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Riding an Electric Bike in Santa Barbara 2021: Best Paths & Where to Stop Along the Way

August 14, 2021

Whether you're a seasoned bike rider or you just took up biking during the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 is a great year to enjoy your electric bike. If you live in California or you're vacationing there this summer, Santa Barbara should be on your list of the best places to bike. Here's what you need to know about riding your electric bike there. 


Popular Bike Trails in Santa Barbara


Santa Barbara is home to many bike trails, including the Cabrillo Bike Path. This flat and easy trail connects Leadbetter Beach and Butterfly Beach, and it lasts for 4.6 miles. It passes through the Andree Clark Bird Refuge and follows the ocean for almost the entire trip. The trail is made of concrete and asphalt for simple riding.


To take things up a level, try Obern Trail. This path begins at State Street or Stearns Wharf, depending on which way you ride, and is 10.5 miles long. It's one-way, so prepare for 21 miles of biking or arrange for a pickup at the end. The trail is made of concrete and asphalt, but you can opt for a dirt trail in a few areas.

If you're a serious biker in excellent shape, try biking through Old Marcos Pass and across Painted Cove Road. This path covers North San Marcos Road, Painted Cove Road, and East Camino Cielo Road. It's only 5.5 miles each way, but you gain more than 2,300 feet of elevation. Take a break and test your brakes before beginning your descent; you don't want to lose control on the way down.


Best Paths Along the Beach


If you want to optimize your time along the water, the path to Hendry's Beach is a great option. This path departs westward from Stearns Wharf's Dolphin Founatin and passes through Leadbetter Beach, La Marina, Shoreline Drive, and Cliff Drive. The beach itself includes a bike repair shop and an observatory so you can enjoy the view.


To see all the beach towns near Santa Barbara, try biking to Ventura. This 32-mile path takes you along the ocean through Montecito, Carpinteria, and Summerland. Catch the views at famous beaches such as Butterfly Beach and Leadbetter Beach, and finish up with Mussel Shoals and Ventura's beaches.


Santa Barbara Electric Bike Laws


Familiarizing yourself with Santa Barbara's electric bike laws is key to avoiding run-ins with law enforcement. If your electric bike is Class 3, you're not allowed to use any of Santa Barbara's bike paths. If it's Class 1 or 2, you're welcome to use bike paths, but you may not ride on sidewalks.


For safety reasons, all cyclists should wear helmets, but they're required if you're under 18. As you ride, make sure to stay in the same direction as the traffic, come to a complete stop at stop signs, and acknowledge pedestrians' right-of-way. No matter where you're riding, keep your speed under 20 miles per hour.


Where to Stop for Food


Biking is hard work, even if you're riding with pedal assist. To cross Santa Barbara's most well-known eatery off your bucket list, try La Super-Rica, which is on North Milpas Street. If you're at the top of San Marcos Pass, try Cold Spring Tavern for high-quality grilled food. For seafood cooked in a Japanese style, visit Yoichi's on East Victoria Street. Bettina on Coast Village Road is your best bet for pizza, and if you're just looking for a caffeinated pick-me-up and a snack, try Dune Coffee Roasters on State Street.

Once you've familiarized yourself with Santa Barbara's geography and laws, start planning your biggest biking trip of 2021.

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