FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 22, 2017
Contact: Jeanie Ward-Waller, Policy Director, [email protected], 916-399-3211
Re: After State Gas Tax Increased to Repair Roads, Poll Shows California Voters Want Safer Streets for All and Alternatives to Driving
Sacramento, CA – A new statewide poll reveals that 8 in 10 California voters believe state and local transportation departments need to change the way they build streets and roads to make it safe for everyone of all ages and abilities to get around, whether they usually drive, walk, bike, or use public transportation.
Commissioned by the California Bicycle Coalition, this poll found that Californians across the state and across all major political and demographic groups support building “complete streets”—roads with safe sidewalks, visible crosswalks, and protected bike lanes—that are safe places for everyone and not strictly thoroughfares for driving. The poll was conducted by David Binder Research and funded in part by a grant from Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation working to make each day healthier for all children by ensuring that the places where children live, learn, and play make it easy and enjoyable for them to eat healthy foods and be active.
Likely voters were surveyed on the heels of the passage of Senate Bill 1, the first gas tax increase in California in twenty years, which will invest tens of billions in taxpayer dollars over the next decade in building and repairing roads. Caltrans and local city and county transportation departments will decide over the coming months which roads to fix first with the new gas tax revenue, and whether they will fix those roads to be complete streets that are safe for youth and families, older adults, and others that either can’t afford to drive or choose to walk and bike.
The survey revealed that public opinion strongly supports state and local transportation departments building complete streets, even accounting for the potential cost to taxpayers.
“Our survey shows that California families want to be able to safely walk and bike in their neighborhoods and strongly support transportation agencies redesigning our streets. Nearly two-thirds of people said they would bike more often, highest among younger voters and Latinos, if they had protected bike lanes on streets in their neighborhoods that made them feel less threatened by traffic,” said Jeanie Ward-Waller, Policy Director for the California Bicycle Coalition. “Transportation officials are decades behind acknowledging this shifting demand and investing taxpayer dollars as much in alternatives to driving as we have invested in making it easier to drive.”
Voters decisively support building complete streets because they improve the quality-of-life in our neighborhoods by:
- Providing safer routes for children to walk or bike to school or parks;
- Increasing local business sales and jobs by creating more attractive streets to walk and bike for shopping;
- Promoting healthy neighborhoods that enable youth and families to be more active in their daily lives and reduce their health care costs;
- Reducing traffic in neighborhoods by allowing people to walk and bike more for work, shopping, and entertainment; and
- Saving low- and moderate-income families money by providing them more affordable transportation options like walking and biking.
In addition, nearly half of California voters support investment in alternatives to driving—such as public transportation, walking, and bicycling—as an equal or higher priority than improving freeways and roads.
48 percent say they are equally or more supportive of investing in alternatives to driving than they are of investing in freeways; compared to 49 percent that support improving and widening roads and freeways over alternatives to driving. In fact, even for Californians who rely on driving as their primary mode of travel, more than 2 in 5 support investing as much or more transportation funding in alternatives to driving, and the support jumps to 3 in 5 among respondents that have to commute between 20-30 miles a day.
“It’s no surprise to us that a large majority of Californians—80 percent in all—believe that complete streets are a critical part of creating safe routes for children to walk or bike to school and parks,” said Marty Martinez, Northern California Policy Manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. “The research shows that when more kids are able to walk and bike to school and in daily life, they are healthier and do better in school. Now it’s time to put our transportation dollars to work to create safe, healthy communities to benefit all Californians.”
“The billions of dollars our state already spends each year on highways cannot continue to be used to divide communities and ignore our residents who are walking and bicycling for their everyday needs. A strong complete streets policy is a smart, cost-effective approach for leveraging our state’s transportation dollars to ensure that Californians can safely walk and bicycle where they need to go,” said Tony Dang, Executive Director of California Walks.
“As a neurologist, I often encourage moderate exercise to my patients after a stroke to prevent a recurrent stroke.” said Dr. Alan Shatzel, Board President at the American Heart Association, Sacramento Division. “However, they also need spaces to have the ability to go out for walks and to feel safe while doing so. This poll underscores the need to invest more in complete streets to promote physical activity and foster a healthy lifestyle.”
The California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) is California’s state-level bicycle advocacy organization, working to enable more people to ride bicycles for healthier, safer, and more prosperous communities for all. Learn more about CalBike at www.calbike.org.
- A large majority of California voters support complete streets. 78 percent believe that state and local transportation departments need to change the way they build streets and roads – to make it safe for all users (drivers, people who walk, people who bicycle, etc.). A majority (53%) say they strongly support, and there is consistent support across major subgroups.
- Voters support building complete streets for several reasons: to provide safer streets for children to walk and bike, and to stimulate local business sales and job creation along streets that are attractive for walking and biking.
- Nearly half of respondents support investment in alternatives to driving–public transportation, walking, and bicycling–as an equal or higher priority to improving freeways and roads – 48 percent are equally or more supportive of investing in alternatives to driving such as public transportation and making it easier to walk and bike as they are of investing in improving freeways; compared to 49 percent that support improving and widening roads and freeways over alternatives to driving.
- Even people who rely on driving as their primary mode of travel support investing as much or more transportation funding in alternatives to driving, especially respondents that have to commute between 20-30 miles a day – Support for alternatives to driving as an equal or greater priority for investment to roads and freeways is only slightly lower (43%) among the 76 percent of voters that use their car as a primary method of travel, and jumps up to 61% for people who have to commute 20-30 miles per day.
- Voters want better bicycling conditions. Two-thirds of voters (67%) agree that “their city government should do more to encourage bicycling.”
- Bicycling is commonplace in California. One in five men (20%) and 13% of women bike every week, and a majority have ridden a bike in the past year.