How Your Vote Affects Your Ride
You probably already know that being politically active in your local area is important. The truth is, local politics strike closer to home. But how has political action been making streets safer and more bikeable in California? By voting in local elections, you will significantly impact the political decisions that affect you every time you leave your house.
In Portland, Oregon, people who ride bikes have their political process to thank for their easy commutes. Mayor Sam Adams allocated millions of dollars to bicycle-friendly streets. Under his leadership, Portland’s funding for bicycle infrastructure jumped from 1% (similar to California’s budget) of the mayor’s discretionary transportation budget to 17%, allowing for a new bike-share program, better bikeways, and safer conditions for all. Having representatives that are willing to legislate for the better of a community – which is occasionally politically dicey – is vital. CalBike’s goal to triple bicycling in California by 2020 will only happen if we elect more leaders like Mayor Adams.
There are some things holding California back, politically. During off-season elections, such as the one in a few days in parts of California, voter turnout drops dramatically, so the people elected may not represent the majority of citizens. For example, in the 2009 special election, only about 20% of people who were eligible to vote did so. Current laws demand that California politics has a love-affair with voter initiatives and referendums. Measure B1, which would have dramatically benefitted public transportation and bicycling in the East Bay, failed to reach the unreasonable 66.66% requirement by only 700 votes. Riding a bike in the East Bay would be very different today if more bicyclists had voted.
The low-voter turnout has its beneficial side, too: the power of your vote is even stronger. You can make your vote count in the local elections coming up soon.
In the past few years, CalBike has worked tirelessly to pass state-level legislation that will promote bicycling in our great state, and we have had many victories. However, the fight is far from over. We need your vote to make California a truly green, safe, and bikeable place to live.
October 29th, 2013