CalBike Welcomes Laura Friedman as Assembly Transportation Committee Chair
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon today appointed Assembly Member Laura Friedman (D-Glendale, Burbank) as the new Chair of the body’s Transportation Committee.
“Friedman has been one of the best and most reliable supporters of sustainable transportation her entire career. Her leadership on the Transportation Committee will immensely improve our chances to win good reforms through that committee,” said Dave Snyder, Executive Director of the California Bicycle Coalition. It was Friedman’s bill that created the Vision Zero Task Force. The Task Force’s recommendations for changes to the rule that prevents cities from lowering speed limits have better prospects now.
Friedman replaces Jim Frazier, who was appointed Chair of the Governmental Organization Committee. Frazier was an ally to the oil and gas industry and a well-known obstacle to sustainable transportation. He did not support the Complete Streets bill, SB 127, on the Assembly Floor last year. He has also opposed attempts to ensure that transportation investments do not contribute to inequity, preventing a modest proposal to add representatives of disadvantaged communities to the California Transportation Commission.
Frazier’s lifetime environmental score, according to the California League of Conservation Voters, is 52%. Friedman’s score is 99%.
Other actions by the Speaker are also good news for CalBike. Newly-elected champion of bicycling Steve Bennett (D-Ventura) has been appointed to the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #3 on the Climate Climate Crisis, Resources, Energy, and Transportation; and ally to bicycling Assembly Member Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica) has been re-appointed as Chair of that subcommittee.
The full committee appointments are in this memo from the Speaker’s office.
UPDATE Dec 14, 2020. Statement from Assembly Member Friedman’s office:
I’m very excited to announce that I have been appointed by Speaker Anthony Rendon to serve as the Chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee.
I am grateful for this new leadership opportunity and understand the great responsibility that goes with it.
This committee has jurisdiction over the California High-Speed Rail Authority, California Highway Patrol, California Transportation Commission, Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Transportation (Caltrans), driver’s licenses, freight, regional transportation agencies, transit authorities, intercity rail, mobile sources of air pollution, fuels, rules of the road, state highways, local streets and roads, vehicles, aircraft, bicycle and pedestrian facilities, and vessels.
The work of this committee has a huge impact on our state’s economy, our environment, housing, and way of life.
Since being elected in 2016, I’ve served on this committee, where I’ve worked on a number of transportation bills including measures to change the way we set speed limits, change how we invest in high-speed rail, prioritize transit and active transportation, and address the environmental impacts of the transportation sector.
I’ll admit, working on those measures hasn’t been easy. Now that I have the opportunity to serve as Chair, the momentum has shifted and I plan to tackle these issues and more.
We are at a pivotal moment when it comes to transportation. Transportation-related emissions are on the rise and are one of the state’s largest contributor to climate change. Pedestrians and cyclists are endangered and killed because of outdated street engineering and our prioritization of cars.
We need to make smart, significant investment in mass transit to relieve congestion and improve mobility options. The world during and after this pandemic is going to be very different, and we need to be ready for that.
As most of you know, I’ve been very passionate about these issues over the years. I’ve secured millions of dollars to fund transportation projects in our district, including $20 million for the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk Bridge. I’ve enjoyed hosting conversations across our district about the future of transportation. In addition, I’ve been working for years to revise the 85th percentile rule, which determines how speed limits are set across the state, an effort that has met a lot of opposition in Sacramento.
This effort includes my bill that created a Zero Traffic Fatalities Task Force, to review this methodology and other factors leading to traffic fatalities. The task force concluded and released its policy recommendations in 2019. Last week, I introduced AB 43 to implement their findings.
As Chair, I will work to influence the committee’s efforts away from our focus on freeway and road expansions and towards forward-thinking policies such as investing in mass transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, zero-emission vehicles, road safety, and sustainability. I will focus on policies that consider the needs of all Californians, and work for more equitable access to mobility, while fighting to get our transportation sector on the right track with key climate targets.
It is an exciting new adventure and an opportunity to continue the work we have done over the years in a new space. I look forward to getting right to work and collaborating with you to help make our state safer, more sustainable, and equitable for all Californians.