SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In one of the more popular areas of downtown Santa Barbara, bike riders are being told to walk their bicycles through the shared area with pedestrians since last month.
The Santa Barbara Bike Coalition (SB Bike), COAST (Coalition for Sustainable Transportation) and Traffic Solutions, a division of the Santa Barbara County Association of Governments (SBCAG) have urged bikers to dismount from their bikes on the 500 block between Cota Street and Haley Street.
The newly designed plaza setting shrinks the center of the street to about a 14-foot space in some sections where bikes, skateboarders, pedestrians and wheelchairs have to move through.
Signs have been made to alert bike riders to walk their bikes through.
Barry Remis with COAST has been educating riders to follow the new safety signage. On Sunday, he posted up at the signs talking to riders and pointing out the safety message.
"This is ideal this is the kind atmosphere we want to create," said Kent Epperson with Traffic Solutions.
The bicycle community has become involved and says it needs to, "Self enforce ourselves and be considerate and slow down the pace and enjoy the beautiful sights we have on State Street," said Epperson. "The bike community has stepped up and we are, you can say, hall monitors to keep bicyclist riding safe and answer questions."
The new look to downtown Santa Barbara comes with a mix that's been carefully managed.
Shoppers strolling in the street promenade for the first time and bike riders will now have to follow some new guidelines as they pass by dining patios and bar platforms.
"It is now a shared environment, a different kind of environment and we have to adjust as bicyclists," said Epperson
One of the business owners said in the last week a bike rider, popping a wheelie, hit a pedestrian who was injured.
Epperson says, "Some of them are outstanding at doing wheelies and they are they are fun to watch but unfortunately it is dangerous in a situation like this. We are asking them to do that somewhere else."
Recreating this street is a work in progress and many ideas are in motion that may be used in similar shared spaces throughout the Central Coast.
A part time resident, Sharon Roe had her dog Bailey in a basket as she walked through. "I think it is a great idea. I really hope they keep all of the street closed permanently. It feels like Europe to me and keeps everyone safe by slowing bicyclists down."
Looking at the mix block by block, "I am overjoyed," said Epperson. "This brings magic, it brings people together."