Happy New Year! We’re already going full steam on our 2016 Legislative Agenda but wanted to take some time to recognize all the accomplishments (and some disappointments) from last year.
Best New Bike Project: Harbor Drive Protected Bike Lanes, Redondo Beach, California
This city of about 70,000 in southwest Los Angeles County built the prettiest and safest protected bike lane of 2015, California’s only entry in People for Bikes’ list of 10 Best New Bike Lanes of 2015. The path completes a critical link in the coastal bike path, and sometimes has attracted more people on bikes than there are in cars on the adjacent roadway.
Honorable Mention for Nice Try: Protected Intersection, Davis, California
City of Davis
Davis won the race to be the first city in the nation to build a protected intersection, where physical separation from car traffic is provided all the way to the stop line. But compromises in design to accommodate more and faster car traffic render it a poor example of the type. Salt Lake City built the country’s second protected intersection, but the first really good one.
Most Dramatic Board Election: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s membership of 10,000+ people is not just huge in number, but high in passion as well. An attempt to change the corporate structure of the organization sparked interest in board membership and fifteen candidates vied for seven open seats on the Board in an election so tightly watched that the city’s biggest public media outlets covered it. We congratulate the new Board of Directors and look forward to more great things from an organization with perhaps the most passionate members of any in the country.
Most Profound Emerging Advocacy: Bike It! – Santa Ana, Orange County.
As those of us who have enjoyed the California Dream Ride know, Orange County is home to beautiful bike paths along beaches and rivers, and decent bike lanes along some of its sprawling roads. But ask the young people there about biking to school, and they’ll tell you how dangerous it can be. Even better, they’ll tell you exactly what we need to do to fix it and they’ll demand those changes until the politicians make them! The Bike It! team of youth leaders from Santa Ana gives hope to this city of 340,000 that it can become a bicycle-friendly city.
Most Important Strategic Shift: Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition
The growing gap between rich and poor in the United States is not only fueling debate in the U.S. presidential election, it’s also stimulating a profound change in bicycle advocacy. The most efficient and affordable form of transportation on the planet holds great promise as a tool to advance social equity and build strong communities. But advocacy organizations have rarely emphasized this potential benefit. Worse, they have often exacerbated social divisions, amplifying the voices of white men, and ignoring the voices and interests of women, people of color, and the poor. The California Bicycle Coalition is committed to using the bicycle as a tool for social equity, and to making our movement more inclusive. Our statewide summit was focused on that theme, and we are updating our strategic plan to emphasize equity. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition is a leader among local organizations, with its stated priority to serve low-income communities of color and help reverse historical inequalities caused by the region’s transportation system. And most bicycle advocacy groups across the state recognize that making the bicycle a mainstream transportation option means making it work for everyone, especially those with the least resources and political access, but the most to gain. CalBike will continue to support our partners in using bicycling as a tool for equity.
Most Important Threat Avoided: Removal of Federal Funds
Congress approved a six-year federal transportation funding bill in 2015 without removing bicycle funding. In today’s Congress, where bills were introduced that would have made bike projects ineligible for federal funds, the preservation of bike funding in the “Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act” counts as a victory. Yes, that’s the DRIVE Act, and, according to an analysis by the League of American Bicyclists, it’s not at all innovative or visionary. Kudos to the League and People for Bikes for their great work in D.C. Do you want to help? Consider going to the National Bike Summit, March 7-9, 2016.
PEOPLE & PLACES
Biggest Transitions in Advocacy Leadership: League of American Bicyclists/Alliance for Biking & Walking (tie)
The League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking each saw their longtime executives depart this year. CalBike congratulates both Andy Clarke and Jeff Miller for their service; the cause of bicycling has been well-served by their leadership. The League quickly and quietly appointed Alex Doty, longtime leader of the Philadelphia local bicycle advocacy organization to take over, sparking a response from some equity advocates that the closed process was an example of the kinds of institutional practices that exclude women and people of color. The Alliance, meanwhile, is led by interim executive director Christy Kwan after their new executive departed after just a few months. We know both of them as very strong leaders with energy, creativity and intelligence. The new leadership opens the potential for exciting new priorities and collaborations at the national level. The future is bright, if a little unclear. We stand ready to support our national partners especially in figuring out how to use the bike as a tool for equity.
Most Embarrassing Island: Coronado Island, San Diego County
California offered to the world the country’s most absurd opposition to bike facilities when residents of Coronado Island came out in force to oppose proposed bike lanes at a public hearing in September, calling the lanes “paint stripe pollution.” They also said the lanes are like “graffiti on our streets that does not help our property values” (which is untrue); that bike lanes “bring to mind a visual cacophony that if you look there long enough it will induce a dizzying type of vertigo”; and that putting so many stripes on the streets is like taking your daughters to get them “completely body tattooed.” The complaints were lampooned by late night host James Corden. The Coronado City Council promised to revisit the bike plan after these complaints, but we’re not worried because the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition is on the job, organizing the majority of Coronado residents who support safer bicycling—even if it does require some new stripes on the ground.
Best Award that Somebody Else Gave: Jeanie Ward-Waller’s Streetsie
In a moment of sharp insight, Streetsblog California awarded their Most Tireless Statewide Advocate award to our own Policy Director, Jeanie Ward-Waller. On board at CalBike for less than a year, she has already transformed our effectiveness with her relentless advocacy and alliance-building. Tireless, yes. Powerfully effective, too, we might add.
Deepest Loss to Our Movement: Deb Hubsmith
No recap of 2015 is complete without acknowledging the painful loss of a hero of our movement. Deb Hubsmith, founding executive director of the local Marin County Bicycle Coalition and the National Partnership for Safe Routes to School, died of leukemia on August 18. She was 46. Hubsmith was instrumental in the California Bicycle Coalition’s 1999 victory establishing the nation’s first state-funded safe routes to school program. Whenever we get tired or wonder if we have the energy to keep fighting for a better world in the face of so many challenges, we think of Deb, and not only find the energy to keep fighting, but to dance at the victory party.
Here’s to a great new year for bicycling.