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) 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: The authors of our common sense bill to require bicycle riders to yield and stop if necessary at stop sign-controlled intersections have pulled their bill from consideration for now. Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Carl Obernolte (R-Barstow) said that opposition from the California chapters of the American Automobile Association and the Police Chiefs Association, among others, could not be overcome.
This bill would have made California third among U.S. states, behind Idaho and Delaware, to recognize that people on bikes have different vulnerabilities and capabilities when they approach an intersection and deserve different treatment than people in cars. It would have legalized a common practice and made riding a bike safer and more convenient, and it would have reduced unfair and capricious enforcement.
The arguments against the bill made no logical sense but were powerful nevertheless. When this bill comes back we’ll be better equipped to address the arguments with equally powerful appeals.
In the meantime we're building momentum and support for stop-as-yield legislation in our state, 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.
This common-sense policy change has grown in popularity around our state because of the work of advocates like Walt Seifert; his wheels-to-the-road passion for advocacy continues to advance our list of supporting organizations.
Supporters of Stop-As-Yield Reform Legislation in California:
California Delivery Association
Public Health Advocates
Two Rivers Cider
Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District
Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District
Coalition for Clean Air
Bicycle Commuter Coalition Inland Empire
Bike Santa Cruz County
California Bicycle Coalition
Inland Empire Bicycle Alliance
Motherlode Bicycle Coalition
San Diego County Bicycle Coalition
Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
Sylvia Bingham Fund
Walk Bike Mendocino
Davis Bike Club
Desert Bicycle Club
Different Spokes of Southern California
Fresno Cycling Club
High Desert Cycling
Lompoc Valley Bicycle Club
Los Gatos Bicycle Racing Club
Imperial Valley Velo Club
Recumbent Riders of Sacramento
San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club
San Jose Bicycle Club
Santa Rosa Cycling Club
Solano Cycling Club
Fo Sho Inc. (Carmichael, East Sac, Elk Grove, and Greenhaven bike shops and Folsom Cyclery)
City Bicycle Works-Sacramento
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.
For the past few years, CalBike has produced a 'Best of' list to highlight some accomplishments (and some disappointments) from around the state. These awards help us see where we are, and how far we have to go. Enjoy!
Best New Protected Intersection: 9th and Division, San Francisco
We’re thrilled to include this category for the first time to celebrate this important innovation in making people on bikes feel safe and comfortable at intersections. San Francisco’s five-legged formerly frightful junction at Division & 9th has been transformed into a pleasant and efficient meander.
Photo: Streetsblog SF
Honorable Mention: Alameda and Hopkins in Berkeley. This is merely a decent protected intersection, but if we had a category for “Best Cost-Saving Last-Minute Innovation by City Staff” it would win that award, hands-down. Originally designed just to install pedestrian bulb-outs near a school, the project hit an obstacle when drainage issues proved more difficult than anticipated. The delay threatened the grant until city staff promptly amended the project to convert part of the bulb-out to a bikeway. This protected intersection was the 12th in nation to be installed, and there are 13 in total built out.
Best New Protected Bike Lane: Telegraph Avenue, Oakland
Telegraph Avenue is a key thoroughfare in our headquarters hometown of Oakland, and about a mile of it was transformed into a protected bike lane that earned “top ten” status in People for Bikes’ annual list of the nation’s best bike lanes. It’s a great facility that is already attracting more people to ride bikes. It’s also a great example of how slow progress can be, and why we are working in Sacramento to incentivize cities to pick up the pace. The approved section stretches from 20th to 41st, but it’s only constructed to 29th Street. Beyond 41st, potential improvements are pending another community outreach process and funding cycle. The City of Oakland's just-released Telegraph Ave Bike Lane Progress Report shows how great the project is: retail sales are up 9%; collisions are down 40%; 79% of bicyclists and 63% of pedestrians feel safer; only half of motorists break the speed limit law, down from almost all motorists; 52% of bicyclists pedal on the street more often.
Honorable Mention: Los Angeles Street protected bike lane in Downtown LA: very short, but probably one of the most high quality protected bike lanes that LADOT has implemented so far. Incorporating features like bus stop islands, bike boxes, bike-specific signals and left turn boxes, it sets the stage for future protected bike lanes in Downtown and the city as a whole.
Best New Bike Path: The Napa Valley Vine Trail
A new segment of the Napa Valley Vine Trail opened last summer connecting south Napa with Yountville. Providing a beautiful car-free route adjacent to high-speed Highway 29, the path is a boon for transportation and tourism alike. It’s already created jobs: a bike shop opened just in time to rent to trail users.
Two years ago we gave the Bay Bridge East Span Bike Path an honorable mention because it wasn’t quite finished and we didn’t have a “Best Bike Pier” category. Finally, it’s finished, and it’s a beautiful ride to Yerba Buena Island. However, continued (de-)construction activity on the adjacent old Bay Bridge requires closure of the path most weekdays. As a weekend-only path, it can’t be the winner.
The Expo Line Bike Path in Los Angeles runs parallel to what is probably the best new transit line, already exceeding ridership expectations. The bike path is gorgeous and provides a nice connection from West L.A. to Santa Monica. But it needs some work to be truly useful: an extension to the east, better intersection treatments and better connections to adjoining neighborhoods would be a great start.
The Central Marin Ferry Connection Bridge allows people walking and biking to avoid a sudden grade change and five lanes of high speed traffic at the crossroads of Marin's bike network with direct connections to the Cal Park Hill Tunnel, Corte Madera Creek Path the Larkspur Ferry Terminal. Opened in May, it features a plaque honoring Deb Hubsmith who along with the Marin County Bicycle Coalition championed the bridge since the early 2000s.
Best Law that Will Help If Enforced: No Handheld Phone Use
Effective January 1, AB 1785 prohibits drivers from holding their phones in their hands while driving. Originally introduced as a bill banning drivers from touching their phones while driving, a late-stage compromise pushed by Uber and Lyft amended it to permit touching the phone if it’s mounted to the dash and if the driver “uses just one finger to tap or swipe.” That compromise caused us to remove our support from the bill, but it remains an important step toward our vision of zero road deaths.
Most Financially Engaged Retail Bike Shop: Trek Bicycle Superstore
The Trek Bicycle Superstore donates more than $10,000 a year in cash to local advocacy: The Bike Coalition of San Diego County and Bike San Diego. Owner Mike Olson understands the value of advocacy in convincing our policy makers to create more bike-friendly streets and, reflecting the smart decisions he’s made that have helped to grow his store into the largest Trek retailer in the nation, also understands the value of investing in advocacy.
Honorable Mentions: Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition reports that retailer Summit Bicycles and manufacturer Specialized (headquarter nearby) are fantastic and generous partners in their advocacy. Foothill Cyclery in San Luis Obispo has given more than $10,000 over the last few years. Studio Valley in Mill Valley has donated nearly $15,000 in product and in-kind support to the Marin County Bicycle Coalition.
Best National Conference: The Untokening
This gathering of equity advocates—organized by and for people of color—created a space so that perspectives of people of color, marginalized and distressed communities, and others who often find themselves as the “token” diversity person in mobility, planning, and placemaking conversations could determine the mobility agenda. Held in Atlanta on the Sunday after the presidential election, the event helped CalBike board member Esteban del Río and staff member Norma Herrera-Baird develop positive and hopeful plans to make our bicycle advocacy movement in California more diverse and inclusive. A suggestion from event organizer Adonia Lugo we hope to facilitate: bring the Untokening to California!
Photo by: Argenis Apolinario
Biggest Pie Slice for Bikes: Santa Cruz Measure D
Setting the bar for other counties, Santa Cruz voters supported a sales tax that allocated fully 20% of the proceeds to bicycling and walking. Bike advocates fought previous proposals that provided less money for bikes and more for highways, leading to this proposal that finally won the necessary two-thirds approval.
Honorable Mention: Stanislaus County voters set aside 10.4% of their sales tax for biking and walking!
Biggest New Pot of Money for Bikes: Los Angeles Measure M
Los Angeles voters approved a sales tax that will generate $61 million every year to develop bicycle and pedestrian improvements throughout sprawling Los Angeles County. It sets L.A. up to be a truly bikeable county if it’s used wisely. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is working with its allies and partners to focus that money on the biking and walking improvements that will serve the people who need those amenities the most: low-income people of color in neighborhoods with poor transit service.
Best New Leadership: Sacramento
Sacramentans are looking at a very bright future with the installment of three important new leaders. Jennifer Donlon-Wyant was a bold and innovative bicycle planner at the leading firm, Alta Planning+Design, until the City of Sacramento stole her away as their Active Transportation Program Specialist. Her expertise will be complemented by newly elected Mayor Darrell Steinberg, author of California’s landmark SB 375 that set regional targets for reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from transportation; and James Corless, former Executive Director of Transportation for America, will take over as the Executive of Sacramento Area Council of Governments.
Best Reallocation of State Active Transportation Program Funds
When our partners across the state, including those in the Coachella Valley, were disappointed to see the biggest chunk (by far) of the most recent round of Active Transportation grants go to a single golf cart-and-bicycle pathway project, our own Jeanie Ward-Waller dug deep into the application and discovered an error in the scoring of the application. The applicants mistakenly took credit for helping disadvantaged communities even though certain aspects of their project didn’t meet the right criteria. We alerted the California Transportation Commission, and five projects around the state were awarded instead.
New Executives for 2016
It was a big year for leadership transition at local bicycle advocacy organizations around the state. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition appointed Brian Wiedenmeier as their Executive Director, promoting him from his post there as Development Director. The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition looked to the next county, swiping Marin’s Program Director Alisha O’Loughlin to make her their new Executive. Tyler Wertenbruch held down the fort for Bike SLO County for most of 2016, allowing for the appointment of Mike Bennett as their new Executive Director. Janneke Strause was appointed the new Executive Director of Bike Santa Cruz County. Nina Mohammed is the interim Executive Director of the Inland Empire Biking Alliance.
Most Anti-Climactic Merger
At first you had to read between the lines and squint really hard when reading the announcements from the Alliance for Biking & Walking and the League of American Bicyclists: Is that a merger? Or a takeover? In July the picture became more clear. The Alliance is dissolving and its programs are being integrated into the League’s brand new “Active Transportation Leadership Institute.” What will happen to the annual leadership retreat? Who will provide trainings and coaching to bicycle advocates, both professional and volunteer? We look forward to learning the answers when the League launches the Institute in March. And, alongside the League, we’ll supplement and complement its programs with our own trainings and retreats for California bike advocates. Mark your calendar for the biannual California Bike Summit October 3-6 in Sacramento.
On November 13th, over 130 leaders from across the country gathered in Atlanta, Georgia, for The Untokening: A Convening for Just and Accessible Streets and Communities. Taken place days after the 2016 Presidential Election and the aftermath that ensued, the discussions and the discoveries that unfolded at The Untokening give power to acknowledging that any advancements in mobility cannot be separate from or ignorant of the implications of change on the historically marginalized and discriminated. In the words of the organizers - "To truly reclaim streets for people and make them safe and accessible for all, we need to address what that means in terms of culture, class, race, identity, and community."
At CalBike, we are set on a course to pursue equity, diversity, and inclusion in our bicycle advocacy work. It was critical for us to send representatives to the convening and learn from the discussions that were held in order to better inform our work, including the upcoming strategic planning process and our 2017 California Bicycle Summit. We are deeply grateful to the organizers for bringing together a dynamic and thoughtful gathering for CalBike to participate in.
The following pieces written by CalBike Board Member Esteban del Rio and Membership Manager Norma Herrera-Baird are personal reflections from their attendance. These essays are the beginning of an ongoing conversation regarding CalBike’s role in advancing transportation justice across California.
Esteban del Río, PhD
The election of Donald J. Trump did not sit well with me. I would like to be clear about that. I’m not trying to make an overtly conservative or liberal argument in that statement – at least not here. Rather, that xenophobia, nativism, bigotry, racism, and misogyny targeting peoples’ identity and status received oxygen and legitimization in political discourses deeply disturbed me. When I had the chance to participate in The Untokening in Atlanta less than a week after the election, I had to face the task of turning my despair into something more hopeful and productive.
That Sunday after the election, activists, practitioners, scholars, and community organizers convened in a large room in Atlanta to “untokenize” the work of creating a national agenda for just and equitable streets and spaces. We created a space so that perspectives of people of color, marginalized and distressed communities, and others who often find themselves as the “token” diversity person in mobility, planning, and placemaking conversations could determine the agenda.
A big question loomed above all of us: How do we move equity from the periphery to the center? The people in the room are often called upon to bring “diversity” and “equity” into processes, organizations, and politics that are ultimately resistant to being transformed. Many of the participants in The Untokening have found themselves in such a position: invited to speak about equity in contexts that are interested - but not committed to diversity. Interest is when one does equity work when circumstances allow for it. Commitment is when one changes the circumstances to make equity a central consideration and part of any action agenda. I found the conversations remarkably powerful and authoritative about the need to change the “center” of bicycle advocacy so that equity issues are at the heart of the matter, rather than some add-on that appears during special days, speakers, or programs.
What does the national agenda for bike advocacy look like if designed from the perspective of those in the room? How do we conceptualize safety and vulnerability from a more historical, accurate lens when considering bodies in public space? How do gender non-conforming people move through space safely? What about black bodies in public space? The undocumented? How do we make transformational moves to realize the diversity and opportunity in our state?
At its best, Calbike is a social justice organization that uses bicycle advocacy as a vehicle for cultivating a more just, equitable, and healthy state for all of our residents. For me, this is true for two primary reasons: 1) Safe and accessible infrastructure for bicycle riding indicates a local municipality values human scale development – where walking, transit, sustainability, and community interaction are prioritized; and 2) If we create human-scale streets, towns, and cities, we need to confront the power and privilege dynamics that flow through identity and status. If we do not, we are adding to the inequities that our planning, budget allocation, and cultural practices usually prefer.
The moment has arrived to conceptualize bicycle advocacy as a social justice project. It's time to see ourselves as social justice activists – contesting - marginalization, seeking justice, and creating more humane and human-scale communities where the struggle for equity is joined all people of good-will.
How might you participate? Join. Create spaces for communities of color to lead - for the economically, culturally, and politically marginalized to lead. Given the position of leadership that California occupies in our national imagination and the sanctuary it will become during a time of national foment, we must take equity and social justice as the center of our work as advocates.
Photo by: Argenis Apolinario
Equity. It’s a word used a lot these days, especially at CalBike. And we genuinely want to fight and work for the underserved people and communities in our beautiful state. Who are these “underserved people?” The term is broad but they tend to be poor and people of color. In other words, people like me. Add in the fact that I’m a woman and the child of immigrants and you’ve got the perfect token for your organization.
But that is not the case. At least I don’t feel like it’s my case. Yet, when I first read Sahra Sulaiman’s piece on The Untokening, in which she opens with a story from the 2015 CalBike Summit, I felt the overwhelming need to attend this convening held in mid-November.
Hours before the polls closed on November 8th, I landed back in Oakland from a trip to the UK. Jet lagged, I was asleep before the election was called. I woke up before the sun rose, still on London time. I checked my phone - the news that greeted me need not be repeated. I went to the office in a daze, took a long lunch, went home early. Took a mental health day the next day. I almost cancelled my trip to Atlanta, feeling unsafe about traveling after hearing reports of hate crimes against Latinos and immigrants. There were, and still are, hundreds of reports of violence against a wide range of marginalized groups, from brown folks to LGBTQ to Muslims and everything in between so my feelings are not unwarranted.
Perhaps not all 60 million people who voted for our President-elect are racists who hate immigrants but the fact is that there are people out there who voted based on their fear and hatred of people like me: brown, progressive, immigrant. Hearing of hate crimes committed against friends and friends of friends was more than enough to make me scared to travel to Georgia, to cancel going to a convening I was excited about upon first hearing about it. I’m glad I didn’t.
The Untokening was first and foremost a healing experience. Being in a space dominated by women and people of color from all over the country was a powerful experience that continues to inspire me daily more than a month later and will likely inspire me for the rest of my life. We were able to talk freely about the issues we face as advocates for better mobility. Issues of feeling unworthy because of our skin color, our gender, our lack of a degree. Feeling pushed out of the very communities we work in because of gentrification and a nationwide housing crisis. Feeling like we’re crazy because the people we’re often in meetings with don’t understand where we’re coming from, why we’re talking about social justice when we should - or so they feel - be talking about bikes. Simply, they don’t understand our experiences.
My biggest takeaway was that experience matters as much if not more than formal education. As someone who has been an active member of the bicycling community for a large chunk of this decade, I can offer a wealth of ideas about where the bike advocacy movement, and the larger mobility movement, should and could head to next. CalBike’s participation at The Untokening was the beginning of working closely with the organizers of the event to hold similar gatherings in California, such as listening sessions where women and people of color can freely, and safely, talk about the issues we know and care about. Further reports directly from The Untokening will be released in January 2017, with a compilation of the information shared and the outcomes produced.
Beyond the bike lane, the bicycle can be a tool for social change. I look forward to continuing the fight on two wheels and taking back our streets for a safer and more inclusive future. Join me.
Here at CalBike, we're gearing up and going big in the new year. We've got an ambitious yet robust legislative agenda, with headway in each strategic direction. We're looking forward to working with our state and local partners to make these goals a reality. You can join us in our effort today by becoming a member and active supporter.
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