Bicycling for Everyone

Our Bicycling For Everyone Initiative implements the second strategy in our Strategic Plan: make bicycling mainstream. While our Bikeways to Everywhere initiative works to remove the barrier of unsafe streets, this initiative seeks to remove the many other barriers that prevent bicycling from becoming mainstream among all of California's diverse people. Some of these barriers are cultural: decades of racist disinvestment in communities of color, sexist assumptions about gender roles and abilities, and disenfranchisement among low-income people. Others are physical: long travel distances, physical disabilities. The four projects under our Bicycling for Everyone Initiative reflect our commitment to diversity and inclusion while working to make bicycling mainstream for everyone.

Bike sharing is one of the most important ways to expand bicycling to the mainstream. However, current bike share systems are much too small to make the desired impact and the business model results in inequitable distribution of bike share systems that serves more privileged communities only. Our Bike Share for All project seeks to expand bike share to every community in California, with a priority for disadvantaged communities and accessible, affordable pricing.

California's Clean Vehicle Rebate Program subsidizes the replacement of gasoline-powered cars with electric cars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it's accessible only to people who can afford cars and the cleanest vehicle of all, the bicycle, is not included. Our Bike Purchase Incentives campaign will direct a small portion of the state's Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to subsidize half the cost of a "transportation bicycle," up to $500 for regular bikes and $1,000 for electric bicycles, and direct the bulk of the funds for lower- and middle-income households.

In crowded urban areas with too little open space, Open Streets events attract millions of Californians to their streets for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing, and socializing. CalBike supports the expansion of Open Streets events throughout California.

Some trips are too long, or on streets too hilly, or with cargo too heavy (like children) for regular bikes to meet the need. Electric bikes solve the problem, but stigma and outdated regulations limit their adoption. CalBike works to change that.

From the Blog


Our Campaigns

  • Bike Share for All

    Public bike share systems are a game-changer. They dramatically expand the places one can reach quickly and easily. They are a type of public transit that gives the same mobility as individual private transport, without the public or private costs. They represent an official public statement that bicycling is an important part of our public transportation mix. 

    Bike sharing is very safe. Over 32,000 bikes in 105 municipalities throughout the country have hosted more than 71 million rides since the first ride in August 2008. Not a single fatality has been reported, despite the fact that riders almost never wear safety gear such as a helmet when riding a bike share bike.

    Bike share systems are expanding in California, but not nearly fast enough. Vastly different business models confuse the public and impede progress. Expensive pricing structures and profit-oriented distribution policies prevent bike share from serving the low-income communities. For bike share to truly serve all Californians, the following principles should be followed:

    1. Bike share systems must be compatible on a statewide level.

    Bike share systems must stress compatibility on all levels, starting with transit passes such as the Clipper Card used by transit agencies throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Californians with a bike share account should be able to universally access a bicycle, no matter the city or the vendor. 

    2. Bike share locations and pricing must be ridership-driven, not profit-driven.

    Like public transit, bike share systems should be expanded first where they are most likely to be used, not where they are are most likely to generate revenue. This will require (relatively minor) public subsidies and variable pricing including discounts for low-income riders. 

    3. Vendors must adopt an open data format.

    Bike share bikes are all outfitted with a GPS unit or radio-frequency identification chips called RFIDs, which gather user data. Useful data about bicyclist travel patterns are few and far between; information gathered from bike share systems represent a quantum leap forward for bicycle planners and decision makers. Sharing information about how and where people use a bike share system can help strengthen arguments for more bicycle infrastructure, which will lead to more bicyclists, which will lead to more customers for bike share! While proprietary information should be protected, all else should be shared in an open data format.

    Learn more >>

  • Bike Purchase Incentives

    The California Bicycle Coalition is asking the California Air Resources Board to expand their incentive programs to include the cleanest vehicle of all: the bicycle. 

    The ARB funds the Clean Vehicle Rebate Program and similar state programs to help people replace high-polluting cars with electric cars to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they don’t have any programs to encourage bicycle riding. CalBike proposes to change that with a $10 million Bicycle Purchase Incentive Pilot Program. 

    The program will provide incentives in the form of vouchers for half of the cost of bikes that are commonly used for transportation, up to a maximum value of $500, or $1000 for electric bicycles. Bike share programs and bicycle repair services may also be supported, in addition to vouchers to incentivize purchase of cargo bikes, electric bikes, folding bikes, and other utilitarian bicycles used for everyday transportation. No funding would be taken from existing bicycle-related sources.

    Download our fact sheet.

    Learn more >>

  • Open Streets

    Here's some pretty cool trivia: California's first open streets event -- Car-Free Sundays in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco -- took place in 1967, nine years before Bogota, Colombia, introduced the weekly closure of streets to cars for the enjoyment of the bicycling and walking public, dubbed “ciclovias,” that is credited with inspiring many similar events throughout the U.S.

    Today, San Francisco hosts Sunday Streets, a series of monthly neighborhood events around the city.  Albany, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, Redding and San Mateo have all held similar events. Not surprisingly, California holds more open streets events than any other state.

    Sunday Streets in San Francisco. Photo by Prawnpie

    Open streets events provide a way to transform public streets into nonmotorized places instantly and at low cost, said Randy Neufeld, director of the SRAM Cycling Fund. They're also completely  scalable.

    “You can try it once or once a week, you can do one mile or a hundred miles,” said Neufeld. “You can rotate different neighborhoods, times of the week, day or night, and link different parts of the city or link suburbs. If it works you can grow it and do it again. If it doesn’t work, nothing is lost.”

    Giving the public a new way to experience their public streets is a game-changer. The semi-annual open streets event in Los Angeles called CicLAvia brings people out who are not self-identified as bicyclists, said Joe Linton, the Los Angeles activist who helped organize the first CicLAvia. “They see how fun and easy it is [to ride a bike in LA] and that changes perceptions.”

    Bicycling in downtown LA during CicLAvia. Photo by Chris Camargo

    Los Angeles held its first CicLAvia in 2010 and will hold its fifth one in October. The route through downtown Los Angeles has grown to 10 miles and attracts more than 100,000 participants from throughout the region and beyond.

    “Politicians and especially downtown Los Angeles business leaders have historically been very car-centric, and now there's a much greater sense that downtown LA should be more bike-friendly. Business leaders would still rather have more parking, but they now see bikes as part of the economic development strategy downtown.”

    In recent years downtown Los Angeles has seen something of a bicycling renaissance. Between the mid-1990s and 2010, Los Angeles installed 4.9 miles of bike lanes. Since 2010, the city has installed more than 50 miles of bikeways, including a growing bike route network and the recent installation of green bike lanes and even a cycle track.

    The city no longer sees bicycling as just a ride along the beach on weekends, said Linton, but also as a transportation option.

    A family rides Redding’s open streets. Photo by Jeff Worthington

    A similar transformation is happening at the other end of the state. In April Redding hosted its second annual open streets event along a two-mile route that attracted several thousand participants.

    As a handful of local bike advocates and public officials continue to discuss how to provide better bicycling and pedestrian facilities for the city, a silent majority of residents are waiting for the chance to ride and walk more often, said Anne Thomas, co-coordinator of the nonprofit Shasta Living Streets, which puts on the event. “Our open streets program is the way to experience the vision. It gives people something to rally around.

    “The way we're doing it is to build the brand, to help people understand what we're talking about,” she said. “What we're branding is bicycling and walking as everyday transportation in our neighborhoods. For us, right now, it's about families and active living.”

    Before our program, said Thomas, anyone who biked in Redding was seen as either homeless or an athlete. “Through our program, we're able to say, 'See, that person is your neighbor, your doctor, your niece or nephew.'"

    Dancing in the streets during Redding’s open streets event. Photo by Jeff Worthington

    “This kind of event gets families to want to live here, and that gets more businesses to move here and invest in our community,” said Thomas. She said city officials are increasingly aware of the economic advantages enjoyed by communities perceived to be more livable.

    Learn more about how to plan and organize an open streets program.


    Learn more >>

  • Promoting E-Bikes

    In 2015, the California Bicycle Coalition sponsored AB 1096 (Chiu) to clarify the definition of electric motor-assisted bicycles (e-bikes) and update the regulations to treat certain low-speed electric bicycles more like regular bicycles, and provide their users with the same health and access benefits that users of bicycles enjoy.

    Status:  AB 1096 was signed by the Governor and is now law.

    Fact Sheets: The following fact sheets were prepared by our partners People for Bikes. Just click on each to download.

    AB 1096 – Information for Consumers

    AB 1096 – Information for Agencies


    In 2002, federal law was amended to distinguish bicycles with low-speed and low-power electric motors from motorcycles, mopeds, and motor vehicles. These modern electric motor-assisted bicycles, or electric bikes, are designed to behave almost exactly like a regular bicycle — just easier to pedal. Unfortunately, however, in California these bikes are still regulated as “motorized bicycles” with restrictions that bar their use on most bicycle paths. Ambiguous language in the description of electric bikes creates confusion for manufacturers and consumers in this fast-growing market.

    Electric bikes are quickly becoming the “vehicle of choice” for thousands of Californians who are discovering the health benefits of bicycling while helping to reduce the environmental impact of our state’s transportation system. Electric bikes benefit people new to cycling who may be discouraged from riding a traditional bicycle due to limited physical fitness, age, disability or convenience. They are often a “gateway” to fully self-propelled bicycling. Electric bikes are especially important for senior citizens, parents with children, people with disabilities, and people whose trips involve steep hills or whose work commutes are within the 5-20 mile range and who traditionally drive.Electric bikes use green battery technology and would be an important addition to California’s growing energy-efficient transportation system. These quiet and low-speed transportation devices also benefit small business owners by providing a cost-effective alternative to cars and trucks when used for equipment transport and deliveries.


    CalBike's Development Director Jenn Guitart's family gets around on the Yuba Spicy Curry, an electric cargo bike. (Photo credit: Jenn Guitart)

    For more information on the growth of e-bikes as a transportation solution, see this People for Bikes article.

    What AB 1096 Accomplished

    AB 1096 clarified the definition of electric motor-assisted bicycles by defining three specific classes of e-bikes: bikes with a top assisted speed of 20 mph that must be pedaled to operate; those with a top assisted speed of 20 mph that can be operated without pedaling; and bikes with a top assisted speed of 28 mph. By regulating these bikes differently than mopeds, AB 1096 enables a reexamination of the access restrictions imposed on users of these bikes in order to permit more access to bicycle paths, where appropriate and safe. By eliminating ambiguity in the regulations, AB 1096 abets the fast-growing electric bike industry in California, where the headquarters of the largest national companies are located. Clarifying the definition of and updating the regulations around low-speed electric bicycles is critical to the expansion of their use by Californians, and therefore important to our goals of enabling more bicycling for the health, safety, and prosperity of all Californians.


    Learn more >>

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