In Sacramento, legislators are currently debating a 1-cent Bay Area sales tax that could raise up to $100 billion for transportation. The bill could contain enough funding to close the funding gap and finally build the infrastructure we need to create a bicycle-friendly Bay Area. However, it’s not certain that our legislators will formulate a bill that includes enough funding to do it.
The bill must be approved by the legislature, then approved by voters in November. While the chances of this proposal making it to the November ballot are hard to predict in today’s volatile environment, CalBike worked with our local partners to identify what it will cost to complete a connected bike network throughout all Bay Area cities and towns. That information will make it possible for voters to say ‘yes’ to a bike-friendly Bay Area, if and when a Bay Area transportation tax measure makes it to the ballot.
Bay Area Bicycle Advocates Did the Math
The math is complicated, but the bottom line is that existing funding sources for building connected bikeways in the Bay Area leave an $8.6 billion funding gap. Bay Area bike advocacy organizations have been fighting for these networks for decades. This sales tax offers the best opportunity in a long time to remove financial obstacles to better biking.
With full funding, Bay Area cities could build the protected bike lanes, bicycle paths, bike access on bridges across the bay, and bridges or tunnels to cross other barriers that bicyclists need to get safely to their destinations. Imagine Bay Area cities with quiet, traffic-calmed greenways, that connect every important destination without a single gap. That is what is at stake in this measure.
Will the Transportation Tax Measure Provide $8.6 Billion for Bikes?
Early drafts of the proposed sales tax measure do not set aside anywhere close to enough money for safe bicycle connections. That’s why CalBike sent a letter to the California State Bay Area Caucus to request that SB 278 provide sufficient funding for bicycling. The Caucus is composed of the 27 members representing Bay Area districts in the state legislature. Our letter urged them to fully fund biking and walking infrastructure in this transportation tax proposal.
This measure, SB 278, is our best chance to give Bay Area residents the ability to safely and conveniently move around the region without a car.
We need complete, connected, and low-stress bike networks to truly combat traffic congestion, reduce climate-destroying greenhouse gases, and fix unsafe streets. Active transportation trips emit zero carbon, promote health, reduce traffic injuries and deaths, and support the local economy. Critically, our letter to the legislators calls for building the bikeway network right away, in the next ten years, because active transportation is the most cost-effective transportation investment. Providing safe biking and walking links to transit makes the larger investments in buses and rail systems more accessible and functional for local communities.
Bay Area residents should insist that their taxes support the most cost-efficient, equitable, climate-friendly, and safe transportation option: the bicycle. CalBike is closely following this bill in Sacramento. We will watch for new developments and continue to advocate to ensure that active transportation is appropriately funded before this sales tax measure goes to the voters in November.
CalBike Advocacy for the Bay Area Bike Network
CalBike is closely following this bill in Sacramento. We will watch for new developments and continue to advocate. We will ensure that active transportation is appropriately funded when this transportation tax measure goes to the voters. We’ll need your help to convince the State Senate members who are drafting this bill to include $8.6 billion for bikes in the first ten years of the measure. Stay tuned for your chance to get involved.