Tuesday, September 2, 2014     Volume: 15, Issue: 25
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Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead

The following article was posted on July 16th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 19 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 19

The SB Bicycling Coalition and New Belgium Brewing join forces for the Clips and Brews Tour

BY KRISTINA SEWELL


CONNECTING THE DOTS
Cyclists and advocates of the Santa Barbara Bike Coalition work together to map out the bike routes that need the most improvement.
PHOTO COURTESY SB BIKE COALITION

The 150-mile stretch of coastline from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo is a cyclist’s paradise, with an unparalleled climate, limited rainfall, and unbelievable views of the Los Padres National Forest and Pacific Ocean. But perhaps the most amazing thing about this happy stretch of coastline is how much everyone loves riding on it and taking care of it.

Take, for instance, the Santa Barbara Bicycling Coalition, a nonprofit organization in South County. The coalition has advocated for bike lanes, paths, storage lockers, and increased funding for alternative transportation. Members have also become involved in educating youth on bike safety and benefits through after-school education programs from Santa Maria to Santa Barbara.

The latest focus of the coalition has been improving safety for cyclists along the coast. Despite the picturesque views, safety is lacking for local bike riders. With that in mind, the coalition launched the Connecting Our Community Campaign.

“The Connecting Our Community Campaign is a response to the growing public interest in making bicycling safe and accessible,” Executive Director Edward France said. “It also pairs with the fact that the county and many local cities are updating their bicycle master plans.”

According to the coalition, bicycle ridership has nearly doubled in Santa Barbara County, despite the unsafe infrastructure. Research from the coalition suggests there are many more people who would like to cycle, but are concerned about their safety on the roadways.

“The goal is to grow bicycling, reduce congestion, and help address the health problems caused by sedentary lifestyles,” France said.

For France, a lot of the issues at hand have to do with safety and establishing more connected bike routes. Currently, there are only 17 miles of sporadic bike paths along the South Coast. By 2020, the coalition is aiming to make Santa Barbara a place to which one in five people make a trip by bike. Ultimately, members want to establish Santa Barbara as the national leader in bicycling—and that begins with safety.

“Safe bicycle infrastructure means more people can choose to ride when they want to take a short trip or just go out for fun,” France said. “It makes our neighborhoods more livable [and] accessible, and reduces congestion.”

The coalition’s first steps in this multi-year campaign have been to raise $100,000, which will be used to track all planned improvements, utilize the interactive bike map, and create safe bikeways for everyone ages 8 to 80. SB cyclists are also taking to the roads, helping the coalition determine areas of need and safety concerns on maps.

“We are currently taking feedback about individual intersections, streets, neighborhoods, and bike routes,” France said. “Next, we engage our public process with feedback from constituents.”

The SB Bike Coalition is known for partnering with numerous community organizations over its 10-year existence, pushing for cycling education and safety and filling their volunteer base.


PHOTO COURTESY SB BIKE COALITION

But the group’s biggest partnership yet was announced last month: The SB Bike Coalition will be partnering with New Belgium Brewing Company for its fifth annual Clips and Brews Tour. All proceeds from the event, which is scheduled for Aug. 15 in Santa Barbara, will go toward the coalition and the Connecting Our Community Campaign.

Global Good Impact’s Robin Elander, who serves as a consultant for the coalition, said this would be the biggest event of this caliber.

“We were pretty stoked. We had to submit an application. It was a lot like a grant process,” Elander said.

For five years, the New Belgium brewers have held a tour of 21 American cities. For each event, the company partners with a local nonprofit of its choosing; all proceeds are given to the nonprofits.

The Santa Barbara event at Chase Palm Park will feature 18 beers and a raffle to win a custom cruiser New Belgium Fat Tire bike, as well as a screening of fan-made short films. Everyone 21 and older is encouraged to bring his or her bike and a chair and hang out in support of the coalition.

Jesse Claeys, inventory logistics coordinator for New Belgium, is in his fourth year of being involved with the event.

“The idea behind this tour stems from the philanthropic groups at the brewery,” Claeys said. “It is basically a marketing tour that gives back to various nonprofits.”

In an attempt to spread the love across the nation, New Belgium set its sights on beautiful Santa Barbara.

“We found a great nonprofit in the coalition and liked what they are doing,” Claeys said.

The coordinator shared that some of the beers available at the event can only be found at the brewery in Colorado. There will be tastings available with the purchase of tokens at the event.

Cycling takes a special place in the hearts of Claeys and the folks at New Belgium brewing.

“Cycling is something we enjoy, and there is camaraderie with people,” Claeys said. “Plus, it’s a sustainable form of transportation, and it’s good for people to get outside and enjoy each other.”

Elander shared that prior to the event, there will be planned Drink to Donate happy hours at various Santa Barbara locations now through Aug. 15; a portion of the proceeds will go toward the coalition and its campaign.

France said the focus, for now, is on the southern part of Santa Barbara County, which currently has the largest base of supporters. The director said the coalition has numerous volunteers and advocates in the northern part of the county.

“Our hope is to grow the campaign into North County over the next few years,” France said. “There is such a potential to improve bicycling in and around Santa Maria. It is a simple way to improve quality of life for everybody.”

 

Staff Writer Kristina Sewell says a Fat Tire is always better than a flat tire. Contact her at ksewell@santamariasun.com.