A 2013 law, SB 743, changed the way that the state and local jurisdictions are supposed to analyze traffic impacts of new development or transportation projects. The old way of analyzing environmental impacts from traffic was called Level of Service, or LOS. LOS prioritized cars moving easily and quickly along a road. The consequence of using LOS is that wide, high-speed streets are seen as having less environmental impact than calm, slow, bike- and walk-friendly streets. SB 743 now requires traffic impacts to be analyzed based on how they reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled, which would mean prioritizing projects that reduce motor traffic and increase walk and bike travel. This change would make our communities safer and better by making it easier for new development to include bike-friendly streets.
Many communities around California have state highways as their main streets, streets which Caltrans is responsible for building and maintaining. When Caltrans is upgrading or repaving these streets, their traffic analysis guidelines could have an enormous impact on whether streets continue to be fast-moving streets dangerous for people walking and biking, or whether they are transformed into complete streets that serve all users.
To implement SB 743, Caltrans needs to write new guidelines for traffic analysis, with the help of stakeholders like CalBike. Unfortunately, the process has stalled. Tell Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty that we need strong leadership to get moving on creating guidelines for bike- and walk-friendly streets!