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WalkingPublic Works

Walkable Community

Santa Barbara is known throughout the country as a pedestrian-friendly place. All of the elements of a livable community are present: wide Downtown sidewalks covered with unique street furniture and artwork, paseos leading to shops and restaurants, vibrant neighborhoods, parks, schools, and a world-class beach promenade, to name a few. Even the details in Santa Barbara, such as custom-designed newspaper racks, trashcans, bicycle racks, and benches, make the mundane seem magnificent.

Santa Barbara was among twelve communities recognized in the inaugural round of Walk Friendly Communities, and is currently one of sixteen communities recognized at the Gold level. The Walk Friendly Community designation, awarded from bronze to platinum, is given to applicant communities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety through comprehensive programs, plans and policies.

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) designated Santa Barbara as a Gold-level community due to strong transportation connectivity policies, a model Safe Routes to School program, and its unique pedestrian-oriented "paseos." The Circulation Element of Santa Barbara's General Plan is a complete streets policy document, the building blocks for making safer, more livable streets for all.

Safe Routes to School

Not only does the City have strong policies to support walking, Santa Barbara has a model Safe Routes to School Program coordinated by the Coalition of Sustainable Transportation (COAST). Each October schools host Walk to School Day, several encourage regular walking to school through a friendly competitions, COAST encourages walking school buses, track walking and biking to school, and perform school safety assessments with parents, principals, City Public Works staff, and law enforcement. Ninety-four percent of all schools in the Santa Barbara School District participate in Safe Routes to School programming.

Other successful partnerships that support a walkable community include Santa Barbara CarFree, a project of the Santa Barbara Air Pollution Control District and 2009 winner of the E.P.A. Clean Air Excellence Award as a model eco-tourism program. With support from the City of Santa Barbara, Amtrak California and hundreds of businesses and local agency partners work together to encourage car-free travel to, from, and within Santa Barbara through discounts, and by providing information to travelers on walkable destinations like the Farmers Markets, parks, trails, and bus and shuttle services.

Pedestrian Master Plan 

The Pedestrian Master Plan is designed to take Santa Barbara’s pedestrian system to the next level: to develop a comprehensive pedestrian system that enhances and increases the city’s walkability to the extent that all people will feel safe walking, to increase connections to destinations throughout the city, to enhance the Paseo network, and to increase the number of children who walk and bike to school. Additionally, a major goal of the enhanced pedestrian system is to increase the overall health of Santa Barbara’s residents by promoting walking as a viable means of transportation.


Jessica Grant, Supervising Transportation Planner

(805) 897-2542

Last Updated: Nov 5, 2021
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