Getting Around your College Town
Trop's Tips for Everyday Transport
Walk around Isla Vista during the school year and what do you notice? Everyone is trying to go somewhere. One of my favorite things about this beachside college town is the eclectic variety of ways that people get around. The fact that the majority of the UCSB population lives within a few blocks of their school means that a car may not always be the transportation of choice. In addition, the overall levelness of the terrain, as well as many pathways for non-car traffic leaves room for a kind of awesome range of transportation.
In 2011, UCSB was ranked as #3 in the “Most Bicycle Friendly Colleges” list by Huffington Post, and has maintained that ranking ever since. With more than half of the student population choosing bikes as their primary mode of transport, this makes UCSB the college with the highest percentage of undergrad bicyclists (preferred mode of transport) in the country, and with good reason! Isla Vista’s roads themselves have clearly marked bicycle lanes, and a body of car traffic very accustomed to their two-wheeled peers. But the minute you enter the UCSB campus, you’ll be astounded to see the intricacy of the brisk bike traffic.
The 10 miles worth of bike paths begin as soon as you step foot on campus, clearly separated by white and yellow painted markings to indicate lanes, roundabouts, stop signs, and even yields. Bike racks are abundant and strategically placed all throughout campus, and UCSB even employs the on-campus Associated Students Bike Shop for students’ bike repair needs. Having been one of the 14,000 bike commuters, I would highly recommend it. It’s convenient and quick, and living at Trop, there’s no dearth of bike racks, positioned both underground and alongside the building. One huge tip for bikes though: MAKE SURE YOU LOCK ‘EM! A sturdy U-lock will go a long way to prevent bike thefts.
But now you’re probably wondering, what about the other 50% of students? I, after being primarily a bike commuter for 2 years, began looking for other ways to get around. If you prefer a calmer pace of things, walking is another great way to get around, and it doesn’t actually take all that much longer (sometimes bike paths=detours). There are more route options and possible shortcuts as a walker, and you don’t have to worry about locking up your bike.
Sharing the walker’s sidewalk or road will often be the boarder. An increasing number of long boarders, penny boarders, and traditional skateboarders alike are seen to be zipping stylishly around IV and UCSB, the happy medium between biking and walking. The overall lack of hills makes this area a favorite for boarders, and let me tell you, boarding is delightfully enjoyable in addition to being convenient. Like walking, you don’t have to worry about locking or parking, and instead just carry the board inside with you. Other than that, you do see the occasional scooter, roller blade, or (my personal favorite) unicycle commuter, and I’d say whatever your choice of transport, it will be respected. Word of caution to all sidewalk travelers though: Bikes have the right of way, and bike traffic will not stop! Cross a bike path the way you would cross a street.
Now this about covers local means of transport, but what if you want to go further, such as to the store or SBCC (downtown)? Several students (often in their 2nd or 3rd years) opt to bring their car to college. Something to keep in mind about cars is that unless you want to park on the street, parking is an additional expense, both in your residential area as well as on either (UCSB or SBCC) campus. Parking itself can take an additional 10-15 minutes depending on the time and day, but driving is a great option in case of injury or transporting things. Another great way to get around somewhat longer distances is public bus. MTD schedules are available online, or even easier in the ‘bus setting’ in Google Maps, and bus stickers (which allow you to travel for free) are given out to all UCSB and SBCC students at the beginning of each quarter/semester. The buses are generally prompt, safe, and a popular choice for students and residents alike.
The year-round sun in Santa Barbara gives you the freedom to bike, board or stroll to your destination. In addition to being convenient, these are also a great source of quick exercise. Whatever you choose, I guarantee you will appreciate the beautiful setting of your campus as you get around!
Most Bike Friendly College Campuses:
UCSB Campus Bike Map