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Electric bike share plan about to be charged up in Santa Barbara

Electric bike Santa Barbara plan
A shared electric bike project similar to this example shot is coming to downtown Santa Barbara. (Photo: City of Santa Barbara, BCycle)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Santa Barbara's ranking as one of the better bike friendly cities in the country came through Tuesday at the Santa Barbara City Council meeting with an approval of a bike share program for downtown and the waterfront.

The program will be using electric bikes.

They will be part of a rental plan using a smart phone, an app and a fee for use program.

The Historic Landmarks Commission recently rejected the program based on issues with locations and compatibility with the overall promenade. It was looked at as a project that needed more review for its impacts.

An appeal to the city council resulted in the program getting a favorable vote as an interim project, and a way to test it out. That's much like the other changes recently including parklets and patio dining throughout the city that are taking place during the pandemic as a business boost.

BCycle is the company providing and maintaining the bikes. It's expected about 125 bikes will be initially offered.

As the project is rolled out, there's been a request to add them to other areas of Santa Barbara where they can be installed near parklets.

Opponents of the plan have been upset at some bike riders with aggressive behavior in downtown, and how they have not been compatible or respectful of everyone and everything around them. Many complaints have come in about dangerous riders, rowdy maneuvers and bike riders intentionally knocking down signs and safety cones as they go by.

Police, at times, have added specific foot patrols to deal with these issues.

Even with this program, bike riders will have to walk their wheels in the 500 block (between Haley St. and Cota St.) which is the most crowded downtown.

Watch tonight on KEYT NewsChannel 3, KCOY NewsChannel 12 and KKFX Fox 11.

(More details and video will be added here later today)

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.

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