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Santa Maria looking to become more bike-friendly

Posted at 5:41 PM, Oct 16, 2018

If you drive around Santa Maria, you might not see a lot of people on bikes, but that could soon be changing.

The City of Santa Maria is trying to become more bike-friendly and on Tuesday night, the city’s Public Works Department is updating the City Council on plans underway to do just that.

Active cyclists say the idea that riding a bike is too dangerous in downtown Santa Maria is a common misconception.

“I think it’s the perception of danger. We’ve been riding bikes forever. We’ve been in business here for 35 years and we’re pretty tight with the community. You hear about accidents all the time but I think with social media you hear about things quicker and it spreads like wildfire,” said Bob Albrecht, Assistant Manager of Main Street Cycles.

Main Street Cycles is located in the heart of downtown. Employees would like to see the city take steps to make cyclists feel more comfortable.

“The biggest and easiest thing would be bike lanes, you know, more prevalent throughout the town. The green lanes are something that’s really prevalent in surrounding communities that seems to really help,” Albrecht explained.

Nearly 10 years after the city began its Bikeway Master Plan, things are finally starting to take shape. The Public Works Department is now preparing for several projects that include a multipurpose trail through Simas Park from the Transit Center to McClelland Street, a Blosser Road bikeway from the Santa Maria River levee to Battles Road, and a multipurpose trail on top of the Santa Maria River levee from Santa Maria to Guadalupe.

“The whole thing we’re trying to focus on is making connections — connecting someone who needs to get from home to work or from school to an after-school program or from school to home,” explained Rodger Olds, Principal Civil Engineer for the City of Santa Maria.

The city plans on doing outreach in January to learn what people would like to see out on the roads.

“Please let us know what facilities (you) could use. If they don’t feel safe, there might be a reason for that, it might be a perception, but please let us know,” Olds said.

The city is expected to start construction on the multipurpose trail through Simas Park next summer.