In 1994, a group of everyday bicyclists founded the California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) to empower Californians who wanted more bicycle-friendly communities. With support from the Bicycle Federation of America, they worked with political and community leaders to win more funding for bicycle infrastructure and education. In 1999, CalBike incorporated its sister organization, the California Bicycle Coalition Education Fund, to focus on charitable work supported by tax-deductible donations. In 2016, CalBike incorporated its Political Action Committee to help voters elect the most bicycle-friendly candidates.
Key policy accomplishments include a 1999 law that established the nation’s first Safe Routes to School program, dedicating the unprecedented sum of $115 million for bicycle and pedestrian safety projects near California schools. That followed an early victory proving the value of organizing: in 1997 California tripled funding in the “Bicycle Lane Account,” the state’s only funding source for bicycle transportation. CalBike successfully compelled Caltrans to adopt a strong “complete streets” policy that requires bicycling and walking to be considered in all transportation projects; legislation in 2002 extended that requirement to cities and counties throughout the state. In 2013, we pushed through the Three Feet for Safety Act, requiring motorists to give bicyclists three feet of clearance when passing; the law went into effect in 2014. That year, our Protected Bike Lanes Act made it legal to build protected bike lanes in California; since the law went into effect we have shaped state-level guidelines to ensure high-quality bike lanes.
Since 2003, the California Bicycle Coalition has hosted a biennial conference or summit to support bicycle advocates in local nonprofits and in government agencies and private industry. Annually for the past two decades, Calbike has organized an advocacy day in the state capital to facilitate meetings between legislators and bicycle advocates.