The California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) released its ambitious agenda for the 2015 legislative session. Their top priority is to increase funding for cities to build complete bike networks — not just piecemeal bikeways.
Also on its agenda is the less glamorous but equally important task of clarifying some outdated regulations that prevent people from riding bikes. The list includes:
- Defining low-speed electric bikes and allowing them on bike paths
- Creating subsidies for electric bikes
- Clarifying vehicle code rules including what happens at inoperative signals and when protected bike lanes cross intersections
- Insurance reforms to help bicyclists collect damages in near collisions
- Ticket diversion programs for cyclists
Funding for Bicycle Networks
CalBike’s goal is to create a funding source for competitive grants that could fund larger projects than the current Active Transportation Program (ATP) can support. Although the details are not yet fully fleshed out, the new grants would require the development of a complete, connected bicycle network, thus creating an incentive for cities to think more broadly about bike planning.
“We need to more rapidly and more broadly fund bike infrastructure,” said CalBike board member Christopher Kidd. “We’re hoping to change the ways that cities think about bike projects. Much of the time the available funding is so small that it only covers particular bike lanes, individual complete streets projects, and bike paths, and we end up with disjointed, piecemeal bike routes rather than networks.”
“It could be really game-changing for the way we build out our bike networks,” he added.
The existing ATP tends to focus on funding individual bike infrastructure projects rather than encouraging cities to think holistically about how bikes fit into the transportation system. CalBike hopes that with a new, larger funding source, cities and counties will be encouraged to take a much broader look at their bike networks, and address the gaps that remain after they tackle the easy parts first.
“We saw that on Telegraph Avenue [in Oakland],” said Kidd. “If there’s a difficult part of the project, it makes more sense to put it off, and to first do the things that are easy. But that is how we end up with all these gaps. And those gaps are what’s keeping more people from getting on bikes.”