CalBike Senior Policy Advocate Reflects on Big Picture Agenda
by Jared Sanchez
The California State Legislature is advancing more bicycle-related bills than ever. At least three times this year, a legislative committee approved seven important policy changes in a single day. With my years of experience, I’ve never seen so much energy and attention on bicycling issues at the state level. I’m grateful to our members whose advocacy has made this possible and to the legislators advancing powerful policy changes. It’s great to watch, and I want our organization to do everything we can to influence the changemakers who are taking bold steps to make our streets safer in a year that could have a huge impact on active transportation in California.
Three goals that will bring better biking to California
These goals top CalBike’s agenda:
Build 100% complete, protected bikeway networks in five California cities in five years.
At current funding levels, most local and regional bike plans won’t be complete for another 30 years. And even then, those plans too often leave gaps where one dangerous intersection or one block of fast-moving traffic will scare most people away from biking. CalBike has proposed a new program to fund cities that build complete bikeway networks without gaps quickly. We won’t wait 30 years.
Make it easy and inexpensive to hop on a shared bike anywhere in California.
We need to subsidize bike-share as an integral part of public transit so that anybody who can afford the bus can afford a similar ride on a shared bike. Shared bikes and scooters can be just as valuable as public transit if they’re supported with the same level of funding. Good shared micromobility programs, equitably distributed and affordable, can help millions of Californians take advantage of multimodal public transit and bike trips instead of car trips and make transit more effective and efficient.
Make sure that when we talk about safe streets, we prioritize safety for Black and brown Californians.
Our policy team worked hard last year to pass bills that would have removed opportunities for pretextual policing—allowing bicyclists to treat stop signs as yields and decriminalizing safe mid-block crossings. The governor vetoed both bills, but we’re bringing them back this year with some changes that we think will garner his signature.
We can’t forget the climate crisis
Climate disaster looms closer every day. Fire, drought, and extreme weather hit disadvantaged people hardest, widening social inequities. Energy costs, including the price of gas, are rising faster than incomes, squeezing low-income people even more. We can’t separate climate policy from economic policy from transportation policy.
Bicycling is central to creating transportation policy that will meet this critical moment in California.
We know that to make transportation affordable for everyone, Californians need to be much less dependent on their cars. We can do that easily, as CalBike members well know, by relying much more heavily on bikes. And we have to make the switch quickly, in the next 10 years.
Yet California is moving very slowly to implement the changes necessary to make bicycling an easy choice for people. California’s policymakers know that bicycling is a low-cost, sustainable, healthy, and joyful transportation solution—bikeways are drawn on maps in every city and town in California. But local governments aren’t building them. That’s why CalBike’s 2022 agenda focuses on how we can speed up this transformation.
The past two years have proven that California’s lawmakers and agencies can move quickly when faced with a dire challenge. The climate crisis, and the cascade of issues that result from it, require the same level of urgent action.
- No more “something is better than nothing” for bicycle infrastructure.
- No more prioritizing freeway building over creating safe neighborhoods.
- No more programs that advantage the comfortable and leave everyone else behind.
We can’t do this work without YOU. We rely on individual supporters, and your involvement is hugely impactful to the work we do.
This is the time for bold action. Are you with us?