from the California Transportation Commission’s Active Transportation Grant Program for the following Safe Routes to School projects:
- Montecito — Yanonali Bridge Replacement and Pedestrian Enhancement Project.
- Cacique/Soledad Streets Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridges over Sycamore Creek and Pedestrian Enhancements Project.
- Lower Milpas Street and Puerto Vallarta Sidewalk and Lighting Project.
- $140,000 in funding from the Community Development Block Grant Program for access ramps along Voluntario Street. This project will be completed in spring 2015.
The Eastside NMTP is a great model for community and stakeholder outreach, technical analysis, and simplicity of implementation. The stakeholder outreach, especially to the partnering schools, was a crucial outlet to distributing outreach materials to and feedback from Eastside families. Having such robust community outreach effort with stakeholder support proved to be very important in obtaining funding for capital projects. Although not all of the improvements are complete, the city has made major strides in the neighborhood livability with respect to traffic, pedestrian, and bicycle related improvements.