January 17, 2019
Contact: Linda Khamoushian, Senior Policy Advocate
San Francisco, CA – This week the California Bicycle Coalition, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), and their coalition partners California Walks, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, and the American Heart Association joined surgeons from Zuckerberg General Hospital and the families of victims of traffic violence to announce the introduction of Senate Bill 127 in the California legislature, an effort aimed at making state-owned roads safer for people biking, walking, and taking transit.
Although Caltrans has already adopted guidelines that require planners to consider adding safer sidewalks, visible crosswalks, and protected bike lanes as they plan projects, CalBike’s Senior Policy Advocate Linda Khamoushian says this bill would go much farther by requiring safety improvements whenever roads are repaved or rehabilitated.
“Every day, poor street design causes hundreds of avoidable injuries and deaths on our roads. Some of the most dangerous places to walk and bike are those maintained and managed by the state, streets that Caltrans calls “highways” but we call home, places lined with small businesses, schools, senior centers, and places of worship,” said Khamoushian.
She listed several examples of state highways that serve as local streets: Van Ness Avenue and 19th Avenue in San Francisco, Santa Monica Blvd in Los Angeles, California Street in Redding, 23rd and 24th street in Bakersfield, and Ashby Blvd in Berkeley.
SB 127 would still allow for exceptions to the requirement where bike facilities weren’t appropriate, but by flipping the default action, local agencies and advocates will have a much better chance of winning the safety improvements desperately needed to provide healthy and affordable transportation options for all Californians, especially marginalized and low-income communities who are least likely to own cars.
Their effort looks to capitalize on the public’s interest in improving California’s transportation infrastructure following the resounding defeat of Prop 6 and the results of a statewide poll commissioned by CalBike finding that 8 in 10 California voters across the state and across all major political and demographic groups support building “complete streets” — roads designed to be safe for people walking or biking as well as driving.
“Voters want safer streets and they want efficient government. SB 127 does both by making sure that safety improvements are made in the course of regular repaving projects,” said Dave Snyder, CalBike’s Executive Director.
“We need to make sure that these streets are safe for all users,” said Senator Wiener. “There are city streets that are really state highways that don’t even have sidewalks.”
The California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) is California’s state-level bicycle advocacy organization, advocating for equitable, inclusive, and prosperous communities where bicycling helps to enable all Californians to lead healthy and joyful lives. Learn more about CalBike at www.calbike.org.