Santa Barbara County Preps for Shared Bikes, Scooters, and Cars

Jessie Ward

Spurred by the recent scooter takeover of Santa Barbara's South County, the Board of Supervisors is making moves toward regulating, permitting, and collecting fees for shared mobility devices, or SMDs, which include car-shares, bike-shares, and electric scooters. An ordinance amending Santa Barbara County Code Chapters 9, 23, and 28 was introduced at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. The board unanimously moved to continue the ordinance to the Administrative Agenda for its meeting on November 13, 2018. If approved, the ordinance creates the framework for further regulating and permitting such shared vehicles.

Currently, the county has no rules or regulations in place for them. “We’re trying to get ahead of the mess and come up with a structure ahead of time,” said 1st District Supervisor Das Williams who expressed concern over the lack of regulation. “The current situation invites companies to roll up, and they think it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission because there is really no accountability,” said Williams.

The ordinance could pave the way for the county to participate in a region-wide bike-share program. UC Santa Barbara’s campus is currently serving as the pilot program for what is intended to be a larger program. The school was selected as the pilot location through the South Coast Bike Share Feasibility Study conducted in summer 2016. The study was developed in partnership with the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition, the County of Santa Barbara, the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta, Santa Barbara City College, Metropolitan Transit District, and Santa Barbara County Association of Governments.

The campus has partnered with bike-share vendor CycleHop, and currently has 600 bikes on campus and will have 1,200 come January 2019. The first month of operation, CycleHop reported 2,812 total trips taken, with trips averaging 14 minutes. CycleHop reported a 1,980-pound carbon offset the first month of use at UCSB.

The City of Goleta’s Energy/Green committee is meeting November 8, 2018, to discuss the bike-share program.