CalBike’s agenda for 2023 continues our momentum from last year, lifting up multi-year campaigns like the Bicycle Safety Stop and Complete Streets and introducing a bold new framework with our Invest/Divest campaign.
Our goals and vision remain the same: Build communities where all Californians have equitable access to safe streets, improving health and bringing joy along the way. However, our efforts have a new sense of urgency as each year highlights the increasing damage of toxic emissions to our climate alongside increasing numbers of fatalities on our streets. We believe safe, active transportation should play a critical role in mitigating climate calamity and traffic violence, and bike advocates aren’t peripheral allies but central to this fight.
Introducing CalBike’s Invest/Divest Campaign
Change is scary and often met with resistance, especially from entrenched interests. But the time for radical change is now if we want to preserve a habitable climate for future generations.
To meet the moment, CalBike is launching Invest/Divest: a campaign to shift California’s transportation spending from traffic-inducing, climate-killing, over-policed, and community-destroying motor vehicle road expansions to Complete Streets and other projects that make it easier and safer for more people to get around by biking, walking, or using public transportation.
Our Invest pillars are:
- Invest in Complete Streets: Prioritize new safe, accessible, and equitable infrastructure that makes biking, walking, and micromobility convenient and appealing. Invest in safe roadways for all transportation modes, bringing us closer to Vision Zero and our ambitious climate goals.
- Invest in Just Streets: We’re expanding the definition of a Complete Street to mean one where people of all identities and bodies are safe from police harassment. To accomplish this, we must decriminalize biking and walking, including bikes treating stop signs as yields—often used in biased, pretextual policing—to make our complete streets safe for all identities and bodies. Remove discriminatory barriers based on class, race, gender, age, ability, and other identities and invest in communities where the safety of all residents is paramount.
- Invest in Complete Communities: No more bike lanes to nowhere. Invest in connected bikeways and pedestrian paths that provide safe, integrated access to essential destinations, making active transportation a viable option for more Californians.
- Invest in Thriving Communities. Invest in long-term neighborhood safety, security, and wealth that connects sustainable transportation options with affordable housing that is integrated with healthy destinations. We must empower the communities most impacted by harmful transportation investments to choose their own goals, strategies, and projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, local toxic air, and lethal streets.
CalBike will continue to advocate statewide e-bike incentives by:
- Working with CARB and our allies to help create an equitable pilot program
- Advocating for more funding for e-bike incentives in the 2024 budget and beyond
To fund these critical investments and prevent further destruction of the climate and the environment and its impact on our most marginalized populations who face these injustices first and worst, we must:
- Divest from Freeway Expansion: Don’t build one more mile of dead-end infrastructure that increases traffic, damages communities, increases fossil fuel dependence, and creates new maintenance bills that California can’t afford to pay. Divest from failed traffic mitigation policies that lead to gridlock, and invest those funds in infrastructure to move California into the future.
- Divest from Climate Collapse: Transportation is the biggest contributor to GHG emissions, so we must divest from projects that increase VMT and invest those funds in low- or no-carbon transportation alternatives.
- Divest from Environmental Racism: Low-income communities of color are harmed the most by toxic air, freight distribution, displacement, and gentrification pressures. It’s time to divest from projects that bring environmental degradation and invest those funds in historically marginalized communities.
- Divest from Enforcement and Criminalization: Californians need safety from the violence of cars, freight trucks, and other forms of publicly-subsidized harm that especially burden and criminalize Black and brown bodies/communities. Divest from racist, militarized traffic enforcement and invest in community resources to support and protect vulnerable residents.
- Divest from Policing as a Street Safety Solution: Law enforcement is often positioned as the prevailing authority on street safety, ignoring other forms of community protection. We cannot trust the police to enforce traffic laws equitably without the removal of white supremacy from law enforcement. Therefore, we must remove police enforcement from Vision Zero and other safe streets strategies.
Put your money where your climate is: Aligning transportation funding with California’s climate and equity goals
Where you spend your money shows your priorities. California prides itself on being a climate leader. But our state doesn’t deserve that title as long as it keeps spending billions on transportation projects that increase greenhouse gases while underfunding or completely ignoring much cheaper projects that could bring about the green transportation revolution we desperately need.
CalBike has consistently advocated for California to spend more on active transportation. We were instrumental in passing legislation that created the Active Transportation Program, which funds bikeways and other Complete Streets infrastructure across California, and we’ve successfully pushed to increase funding for that program. We helped secure funding for California’s first statewide e-bike incentive program, and we’ve urged Caltrans to add Complete Streets to repaving projects. We will continue to advocate for funding for complete bike networks and other green infrastructure.
Yet, despite all these successes, active transportation still accounts for a tiny fraction of California’s transportation spending. To align our transportation spending with climate and equity goals outlined in state climate and transportation plans, California needs to shift funding from harmful freeway expansion projects to community-building, climate-friendly, active transportation corridor construction.
In this year’s budget negotiations, CalBike will advocate for state funding to be divested from harmful freeway expansions and projects that perpetuate the climate crisis and commit environmental harms and invest in programs and projects that advance complete, just streets, connected mobility infrastructure, zero carbon micromobility options, and long-term neighborhood and community sustainability. We can easily afford to build the safe, complete streets and neighborhoods we need simply by shifting our funding priorities.
Investing in freedom of mobility
Recent events highlight how far we have to go to change the broken institution of policing and unequal enforcement of our traffic laws. Yet, California continues to invest in enforcement and criminalization strategies for street safety while ignoring or underfunding safe infrastructure and other community resources. Black Americans and other people of color are disproportionately victims of overly aggressive police enforcement and brutality while walking, running, riding bicycles, taking public transit, or driving. Our over-reliance on the police to solve our social and mobility inequalities creates problems rather than solving them.
In 2022, CalBike and our allies achieved a hard-fought victory, passing the Freedom to Walk Act to decriminalize safe, mid-block pedestrian crossings, but our work is just beginning. Going forward, we will continue to work to decriminalize mobility and commonsense traffic behaviors like the Bicycle Safety Stop. And we’ll work to reform traffic enforcement to eliminate pretextual policing and ensure that California’s streets are safe and welcoming for all identities and bodies.
Endlessly growing enforcement budgets have not stopped the ever-increasing numbers of traffic fatalities and injuries. It’s time to invest in data-backed, safe infrastructure solutions. CalBike will advocate for California to divest from harmful over-criminalization that perpetuates and widens social inequality and invest in educational programs and policies that foster safe mobility for all Californians.
Three tactical approaches to Invest/Divest
We will approach our Invest/Divest campaign through three strategies: legislation,
budget reform, and administrative advocacy.
- Legislation: We’ll shape, support, sponsor, and work to advance legislation that addresses a range of strategic priorities, leading with safety and equity.
- Budget: We’ll advocate for funding increases for active transportation projects and implementing Complete Streets by divesting and reallocating money from harmful freeway expansion projects and biased traffic enforcement.
- Agency action: We’ll work with California environmental and transportation agencies like Caltrans, the Air Resources Board, the California Transportation Commission, the Office of Traffic Safety, California Highway Patrol, and CalSTA to steward state-level policies, programs, and guidelines to better support Complete Streets, align transportation spending with the state’s climate and equity goals, and deprioritize enforcement as a major street safety solution.
Boldly going where no bike advocacy campaign has gone before
In the coming weeks and months, keep an eye on your inbox as we’ll launch new campaigns on critical programs and initiatives and ask you to take action to help us succeed.
We’re excited about what we can achieve in 2023, and we hope we can count on your support to make it happen. Your emails, calls, tweets, and petition signatures make a difference; when lawmakers know constituents are listening and engaged, they pay attention. We look forward to working with you to build safer, more equitable, and joy-filled Complete Streets.