On October 12th, Governor Newsom issued a veto of CalBike’s Complete Streets for Active Living Bill, SB 127.
What happened, Governor Newsom?
To say this was a disappointment is an understatement. Thousands of emails, hundreds of phone calls, overwhelming support from the State Legislature, and the support of more than 80 organizations—all this was insufficient to warrant the Governor’s approval.
Beyond our disappointment, the response was confusing. Governor Newsom has recently doubled down on the need to address the climate crisis, and issued an Executive Order that acknowledges that 40% of our carbon emissions in California come from the transportation sector, and that to meet our state climate goals we must change our transportation funding priorities. Specifically, he declared that the state should fund transportation options that reduce emissions and improve access to biking, walking, and transit. He must know that signing the Complete Streets for Active Living Bill not only would have been in direct alignment with this sentiment, but more importantly that it was the right thing to do.
We know that every day of inaction is a day that people risk losing their lives and their loved ones to traffic violence. The Complete Streets Bill would have made it clear to Caltrans, and would have bound them by law, to take people biking and walking into consideration when repairing or re-paving our streets. It would have made it possible for people to move safely through their communities, no matter how they choose to travel.
There was tremendous support for the Complete Streets Bill – thank you.
It was a very tough fight to pass the Complete Streets Bill, and reaching the Governor’s desk with a strong proposal was a feat of its own. We couldn’t have done it without support from our co-sponsors, supporters, and thousands of CalBike members over the past three years. Thank you for your emails and phone calls, for attending in-district meetings, for sharing your stories and making a personal investment in this work, for donating to support the campaign. Your efforts pushed this bill all the way through the legislature, and let lawmakers know how much Californians care about building safe streets.
Last week, CalBike held its biennial California Bicycle Summit in Los Angeles. More than 300 participants convened for 3 days of plenaries, panel discussions, workshops, bike rides, and social events. Coming off the heels of this veto, it was incredibly healing and inspiring to come together with a group of committed advocates, planners, and elected officials—people who understand the need for Complete Streets. The Summit was full of energy and ideas for how to transform our streets. It left us with hope that together, despite this recent defeat, we can change California for the better, making our streets safer, our transportation system sustainable, and our communities healthy.
CalBike will continue to press Caltrans to build Complete Streets.
While the Complete Streets Bill was not signed into law, we are not declaring defeat. In his veto message, Governor Newsom stated that he trusts that Caltrans, which is under new leadership starting this week, will deliver alternatives to driving. We’ll believe it when we see it. Now it’s incumbent on us to be a vigilant watchdog, and to push Caltrans to implement Complete Streets on its many surface streets—something that it has been unwilling to do in the past.