CalBike’s policy team is often asked this question—how many jurisdictions across the state have invested in robust community planning for walk and bike facilities? And the follow up—how much would it cost to build all the high priority projects that cities and counties have identified in those plans? A sum of the total cost statewide to build out bike and walk networks in every neighborhood would be very powerful, and would demonstrate the shortfall of current funding streams dedicated to walking and bicycling.
In early 2017 our policy intern Lydia Davenport set out on a massive project to help answer these questions, and the result is our newly-released California Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan Inventory. Lydia spent six months doing online searches, emailing, and calling the 58 counties and 482 cities in California to identify which had plans, how recently they were adopted or updated, and whether the plans included cost estimates for what it would take to build out all the projects in the plan. Lydia then catalogued all this information in a database. Here’s a few highlights:
- 276 out of the 482 cities have active transportation plans, with 16 more currently in the draft or planning stages.
- 146 of those city plans have been adopted or updated in the last 5 years.
- 194 city plans include a complete cost estimate for building out the projects in the plan.
- 46 out of 58 counties have plans, and 4 are currently in the draft or planning stages.
- 30 of those county plans have been adopted or updated in the last 5 years.
- Only 28 of the county plans include a cost estimate for building out the plan.
This analysis clearly shows that there is a significant need for more and better planning. Robust planning that is informed by local residents is critical for developing good, effective projects that people will embrace and use once they are built. When cities and counties adopt a bike and pedestrian plan they often show a strong commitment to funding and building the identified projects, and to increasing walking and bicycling. Planning is also a requirement to be eligible for many competitive grant programs, so jurisdictions that haven’t developed a plan will struggle to find funding when their residents demand better facilities.
Here at CalBike we are particularly concerned about identifying those planning gaps, and finding ways to help underserved cities and neighborhoods that don’t have plans. Now that we have this inventory of communities with and without plans, we can support local advocacy efforts where they are needed most to develop, update, and build out a plan.
It’s also very important that the plans are current and not outdated. Local support for a project will shift if too many years pass between planning and building a project, and facility design standards are evolving and improving rapidly as more cities expand their bike networks. For example, Class IV bikeways—also called “protected bike lanes”—weren’t a legal facility based on Caltrans standards until 2014. Plans that pre-date 2014 more than likely don’t include any protected bike lanes, even though we know today that they are preferred by the average person bicycling on high speed and high volume streets because they provide a physical buffer from traffic.
Unfortunately this project did not help us answer the question about the total statewide need for funding to build out walk and bike networks in every neighborhood. Fewer than half of the plans that exist contain cost estimates that are accurate or current enough to be useful in estimating the funding need. However, we are working on other creative methods to estimate the statewide need, such as by looking at cities that do have accurate up-to-date cost estimates in their plans and using those as a basis for cities of comparable size. Stay tuned for more on this work in the near future.
We’re excited to release our California Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan Inventory. As a living resource, it will need to be updated regularly as new plans are created and existing plans are revised. With your help, we can keep the inventory current and accurate. Please check that we have current and accurate information for your city and county, and let us know when we should update it.
The legislature may be on summer break, but CalBike is hard at work preparing for the next round of opportunities to advocate for a better California for all. Read on for an update on key legislation we're sponsoring or tracking, and keep up with our blog for opportunities to get involved.
Get State Employees Rolling: SB 702 (Stern)
This CalBike-sponsored bill expands California’s state employee bike share program, currently limited to just under 100 bikes; SB 702 passed the Senate Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review and is headed to the Appropriations Committee. While the bill was amended to say the state is required to expand bikeshare wherever it’s both feasible and “reasonable” rather than just feasible, we’re excited about the potential expansion of this program.
CalBike is sponsoring this bill because we know that expanding access to bicycles for California's hundreds of thousands of state employees means getting more cars off the road, promoting bicycling, and helping our neighbors to make healthier choices. Increasing bicycling and reducing fossil fuel use and traffic congestion are critical priorities for our state and bike shares can help to meet those needs. This is an opportunity to help our state's employees to be part of the transportation system of the future, and CalBike is ready to keep up the fight for a sustainable state vehicle fleet.
Require Qualified Representation: AB 179 (Cervantes)
AB 179 is part of a series of efforts to reform the powerful California Transportation Commission, an executive body with far-reaching impact. Transportation investments affect all Californians, and they often disproportionately burden our lowest-income communities-but the CTC currently has no requirements that it’s appointed commissioners have any experience with important issues like pollution impacts, sustainable and active transportation, or public health. Legislation like AB 179 aims to change that.
This particular bill has evolved from a mandate that the CTC must include representation from experts that live and work in underserved and environmental justice communities to a guideline suggesting that the governor should “use every effort” to ensure diverse and experienced appointments, but CalBike still sees AB 179, now headed to the Senate Appropriations Committee, as a step in the right direction. The fact that Chairman of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee Senator Beall (D-Campbell) forcefully acknowledged that “We need to have a more diverse state transportation commission” is representative of an encouraging shift away from the status quo in transportation decision-making. CalBike agrees and we plan to hold him to ensuring the state follows through on that statement when the next opportunity to appoint diverse representation to the commission comes up.
Free Transit for Students: AB 17 (Holden)
AB 17 creates a free transit pass program for low-income students in middle school through university, enabling students all over the state to get to and stay in school. Investing in student transit programs is an investment in our future. Besides elevating the lifelong potential of our students, these programs can help to improve our transit systems, create lifelong transit users, reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion, and reduce strain on low-income families.
The bill passed the Senate Transportation & Housing Committee and is headed into the Committee on Appropriations, where it faces a tough fight for funding. The concept of a free transit program is extremely popular but finding a consistent funding source for it is the real challenge.
Hold Cities Accountable: SB 150 (Allen)
The state’s regional planning authorities are required to set climate goals for reducing carbon emissions largely through more efficient transportation and land use development that reduces miles traveled in personal vehicles—but as of right now there is no mechanism for holding our regional agencies accountable to these requirements. SB 150 challenges metropolitan regions to set regional targets that align with the state’s climate change targets, by reducing driving and making it easier to walk, bike, and take transit.
SB 150 passed out of the Transportation and Natural Resources Committees of the Assembly and is headed to Appropriations-but not without being amended to remove references to specific targets for reducing driving. There is still much work to be done in holding regional authorities and their member local jurisdictions accountable to the goals we set as a state.
Senate Bill 1 (SB 1) will boost the Active Transportation Program (ATP) by $100 million per year. That means $100 million more for walking and bicycling projects across the state to help make our cities, towns, and neighborhoods comfortable, attractive, and convenient places to get around on foot and on bike.
The first two years and $200 million of this new funding is being awarded to projects as quickly as possible this summer. Projects that had already applied for funds last year in the third cycle of ATP grant applications are first in line for this funding, and only in a few metro regions will there be opportunities for agencies to submit new applications for planning or education and encouragement program grants (for example, in the Southern California region). CalBike and our allies support this approach to getting more funding to shovel-ready projects right away, since demand for these funds has far exceeded the amount available every round by as much as four to one, leaving many great projects unfunded.
The rush to get the first $200 million out the door and into projects on the ground is spurred by urgency from our state leaders to start demonstrating the benefits of SB 1 funding to taxpayers as soon as the gas tax goes up in November. The billions in new transportation revenue raised through SB 1 come primarily from increases to gas and diesel fuel taxes, which early polling reveals to be very unpopular with voters. Just a small fraction of this funding is guaranteed to walking and biking projects through the ATP, but we know those projects are very popular. In fact, polling commissioned by CalBike in May showed that 8 in 10 California voters want transportation agencies to change the way they design our streets to make them complete streets that are safe and attractive for walking and bicycling.
Looking beyond the rush to get some ATP funding out to projects quickly, CalBike and our allies are pushing for this funding to be used to build more transformational projects in future rounds. We are working with the California Transportation Commission and Caltrans on criteria for the fourth grant cycle, which will be awarded in 2018, to incentivize projects like connected networks of protected bike lanes and safe walking and bicycling routes to transit. We envision large grants that could be the catalytic investment for communities to spur a big jump in walking and bicycling.
Stay tuned for more details about how next year’s program will create transformational walk and bike investments.
With tomorrow’s deadline looming for state bills to clear their first house in the California Legislature, several of CalBike’s top priority bills passed this week with landslide support:
Get State Employees Rolling: SB 702 (Stern)
Expands the bikeshare system for state employees—currently limited to just a few dozen bikes at department headquarters in Sacramento—and received a unanimous vote in the Senate 40-0! CalBike is sponsoring this bill, and we’re hopeful that this popular program will garner the same level of support in the Assembly.
Require Qualified Representation: AB 179 (Cervantes)
Requires one appointed member of the California Transportation Commission, the board that awards and oversees most of our state and federal transportation dollars, to be someone that works with environmental justice communities and understands the public health impacts of transportation. This bill cleared the Assembly floor 52-24 with all but one lone Democrat in dissent: Transportation Committee Chair Jim Frazier.
Free Transit for Students: AB 17 (Holden)
Creates a free transit pass program for low-income students in middle school through university, another popular bill that easily passed the Assembly 71-4. It will have a tougher fight in the Senate, however, over the source of funding, and will need even more grassroots support.
Hold Cities Accountable: SB 150 (Allen)
Requires the major metro regions in the state to update their greenhouse gas emissions targets in their long-range transportation plans to collectively meet state climate change targets established in law last year. Every city will be challenged to help meet the new state target—to reduce emissions 40% by 2030—and will need to make it much safer and easier to walk and bike rather than drive for most trips. SB 150 passed the Senate 26-13, but will also face a tough battle in the Assembly.
Thank you to all our members, supporters, and partners that responded to our call to action to urge state representatives to pass these these bills out of their first house! Your voice really matters in getting good policies passed in Sacramento that make our communities healthier and safer places to bike.
Yesterday, Caltrans announced the adoption of the state’s first Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
Theoretically, it’s a great document. Its recommendations thoroughly cover the key changes the state will have to make to accomplish the goal to triple bike mode share.
Practically, however, the document doesn’t provide a roadmap to implementing those recommendations. A more serious commitment to achieving the plan’s recommendations would have generated controversy and opposition from stakeholders who have to change their practices.Read more
Nearly one hundred transportation equity advocates and practitioners across the state gathered on April 24th and 25th in Sacramento at our co-sponsored 2017 Transportation Equity Summit and Advocacy Day.Read more
The deadline for introducing bills for the 2017 Legislative Session was mid February, and the CalBike Policy Team is busy in the Capitol working on a full legislative slate. For a complete list of bills that we’re sponsoring, supporting, and tracking this year, check out our 2017 Legislative Tracker.
One of our biggest efforts this session is to pass a transportation funding package that truly reflects balanced investments in bicycling, walking, and transit. Senate Bill 1 and Assembly Bill 1, the transportation package legislation pieces, need to be revised in order to reflect what is needed most out of a robust transportation system. CalBike continues to lead a broad coalition that is pushing the envelop to expand the funding package to include a sound investment in affordable and sustainable transportation, especially in low-income communities and for people of color.Read more
California's delegation to the National Bike Summit in Washington D.C. visited each of the state's 53 Representatives and both Senators on Bicycle Lobby Day, March 8, 2017. Coordinated by the League of American Bicyclists, we asked our elected representatives to be sure that the new administration's infrastructure plan included bicycles and bicycle safety. And we pushed for the Vision Zero Act, a bipartisan call for innovation and commitment to reduce traffic fatalities to zero.
The most dangerous place on the road for a person on a bike? The intersection.
Almost all street intersections in California pose as a safety threat to people on bikes. The longer it takes for a person on a bike to pass through an intersection, the greater likelihood that they’ll get hit by an oncoming vehicle.
Assemblymembers Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) and Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) have introduced AB 1103 to allow people on bikes to treat stop signs as yield signs whenever it is safe to do so. Modeled after the "Idaho Stop" law of 1982, AB 1103 has the potential to reduce car-on-bike collisions, eliminate unnecessary enforcement, and allow people on bikes to keep their momentum moving forward. When people on bikes cross more safely at intersections and traffic flows more smoothly, it is a win-win for everyone.
Legislation Update: AB 1103, the bipartisan stop-as-yield bill, was delayed by last-minute opposition in June. Assemblymembers Obernolte and Ting have pushed the bill to a 2-year schedule to gather more data and generate broader support, and hope to have it ready for next year's session.
We're building momentum and support for AB 1103, and we need to hear from you.
Add your name below in support of the California "Stop As Yield" policy and make biking safer and more accessible for all.
On Monday, 82 organizations endorsed a set of recommendations, developed by CalBike and our allies, to call for changes in a deal to increase revenue for transportation system maintenance. The deal, two years in the making, invests too much in the old transportation paradigm of roads, including expansion. It will keep people stuck in their cars instead of giving Californians real, sustainable and affordable options.
A letter delivered to Senate Transportation Committee Chair Jim Beall of San Jose, Assembly Transportation Committee Chair Jim Frazier of Oakley, and Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly, expresses support for the main goal of the funding deal -- new revenue to maintain roads -- and some specific aspects of the deal, including its increased investment in the Active Transportation Program to provide more grants to local jurisdictions for trails, bikeways, and sidewalks, Open Streets events and Safe Routes to School programs. However, in order to make real progress in reforming our transportation system for the future, the 82 organizations signed on to the letter are asking for the following key reforms to be included in the package:
- Prioritize the funding toward vulnerable, low-income communities that who are disproportionately in need of alternative transportation options, greater mobility, and bear the brunt of the health and safety impacts of our transportation system.
- Dramatically increase funding to provide high-quality, efficient transit service especially for low-income individuals and families.
- Ensure we can meet our state climate change and air quality standards by carefully tracking any investment spent on expanding roads and freeways.
- Require expertise in climate change, environmental justice, walk, bike, and transit for future appointments to the California Transportation Commission, which oversees state and federal transportation funding and advises the Legislature.
- Protect the integrity of the California Environmental Quality Act, which reduces environmental impacts and improves transportation project outcomes.