CalBike's Best of 2016

by / January 15, 2017

For the past few years, CalBike has produced a 'Best of' list to highlight some accomplishments (and some disappointments) from around the state. These awards help us see where we are, and how far we have to go. Enjoy! 


Best New Protected Intersection: 9th and Division, San Francisco

We’re thrilled to include this category for the first time to celebrate this important innovation in making people on bikes feel safe and comfortable at intersections. San Francisco’s five-legged formerly frightful junction at Division & 9th has been transformed into a pleasant and efficient meander. 

  Protected-Intersection-Drawing.png                                   Graphic: SFMTA

SF_Protected_Intersection.jpg                                   Photo: Streetsblog SF

Honorable Mention: Alameda and Hopkins in Berkeley. This is merely a decent protected intersection, but if we had a category for “Best Cost-Saving Last-Minute Innovation by City Staff” it would win that award, hands-down. Originally designed just to install pedestrian bulb-outs near a school, the project hit an obstacle when drainage issues proved more difficult than anticipated. The delay threatened the grant until city staff promptly amended the project to convert part of the bulb-out to a bikeway. This protected intersection was the 12th in nation to be installed, and there are 13 in total built out.

Best New Protected Bike Lane: Telegraph Avenue, Oakland

Telegraph Avenue is a key thoroughfare in our headquarters hometown of Oakland, and about a mile of it was transformed into a protected bike lane that earned “top ten” status in People for Bikes’ annual list of the nation’s best bike lanes. It’s a great facility that is already attracting more people to ride bikes. It’s also a great example of how slow progress can be, and why we are working in Sacramento to incentivize cities to pick up the pace. The approved section stretches from 20th to 41st, but it’s only constructed to 29th Street. Beyond 41st, potential improvements are pending another community outreach process and funding cycle. The City of Oakland's just-released Telegraph Ave Bike Lane Progress Report shows how great the project is: retail sales are up 9%; collisions are down 40%; 79% of bicyclists and 63% of pedestrians feel safer; only half of motorists break the speed limit law, down from almost all motorists; 52% of bicyclists pedal on the street more often. 

Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Street protected bike lane in Downtown LA: very short, but probably one of the most high quality protected bike lanes that LADOT has implemented so far. Incorporating features like bus stop islands, bike boxes, bike-specific signals and left turn boxes, it sets the stage for future protected bike lanes in Downtown and the city as a whole.

Best New Bike Path: The Napa Valley Vine Trail

A new segment of the Napa Valley Vine Trail opened last summer connecting south Napa with Yountville. Providing a beautiful car-free route adjacent to high-speed Highway 29, the path is a boon for transportation and tourism alike. It’s already created jobs: a bike shop opened just in time to rent to trail users.



Honorable Mentions:

Two years ago we gave the Bay Bridge East Span Bike Path an honorable mention because it wasn’t quite finished and we didn’t have a “Best Bike Pier” category. Finally, it’s finished, and it’s a beautiful ride to Yerba Buena Island. However, continued (de-)construction activity on the adjacent old Bay Bridge requires closure of the path most weekdays. As a weekend-only path, it can’t be the winner.  

The Expo Line Bike Path in Los Angeles runs parallel to what is probably the best new transit line, already exceeding ridership expectations. The bike path is gorgeous and provides a nice connection from West L.A. to Santa Monica. But it needs some work to be truly useful: an extension to the east, better intersection treatments and better connections to adjoining neighborhoods would be a great start.  

The Central Marin Ferry Connection Bridge allows people walking and biking to avoid a sudden grade change and five lanes of high speed traffic at the crossroads of Marin's bike network with direct connections to the Cal Park Hill Tunnel, Corte Madera Creek Path the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. Opened in May, it features a plaque honoring Deb Hubsmith who along with the Marin County Bicycle Coalition championed the bridge since the early 2000s.

Best Law that Will Help If Enforced: No Handheld Phone Use

Effective January 1, AB 1785 prohibits drivers from holding their phones in their hands while driving. Originally introduced as a bill banning drivers from touching their phones while driving, a late-stage compromise pushed by Uber and Lyft amended it to permit touching the phone if it’s mounted to the dash and if the driver “uses just one finger to tap or swipe.” That compromise caused us to remove our support from the bill, but it remains an important step toward our vision of zero road deaths.

Most Financially Engaged Retail Bike Shop: Trek Bicycle Superstore

The Trek Bicycle Superstore donates more than $10,000 a year in cash to local advocacy: The Bike Coalition of San Diego County and Bike San Diego. Owner Mike Olson understands the value of advocacy in convincing our policy makers to create more bike-friendly streets and, reflecting the smart decisions he’s made that have helped to grow his store into the largest Trek retailer in the nation, also understands the value of investing in advocacy.

Honorable Mentions: Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition reports that retailer Summit Bicycles and manufacturer Specialized (headquarter nearby) are fantastic and generous partners in their advocacy. Foothill Cyclery in San Luis Obispo has given more than $10,000 over the last few years. Studio Valley in Mill Valley has donated nearly $15,000 in product and in-kind support to the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.

Best National Conference: The Untokening

This gathering of equity advocates—organized by and for people of color—created a space so that perspectives of people of color, marginalized and distressed communities, and others who often find themselves as the “token” diversity person in mobility, planning, and placemaking conversations could determine the mobility agenda. Held in Atlanta on the Sunday after the presidential election, the event helped CalBike board member Esteban del Río and staff member Norma Herrera-Baird develop positive and hopeful plans to make our bicycle advocacy movement in California more diverse and inclusive. A suggestion from event organizer Adonia Lugo we hope to facilitate: bring the Untokening to California!


                                   Photo by: Argenis Apolinario

Biggest Pie Slice for Bikes: Santa Cruz Measure D

Setting the bar for other counties, Santa Cruz voters supported a sales tax that allocated fully 20% of the proceeds to bicycling and walking. Bike advocates fought previous proposals that provided less money for bikes and more for highways, leading to this proposal that finally won the necessary two-thirds approval.

Honorable Mention: Stanislaus County voters set aside 10.4% of their sales tax for biking and walking!

Biggest New Pot of Money for Bikes: Los Angeles Measure M

Los Angeles voters approved a sales tax that will generate $61 million every year to develop bicycle and pedestrian improvements throughout sprawling Los Angeles County. It sets L.A. up to be a truly bikeable county if it’s used wisely. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is working with its allies and partners to focus that money on the biking and walking improvements that will serve the people who need those amenities the most: low-income people of color in neighborhoods with poor transit service.

Best New Leadership: Sacramento  

Sacramentans are looking at a very bright future with the installment of three important new leaders. Jennifer Donlon-Wyant was a bold and innovative bicycle planner at the leading firm, Alta Planning+Design, until the City of Sacramento stole her away as their Active Transportation Program Specialist. Her expertise will be complemented by newly elected Mayor Darrell Steinberg, author of California’s landmark SB 375 that set regional targets for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transportation; and James Corless, former Executive Director of Transportation for America, will take over as the Executive of Sacramento Area Council of Governments.  

Best Reallocation of State Active Transportation Program Funds

When our partners across the state, including those in the Coachella Valley, were disappointed to see the biggest chunk (by far) of the most recent round of Active Transportation grants go to a single golf cart-and-bicycle pathway project, our own Jeanie Ward-Waller dug deep into the application and discovered an error in the scoring of the application. The applicants mistakenly  took credit for helping disadvantaged communities even though certain aspects of their project didn’t meet the right criteria. We alerted the California Transportation Commission, and five projects around the state were awarded instead.

New Executives for 2016

It was a big year for leadership transition at local bicycle advocacy organizations around the state. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition appointed Brian Wiedenmeier as their Executive Director, promoting him from his post there as Development Director. The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition looked to the next county, swiping Marin’s Program Director Alisha O’Loughlin to make her their new Executive. Tyler Wertenbruch held down the fort for Bike SLO County for most of 2016, allowing for the appointment of Mike Bennett as their new Executive Director. Janneke Strause was appointed the new Executive Director of Bike Santa Cruz County. Nina Mohammed is the interim Executive Director of the Inland Empire Biking Alliance. 

Most Anti-Climactic Merger

At first you had to read between the lines and squint really hard when reading the announcements from the Alliance for Biking & Walking and the League of American Bicyclists: Is that a merger? Or a takeover? In July the picture became more clear. The Alliance is dissolving and its programs are being integrated into the League’s brand new “Active Transportation Leadership Institute.” What will happen to the annual leadership retreat? Who will provide trainings and coaching to bicycle advocates, both professional and volunteer? We look forward to learning the answers when the League launches the Institute in March. And, alongside the League, we’ll supplement and complement its programs with our own trainings and retreats for California bike advocates. Mark your calendar for the biannual California Bike Summit October 3-6 in Sacramento.



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