Caltrans has a long history of working to make California a better place to drive. We’ve been pushing them to make our state better for people biking and walking for years, and while we’ve seen great progress, particularly in what they say they’d like to accomplish, we’re continuing to push them to walk the walk (or, if you will, bike the bike).
One big change we’d like to see is that every time Caltrans makes improvements to our state highways, whether it’s replacing a bridge, repaving a few blocks or a few miles of roadway, or even repairing drainage systems, they will always take advantage of those opportunities to make improvements to biking and walking infrastructure in the area to make more “Complete Streets.”
In our June CalBike Report, we told you about how an in-depth analysis by CalBike of the Caltrans State Highway Maintenance and Protection Program (SHOPP) has spurred a significant rethinking at Caltrans about how they should redesign state highways to be safe for people to bike and walk. Since that time, we’ve been working with our friends at California Walks to develop recommendations for Caltrans to improve their SHOPP project development process and take advantage of opportunities to make safety improvements as part of routine maintenance. We have received some initial openness from Caltrans to our recommendations, and anticipate more official feedback over the coming months.
We understand that it takes a long time and a major culture change at Caltrans to make a fundamental shift in the routine process of maintaining and redesigning our state highways, but we hope our recommendations will spur the agency to make it part of their normal, everyday process to consider people biking and walking as they plan their road maintenance projects. You can read the full list of recommendations to Caltrans in this document, but here are some highlights:
- Establish a new Division of Active Transportation at Caltrans with staff devoted to reviewing and recommending improvements to highway maintenance projects
- Involve local advocates and residents in the review and development of maintenance projects at the Caltrans District level early in the process to ensure they meet local needs
- Create minimum standards for walking and biking improvements on projects, based on the amount and speed of traffic, and a clear review process for any projects that can’t meet minimum standards
- Develop a meaningful, transparent public outreach and engagement process for planning future needs and improvements on all state highway corridors that prioritize walking, bicycling, and transit use