Here at CalBike, we work hard every day to enable more Californians to ride bicycles in order to create healthier, safer, and more prosperous communities for all. That last phrase, for all, is essential. Every last one of us on the staff and board is committed to making this vision a reality. After this election, and before it, too, we ride together for a better California.
So, how does last Tuesday’s election outcome impact our mission to enable more people to ride bicycles? The key to that question lies in the word people. Our work is truly on behalf of people—not the machines, wonderful as they are, that we want more people to ride. People of diverse races, ethnicities, ages, sexual orientations, and class backgrounds. It is our privilege to advocate on behalf of all people, every day.
In light of a divisive election with unprecedented expressions of racism, sexism, and other outright intolerance, we remind our readers that we stand in solidarity with any person who feels vulnerable at this time; anyone who is overcome with fear for their safety and well-being; as well as those who are disheartened by the acute divisions this country is facing.
We all need to work to overcome racism and sexism—no matter who is in the White House. It’s work we have to do from the ground up, community by community. As bike advocates, we can’t be successful outside of the context of the lives of the people riding bikes and the people who we hope will join us in the bike lane. Working with and supporting the people of our communities and respecting their dreams and desires will build the political strength that we need to make our streets and neighborhoods safe, healthy, and prosperous.
It’s time for unity, not division. We will not unite by pretending racism and sexism do not exist; we will unite by doing the hard work to confront those attitudes in all of us, and develop strategies to work together across divisions. That work is essential to broadening and strengthening our movement to include all Californians. Together, we can find a path to social justice, including transportation justice. That path will help to lift people out of poverty, giving everyone opportunities to live in healthy and safe communities where bicycling, among other things, is easier.
At the national level, we face challenges to our mission based on previous Republican Congresses. In the past, Republican congressmen and women have proposed eliminating all funding for active transportation, but enough of their own party leaders disagreed that such proposals never found majority support. Our national partners at the League of American Bicyclists have forged relationships with key Republican leaders upon whom will be relied upon to protect the eligibility of bike and pedestrian projects for federal dollars. They will probably find a way to join the handful of Republicans who enjoy a regular morning bike ride on Washington D.C’s streets and bike paths.
National antipathy to bicycling hopefully won’t matter much to California. The last time Congress cut active transportation funding to the states, California supplemented its reduced federal allocation with state money and actually increased its active transportation budget. Besides, federal grants account for only 15-25% of total revenue for transportation in most California communities. Most of the money our communities spend on bicycling comes from state and local sources, and the sweeping ballot measure victories across the state will secure even more funding in the years to come. Additionally, new additions to the California State Legislature whom we endorsed for their sensibility and support for active transportation presents some fantastic policy opportunities for the upcoming new year. For a more in-depth report on the California election results, click here.
The election may be over, but our work to stand and fight for transportation equity and social justice for all people is just getting started. You can count on CalBike to lead the way.
Thank you for your attention,