The pandemic that has upended all of our lives also transformed CalBike’s 2020 agenda. The bills we sponsored in the legislature were postponed, but the broad bike boom led to many other opportunities. In 2020, the bicycling movement is stronger than ever. Diverse groups of people have discovered or rediscovered the value of biking as safe and desperately needed recreation, as well as essential, independent, transportation. Our 2020 accomplishments include providing resources for new riders and for cities to create safer spaces to bike and walk.
CalBike was able to pivot quickly, thanks to strong support from our donors. Working from our separate homes, with surprisingly effective collaboration, your CalBike team had a busy and effective year. Here is a (partial) list of what CalBike has been able to accomplish.
Four fast and effective actions to support the opening of California’s streets to biking and walking
When California went into shelter-in-place, we took steps to support people staying healthy by keeping active.
- We worked with the California Department of Public Health to clarify the initial stay-at-home orders to declare that bike shops are an essential business, necessary for people who rely on them to get to their essential jobs.
- CalBike quickly created a set of resources for people to bike safely during COVID. For many, we were the go-to group for questions like, “Is it safe to ride in groups? Can I still use bike-share? I haven’t ridden in ages; what do I need to know to be safe?”
- When communities began creating Slow Streets to expand space for socially-distanced exercise, CalBike created a guide to best practices.
- In collaboration with Alta Planning + Design, we created a Quick-Build Guide to enable communities to create more room for biking and walking.
Victories in a curtailed legislative session
Most of the bills CalBike was sponsoring had to be postponed until 2021, as the legislature cut short their session due to the coronavirus. But we remained vigilant and engaged. And we were able to chalk up two important wins with help from our allies and from our supporters, whose calls and emails made a huge difference.
- With help from our allies, we defeated a provision in a bill that would have made it impossible for shared bike and scooter companies to operate in California.
- We passed a commonsense bike planning reform bill, SB 288. The bill provides a CEQA exemption for bike plans, as well as transit expansions. This is a welcome reform that will make it much easier, cheaper, and quicker, to design and build people-first infrastructure.
Supporting a local funding measure
CalBike engaged heavily with local partners in the Bay Area to support a transportation-oriented sales tax that would have raised billions for biking. We supported the calls for enough funding to build complete networks to connect disadvantaged, car-free, and transit-dependent communities to transit and other destinations, as well as comprehensive, equitable, and affordable shared mobility. This measure was shelved once the pandemic hit.
Building support for community bike shops
Every neighborhood needs a bike shop, but many lack the economic clout to attract a typical for-profit business. Community bike shops fill the gap, providing free or low-cost services in underserved neighborhoods. During the pandemic, many essential workers turned to biking as a safer way to get to work than taking the bus. But volunteer-run, nonprofit bike shops were hit hard by coronavirus restrictions at just the moment they were needed most. CalBike stepped up to help.
We reached out to community bike shops to find out what kinds of support they needed and we held a webinar to provide information, share resources, and cross-pollinate ideas. CalBike continues to look for new ways to lift up community bike shops.
A major victory for Complete Streets at Caltrans
In 2020, we turned the governor’s disappointing veto of our 2019 Complete Streets Bill into genuine progress at Caltrans. Their new chief directed an extra $100 million toward Complete Streets so that, when Caltrans does routine road repair, it has funds set aside to make streets safer for biking and walking.
- The new Caltrans chief Toks Omishakin directed his staff to pull $100 million from its proposed budget for roadway repairs. The order, made after the draft budget had already been presented to the Transportation Commission for approval, affected a small amount of money but represented a huge admission by Caltrans that previously planned projects had missed opportunities to make the roads safer for walking and biking.
- CalBike reached out to its local partners to ensure they were aware of the last-minute opportunity to improve Caltrans projects, in response to the agency’s request of its district offices to review all projects to find good candidates for biking and walking improvements.
- CalBike is working closely with Caltrans leadership so that in the next roadway repair budget in 2022, the agency will include biking and walking infrastructure from the beginning. We’ll keep advocating so that instead of climate-destroying freeways, Caltrans will build the climate-friendly infrastructure California needs!
Projects to improve biking in California’s interior
CalBike and its member groups have exciting projects in the works for better biking in the heart of our state.
- Construction is underway on the Shasta Bike Depot, a project of Shasta Living Streets. When it’s finished next year, it will cap a program that connects more than 200 miles of bike trails with downtown Redding.
- CalBike is working with Tuolumne, Calaveras, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Alpine counties to promote bicycle tourism as an engine for economic growth and an incentive to create safer streets for visitors and residents alike.
- Our Central Valley Bikeways Project team is creating a blueprint for bike access to High-Speed Rail stations in Merced, Fresno, and Bakersfield. Once the plan is implemented, it will mean better bike connections for all residents of the region, plus an influx of bicycle tourism dollars.
A proposal for traffic enforcement reform
Social justice is central to CalBike’s mission. We can’t have safe streets unless they are safe for everyone. Like you, we were moved by the outpouring of support for Black Lives Matter and the movement for police reform. We drafted a six-point proposal for reforming the way California enforces traffic laws on state roads. We believe these policies will make streets more equitable and safer for all users. In 2021, CalBike will begin lobbying, alongside our allies, to implement traffic policing reforms.
Bike the Vote
CalBike endorsed 11 bike-friendly candidates who were in tough races in the November election. We are happy to report that six of our allies at the federal, state, and local levels will be representing us next year. Thank you all for biking the vote!
Looking forward to 2021
At CalBike, we are proud of what we were able to accomplish in 2020 and we are looking forward to an even better year in 2021. We will be holding an online event for CalBike members to unveil our ambitious plans for 2021 on December 3. 2020. Join or renew to become a member and support CalBike’s important work to build healthy California communities through biking.