Changing the world takes action on all levels. We need the professional, focused advocacy that CalBike delivers—and we also need volunteer effort, and lots of it. In fact, CalBike at its best works to coordinate and amplify the passion and energy of thousands of volunteer activists for transportation justice, without whom we simply could not win.
Take Walt Seifert, for example. He decided he wanted to see California follow Idaho and Delaware in enacting the common sense reform of stop sign laws so that people on bikes have to yield but don’t have to come to a complete stop if nobody else is present at the intersection. He single-handedly secured the endorsement of more than 37 important organizations and the support of key legislators, making the impossible seem possible. We didn’t win this year but he laid a strong foundation for another try.
Now take yourself, for example. Don’t doubt that you can make a difference.
If you’re like Walt and like the political game, lobby your local legislator. To help budding and experienced transportation advocates from across the state get engaged, we're coordinating Bike Advocacy Week to connect our members with their local Assemblymember or Senator during the Spring Recess when they are in their district. Join today so you can be sure not to miss that action.
If you’re more of a direct action type of person, consider this: build your own infrastructure. There’s no better example of DIY traffic safety work in California than the innovative "guerrilla urban planning" projects launched by the San Francisco Municipal Transformation Agency. From human-protected bike lanes to self-installed vertical posts, the SFMTrA has been making safety improvements in record speed for low costs since 2016.
Across our state, volunteers from all walks of life are getting engaged in local politics, learning, organizing their communities, and hitting the streets. Their work is our work—and we can't wait to see what the passionate and dedicated volunteers that make up the foundation of the movement will create in 2018.
This month CalBike is publishing six articles to help you bring more joy into your life in 2018. Each post will bring a new suggestion for supporting our movement to make our communities more equitable, inclusive and prosperous where bicycling enables more people to live joyful and healthy lives.
Today we emphasize the deepest aspect of our work—social justice—which is central to the new Strategic Plan we adopted in 2017 and unveiled at the California Bicycle Summit. Second, we’ll highlight some volunteer campaigns you can work on to meet people and make a difference. Third, we’ll discuss taking control of your streets. Then we'll introduce you to your local advocacy organization and your statewide advocacy organization (us). Finally, we'll close the series in a fun way: an enticement to join us on the California Dream Ride.
Our new Strategic Plan highlights the reason we advocate for bicycling; it’s not about the bike. It’s about our communities and the people who live in them. It’s about living joyful and healthy lives in equitable, inclusive, and prosperous communities. We emphasize bicycling as the means to that end—a particularly wonderful means, in fact—but it’s the goal that matters.
Because we are confident that most people like bikes, our work in 2018 will include a great deal of base-building aimed at giving residents a greater voice in how transportation decisions are made. It means listening to local community organizations and working with them to strengthen their power, even on issues beyond bicycling. For example, residents sometimes oppose bike lanes as harbingers of gentrification and displacement, so you might see us supporting efforts to improve tenant protections. We also plan to engage in structural reforms of transportation agencies to improve their responsiveness to community demands. More democracy in our transportation policy decisions will mean better decisions.
These are some of our ambitious goals for the next five years. They also include preparing for autonomous vehicles, mandating bike infrastructure when streets are repaved, and helping people and businesses convert car trips to electric bike trips. We detailed our full strategic plan at the California Bicycle Summit in October, and we can't wait to share about how we're making than plan a reality in 2018.
On Saturday, January 20th, CalBike co-organized a gathering of Los Angeles area community organizations and individuals to provide the opportunity and space for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to collaborate on local and state transportation justice issues. Co-sponsored by PolicyLink, California Walks, and Multicultural Communities for Mobility (MCM), the meeting recognized the historic and current capacity gaps and barriers for grassroots organizations to engage in policy issues at the state level. Attendees concentrated on the ways in which to “humanize the mobility justice movement” with the hope of having community members tell their own stories to encourage elected officials and bureaucratic transportation agencies to share decision-making power.
The meeting implements two important and related parts of our new strategic plan: prioritizing marginalized communities in transportation spending and policy decisions and strengthening the power of the transportation justice movement. Ultimately, our success in Sacramento—to advocate for equitable, inclusive, and prosperous communities in which safe and healthy biking can be a key element—is dependent on the influence and power of local organizations and movements that can apply pressure from below to hold our state legislators accountable. It was clear that the day’s event brought advocates hungry for more, with an appetite to shape state policy to meet local needs and win local struggles.
But, even more importantly, the day attempted to capture the insatiable vigor for justice from below that recognizes mobility inequities as part of a larger movement against historic and current practices of over-policing, divestment, racial segregation, displacement, gentrification. A movement that seeks to redress the lack of community land ownership, healthy food, clean air, safe passage and green spaces.
We look forward to strategic meetings, new partnerships, and powerful outcomes in the months ahead!
Complete Streets for Another Day
Sometimes, even your best effort to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s can get thwarted by a more influential force. At the first Senate Transportation and Housing Committee hearing of the new year held on Tuesday January 9th, SB 760 became the first casualty of the state legislature’s effort to protect SB 1 implementation efforts.
SB 760, our Complete Streets policy that would bring accountability measures the State Department of Transportation for the implementation of internal policies, was striped down by committee amendments to only include the most non-controversial provision—the adoption of the NACTO urban design guide into the Highway Design Manual.
CalBike's push to bring Complete Streets to all of California's communities continues; make sure to keep up with our campaign and help us take the next steps.
Bikes Yield Law Killed for Now
The authors of our common sense bill to require bicycle riders to yield and stop if necessary at stop sign-controlled intersections pulled their bill from consideration last week. 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.
Automated Speed Enforcement Legalization Pulled
Enforcing speed limits with safety cameras is a proven technology that prevents crashes and saves lives. They don’t racially discriminate. They’re working in 140 U.S. cities and counting, but they're banned in California.
A bill to fix this by allowing San Jose and San Francisco to implement a pilot program was killed last week when its authors chose to pull the bill from consideration. The bill would have permitted automated speed enforcement with strict conditions to ensure they do their job to save lives and are not merely tools to increase revenues. We support our partners in San Jose and San Francisco and look forward to the next session when we hope this idea is revived.
Governor’s 2018-19 Budget Proposal Delivers Over $20 billion for Transportation, Disappoints On Equity and Sustainability Goals
Sacramento, CA — This week, Governor Brown released his 2018-19 State Budget proposal, which Brian Kelly, the Secretary of the California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA), has described as “the SB 1 budget.” And it certainly is. New revenue from Senate Bill 1 ($4.6 billion) enlarged the transportation pie for 2018-19 with the majority of it directed towards maintaining state highways and local roads and improving the state’s trade corridors. Additionally, other funds will go to some meaningful—but relatively small—increases to a variety of other road, transit, and active transportation programs that will help put California on a path toward meeting sustainability goals.
Certainly, doubling the ATP, creating a new program to support multi-modal travel corridors, and using non-Cap and Trade funds for expanding a Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) program like the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) pushes us onto the path. However, and not unlike our reasons from almost a year ago when CalBike and 80-plus other organizations suggested improvements for SB 1, the budget proposal and its new large sums come nowhere close to redressing transportation injustices Californians currently face, and instead cements many documented and embedded inequities and unsustainable practices. Just as SB 1 implementation failed to show us the past 6 months, both transportation policies and transportation funding plans need to be consistent with current state policies and goals related to social equity, climate, and health–before we call any new funding a success.
Beyond not addressing equity regarding transportation, the proposal also makes no strong connection between transportation funding and climate change. Despite the Governor’s groundbreaking achievements in this area, the state’s transportation sector continues to be a major blind spot. The vast majority of new transportation revenue still short-sightedly enables highway widening, auto travel and sprawl—all of which have proven to further increase our vulnerability to climate change. The Governor’s proposal, per SB 1, includes additional funds for new projects in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Any additional funding to programs like the STIP should include clear accountability measures to ensure it is spent on projects that reduce driving and promote social equity, or it will ultimately hinder the state from meeting its climate change reduction targets.
We are watching three areas most closely to ensure the final budget and its implementation reflect our commitment to transportation equity.
- The Commuter Corridors program (also known as Solutions to Congested Corridors) does not match up with statute OR what we closely followed the past six months. Instead of focusing on multi-modal investments, including biking, the Governor’s budget office has characterized it as increasing capacity projects including highway widening as one of the first solutions.
- Trade corridors are often described as the lifeblood of California’s robust economy. Per SB 1, $306 million will fund new freight projects. However, this does not include the billions more that will directly and indirectly benefit freight movement by advancing “fix-it-first” projects on trade corridors. Most funds will go to bridge projects, highway widening, railroad grade separations, port improvements and other common freight industry desires. Also what is not mentioned by policymakers nor in this proposal, is that the lifeblood often gets poisoned, with disproportionate impacts across the state. Once we start talking about improving freight facilities without serious climate, air quality, and equity considerations in mind, largely the set of benefits goes one way (i.e. subsidizing goods movement industry profits), and the burdens another way (hitting low-income communities of color - often walk-, bike-, or transit-dependent - first and worst).
- The State Transit Assistance Program pot of funds got a significant boost in the proposal – these funds go to supporting public transit across the state and of course largely complement walking and biking. $355 million will go to the Public Transportation Account to local transit agencies for operations and capital costs. We will work to ensure operations (and not just capital projects) gets its adequate share since this part is what removes obstacles of service cuts and fare hikes that negatively impacts low-income residents the most.
If we want to achieve our state’s ambitious climate and equity goals, we need coordinated, holistic state action. The Budget will continue to potentially provide significant direction on reducing climate change, improving air quality, and achieving social, economic, and environmental justice. We look forward to contributing our experiences and expertise in the coming year to the decision-making process to get there.
To advocate for more equitable, inclusive and prosperous communities, we “follow the money” and that means we engage intensely with the CTC.
At the state level, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) controls most of the federal and state sources of the transportation budget—a whopping $18 billion a year—and therefore the priorities of our state’s transportation agencies.
Reforming our state’s transportation system to address the failures of the past must include reforming our transportation decisionmaking bodies at all levels of government.
We attend public meetings across the state, pursue critical meetings with staff and commissioners, work with partner organizations to influence Commission policy implementation to better serve all Californians, and generally provide guidance to their operations and actions while simultaneously keeping a close eye for problematic or promising policies in order to share with mobility groups on the ground at the local level.
While our work is helping our members, constituents, and allies who don’t have the capacity to engage with state policymakers get better results from the CTC, we are also working to improve the CTC. This year’s AB 179, signed into law by Governor Brown last week, called for the Governor to “make every effort” to ensure the Commission has “a diverse membership with expertise in transportation issues,” and to consider “socioeconomic background and professional experience, which may include experience working in, or representing, disadvantaged communities.”
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 its appointed commissioners have any experience with important issues like pollution impacts, sustainable and active transportation, or public health.
This particular bill initially proposed a mandate that the CTC must include representation from experts who live and work in underserved and environmental justice communities and eventually evolved that mandate into a mere suggestion—despite the fact that almost two-thirds of the Assembly voted for the mandate. Once it arrived in the Senate, 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.” His call reflects an encouraging shift away from the status quo in transportation decision-making. CalBike will be holding Beall and our other leaders accountable when the next opportunity to appoint diverse representation to the Commission comes up.
In the meantime, we are fiercely urging to the Brown Administration to heed AB 179’s suggestion, and reverse the long history of the CTC operating with zero accountability to the people of California. Relying on AB 179, however, is not enough. In fact, the new law may have unintended consequences by stifling more direct and transformative reform and/or allowing decision makers to use it as an escape clause to pacify growing legitimate dissent. It’s our job to not let that happen.
We’ll never be afraid to stand by our values and will always refuse to give a free pass to unsustainable, unsafe, or inequitable transportation policy decisions. CalBike will continue to pressure the CTC to continue to engage with transportation and environmental justice advocates, residents, and communities.
Photo Credit: David De la Cruz/EYCEJ
The last day for the Governor to sign or veto legislation approved in the 2017 session has come and gone, and we're ready with updates on several key bills with the power to shape transportation across our state.
CalBike's policy and advocacy work doesn't end when the session ends or when legislators head home on recess; keep up with us here on our blog, on Twitter, and over at Facebook to get The Latest on the day-to-day work of transportation advocacy and learn more about how you can get involved.
SB 702-Stern (D-Canoga Park) Get More State Employees Rolling
California’s state employee bike share program was just launched in Sacramento with 100 bicycles, and Senate Bill 702 from our friend would have expanded the program across the state where feasible.
Although SB 702 had no opposition in the legislature, the Governor vetoed the bill, describing it as “unnecessary” and saying that the Dept of General Services should "assess the demand for bike share and expand the state employee bike share program" within its existing authority.
CalBike sponsored this bill because we know that expanding access to bicycles for California's hundreds of thousands of state employees is a necessary component of any comprehensive program to reduce car trips by state employees. It reduces traffic, reduces the burden of health care costs imposed on the state by making employees healthier, and it enables more cost-effective and efficient transportation.
Technically, the Governor was correct in saying the bill was unnecessary. So was his veto—unless his intention is not to expand the program within the “existing authority” of the Department of General Services.
Your California Bicycle Coalition is meeting with the Department of General Services in November to learn about their plans, or lack thereof, to expand bike share statewide. We'll see if the Governor is serious about meeting the demand for bike share—we'll and keep you informed in case you need to take action.
AB 179 - Cervantes (D-Corona) - CTC Reform
Long overdue, this bill is passed into law and takes us one step closer to reforming the California Transportation Commission. Originally written to require that at least one Commissioner have experience working with disadvantaged communities, the bill was watered down to require the Governor to “make every effort” to ensure the Commission has “a diverse membership with expertise in transportation issues,” and to consider “socioeconomic background and professional experience, which may include experience working in, or representing, disadvantaged communities.” We are hopeful that this—and the next—Governor heeds the message of this bill so that we see a more diverse commission in the future. We will suggest candidates and advocate for their appointment.
AB 17 - Holden (D-Pasadena) - Student Transit Pass Program
Despite near-unanimous bipartisan support from both houses of the Legislature, this pilot program was vetoed by the Governor. Along with our partners, we look forward to having further conversations with the Administration next year to bring clarity to the bill and help all of California's students to get to and stay in school.
SB 150 - Allen (D-Santa Monica) - Regional Transportation Planning
The signing of this bill into law by the Governor will strengthen our state’s climate program by requiring regions to report on their climate protection efforts. The bill secures SB 375’s vision to tie together land use and transportation planning as a strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).
AB 390 - Santiago (D-Los Angeles) - Pedestrian Walking Signals
Finally some clarity for pedestrians in crosswalks, this bill was signed by the Governor and law now states that pedestrians may enter an intersection and cross during a countdown signal that is accompanied by a flashing hand signal or “Don’t Walk,” as long as they reach the other end of the intersection before the hand or “Don’t Walk” signal goes steady. We can't penalize pedestrians for poorly timed crosswalk countdown signals; all our streets should be Complete Streets, where everyone has the right and ability to use the roadways safely.
AB 805 - Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego) - San Diego County Transportation Agencies
A major success for transportation justice, this is an important step to better represent transit riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians from low-income communities in regional decision-making.
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.