© California Bicycle Coalition 2023
1017 L Street #288
Sacramento, CA 95814
© California Bicycle Coalition 2023
For Immediate Release: May 16, 2023
Contact: Jared Sanchez, Policy Director, (714) 262-0921, email@example.com
Sacramento, CA – Governor Gavin Newsom’s “May Revise” of the state’s July 2023-June 2024 budget fails to provide the funding needed to support biking, walking, and public transit. The governor claims to include $1.4 billion for active transportation projects. However, the budget maintains a major reduction to the Active Transportation Program and falls severely short of what’s needed to stem the emission-driven global climate crisis.
The governor’s May budget is a missed opportunity to allocate the funding California needs to build an equitable transportation system and achieve our state’s climate goals. California needs to move quickly to make biking easier — and Newsom’s proposed budget just isn’t enough to build the needed bike infrastructure to significantly reduce automobile vehicle miles traveled and the associated greenhouse gas emissions. Walkable, bikeable communities offer the biggest return on investment among transportation solutions to the climate crisis. The budget’s $9 billion agenda for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) is a misguided effort to curb climate change that will ultimately fall short. We must think beyond increasing motor vehicle traffic and expanding the freeway system to support it, and instead build a low-carbon future based around walkable, bikeable communities.
The California Bicycle Coalition has been tracking interest in the new Electric Bicycle Incentive Project, administered by the California Air Resources Board. The governor’s budget doesn’t include funding to continue this popular and vital electric vehicle incentive.
CalBike has received interest from more than 17,000 Californians who want to participate in EBIP. Based on the $7.5 million currently available through the program after administration, education, and outreach costs, the pilot will offer between 3,000 and 7,000 vouchers. Because the program only has a fraction of the funding it needs to meet the demand, CalBike expects funds to be exhausted very quickly, leaving many low-income Californians without resources to get the transportation they need.
In a letter signed by a coalition of environmental groups, CalBike has requested $50 million for e-bike incentives in the next budget.
“The California Electric Bicycle Incentive Project offers a huge bang for the buck being spent to reduce the state’s climate pollution. Expanding this program will provide more equitable access to clean transportation and help the state meet our climate goals. It’s a win-win,” said Jared Sanchez, Policy Director, CalBike.
California should invest much more in active transportation projects that build complete bikeway networks — no more bike lanes to nowhere or bikeways made unsafe by impassable intersections. This should include funding for a program that rewards cities whose leaders quickly install protected networks that create true active transportation grids. It’s particularly crucial that these bike networks connect bike infrastructure to local destinations, including offices, schools, and shopping areas.
In our racialized economy, Black and brown Californians are disproportionately affected by inflation and need better, more affordable mobility options. In addition, many communities of color suffer from decades of disinvestment and should be prioritized for new active transportation investments. As inflation hits Californians hard, safe biking is a lifeline to millions of Californians who can’t afford to fill their gas tanks without sacrificing other priorities, like healthy food and secure housing.
The legislature will now revise the governor’s proposal and negotiate with him on a final budget for approval by June 15. There are many fantastic bills in the legislature this year that will make our streets safer. The budget needs to include enough active transportation funding to pay for these excellent pilot projects and meet the demand of ongoing programs across the state.
At CalBike, we believe California should devote a minimum of 50% of its transportation budget to support active transportation: biking, walking, public transit, and Complete Streets infrastructure. The CalBike Invest/Divest campaign aims to shift California’s transportation spending from our current traffic-inducing, climate-killing system to sustainable mobility options, equitable treatment of all road users regardless of race, and a transportation future where it is easier and safer for more people to get around by biking, walking, or using public transportation.
The process of allocating spending for the next fiscal year in California is complex, opaque, often controversial — and critically important. CalBike has scored significant wins for better biking through the budget process, like securing $10 million for the statewide e-bike incentive pilot in 2021 and getting a one-time funding bump for the Active Transportation Program to $1 billion in 2022, more funding than the state has ever invested in biking and walking infrastructure.
We’re making some big budget asks in 2023:
To meet these ambitious goals will take action — emails and calls from supporters like you. But we realize that although the funding is exciting, the budget process is confusing and, frankly, wonky. Here are some FAQs to help explain California’s budget process and, we hope, get you excited about weighing in on your spending priorities.
Like every other US state, California must pass a budget each year. Unlike the federal government, states must balance their budgets, so California lawmakers set spending levels based on revenue projections.
California operates on a fiscal year that begins on July 1, so the deadline to pass a budget bill that both houses of the legislature and the governor agree on is June 30.
California went from a budget surplus in 2022 to a projected deficit in 2023. To add to the challenge of figuring out where to cut, this year’s punishing winter storms led the Franchise Tax Board to follow the lead of the IRS and push the income tax filing deadline back for residents of all but seven California counties. Most of California’s taxpayers don’t have to pay or file until October 16, so lawmakers won’t know exactly how much they have to work with when they pass the final budget in June.
Yes. Line items can be added or deleted after the deadline. We may see more changes than usual in 2023 because of the late income tax filing deadline, as noted above. Additionally, budget “trailer bills” can greatly modify where spending goes.
There are several major milestones for the California budget.
The May Revise is the term for the governor’s updated version of the budget from January, issued in mid-May, after taking into account a better estimate of expected revenues alongside the administration’s policy priorities.
California’s budget approval deadline is June 15.
The budget varies from year to year. For the 2023-2024 fiscal year, the governor’s budget was $297 billion in January.
Transportation expenditures are approximately $20 billion, or about 7% of the budget in the governor’s proposed version. But this is just 25% of all transportation funding in California.
That figure doesn’t tell the whole story, however, because California gets federal funding to supplement the $20 billion from its own coffers. Federal spending comprises another 25% of all California transportation funding. The federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will bump up transportation funding and alone will send at least an additional $41.9 billion to California over the next five years, most of which will be allocated to transportation projects.
Moreover, half of all transportation spending in California comes from the local level. These funds, often provided by voter-approved local sales tax measures, are overseen by city and regional officials.
California’s transportation budget funds road repairs; building new roads and freeways; the CHP, DMV, Caltrans staffing, and other administrative costs; public transportation; and the Active Transportation Program (biking and walking infrastructure). Some funds from cap-and-trade go to climate-friendly transportation options such as high-speed rail and to sustainable housing.
Yes. California receives approximately $20 billion every year, representing 25% of all California transportation funding.
In recent years, the Active Transportation Program (ATP) has gotten around $222 million in annual funding. That’s about 1% of the state’s transportation funding.
In the current fiscal year, the ATP got a one-time bump up to about $1 billion from the General Fund, but the governor took back half of that money ($500 million) in his January budget. In an April statement of their budget priorities, Senate Democrats proposed returning the $500 million to the ATP.
CalBike is asking lawmakers to spend $10 billion, or 50% of the state’s transportation dollars, on active transportation in the 2023-2024 budget. In the face of a climate crisis that grows more extreme and expensive yearly, funding active transportation is the fiscally responsible choice. Shifting transportation spending priorities is essential if California is serious about addressing the climate crisis and creating livable neighborhoods where residents can thrive.
$10 billion would fully fund the Active Transportation Program (which leaves more excellent projects unfunded every cycle because of a chronically insufficient budget), Complete Streets, connected bike networks, and more. It could enable Caltrans to deliver on its promise to add Complete Streets features to state highways that serve as city streets. That level of funding could support an ongoing e-bike incentive program, help communities build safer biking and walking infrastructure, and shore up public transit budgets, ensuring those vital systems remain viable.
Correction: An earlier version of this post included the wrong deadline to finalize the budget. The governor and the legislature must agree on a budget by June 30.
The Equity-First Transportation Funding Act (AB 1525, Bonta) will require 60% of California’s transportation funds to benefit “priority populations.” The money must provide a direct, meaningful, and assured benefit to such populations and must address an important mobility need. State agencies will need to develop a definition of priority populations, but we will advocate for historically marginalized communities, many already identified by California’s Air Resources Board and UCLA through their development of the Transportation Disparity Mapping Tool.
Transportation planning and policies have historically discriminated against, segregated, and displaced immigrants, low-income people, and communities of color, bolstering racial and class inequalities. Current mobility planning processes and decisions often perpetuate these harms.
CalBike is committed to working to undo the structural racism and inequity built into California’s transportation infrastructure and policymaking.
Low-income communities of color often suffer most from inadequate and unsafe transportation infrastructure, whether it’s a larger concentration of dangerous high-speed streets, more concentrated air pollution coming from cars and trucks, or simply terrible road conditions, as reported by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a report analyzing the correlation between poor road conditions and underserved communities. Remedying infrastructure inequality is long overdue and continues to be exacerbated by state policy.
Historically, policies on where and how to build roads and freeways have increased inequity, sometimes deliberately harming communities. For example, it’s no coincidence that roads and infrastructure up and down the state were built through Chinatowns (a freeway in Oakland, Union Station in Los Angeles, among others). Historically Black neighborhoods were isolated or decimated by freeway construction. A 2020 LA Times op-ed stated that “[The Los Angeles] freeway system is one of the most noxious monuments to racism and segregation in the country.”
Racist freeway projects aren’t an artifact of the distant past. In recent years, City Heights CDC fought the construction of a freeway designed to serve suburban communities through an area of San Diego already overburdened with pollution.
And transportation inequity at the neighborhood level is rampant. Across California, you’re likely to find poorly maintained or missing sidewalks, curb cuts, bus stops, traffic signals, bike lanes, and roads in disadvantaged areas.
The Equity-First Transportation Funding Act will prioritize transportation funding for projects in disadvantaged neighborhoods, giving communities an incentive to begin to fix the inequities built into our public infrastructure. It’s part of a growing recognition of the connection between road building and racism and the beginnings of a movement to repair these harms.
The most recent federal transportation bill included $1 billion to take down freeways built through communities of color. The Congress for New Urbanism issues a Freeways Without Futures report every two years, highlighting freeways that can and should be removed to rebuild communities. The 2023 report included one in California (980 in Oakland).
A 2022 bill to ban freeway widening projects that negatively impact disadvantaged communities failed to pass the legislature, but AB 1525 is a fresh approach to providing equitable infrastructure for all Californians. CalBike strongly supports this bill, and we hope you will too.
CalBike is working on several fronts for bicycle safety. Traffic violence against people walking and biking has been increasing in recent years as more people turn to active transportation for our daily activities and pleasures. The concept of Complete Streets, or reconfiguring our roads to allow for all modes of transportation, is one of the safest and most accessible approaches our state’s decision-makers can take toward transportation equity, which is why we’re making it a priority in our policy advocacy this year through our multi-year Invest/Divest campaign.
But poorly designed streets coupled with careless or aggressive driving aren’t the only sources of danger on our streets. For too long, we have leaned on traffic enforcement rather than infrastructure to make our streets safe. Unfortunately, rather than targeting dangerous driving, biased traffic stops disproportionately target Black and Latino Californians, making no one safer and and our most vulnerable residents less secure.
To be truly safe, Californians need to be able to get where they need to go without fear of being stopped, harassed, and potentially harmed by police violence. That’s why CalBike is working to pass our Biking Is Not a Crime slate of bills.
Almost every Californian who uses a bicycle for transportation or recreation has experienced some form of aggression or violence on the road. It might have been a driver passing so close you almost got clipped by their mirror or a right-turning vehicle operator cutting you off. Your community probably has stretches of roadway where bikes must ride uncomfortably close to fast-moving traffic.
These and other types of traffic violence have a clear solution: We need better infrastructure to make biking safe. This includes separated bikeways, protected intersections, Complete Streets, connected bike routes, and more.
Unfortunately, California invests far too little in safe bike infrastructure and instead spends huge amounts of money on policing to enforce traffic laws.
There’s a problem with this approach: Police enforcement does little or nothing to prevent traffic violence. And it leads to a second type of danger for people who get around by bike.
If you’re White or you live in a well-resourced neighborhood, you might never have been stopped by the police while on your bike. But Black and Latino Californians, especially men and especially those who live in disadvantaged communities, do get stopped, often for minor infractions such as riding on a sidewalk where there are no bike lanes available or riding without a front light.
Police stops of people on bikes are often attempts to preempt criminal activity, rather than enhance traffic safety. And they fail on that account, too. As a 2021 LA Times investigation showed, police are more likely to stop Black and Latino Californians on bikes, more likely to search people stopped while biking, and rarely find any evidence of criminal activity during those stops.
California’s Racial Identity Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA) came to the same conclusion in its 2023 report: “During stops for bicycle-related offenses, officers were 3.2 times as likely to perform a search, 3.8 times as likely to detain the individual, and 2.7 times as likely to handcuff the individual. Overall, officers were more likely to search, detain, or handcuff a person during a bicycle-related stop when compared to stops for reasons other than bicycle violations.” On top of this, police are more likely to search, detain, or handcuff individuals who were perceived to be Latino and Black.
Adding to the injustice, low-income neighborhoods and communities of color often have little safe bicycle infrastructure, so decades of systemic racism and neglect become a weapon to further punish people in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Fortunately, we can solve this problem and take a more effective approach to making our streets safer.
Unfortunately, just updating our street infrastructure is not enough to protect people walking and biking. We need to consider the equity and justice issues at the center of this problem. As we do that, our focus changes to the well-being of people who travel through streets rather than centering the well-being of streets. Complete Streets not only have well-designed crosswalks and protected bike lanes; they are also places where people of all identities and bodies are safe.
[pull quote] As we pass through public spaces, we experience multiple kinds of security and insecurity due to societal attitudes toward race, class, gender, age, ability, and modes of transportation.
Since the police murder of George Floyd in 2020, the role of unequal and violent police enforcement on our public streets has become a topic of heated debate and urgent reforms. The protests that followed that and other police shootings, usually of Black people, exposed deeply embedded racial divides.
The institution of policing and law enforcement has a long, sordid history in the U.S. and California, particularly for Black Californians. Criminalization has been a key tool for maintaining racial hierarchies. And the criminalization of mobility through traffic enforcement is one of the main ways the public interacts with the police. The recent RIPA report is the latest of many government studies to show that traffic stops are the number one reason people encounter law enforcement and are the greatest source of Black-White disparities among routine law enforcement activity.
So it’s essential to advocate for better bikeways, but it’s not enough. Infrastructure, not policing, is the recipe for safer streets, but California’s budget and policy priorities put too much emphasis on enforcement and not enough on infrastructure. And to build just, prosperous, and equitable communities where everyone has access to mobility options, we need to refocus police efforts away from traffic stops and biased searches and toward community policing initiatives that will truly make our neighborhoods safer.
Most traffic stops involve someone stopped while driving a car. But people walking and biking are often more susceptible to police interactions than people in cars.
Often folks in marginalized communities have no other way to get around other than by walking, biking, and taking transit. And people stopped for bicycle-related violations, pedestrian roadway violations, or standing on a sidewalk are often easy targets for police harassment. Policing has become a primary non-solution to the problems of poverty and crime that has damaging effects on those over-policed.
Pretextual stops and searches by police are common during stops of people on bikes, particularly people of color. A pretext stop occurs when an officer stops someone for a lawful traffic violation or minor infraction with the intention of using the stop to investigate a hunch regarding a different crime. By itself, police wouldn’t have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to stop the person for the suspected crime, but they use the traffic violation as a pretext to perform a search.
This policing tactic is as ineffective as it is common. Research shows that pretextual stops rarely result in the recovery of contraband or weapons. In addition, pretextual stops are costly and degrade public trust in law enforcement.
Efforts to eliminate or reduce pretextual stops and searches have gained national momentum in recent years, particularly after several high-profile killings of Black and Brown men in California for safely walking and biking. For example, the City of Berkeley and other communities have taken steps to remove armed officers from traffic enforcement, to reduce the risk of potentially lethal police encounters. CalBike’s Biking Is Not a Crime slate is part of this statewide movement toward smarter and more cost-effective policing and traffic safety.
Decriminalizing mobility is an important and concrete step we can take in ensuring street safety for all. We had an important victory last year with the passage of the Freedom to Walk Act, but there is much more work to be done.
To create Complete Streets in California where people using all transportation modes can move freely, we need to free our streets from both traffic violence AND pretextual policing. CalBike is working hard on both fronts.
For Immediate Release: 3/29/23
Contact: Jared Sanchez, Policy Director, (714) 262-0921, Jared@CalBike.org
SACRAMENTO, CA – As a 2021 LA Times investigation showed, police are more likely to stop Black and Latino Californians on bikes, more likely to search people stopped while biking, and less likely to find any evidence of criminal activity during those stops. Low-income neighborhoods and communities of color often have little safe bicycle infrastructure, so decades of systemic racism and neglect become a weapon to doubly punish people in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
California’s Racial Identity Profiling Advisory Board (RIPA) came to the same conclusion in their 2023 report: “During stops for bicycle-related offenses, officers were 3.2 times as likely to perform a search, 3.8 times as likely to detain the individual, and 2.7 times as likely to handcuff the individual. Overall, officers were more likely to search, detain, or handcuff a person during a bicycle-related stop when compared to stops for reasons other than bicycle violations.”
There is only one thing proven to reduce traffic collisions: infrastructure, like protected bikeways and intersections, which reduce injuries and deaths for people biking, walking, driving, and taking transit. Tickets for minor violations like riding without lights or biking on the sidewalk do nothing to increase safety or reduce crime. Yet, for decades, California has underinvested in safe infrastructure and overinvested in traffic policing, sometimes with lethal results.
CalBike Policy Director Jared Sanchez said, “If traffic stops could prevent traffic deaths, we wouldn’t have seen the alarming rise in fatalities over the last few years. It’s time for California to stop spending money on ineffective safety measures and invest in infrastructure that slows car speeds and protects people biking and walking. That will also allow police to focus on tactics proven to reduce crime, bringing real safety to our streets.”
To create Complete Streets in California where people using all transportation modes can move freely, we need to free our streets from both traffic violence AND pretextual policing.
CalBike calls on California legislators to support these bills as a critical step toward making our streets safe and welcoming for all identities and bodies.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed budget for 2023 cuts some of the funds added to the Active Transportation Program last year. CalBike and our allies recently sent a letter to the California Senate and Assembly leaders and the budget committees of each branch, urging them to not only restore those funds but to fully fund the ATP and create an additional fund to help communities build Complete Streets.
Read CalBike’s budget letter: 3/16/2023 Budget Request for Active Transportation Sign On
Our budget advocacy is a critical element of our Invest/Divest Campaign. Despite a predicted budget shortfall this year, we believe California can fully fund active transportation projects if it adjusts its transportation budget to align with its climate and equity goals.
However, even without shifting money from climate-killing freeway projects, California has additional transportation funding from the federal Infrastructure and Jobs Act that should be directed to projects that support safe biking and walking.
Last year, thanks to advocacy by CalBike and our allies, the ATP got a one-time funding boost, so Cycle 6 had $1.6 billion to dole out to projects across the state rather than the usual amount of $400 to $600 million. But it’s still not enough.
Every year, more and better projects vie for ATP funding as municipalities across the state recognize the value of Complete Streets and seek help to upgrade their infrastructure. That demand will only grow as communities begin to update the circulation elements in their general plans and look for resources to implement those plans pursuant to SB 932.
Yet, even with significant additional funding, Streetsblog reported that there was funding only for projects with a score of 89 (out of 100) or higher. That’s better than in Cycle 5, when projects needed a score of 92 to get funded, but it means that many worthy biking and walking projects won’t get built because our state isn’t providing enough support to tackle these much-needed improvements.
A Complete Street is a roadway that serves the needs of all users: people biking, walking, driving, and taking public transit. Complete Streets connect to popular local destinations via protected intersections. Bike lanes and sidewalks don’t abruptly disappear. Bus riders have shelter and seating, and bus-only lanes ensure that transit is a fast and appealing alternative to driving a private vehicle.
Complete Streets are safe for everyone. People from 8 to 80 can feel safe enough to bike on protected bikeways. And people of all races, ethnicities, genders, and other identifications feel safe to move freely in their community without fear of biased and often brutal police action against them.
State policies prioritize Complete Streets, but there’s no money to support that priority. That’s why we need dedicated funding to help communities build Complete Streets, and CalBike is advocating for just that.
For years, bike and pedestrian advocates have been fed budget crumbs. We’ve been told to be patient, that we have to wait. At the same time, our state has pumped billions into the status quo: freeways that lead to more congestion and pollution, which leads to more freeway construction, in an endless loop of doom.
California can’t afford not to fund the safe streets we need to mitigate the climate crisis and create livable communities for all residents, and CalBike is bringing this agenda to the forefront in this year’s budget negotiations. But we’re up against vested interests from various private industries as well as years of entrenched policy at state agencies such as Caltrans.
How you can help: We’ll be calling on CalBike members and supporters to reach out to your representatives to tell them to fund active transportation NOW. If you’re not on our list, please join us to get the latest updates and opportunities to speak up for safe streets.
For Immediate Release: 3/2/23
Contact: Jared Sanchez, CalBike, (714) 262-0921, Jared@CalBike.org
Sacramento, CA – Despite California’s reputation as an environmental leader, our transportation sector remains the main source of toxic emissions, climate pollution, and fatalities on our streets. To address this reality, the California Bicycle Coalition today launched its 2023 campaign Invest/Divest: Invest in Our Transportation Future/Divest from Regressive Road-Building.
Invest/Divest is an ambitious campaign to shift California’s transportation spending from traffic-inducing, climate-killing, over-policed, and community-destroying motor vehicle road expansions, to Complete Streets and other projects that make it easier and safer for more people to get around by biking, walking, or using public transportation.
CalBike’s agenda for 2023 continues momentum from last year, lifting up multi-year campaigns like the Bicycle Safety Stop and Complete Streets.
“California prides itself on being a climate leader. But our state doesn’t deserve that title as long as it keeps spending billions on transportation projects that increase greenhouse gases while underfunding or completely ignoring much cheaper projects that could bring about the green transportation revolution we desperately need. The Invest/Divest campaign is the logical path forward to create a green, sustainable transportation future for our state.”– Jared Sanchez, CalBike Policy Director
The Invest/Divest campaign aims to build communities where all Californians have equitable access to safe streets, improving health and increasing joy along the way.
Jared Sanchez has been integral to CalBike’s advocacy efforts since he joined us in 2017, and he now heads our policy team. We spoke with him about what he’s excited about as the new legislative session gets into full swing and what the workday of a bicycle policy advocate looks like.
Jared Sanchez: Would it be too broad to say the whole Invest/Divest campaign? What I’m excited about is the way it’s going to frame our work in ways that are bold and cutting-edge, not just one-off and piecemeal. I like how it brings together a variety of issues that didn’t have such cohesion before. The movement, the policy, and the politics are all moving in the same direction to approach issues we’ve always faced, but in a more powerful way. What do I mean by more powerful? It just occurs to me — maybe it’s not new — that when we address one issue, it becomes more multi-faceted and forges connections among different agencies. For example, with Complete Streets, we can address that through the budget, agency action, and legislation all at the same time. It gets us out of our silos. The more our state leaders try to separate out the issues, the harder it is to make progress. Invest/Divest will also create more accountability on these issues by showing how one agency is connected to the actions of other agencies or the budget committee, etc. It shows you the depth of the problem more. It’s not just “find money to do X;” it’s actually about finding solutions to several crises — climate, social justice, transportation inequities — that aren’t different problems but are all interconnected, so the solutions should be interconnected, too.
JS: I would say four major agencies: CTC, OTS, CHP, and Caltrans. All of them have something to do with Invest/Divest. With Caltrans, it’s Complete Streets. With CTC [the California Transportation Commission, which oversees the Active Transportation Program], it’s about freeway funding and active transportation funding. OTS [Office of Transportation Safety] and CHP [California Highway Patrol], it’s about safety grants and police as a safety solution.
JS: My top priority is bringing attention to the fact that there’s plenty of money in our transportation budget. From a quick estimate, there’s at least $2B going to highway expansion, which reverses progress toward California’s climate goals instead of moving us forward. The CTC has to approve this funding. We will show up and make an issue of this in a way that will keep them accountable for their goals and connect that to fiscal policy. Of course, part of this will include addressing the backlog of ATP projects due to the lack of funding and the lack of money going to active transportation projects, specifically Complete Streets infrastructure. We’ll be pointing all this out to the legislators on the budget committee.
JS: AB 1525 [sponsored by the Greenlining Institute], for sure. It’s an exciting bill about prioritizing funding for communities of color that would be really transformative. CalBike has led on this issue in past years, and I’m excited others are moving it forward. Also, the Biking is Not a Crime Slate [AB 825, AB 93, & SB 50], and, of course, the freeway stuff. The freeway data bill [SB 695] — we need to be excited about it because it’s public information that’s not available to us. We’ll be able to state our case for Invest/Divest based on how much money is going to highway expansion and what goals are being met by such investments. Right now, we have to broadly estimate. Also, my background is in racial/social justice, and everything that I’ve been mentioning has that element. It’s something the state wants to prioritize, we want to prioritize.
JS: In order to make a strong case for breaking the silos of our transportation policy, there are different pieces of my work day. First, doing the research on the background, context, how these things connect to each other, and how these things work in such a complex system takes up a lot of my time. Another part is reaching out to state agencies, state staff, and our partners (well-established and new) about these issues and connecting with people who have a stake in these issues, whether it’s coalition building or figuring out who has a stake. Another part is meetings: partners around strategies or with agencies or legislators around data or a piece of legislation. Whatever the topic is, there are always a bunch of meetings. Coordinating around strategy with others is always more effective than working alone. And, as things heat up, I’ll be attending hearings: policy, budget, appropriations. Meetings involve preparation for testifying or showing up to support, as well as submitting position letters to committees and agencies. Staying up to date about the constantly shifting landscape of the budget and the legislature is a big task. The most time-consuming part is staying on top of the amendments that get added to the bills all the time. Another big part of my day, maybe even a third, is connecting with people who have questions about our work. I am available, with limited capacity, of course, for technical policy assistance — we used to call it policy rapid response — to a variety of issues across the state.
JS: It’s a lot, either researching what the issue is or finding out what I can do to help. This morning, I spent time talking to bike advocates in Toronto about the Bicycle Safety Stop. The Freedom to Walk Act is a big one — people want to learn about our campaign because they want to do something similar wherever they’re at. Another one that comes up is the bikes in general plans bill — people want to know how to implement it in their city. There’s always follow-up to bills: What does this mean for me? A lot of organizations that work on legislation ignore that. Passing legislation is the exciting part that people pay attention to, but often it’s the nitty gritty, getting into the implementation of these new laws, that has the biggest effect. Obviously, there’s a lot of bills that pass every year, and it would be hard to follow up on every single one of them. It’s a job for a whole other organization.
JS: One thing people don’t realize is how involved we are in writing the language of these bills. I feel like that’s a pretty influential thing to do. We’re talking to Senate and Assembly offices about what they’re proposing to do, and we’re giving them amendments, basically writing law that brings it closer to our mission.
JS: Yes! Being a dad now provides a whole new depth to my life that I thoroughly enjoy, but not without new stressors, of course. Unfortunately, this has cut into my biking time, but I can’t wait until my daughter gets older where she can ride with me! I’ve been daydreaming about biking her around Lake Merritt, my favorite place to be in my hometown of Oakland.
CalBike’s agenda for 2023 continues our momentum from last year, lifting up multi-year campaigns like the Bicycle Safety Stop and Complete Streets and introducing a bold new framework with our Invest/Divest campaign.
Our goals and vision remain the same: Build communities where all Californians have equitable access to safe streets, improving health and bringing joy along the way. However, our efforts have a new sense of urgency as each year highlights the increasing damage of toxic emissions to our climate alongside increasing numbers of fatalities on our streets. We believe safe, active transportation should play a critical role in mitigating climate calamity and traffic violence, and bike advocates aren’t peripheral allies but central to this fight.
Change is scary and often met with resistance, especially from entrenched interests. But the time for radical change is now if we want to preserve a habitable climate for future generations.
To meet the moment, CalBike is launching Invest/Divest: a campaign to shift California’s transportation spending from traffic-inducing, climate-killing, over-policed, and community-destroying motor vehicle road expansions to Complete Streets and other projects that make it easier and safer for more people to get around by biking, walking, or using public transportation.
Our Invest pillars are:
CalBike will continue to advocate statewide e-bike incentives by:
- Working with CARB and our allies to help create an equitable pilot program
- Advocating for more funding for e-bike incentives in the 2024 budget and beyond
To fund these critical investments and prevent further destruction of the climate and the environment and its impact on our most marginalized populations who face these injustices first and worst, we must:
Where you spend your money shows your priorities. California prides itself on being a climate leader. But our state doesn’t deserve that title as long as it keeps spending billions on transportation projects that increase greenhouse gases while underfunding or completely ignoring much cheaper projects that could bring about the green transportation revolution we desperately need.
CalBike has consistently advocated for California to spend more on active transportation. We were instrumental in passing legislation that created the Active Transportation Program, which funds bikeways and other Complete Streets infrastructure across California, and we’ve successfully pushed to increase funding for that program. We helped secure funding for California’s first statewide e-bike incentive program, and we’ve urged Caltrans to add Complete Streets to repaving projects. We will continue to advocate for funding for complete bike networks and other green infrastructure.
Yet, despite all these successes, active transportation still accounts for a tiny fraction of California’s transportation spending. To align our transportation spending with climate and equity goals outlined in state climate and transportation plans, California needs to shift funding from harmful freeway expansion projects to community-building, climate-friendly, active transportation corridor construction.
In this year’s budget negotiations, CalBike will advocate for state funding to be divested from harmful freeway expansions and projects that perpetuate the climate crisis and commit environmental harms and invest in programs and projects that advance complete, just streets, connected mobility infrastructure, zero carbon micromobility options, and long-term neighborhood and community sustainability. We can easily afford to build the safe, complete streets and neighborhoods we need simply by shifting our funding priorities.
Recent events highlight how far we have to go to change the broken institution of policing and unequal enforcement of our traffic laws. Yet, California continues to invest in enforcement and criminalization strategies for street safety while ignoring or underfunding safe infrastructure and other community resources. Black Americans and other people of color are disproportionately victims of overly aggressive police enforcement and brutality while walking, running, riding bicycles, taking public transit, or driving. Our over-reliance on the police to solve our social and mobility inequalities creates problems rather than solving them.
In 2022, CalBike and our allies achieved a hard-fought victory, passing the Freedom to Walk Act to decriminalize safe, mid-block pedestrian crossings, but our work is just beginning. Going forward, we will continue to work to decriminalize mobility and commonsense traffic behaviors like the Bicycle Safety Stop. And we’ll work to reform traffic enforcement to eliminate pretextual policing and ensure that California’s streets are safe and welcoming for all identities and bodies.
Endlessly growing enforcement budgets have not stopped the ever-increasing numbers of traffic fatalities and injuries. It’s time to invest in data-backed, safe infrastructure solutions. CalBike will advocate for California to divest from harmful over-criminalization that perpetuates and widens social inequality and invest in educational programs and policies that foster safe mobility for all Californians.
We will approach our Invest/Divest campaign through three strategies: legislation,
budget reform, and administrative advocacy.
In the coming weeks and months, keep an eye on your inbox as we’ll launch new campaigns on critical programs and initiatives and ask you to take action to help us succeed.
We’re excited about what we can achieve in 2023, and we hope we can count on your support to make it happen. Your emails, calls, tweets, and petition signatures make a difference; when lawmakers know constituents are listening and engaged, they pay attention. We look forward to working with you to build safer, more equitable, and joy-filled Complete Streets.
© California Bicycle Coalition 2023
1017 L Street #288
Sacramento, CA 95814
© California Bicycle Coalition 2023