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
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
The California Bicycle Coalition issued their endorsements this week in the state's Assembly and Senate races.
The advocacy organization asked each candidate how much they support bicycling. How much do they ride? Do they support more funding for bicycle infrastructure? Do they support a "complete streets" requirement that all road maintenance take bicycle safety into account? Do they oppose using greenhouse gas funding for more roads?
Based on their answers to the survey and the results of outreach to their own members across the state, CalBike chose to endorse nine candidates:
AD 37 – Monique Limon - Trustee, Santa Barbara USD
AD 40 – Abigail Medina - Trustee, San Bernardino USD
AD 43 – Laura Friedman - Councilmember, Glendale
AD 65 – Sharon Quirk-Silva - Former Mayor of Fullerton and Assemblymember
AD 66 – Al Muratsuchi - Former Assemblymember, Torrance, CA
AD 78 – Todd Gloria - Councilmember, San Diego
SD 9 – Nancy Skinner - Former Member, State Assembly
SD 25 – Katherine Perez-Estolano - Member, High-Speed Rail Board/Businesswoman, San Gabriel Valley
SD 35 – Steven Bradford - Former Assemblymember, author of "Three Feet for Safety Act"
SD 39 – Toni Atkins - Member, State Assembly, San Diego
Happy New Year! We're already going full steam on our 2016 Legislative Agenda but wanted to take some time to recognize all the accomplishments (and some disappointments) from last year.
Best New Bike Project: Harbor Drive Protected Bike Lanes, Redondo Beach, California
Photo by Rock Miller
This city of about 70,000 in southwest Los Angeles County built the prettiest and safest protected bike lane of 2015, California’s only entry in People for Bikes’ list of 10 Best New Bike Lanes of 2015. The path completes a critical link in the coastal bike path, and sometimes has attracted more people on bikes than there are in cars on the adjacent roadway.
Honorable Mention for Nice Try: Protected Intersection, Davis, California
City of Davis
Davis won the race to be the first city in the nation to build a protected intersection, where physical separation from car traffic is provided all the way to the stop line. But compromises in design to accommodate more and faster car traffic render it a poor example of the type. Salt Lake City built the country’s second protected intersection, but the first really good one.
Most Dramatic Board Election: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s membership of 10,000+ people is not just huge in number, but high in passion as well. An attempt to change the corporate structure of the organization sparked interest in board membership and fifteen candidates vied for seven open seats on the Board in an election so tightly watched that the city’s biggest public media outlets covered it. We congratulate the new Board of Directors and look forward to more great things from an organization with perhaps the most passionate members of any in the country.
Most Profound Emerging Advocacy: Bike It! - Santa Ana, Orange County.
As those of us who have enjoyed the California Dream Ride know, Orange County is home to beautiful bike paths along beaches and rivers, and decent bike lanes along some of its sprawling roads. But ask the young people there about biking to school, and they’ll tell you how dangerous it can be. Even better, they’ll tell you exactly what we need to do to fix it and they’ll demand those changes until the politicians make them! The Bike It! team of youth leaders from Santa Ana gives hope to this city of 340,000 that it can become a bicycle-friendly city.
Most Important Strategic Shift: Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
The growing gap between rich and poor in the United States is not only fueling debate in the U.S. presidential election, it’s also stimulating a profound change in bicycle advocacy. The most efficient and affordable form of transportation on the planet holds great promise as a tool to advance social equity and build strong communities. But advocacy organizations have rarely emphasized this potential benefit. Worse, they have often exacerbated social divisions, amplifying the voices of white men, and ignoring the voices and interests of women, people of color, and the poor. The California Bicycle Coalition is committed to using the bicycle as a tool for social equity, and to making our movement more inclusive. Our statewide summit was focused on that theme, and we are updating our strategic plan to emphasize equity. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is a leader among local organizations, with its stated priority to serve low-income communities of color and help reverse historical inequalities caused by the region’s transportation system. And most bicycle advocacy groups across the state recognize that making the bicycle a mainstream transportation option means making it work for everyone, especially those with the least resources and political access, but the most to gain. CalBike will continue to support our partners in using bicycling as a tool for equity.
Most Important Threat Avoided: Removal of Federal Funds
Congress approved a six-year federal transportation funding bill in 2015 without removing bicycle funding. In today’s Congress, where bills were introduced that would have made bike projects ineligible for federal funds, the preservation of bike funding in the “Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act” counts as a victory. Yes, that’s the DRIVE Act, and, according to an analysis by the League of American Bicyclists, it’s not at all innovative or visionary. Kudos to the League and People for Bikes for their great work in D.C. Do you want to help? Consider going to the National Bike Summit, March 7-9, 2016.
PEOPLE & PLACES
Biggest Transitions in Advocacy Leadership: League of American Bicyclists/Alliance for Biking & Walking (tie)
The League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking each saw their longtime executives depart this year. CalBike congratulates both Andy Clarke and Jeff Miller for their service; the cause of bicycling has been well-served by their leadership. The League quickly and quietly appointed Alex Doty, longtime leader of the Philadelphia local bicycle advocacy organization to take over, sparking a response from some equity advocates that the closed process was an example of the kinds of institutional practices that exclude women and people of color. The Alliance, meanwhile, is led by interim executive director Christy Kwan after their new executive departed after just a few months. We know both of them as very strong leaders with energy, creativity and intelligence. The new leadership opens the potential for exciting new priorities and collaborations at the national level. The future is bright, if a little unclear. We stand ready to support our national partners especially in figuring out how to use the bike as a tool for equity.
Most Embarrassing Island: Coronado Island, San Diego County
California offered to the world the country’s most absurd opposition to bike facilities when residents of Coronado Island came out in force to oppose proposed bike lanes at a public hearing in September, calling the lanes “paint stripe pollution.” They also said the lanes are like “graffiti on our streets that does not help our property values” (which is untrue); that bike lanes “bring to mind a visual cacophony that if you look there long enough it will induce a dizzying type of vertigo”; and that putting so many stripes on the streets is like taking your daughters to get them “completely body tattooed.” The complaints were lampooned by late night host James Corden. The Coronado City Council promised to revisit the bike plan after these complaints, but we’re not worried because the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition is on the job, organizing the majority of Coronado residents who support safer bicycling—even if it does require some new stripes on the ground.
Best Award that Somebody Else Gave: Jeanie Ward-Waller's Streetsie
In a moment of sharp insight, Streetsblog California awarded their Most Tireless Statewide Advocate award to our own Policy Director, Jeanie Ward-Waller. On board at CalBike for less than a year, she has already transformed our effectiveness with her relentless advocacy and alliance-building. Tireless, yes. Powerfully effective, too, we might add.
Deepest Loss to Our Movement: Deb Hubsmith
No recap of 2015 is complete without acknowledging the painful loss of a hero of our movement. Deb Hubsmith, founding executive director of the local Marin County Bicycle Coalition and the National Partnership for Safe Routes to School, died of leukemia on August 18. She was 46. Hubsmith was instrumental in the California Bicycle Coalition’s 1999 victory establishing the nation’s first state-funded safe routes to school program. Whenever we get tired or wonder if we have the energy to keep fighting for a better world in the face of so many challenges, we think of Deb, and not only find the energy to keep fighting, but to dance at the victory party.
Here's to a great new year for bicycling.