CalBike Endorses Candidates in Four Key Congressional Races
Four close Congressional elections here in California could make a big difference in future federal transportation legislation. That, in turn, can shape state and local policies that impact everyone who bikes. CalBike has endorsed the bike-friendly candidate in each of these races. They are:
- Phil Arballo (Clovis-Visalia-Tulare) Congressional District 22
- Christy Smith (Santa Clarita-Palmdale) Congressional District 25
- Katie Porter (Irvine-Tustin) Congressional District 45
- Harley Rouda (Huntington Beach-Newport Beach) Congressional District 48
What happens in Congress affects California
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, passed by Congress in 2015, currently controls transportation spending across the US. It authorized $226 billion over five years, including approximately $760 million each year for active transportation. Many important federal programs are created by Congress in multi-year transportation spending authorization bills like the FAST Act. That’s why CalBike advocates for policy change at all governmental levels.
This year, after negotiations on a new transportation funding package failed, Congress extended the FAST Act for another year. Next year, Congress will almost certainly create a new federal transportation policy. What shape that policy takes will be determined by who controls Congress.
CalBike considered two main issues for its candidate endorsements:
- Is one candidate better than the other for bike policy?
- Is the candidate a potential champion for bicycling and transportation justice?
People across the political spectrum ride bikes and street safety shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but it is. We look forward to the day that Republicans and Democrats alike understand the value of increasing bicycling, but for now, the Democrats are the more bike-friendly party, so a Democratic Party-controlled Congress is more likely to advance bike-friendly policies.
The candidates CalBike has endorsed are all Democrats in close races in swing districts. We don’t know yet whether each of them will be a champion for bikes, but they all stated their support for the goals of the League of American Bicyclists when they responded to CalBike’s questionnaire. Most importantly, each of the candidates we endorse fully supports a House of Representatives’ proposal called the INVEST Act. The INVEST Act is a bill that could replace the FAST Act next year when the new Congress is seated. The League of American Bicyclists describes the INVEST Act as “the first bill to approach real reform in almost 30 years” and notes that it “does so much more than simply reauthorize and repeat policies from the past.” We need to elect members of congress who will push for this important legislation to become law.
Our candidate questionnaire also honed in on safety issues. Currently, bicyclists and pedestrians make up 20 percent of roadway fatalities in the country, but states report spending only about 1% of their safety funds on bicycling and walking. So we asked each candidate if they would support a requirement that states must use some of their highway safety funding to reduce bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities in areas with above-average pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities. All of our endorsed candidates said “yes”.
We also asked if they would support a requirement for states to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions if it came with funding to do so. All strongly agreed with this requirement and understand that bikes are an important part of the solution.
Vote for climate and biking champions
Will any of our endorsed candidates be a true champion? Phil Arballo might be. Like many of our members, he served on his city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, touting his role as Vice President of this committee on his campaign home page.
Christy Smith is another great candidate. In her short tenure in the Assembly, she was a reliable vote not just for sustainable transportation but also for making sure that public investment supported the marginalized communities most in need.
Katie Porter is a rising star who flipped her red Orange County district blue for the first time in decades. Her famous whiteboard takedowns of corporate greed and administrative malfeasance give us faith that she will be the kind of progressive leader we need to combat climate change and make our streets safe for everyone.
In his first term in congress, Harley Rouda has emerged as a leader on climate policy. He sees bikes as an important part of the solution to the climate crisis. He represents a swing district that was represented by Republican Dana Rohrbacher for many years.
The 2020 general election is bringing issues of progressive change to the forefront
That is why CalBike emphatically supports these four candidates. We believe it’s important to elect them not only because they will support the bike movement, but also because they want to tackle the climate crisis head-on. Each one is running against an opponent who espouses an ideology that rejects the urgent need to address climate change as well as the importance of transitioning to a more sustainable transportation system.
Each of these four candidates is fighting in battleground or swing districts, so it is even more important that CalBike supporters like you make your voices heard. A vote for one of these candidates could decisively affect the makeup of our Congress, and the trajectory of the bike movement overall.