Caltrans has a long history of working to make California a better place to drive. We’ve been pushing them to make our state better for people biking and walking for years, and while we’ve seen great progress, particularly in what they say they’d like to accomplish, we’re continuing to push them to walk the walk (or, if you will, bike the bike).
One big change we’d like to see is that every time Caltrans makes improvements to our state highways, whether it’s replacing a bridge, repaving a few blocks or a few miles of roadway, or even repairing drainage systems, they will always take advantage of those opportunities to make improvements to biking and walking infrastructure in the area to make more “Complete Streets.”
In our June CalBike Report, we told you about how an in-depth analysis by CalBike of the Caltrans State Highway Maintenance and Protection Program (SHOPP) has spurred a significant rethinking at Caltrans about how they should redesign state highways to be safe for people to bike and walk. Since that time, we’ve been working with our friends at California Walks to develop recommendations for Caltrans to improve their SHOPP project development process and take advantage of opportunities to make safety improvements as part of routine maintenance. We have received some initial openness from Caltrans to our recommendations, and anticipate more official feedback over the coming months.Read more
CalBike traveled to Fresno on August 27th to conduct our “Winning Campaigns” Training. Working with about a dozen members of diverse groups, including Cultiva La Salud, the Fresno County Bicycle Coalition, the Dolores Huerta Foundation and the Fresno Cycling Club, we walked participants through the seven elements of a winning campaign plan, including how to set goals, get media attention, identify targets and win arguments with policy makers and the public to get a ‘yes’ vote on your most important campaigns. Fresno area activists now have solid plans to win campaigns like bike share in Bakersfield, road diets, complete streets policies, and even a better animal control policy to protect walkers and bikers from stray dogs. For an inspiring peek at the participants as the announce their plans, check out this 4-minute video.
San Francisco-based muralist Mona Caron, whose work graces walls across California and throughout the world, has designed a limited-edition custom art bike for the California Bicycle Coalition. Caron’s first mural, the famous Duboce Bikeway Mural, has adorned that bike path since 1998, when the bikeway was unveiled as the city’s first bike path closed to car traffic. Since then, her “artivism” has taken her all over the world, where she has explored weeds as metaphors for social transformation, engaging with the climate justice movement.
The bicycle Caron has created for CalBike, limited to 50 bicycles, features dandelions and scattered seeds on a PUBLIC bicycle. Purchase this bicycle.
The Mona Caron dandelion bike. Photo by Orange Photography www.orangephotography.com. See more photos below.
We spoke with Caron last week, to discuss her design and her passion for the bicycle.
Mona at work on a mural for the 3rd World Bicycle Forum in Curitiba, Brazil. (Photo provided by Mona Caron)
The California Bicycle Coalition is the newest member of the California Cleaner Freight Coalition. CalBike’s mission is to enable more people to bicycle, for healthier, safer, and more prosperous communities for all. You may now be wondering, what does bicycling have to do with moving goods around our state?
A lot of things, actually. Most directly, dirty freight creates dirty air, which makes it harder to breathe when you’re bicycling, and causes asthma, especially in children walking or bicycling on our streets. Busy trucking and rail corridors create dangerous barriers to walking and bicycling, and make roads scarier places for people to walk or bike.
These issues are most deeply experienced by residents in environmental justice communities located near our ports, goods distribution centers, and major freight corridors. We want to make these neighborhoods safer and healthier places to get around on foot and by bike by powering trucks with clean electric engines, and by redesigning streets that carry freight traffic through these neighborhoods to prioritize the safety of residents over moving more trucks. State government can help by increasing incentives for electric trucks and buses, and by ensuring that Caltrans and local transportation agencies design streets with the safety of people walking and bicycling at top of mind.Read more
For too long, bicycle advocacy has been dominated by white middle class men. The advocacy agenda has for the most part reflected the interests of this narrow subculture. It’s limited our success and, in our increasingly diverse nation, such exclusion will halt progress completely. Other voices have been included, especially in the last decade, but it’s not hard to see how far we have to go to include people of color, women and low-income people in order for our movement to truly reflect the diversity of our communities. Too often, such voices are mere tokens of diversity and not reflective of genuine inclusion.
The Untokening on November 13 in Atlanta may be a watershed event for bicycle advocacy, as leaders and advocates, all of them people of color whose voices have been marginalized, gather to “address issues of mobility with the perspective of justice-oriented advocates as the starting point, not as a consideration.” It’s not for mainstream advocates to learn about equity, but for equity advocates to develop some "guiding foundational principles, definitions, frameworks, objectives, and even data that could help shape a larger vision of what equity and justice in mobility mean in theory and practice,” according to the event’s website.
To learn from the leaders present, and to share our own progress and challenges in pursuing equity, diversity and inclusion in the bicycle advocacy movement in California, the California Bicycle Coalition is sending board member Esteban del Río and staffer Norma Herrera. They will report in the December issue of the CalBike Report, and their learnings will inform our upcoming strategic planning process, as well as our 2017 California Bicycle Summit.
The Untokening takes place on Sunday, Nov. 13 following the “Facing Race” conference in Atlanta. Registration is open.
A busy legislative session resulted in more money for biking and walking infrastructure projects, as well as for bike share, and a huge win to extend California’s commitment to reduce climate change. It also showed where we need to increase our strength to win bigger victories for transportation equity. The 2016 session wrapped up in August, with some significant victories, as well as some losses.
$10 Million for the Active Transportation Program
This year, our champions in the Legislature fought hard for our ask, and secured $10 million in new Cap-and-Trade funds for the Active Transportation Program, the state’s only dedicated fund for bicycling and walking projects. CalBike and our allies have been pushing to amplify this critical grant program; we had, in fact been pushing to double it. At just $120 million per year, or $3.15 per capita, California is pretty far down the list among U.S. states in per capita bicycle and pedestrian funding levels. One of our suggested funding sources has been the state’s Cap-and-Trade Program, since this fund must go to greenhouse gas emission reduction. The additional $10 million allocated this year is only a small step toward helping California’s funding levels match its leaders’ rhetoric (though the special session could fix that—see below), but in another way it’s a hugely important victory, because it shows a growing recognition on the part of our government that bicycling and walking can play an important role in meeting California’s climate goals.
Bike Share Incentive Funding
Another significant victory is the inclusion of bike share as an eligible expense in the California Air Resources Board’s “Mobility Options” funding category, which also includes incentives for car-sharing and other clean transportation options in environmental justice communities. CalBike is developing a webinar with ARB staff to help agencies and organizations get access to those funds and share ideas about how bike share incentives can be most effective in providing clean transportation for disadvantaged communities. Contact Policy Director Jeanie Ward-Waller to learn more about the webinar.
Major Climate Change Bills Passed
CalBike supported several big climate bills that encountered huge challenges in the final month of session on their way to passage, including SB 32, which establishes a new statewide target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. Several others ensure that environmental justice communities and low-income households are prioritized to receive the benefits of reduced pollution and funds raised from the Cap-and-Trade program, and all of them help to set the stage for big changes for transportation in coming years.Read more
"Biking is an important transportation mode that is necessary to preserve our quality of life," said Henry Stern, candidate for the California State Senate District 27.
His answers to our questionnaire and those of twelve other candidates showed a commitment to social change trough bicycling that earned our endorsement in this November's election.
We chose to focus on thirteen races where the bike vote can make a difference. They are close races where the views of the candidates differ greatly or where the candidate is a key decision maker in Sacramento and a real champion of bicycling.
CalBike will reach out to bicyclists in those 13 districts to make it clear what hangs in the balance for bicycling in November's election, where representatives at the state and local level often have much more to do with our quality of life than those at the national level.Read more
This month, we’re taking an important step in our campaign to promote protected bike lanes among the state’s traffic engineers and policy makers. With the expert guidance of Alta Planning + Design, we developed a 4-page fact sheet to demonstrate how important protected bike lanes are, and how easy they are to build.
The document, “Class IV Separated Bikeways: Approved for Use in California”
is being sent to the leaders of California’s 50 most populous cities. Its audience includes elected officials and traffic engineers. City council presidents and mayors will be reminded that protected bike lanes serve their constituents and make for great photo opportunities, while city traffic engineers will be reminded that these facilities are completely approved by Caltrans and be directed to resources, including California’s official design manual.
By sending to both audiences simultaneously, we hope to defeat the argument that elected officials often get: “We can’t do that, it’s not approved.” To request that your city receive a brochure, email Dave Snyder. Or, just download it and send it yourself. You can download the print version or web version, or view it here:
Last fall, our Policy Director Jeanie Ward-Waller had a rare moment of downtime between running bills and chasing down budget appropriations while the Legislature was on fall recess. Jeanie has been working with Caltrans over several years to look for better ways to implement a Caltrans policy that has been around for nearly a decade: the policy says that when Caltrans is redesigning or repairing roadways, they have to consider improving them to build complete streets—safe and accessible for everyone. So Jeanie started flipping through the 700 or so scheduled state highway maintenance projects for the next four years to try to better understand what these projects are really doing for bicycling and walking on the ground.
What she found was that Caltrans was missing a key opportunity to make these roads much safer for people walking and bicycling in the course of routine repaving and repairs. Eliminating the freeway repairs (which are, of course, exempt from this policy), she made a long list of nearly 40 projects across the state that could use upgrades in bicycle and pedestrian access.
When she shared her list with Caltrans headquarters, they forwarded it on to the twelve Caltrans district offices around the state, asking: How are you planning to improve bicycle and pedestrian access on these projects?
When many of the districts admitted that they didn’t in fact have plans to include complete streets upgrades on most of these projects, it got the ball rolling on a series of conversations between CalBike and Caltrans leadership. Last month, Jeanie and our partners at California Walks met with representatives from all 12 Caltrans districts, who expressed their gratitude for Jeanie’s research, and their eagerness to figure out how to improve these projects to implement Complete Streets in many cases. Many of them have started to bring projects to their bike-pedestrian advisory boards in their communities to see what changes are needed.
Funding for state highway maintenance and redesign comes from the SHOPP (the State Highway Operations and Protection Program), a fund of $2.5 billion annually. Opening up some of this funding for bikeways and pedestrian access would be revolutionary, and could go a long way toward helping Caltrans put its money where its mouth is, and boost biking and walking. California’s dedicated bicycle and pedestrian fund, the Active Transportation Program, is currently at just $125 million (though we are pushing hard to add $100 million annually). If even a small fraction of the $2.5 billion SHOPP went into bikeways, it would have a significant impact on building great bikeway networks across the state, especially on the state highway routes that Caltrans maintains and which are often high-speed, unsafe routes for bicycling.
We still have a lot of work to do in collaboration with Caltrans to help them begin redesigning these projects, and to figure out a better process so that the Complete Streets requirement doesn’t continue to slip through the cracks. But we’re thrilled at the potential for this program to help us realize our dream of great bikeway networks in all of California’s communities.
Above photo courtesy Allan Crawford.
About 130 advocates from across the state turned out for this year's Transportation Equity Summit May 16-17 in Sacramento, a first-ever combination of our annual “Bicycle Advocacy Day” with our ally TransForm’s annual “Transportation Choices Summit.”
The half-day conference and full day of legislative meetings kept the pressure on legislators to deliver a 'yes' vote on a package of bills that will increase investment in biking, walking, and public transit and prioritize low income Californians in the distribution of transportation resources. Acknowledging the history of transportation investments that benefit privileged communities while damaging low-income communities and people of color, the event sought to catalyze action for proposals that reverse that historic discrimination.Read more