For immediate release 5/14/2020
Contact: Dave Snyder, firstname.lastname@example.org, 916-251-9433
California Bicycle Coalition Applauds Caltrans Move to Add Complete Streets to SHOPP Projects
At the May 13, 2020 meeting of the California Transportation Commission (CTC), the Director of the State Department of Transportation (Caltrans), Toks Omishakin, asked the CTC to set aside $100 million from the 2020 State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) for bike and pedestrian safety improvements in SHOPP projects. CalBike applauds Caltrans leadership for championing the Complete Streets improvements that many California streets desperately need. Please take a moment to thank Caltrans Director Toks Omishakin.
A technicality at the CTC meeting prevented the commission from approving the whole $100 million. However, the conversation among commissioners made it clear that they intend to approve the rest of the funding at its next meeting in June.
The request came as part of the director’s stated commitment to make good on the governor’s promise that Caltrans will implement the intent of last year’s Complete Streets Act despite his veto. “While the state has a long way to go to turn the SHOPP and other state programs into funding sources for safety and sustainability and equity, this unprecedented action indicates the agency is serious about changing how it implements the SHOPP. These funds are essential to make desperately needed improvements for biking and walking safety,” said Dave Snyder, CalBike Executive Director.
Prior to the meeting, Commissioners received a letter from CalBike as part of a coalition of organizations led by Esther Rivera of California Walks. The letter commended the proposal to set aside $100 million, but expressed concern that Caltrans might not spend that money on the projects that would make the most difference because of its poor record of community engagement. Caltrans did identify 22 projects that would benefit from $50 million of the funding, but at the CTC meeting, Director Omishakin made clear that Caltrans would work with community partners to improve outreach. Several other high-ranking Caltrans staff have already reached out to CalBike offering to collaborate on outreach so that they can make the best decisions on how to prioritize that $100 million.
When Governor Newsom vetoed the Complete Streets for Healthy Living bill (SB 127 – Wiener) last year, it was a blow for the safe streets movement. The bill would have required Caltrans to consider adding Complete Streets elements to repair projects on state routes that double as local streets. It also created a public comment process if Caltrans decided Complete Streets features were infeasible. However, the governor issued a statement with his veto that made it clear that he expected Caltrans to find a way to implement the spirit of the law. With the 2020 SHOPP, we can see that Caltrans takes the need for Complete Streets seriously.
There has never been a more important time to build streets that encourage biking, walking, and taking transit. Changing our transit choices is a critical element of climate change mitigation. In addition, the current pandemic has shown us how vital California’s street spaces are to provide safe places to exercise and get fresh air. And bikes have become an even more important transportation option, to create space on public transit for those who need to ride and provide healthy and inexpensive transit for essential workers.