CalBike is working to provide an important new tool to traffic engineers. It will give people who on bikes safe space to ride on narrow roads. The tool is a road design called ‘edge lane roads’ and we need your help to identify places where they should be installed.
What is an edge lane road?
“Edge lanes” create lanes that work just like bike lanes on streets that are too narrow to allow standard bike lanes. Also known as advisory bike lanes, this design is the last significant design innovation that is lacking from the U.S. traffic engineer’s typical toolbox. CalBike is committed to giving engineers this new tool.
On an edge lane road, wide bike lanes are striped on either side of the road – the edge lanes. In the center, there is a space for cars with no center line. This car lane is often wider than a normal lane but not wide enough for two cars to pass. When cars meet head-on, they negotiate the space by moving into the bike lane temporarily. The arrangement requires motorists to be flexible about the space and negotiate with each other, while giving bike riders a secure lane of their own at the edge.
Californian Michael Williams is one of the leading proponents of edge lane roads in the United States. He saw their potential while studying bicycle infrastructure in the Netherlands. “It’s a way to reallocate roadway width more efficiently and more safely for vulnerable road users,” he said in a recent conversation with CalBike.
“Edge lane roads have existed for more than 50 years in other countries around the world,” Williams noted. The Netherlands alone has over 800 km installed. In the US, he knows of about 30 edge lane projects. The largest number are in Minneapolis, which has seven or eight edge lane roads. “They tried them out. They love them,” he said of Minneapolis. “They’re rolling them out all over the place.”
While Williams first saw the potential of edge lanes to create space for bikes on rural roads, they work just as well on urban streets. “An edge lane road format would be a great way to design a bicycle boulevard,” he said. “That’s really the operation you want on a bike boulevard.” He noted that Minneapolis has successfully used the edge lane treatment on urban, high-volume streets.
Why don’t we have edge lanes here?
If you’re thinking that edge lanes might be fine for the Netherlands but they would never work here, you’re not alone. “I’m all across the country advocating for edge lane roads,” Williams said. People’s first reaction is that edge lanes will create problems. “Then, when communities put them in, everybody does fine with them,” he said.
We need edge lane roads in California. It’s the last important tool to add to the planner’s toolbox for safe streets. The stripes on edge lanes show all road users what is expected of them. They give people on bikes a space to ride and a line that they can expect motorists to avoid.
Where there’s room to install protected bike lanes, that is the preferred treatment on many streets. But where there isn’t room, city planners have poor choices: reject any bike facility at all, put in “sharrows” that have proven ineffective, or stripe narrow door zone bike lanes, which put bicyclists in severe danger of injury or death from a suddenly opening car door.
“A lot of times the reason for edge lane roads to be used is because people don’t want to get rid of parking,” Williams said. Thus, an edge lane treatment could help overcome neighborhood resistance to bike lanes by preserving parking and two-way vehicular travel, while adding safe space for bikes.
The edge lane road treatment is not included in any guideline that local planners in California are authorized to use. Neither the California Highway Design Manual or the more progressive guidelines from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) includes this tool. CalBike is working to change that. You can help.
Where would you like to see edge lanes?
None of the edge lane roads in North America are in California. We would like to bring this sensible road design to our urban and rural streets. Right now, we have a great opportunity to test edge lane roads in California.
California goes through a state highway safety plan process every four years. The process opens an opportunity for pilot projects to test new design ideas. As part of this process, communities can run pilot edge lane road projects.
Micromobility America returns to Richmond, CA, for the largest-ever gathering of people specifically focused on new modes of urban mobility.
Important note: The 2020 Micromobility America conference has been rescheduled from April 22-23 to July 16-17, due to coronavirus concerns.
Speakers include Lime president Joe Kraus, Curbed editor Alissa Walker, Strava data leader Cathy Tanimura, and many more. View the full agenda here.
CalBike is a media partner and, for a limited time, our followers can take an extra 30% off tickets by registering using this link. Come join us for two days of expos, meet-ups, new vehicle demos, presentations, and panels. The 30% offer ends May 1.
As former California Secretary for Natural Resources, John Laird is well-poised to create stronger climate policy through a cross-sector approach. This includes building higher housing densities in major urban areas, restoring the commitment to operations funds for public transportation, and making a financial commitment to underserved communities so that they are not priced out of being a part of the transportation solution. These may seem like minor proposals in combatting our climate crisis, but transportation advocates know these will be bold and important moves for Senate District 17 and all of California.
SD 17 ecompasses California’s central coast from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo. The area is highly dependent on cars. Laird still understands that significantly increasing the Active Transportation Program and creating alternatives to cars are important for his constituents. In his response to whether 1.6% of the total transportation budget is enough for biking and walking investments, Laird said he is “clearly committed to doing significantly more” as he did for nine years as member of his local transportation commission. And that “more” includes prioritizing state transportation allocations for low-income populations, according to Laird. He has already shown his commitment to increased funding for under-served communities during his eight years at California’s Strategic Growth Council.
The rest of his questionnaire responses are equally as impressive for their breadth and depth of knowledge. For these reasons, we are excited to see John Laird emerge as a prominent candidate in the Senate District 17 race. We look forward to seeing him provide the leadership needed to work toward safer and more sustainable transportation alternatives for all Californians.
CalBike is pleased to endorse John Laird for Senate District 17. Please visit his website to see how you can pitch in and vote for John Laird on March 3, 2020.
As Executive Director of Inland Region Equality Network (IREN), Abigail Medina has championed environmental protections, educational improvement, equality and fair treatment of LGBT+ individuals in San Bernardino and throughout the Inland Empire. When she is elected to represent Senate District 23, Medina has identified unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists and unsafe communities that allow diesel trucks to enter low-income communities bringing in emissions and toxic air as two of her top priorities in the transportation sector. Medina’s environmental justice and safe streets vision is long-needed in SD 23, where the outgoing incumbent has ignored both.
Senate District 23’s sprawling and oddly-shaped region is comprised of some of the state’s highest peaks, with the communities of the San Bernardino mountains, and some of the lowest valleys, including the cities of Rancho Cucamonga and Hemet. This is definitely some of the most difficult biking and walking terrain in California, but that doesn’t stop Medina from supporting policies that make streets more walk-able and bike-able vs. car-oriented infrastructure updates. She is appalled that pedestrian and cyclists death “continues to happen and that elected officials have done very little to address these tragedies.” CalBike enthusiastically supports Abigail Medina for SD 23.
The rest of her questionnaire responses are equally as impressive for their breadth and depth of knowledge. For these reasons, we are excited to see Abigail Medina emerge as a prominent candidate in the SD 23 race. We look forward to seeing her provide the leadership needed to work toward safer and more sustainable transportation alternatives for all Californians.
CalBike is pleased to endorse Abigail Medina for Senate District 23. Please visit her website to find out how you can pitch in and vote for Abigail Medina on March 3, 2020.
“I believe that climate change is the defining crisis of our time, and that California must be a leader in promoting policies that radically reduce carbon emissions, not only in our state but across the world.” Those are the first words Dave Min wrote in his answers to our candidate questionnaire. He’s running to unseat an incumbent in Senate District 37 whose views on climate change are exactly the opposite. Min’s proposals to mitigate this “defining crisis” aren’t just electric vehicles. He wrote: “We must move away from the car culture that has defined California development over our past 100 years.” That’s why we’re endorsing Min’s broad vision for SD 37 and beyond.
Senate District 37 is entirely within Orange County. It includes the cities of Huntington Beach, Irvine, Orange, and Tustin. It is one of our state’s most wealthy senate districts. It also has some of the most rapidly changing demographics and now includes a large population of people of color who are often also low-income. Min knows that his dynamic district would benefit from more people walking and biking, not just for environmental, safety, and health reasons but for economic health and equity too. As a nationally-recognized expert on economic policy, Min understands the financial side of a Green New Deal-type framework. He knows that bold changes can lower carbon emissions and reduce our environmental footprint without sacrificing California’s economic vibrancy. His plan to implement these changes emphasizes active transportation initiatives such as “progressive bikeway design, low-stress bikeway networks, and complete streets with adequate space for pedestrians, bikers, and mass transit.” It’s about time for a leader in SD 37 who will think about the economy, environment, and equity in tandem. That’s why we’re endorsing Dave Min for SD 37.
The rest of his questionnaire responses are equally as impressive for their breadth and depth of knowledge. For these reasons, we are excited to see Dave Min emerge as a prominent candidate in the SD 37 race. We look forward to seeing him provide the leadership needed to work toward safer and more sustainable transportation alternatives for all of the state’s residents.
CalBike is pleased to endorse Dave Min for Senate District 37. Please visit his website to see how you can pitch in and vote for Dave Min on March 3, 2020.
The incumbent in Assembly District 42 is no friend to bicycling. He reliably voted against bills to improve bike safety, including our popular Complete Streets bill last year. He deserves to be defeated. DeniAntionette Mazingo gave excellent responses to our questionnaire and holds great promise for AD 42.
Assembly District 42 straddles the gateway between the Inland Empire and the California desert, stretching from Yucaipa and Hemet in the west to the Twentynine Palms region and western Coachella Valley in the east. This part of the state, with its sprawling suburbs and major freeways, poses extra challenges for active transportation given its overwhelming automobile dependence. That is why we are further impressed by Mazingo and her transportation platform, which centers mobility options that can help meet our state’s environmental sustainability, public health, and social equity goals. Mazingo is clearly making it priority to serve all residents of her district, including low-income populations that are often marginalized, especially in suburban areas. In her questionnaire responses, she said she supports “policies to help lower-income communities including increasing transit options and availability, encouraging coherent, holistic planning of affordable housing, schools, and recreational facilities accessible to transit, and reducing people’s reliance on personal vehicles.” That is the type of change we can get behind for AD 42, which is why we are endorsing DeniAntionette Mazingo.
The rest of her questionnaire responses are equally as impressive for their breadth and depth of knowledge. For these reasons, we are excited to see DeniAntionette Mazingo emerge as a prominent candidate in the Assembly District 42 race. We look forward to seeing her provide the leadership needed to work toward safer and more sustainable transportation alternatives for all California residents.
CalBike is pleased to endorse DeniAntionette Mazingo for District 42 Assembly Member. Please visit her website to find out how you can pitch in and vote for DeniAntionette Mazingo on March 3, 2020.
Chris Ward’s platform reads like a bicycle advocates’ dream. He gets the importance of bicycling as a component of sustainable transportation and a socially just society. Ward has an excellent track record as a San Diego Council Member to back up his claims. With Chris Ward as Assembly Member, we’ll have an ally who will have our back no matter how bold our demands.
Assembly District 78 serves the coastal San Diego area. The district includes Downtown San Diego and stretches north to La Jolla and Solana Beach and south to Imperial Beach. As a leader in an area that has and will continue to see drastic changes due to our climate crisis and the transportation systems that fuel it, Ward has always been a strong supporter of public transportation and active transportation. As a sitting member on the board of San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System (MTS), Ward has the knowledge to put forth new bold ideas. For example, Ward proposes that “the regions successful in reducing VMT [Vehicle Miles Traveled] should receive matching funds to continue investments and shift mode share.” This type of proposal aligns with the recent finding that VMT in most metropolitan regions remains unchanged, and in some cases, has increased in recent years.
The rest of his questionnaire responses are equally as impressive for their breadth and depth of knowledge. For these reasons, we are excited to see Chris Ward emerge as a prominent candidate in the AD 78 race. We look forward to seeing him provide the leadership needed to work toward safer and more sustainable transportation alternatives for all California residents.
CalBike is pleased to endorse Chris Ward for District 78 Assembly Member. Please vote for Chris Ward on March 3, 2020.
Advocates for San Diego bike projects used to find themselves stymied by the conflicting values of a regional agency that was controlled by votes representing suburban residents. Those residents, more likely to be affluent and white, had more voting power per capita. Residents of the more populous cities that had less voting power were likely to be less affluent communities of color. In 2017, advocates refused to accept that unequal power structure and mobilized to change the way the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) voted on projects. With the support of Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher and CalBike’s help, they changed state law to make SANDAG more democratic, giving more weight to votes representing more people.
The new voting process was used most recently to pass a $90 million bond that will provide funding to finish several bike projects in the San Diego region. The unweighted vote on the bond was a tie. With a second vote under the new weighted vote process, the bond measure passed the SANDAG board, 62-38.
“Advocates for improvements in active transportation often have an uphill battle. One of the problems is an entrenched power structure that amplifies the voice of richer, whiter communities while shutting out communities of color and poorer residents,” said Jared Sanchez, CalBike Senior Policy Advocate. That’s why passing AB 805 was a priority for CalBike.
The new weighted voting structure at SANDAG, which went into effect in 2018, has been used several times. This is the story of how a law passed in Sacramento can be an important tool for advocates fighting for transportation equity in their community in San Diego.
Before AB 805: Suburban Communities Blocked San Diego Bike Projects
SANDAG is a regional decision-making agency for the San Diego area. Its board includes representatives from 18 cities and the county of San Diego. The problem with the board’s structure has been that San Diego (population 1.42 million) had the same voting power as smaller cities such as Del Mar (population 4,363 ).
This unequal distribution of power allowed small cities, which were more suburban, to dictate planning decisions. What this often meant is that SANDAG’s urban planning choices were car-centric. San Diego was not able to pursue transit, biking, and walking projects that would benefit its denser population and residents who are less well-off than many in surrounding communities.
Randy Torres-Van Vleck, Senior Program Manager, Transportation & Planning at the City Heights Community Development Corporation (City Heights CDC), realized that residents couldn’t win the projects they needed under the SANDAG structure. “Because of the way the board voting power was structured at SANDAG, it made it very difficult for environmental justice communities and the largest cities in the region to exert self-determination,” he said. “Suburban cities could vote to widen a freeway in our city. It took away residents’ ability to protect their own health.”
So Torres-Van Vleck’s organization decided to do something about it.
City Heights CDC Fights for Transportation Equity
The city of East San Diego became part of San Diego 100 years ago. It is now the City Heights neighborhood. “Because it was its own city, it has distinctive neighborhoods within it,” said Vianney Ruvalcaba, Transportation Planning Coordinator for the City Heights CDC. The neighborhood has become a safe haven for immigrants and refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, Somalia, and Latin America. Residents speak 35 languages and 200 dialects. The diversity makes City Heights a beautiful place, according to Ruvalcaba. She added, “Unfortunately, it’s also been a victim of environmental racist policies that prioritize suburban development and freeways.”
City Heights CDC was formed to fight environmental racism. “One of the reasons why we exist is because Caltrans planned a freeway through the middle of the area in the 1970s,” Ruvalcaba said. The CDC fought hard to underground a section of the freeway to keep it from cutting the community in two, as freeway developments did in neighborhoods of color in many other California cities. The organization hired planners and organizers and put environmental lawyers on their board. “We were forced to become experts around these issues,” she said. “As a result, we became leaders in transportation justice.”
While the neighborhood didn’t get everything it wanted, it won significant mitigations, including a new bike path. There is even a documentary film about their victory.
This put the City Heights CDC in a good position to identify the environmental justice issues in the SANDAG voting structure. Torres-Van Vleck watched the board vote to widen freeways in communities that were already suffering from the highest levels of pollution. He called this “doubling down on the wrongs of the past.”
So City Heights CDC began to float the idea of a bill that would change the power structure at SANDAG.
All About AB 805
The bill that would pass in 2017 as AB 805 changed the weighted voting structure of the SANDAG board. Members can call for a second, weighted vote after a board vote, if three representatives on the board agree to it. The weighted system created under AB 805 allocates votes to the cities on the board based on population. In the new process, the votes of more populous San Diego carry more weight than votes from smaller cities. The results of the weighted vote supersede the original vote.
It wasn’t a slam dunk that the legislature would pass this measure. Torres-Van Vleck noted that factors such as a scandal at SANDAG in 2017 helped convince stakeholders that change was needed. Local Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez introduced the bill and championed it in the legislature.
While City Heights CDC and partners lobbied hard for AB 805 from San Diego, CalBike worked to get the bill signed into law in Sacramento.
CalBike Partnered with Local Advocates to Help Pass Vital Legislation in Sacramento
CalBike’s policy advocates partnered with City Heights CDC organizers to push AB 805 in Sacramento. “Regional power structures often serve to reinforce control by those that already have power and marginalize low-income communities of color,” said Sanchez. “AB 805 was important because it gave us the chance to change the balance of power and give voice to under-served communities.”
City Heights CDC lobbied city members of SANDAG for support. “Every city in San Diego County weighed in on AB 805,” Torres-Van Vleck said. “We were going around the region talking about democracy and power.”
For City Heights CDC, it was also important to have good partners in Sacramento. Sanchez and CalBike Policy Director Linda Khamoushian kept their local partners in the loop. They served as the lead advocates for the bill at the capital. “CalBike has been a great watchdog for us in Sacramento,” Torres-Van Vleck said. “Their support for AB 805 was important.”
AB 805 Has a Big Impact on San Diego Bike Projects
AB 805 became law and went into effect in 2018. Torres-Van Vleck feels that the impact of this power shift has been huge. “It was the most transformative policy that I’ve ever seen implemented in my 10 years of doing this work,” he said. “It changed San Diego for the better.”
Since 2018, the new weighted vote structure has been used four or five times. “It has been used for votes that allow for transportation justice and better represent the voices of the community,” said Torres-Van Vleck. “That’s good for bikes, it’s good for transit, it’s good for housing.”
The success of AB 805 has even won over some people who were opposed to it at first. Before Stephan Vance retired in 2018, he worked at SANDAG for 36 years, most of that in the agency’s active transportation program (he was also a long-time board member of CalBike). He didn’t like what he saw as a heavy-handed approach in the bill. “The culture at SANDAG was that everything operated on consensus,” he said. The agency tried to make all parties happy and avoid split votes. “The downside of that is that stuff gets watered down because you make a lot of compromises.”
“Now that I’m on the outside and advocating for some of the things these small cities are challenging, I like the weighted vote,” Vance said. “Otherwise, they would be preventing very reasonable things from happening.” He sees the new voting structure as a crucial tool for achieving big changes in California’s transportation systems. Not only is that necessary to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets set by the state, but it is also the only way to unclog roadways.
“We have to change to accommodate growth and to save our climate. We can’t let backward-looking people dictate transportation policy anymore,” Vance said. “Democracy is served [by AB 805]. No longer can representatives of a minority of the region’s population dictate policy.”
A change in voting rules for a planning board might seem far removed from the on-the-ground fights of local advocates. The story of AB 805 illustrates that state legislation can have a big impact on local streets.
At CalBike, we have spent the weeks since the end of the 2019 legislative session plotting our direction for 2020. Soon, we’ll begin to implement the CalBike 2020 agenda by meeting with stakeholders, planning campaigns, and finding legislators to author bills to create the policies necessary to achieve our strategic plan.
We will announce our 2020 agenda in person at an event in Sacramento on December 10. Our priorities for the coming year reflect our continued focus on making California communities more safe, livable, bikeable, and equitable. With help from CalBike members and supporters, we believe 2020 will be a year of big steps toward a truly bike-friendly California.
CalBike 2020 Initiatives
CalBike will pursue campaigns in 2020 to make the streets safer, get more people on e-bikes, and change the manuals that tell planners how to make space for bikes on California streets. We’re pursuing initiatives that are proven to make our communities safer and healthier. Here’s our plan for 2020.
The governor’s veto of SB 127, the Complete Streets Bill, last year included the statement that he fully supports improving facilities to increase walking, biking, and public transit use. Newsom claimed he would hold Caltrans “accountable to deliver more alternatives to driving.” CalBike will make sure he follows through on that promise. In 2020, we’re hopeful that the new leadership at Caltrans will implement the goals of SB 127, and we plan to hold the department accountable for the safety of people who walk, bike, and take transit.
Nearly half a billion dollars of subsidies help Californians buy electric cars. This subsidy has brought the electric and plug-in hybrid cars registered in California to about 1% of the total California electric and hybrid fleet. Meanwhile, folks who can’t afford an electric car even with the subsidy, and everybody else who would love to have an electric bike to carry their kids to school or navigate a hilly commute get zero support. Many people who would happily get around on e-bikes are forced to rely on cars instead. CalBike proposes a $50 million pilot program to help more Californians buy electric bikes for transportation.
Design Manual Reform
Despite our success in allowing local jurisdictions to use alternatives to the official state Highway Design Manual, and the department’s promotion of flexibility, the manual itself still recommends very old-fashioned, car-oriented standards. The design manual encourages bike lanes to be placed in the door zone. At the same time, it discourages narrowing car lanes to accommodate wider bike lanes. We will work with Caltrans on an overdue update to this manual. Along with necessary changes to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), this effort should help local planners and engineers design streets that prioritize safety instead of fast car traffic.
Driver’s Manual Improvements
The Department of Motor Vehicles’ official manual for motor vehicle operators does a terrible job of telling motorists to expect bike riders in the traffic lane. It even tells drivers that it’s OK to park in a bike lane! It doesn’t suggest that drivers use the “Dutch Reach” to open their doors. The “Dutch Reach” is a practice of using your right hand to open your door requiring you to twist your body so that you’re more able to see a bike rider approaching. We will work with the DMV to change the manual to teach car drivers to share the road with bicyclists more safely.
Vehicle Code Improvements
CalBike updated the Vehicle Code five years ago to require motorists to give three feet of clearance when passing someone on a bicycle. However, the Vehicle Code still includes some outdated information about biking. A CalBike priority in 2020 is to amend the Vehicle Code to bring it up to date. This will include clarification that someone on a bike is not required to ride as far to the right as practicable if the traffic lane is not wide enough to share.
Change the Conversation on the Climate Crisis
In order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector fast enough, we must quickly reduce the number of car miles driven by Californians. Yet, too many people still advocate for spending billions of dollars to build new infrastructure that will only result in increased car traffic. In coalition with diverse organizations, CalBike hopes to illustrate how these auto-oriented projects hurt our communities, especially low-income communities and communities of color already suffering from disinvestment. Car-centric projects hurt the planet, increasing greenhouse gas emissions when it’s imperative that we do the opposite. As a leader in the movement for safer streets and more biking, walking, and public transit, CalBike will continue to connect the dots for our decisionmakers between how humans move around and how we protect the future for all living things.
More 2020 Priorities
In addition to leading on the issues above, CalBike and our allies will work together on several other issues, not to mention additional challenges and opportunities that we can’t predict.
- Automated Speed Enforcement
- Changing how speed limits are set to make it easier to lower speed limits
- Encouraging more housing, especially affordable housing, in walkable, bikeable neighborhoods
- Improving bike parking requirements statewide
- Student transit passes
- Statewide goals to reduce vehicle miles traveled
We know that this is an ambitious agenda, but we also know that every item on it is important. Together, they add up to a better biking in California. With your help, we can get there.