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Posts from the "Governor Jerry Brown" Category

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With Help From Mayor Quan, Oaklavia Returns With a Bang

When Walk Oakland Bike Oakland hosted the city’s first Ciclovia-style event in downtown Oakland in 2010, onerous city fees meant plans for a second Oaklavia that year proved too ambitious for the small organization. “We thought we wouldn’t be able to do it again,” said Jonathan Bair, WOBO’s Board President.

Three years later, the city brought Oaklavia back, closing the streets around Lake Merritt to cars yesterday and opening them up for people. This time, organizers estimate 10,000 to 15,000 people turned out, compared to the 4,000 at the 2010 event.

Key to the event’s success this year, advocates said, was the newfound support from Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Since she took office in 2011, Quan has championed open streets events as well recently-completed renovations at Lake Merritt. To celebrate the lake improvements, yesterday’s Oaklavia was tied with a festival called Love Our Lake Day.

“This was the transformative moment for Oakland,” said East Bay Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Renee Rivera, who invited Quan to visit Sunday Streets in the Mission in June of 2012. ”Mayor Quan came back from that event with a clear understanding of why Sunday Streets would be great for Oakland and an appreciation for the work and investment it takes to make it happen,” she said.

Quan told Streetsblog that Oaklavia “is part of my overall economic development plan,” and promised another Oaklavia in Fruitvale this fall. “I want to do these bicycle/walking events in different parts of the city and introduce people to different neighborhoods,” she said.

On the wide streets circling Lake Merritt, yesterday’s Oaklavia seemed akin to the Sunday Streets events held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Walkers mostly chose to stroll on the new pathway near the water, while the roads provided lots of room for bicyclists to move freely. The route was longer than that of the first Oaklavia — 3.3 miles vs. 2.4 miles – and acres of adjacent grassy areas and pathways gave room for people to spread out.

Skaters, bicyclists, and walkers came from Chinatown, East Oakland, and Grand Lake, and from as far as San Francisco and San Mateo. But the ethnic diversity on the streets gave the event a definitively Oakland feel.

If there was any shortcoming, it was the fact that only one side of the roadway was closed to traffic, which may have kept some people on the sidewalk, said WOBO board member Chris Hwang. “To not have [the street] fully closed is a shame,” she said.

Read more…

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Third Iteration of 3-Foot Bike Passing Bill Heads to Assembly Committee

The pomp and circumstance for the most recent effort to mandate a 3-feet passing distance for cars overtaking bicyclists is noticeably more quiet than the past two years. Whatever the reason, perhaps cyclists aren’t willing to get their hopes up again after Governor Jerry Brown’s two incoherent veto messages in 2012 and 2011, the statewide cycling movement doesn’t seem as revved up this time around. Even the “Give Me 3” website created by the California Bike Coalition for the specific reason of passing such legislation has not been updated to mention 2013′s AB 1371 by Assembly Member Steven Bradford (D-Gardena).

Take 3.

However, all of that is starting to change. On Sunday, Bradford will stand with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who had backed a safe passing law following his own bike crash in 2010, and hundreds of cyclists at the “opening” of CicLAvia to call for the legislature and Governor to act quickly to make a three foot passing law a reality in California. On Monday, the Assembly Transportation Committee will hear AB 1371, the bill’s first step on its way to becoming a law.

“I am thrilled to join Mayor Villaraigosa at CicLAvia which will, for the first time, come to the 62nd District by way of Venice,” Bradford said. “This is a great event to raise awareness of cyclists’ right to ride safely on our city streets, and this bill will do the same.”

Cyclists who want to show support for the legislation can join Bradford and Villaraigosa at a 9:30am CicLAvia kick-off press conference on Olvera Street on April 21st before riding off towards Venice. Or, you can voice your support digitally by signing the online petition or using the #3feet4safety hashtag on social media. Read more…
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Advocates Call on Gov. Brown to Prioritize Biking, Walking in State Budget

This article is cross-posted from the blog of former Streetsblog SF editor Bryan Goebel, who’s aiming to launch a new website ”devoted to sustained coverage of biking, walking and transit issues in Sacramento, both at the Capitol and locally.” You can also follow Bryan on Twitter.

A proposal in Governor Jerry Brown’s budget that would change how the administration doles out federal and state money for biking and walking improvements could imperil critical street safety programs such as Safe Routes to School at a time when California is facing a growing health crisis and trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“It does not reflect a serious sense of purpose by this Governor’s Office or the transportation bureaucracy to really make bicycling and walking a central part of California’s transportation system,” said Dave Snyder of the California Bicycle Coalition.

The move by the administration is a response to the federal transportation bill passed by Congress last year. MAP-21 ended some dedicated funding for biking and walking programs.

States are also receiving less money under Transportation Alternatives, the federal program previously known as Transportation Enhancements, which historically granted the bulk of bicycle and pedestrian funding to state transportation agencies and metropolitan planning organizations.

The League of American Bicyclists is encouraging state transportation agencies to make up for the cuts by seeking funding for street safety projects from other eligible pots of federal money.

California is receiving $80 million in TA funds, $13 million less than last year. In its current form, Brown’s budget, which has been widely praised for being balanced, would not kick in any other money to make up for the loss.

Under the administration’s proposal, the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which oversees Caltrans, would combine five funding programs, including Safe Routes and the Bicycle Transportation Account, into what’s being called the “Active Transportation Program.”

The combined total in the account would be $134 million, compared to $147 million last year.

Read more…

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California Bike Coalition Sets An Ambitious Reform Agenda for 2013

Dave Snyder. Photo:Richard Masoner/Cycleicious

The top priority for California bicycle advocates this year? To ensure state funding for biking and walking gets better, not worse.

That’s according to California Bicycle Coalition (CalBike) President Dave Snyder, who recently spoke with Streetsblog to lay out the organization’s goals and strategies in its 2013 legislative agenda, both in the capitol and across the state.

While CalBike’s priorities include a variety of reforms and improvements, the largest concern is threats and opportunities to bicycle and pedestrian funding posed by Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget. “Our biggest goal remains to influence the state budget, and see it move forward in a good way,” Snyder said.

The Governor combined bicycle and pedestrian funding into one “active transportation” category for next year’s budget, a change from how budgeting had been accomplished in the past. On one hand, the Governor promises to streamline the application process for these projects. On the other, the most recent draft includes a 10 percent decrease in funding for “active transportation” from last year.

But the budget isn’t the only major issue in Sacramento. One of the hottest issues in the Capitol is how to reform the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) which creates the environmental review process that development and transportation projects must undergo. In the last legislative session, the legislature and governor passed A.B. 2245, which created a streamlined process for many bicycle projects.

Meanwhile, some of the largest environmental groups in the state are working to reform CEQA again. Recent reports show that most CEQA lawsuits are being aimed at public projects, mixed-use development and infill projects. Rather than look for a sponsor for new bicycle reforms, Snyder is working with those groups to change the legislation to make it easier and easier for cities to embrace and implement bicycle projects.

Read more…

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SF Transit, Street Improvements Could Get a Boost From Vehicle License Fee

San Francisco may be on course to receive significant new revenue for transit and street improvements in the coming years following the passage of SB 1492, which specifically permits the city to vote on restoring its local vehicle license fee to historic levels.

Photo: Aaron Bialick

The legislation, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown earlier this month, clears the way for the SF Board of Supervisors to introduce a ballot measure as soon as November 2013 to restore the local VLF to its pre-2004 level of 2 percent of the vehicle’s estimated value, up from the current statewide limit of 0.65 percent set by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The increase, if approved by voters, would bring in about $75 million for various city services, according to the office of State Senator Mark Leno, who introduced the bill.

There’s a very recent precedent for a successful ballot initiative to increase the vehicle registration fee. In 2010, San Francisco voters approved Prop AA, a local registration fee increase of $10 per vehicle, which now brings in $5 million per year. Half of that revenue is required to be used for street re-paving, the other half for pedestrian, transit, and bicycle improvements. As the revenue accumulates, the SF County Transportation Authority is compiling a list of projects to dole out the funds.

The Prop AA increase was permitted under a 2009 Senate bill on the condition that the funds be used specifically for transportation improvements to reduce car congestion, but those strings wouldn’t be attached to the VLF rate increase.

SB 1492 wasn’t the first bid to allow SF to increase the VLF: Since Schwarzenegger reduced the rate in 2004, Senator Leno has introduced six other similar bills, in addition to another one introduced by Senator Leland Yee in 2005. All proposals either died in the legislature or were vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger or Governor Brown. However, the statewide VLF limit was temporarily raised to 1.15 percent from mid-2009 to July 2011 under a bill introduced by Senator Noreen Evans.

A local ballot measure to increase the VLF would require a two-thirds vote by the Board of Supervisors and a simple majority approval by voters.

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More News on State Transpo Bills from Governor Brown’s Office

In addition to the mixed news on legislation impacting bicyclists, Governor Brown acted on many other pieces of legislation that will have a direct impact on transportation planning and public safety.

Governor Signs Law Allowing Undocumented Immigrants to Obtain Drivers Licenses

The governor's office released mock-ups of what the licenses for undocumented immigrants would look like. Image via “Today we’re looking at science fiction becoming tomorrow’s reality – the self-driving car,” Brown said. “Anyone who gets inside a car and finds out the car is driving will be a little skittish, but they’ll get over it.” Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2012/09/27/2458227/next-transportation-trend-cars.html#.UGnX1_nHdz0#storylink=cpyCBS Sacramento.

Perhaps the most controversial action the Governor took last week will allow many undocumented immigrants to earn drivers licensesAB 2189, introduced by Asm. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles), allows immigrants who qualify for a new federal work permit program and reside in California to apply for drivers licenses. A new federal protocol allows illegal immigrants who came to the United States before they were 16, and who are now 30 or younger, to obtain work permits.

Cedillo, who has introduced legislation that would allow all undocumented workers to earn licenses, points to safety as a major reason why all Californians should support licensing all interested potential drivers.

“This is important first step to making sure our highways are safe for all Californians,” Cedillo writes in an official statement. “I am proud that the governor chose public safety over politics. I look forward to continuing to work with his office to make sure that all motorists in this state are licensed, tested and insured and that California will once again enjoy the safest highways in America that they deserve.”

“Encouraging” High Speed Rail Authority to Shop for Rail Cars in California

As you might have heard, the California High Speed Rail project is somewhat controversial in the state. In an effort to boost job creation and improve the project’s popularity, Brown signed AB 16, authored by Henry Perea (D-Fresno), which “encourages” the Authority to purchase cars for the project that are manufactured in California. One option to meet this “suggestion” would be  Sacramento-based Siemens Rail Systems.

Read more…

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Gov. Brown Denies Cyclists “3,” But Signs Two Bills Boosting Bike Lanes

For the second year in a row, California Governor Jerry Brown issued a last-minute veto of legislation mandating a minimum three-foot distance for motor vehicles to pass cyclists. However, two other bills making it easier for cities to implement bike lanes got the governor’s signature, albeit in watered-down form: AB 2245, which exempts bike lanes from excessive review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), and AB 819, which establishes a Caltrans experimentation process for adopting currently non-standard innovative bike lane designs, like physically protected bike lanes.

When Brown vetoed the 3-foot passing bill last year, he argued in a widely panned veto-message that a three foot passing law would damage the “free flow of traffic” and proposed a change that would not address his stated problem. This year, Senator Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) made the changes that the Governor requested to SB 1464, but Brown and his advisors created a new reason to veto the legislation.

If only this car had crossed the double yellow line a little sooner. The image is taken from a story on Confessions of a... where a woman recounts the pain of being hit by a car and the miracle that she could walk away from such a crash.

This year, the Governor’s veto message expressed concern that the state would be liable for any crashes caused by reckless drivers who crossed a “solid yellow” line to give cyclists the three-foot buffer. The veto message also stated that Caltrans proposed a solution to “this issue,” but that Lowenthal’s office refused to make the change. Caltrans did not return calls for comments, and advocates familiar with the legislation professed to have “no idea” what the Governor was referencing.

In the nineteen states that have three foot passing laws and the one that has a four foot passing law, Streetsblog can find no evidence that the kind of lawsuit the Governor fears has ever been successfully prosecuted. The California Bicycle Coalition (CBC) reports that the California Department of Finance, the department responsible for tracking whether legislation opens the state to lawsuits, opined that current law would protect the state from these sorts of lawsuits. The CBC also notes that the language the Governor is concerned with was included in 2011′s three foot passing law, and that neither the Governor nor Caltrans expressed any concerns last year.

Cycling advocates were incensed at the veto.

“It’s pretty clear that the Governor is out of touch with what is happening on our roads,” writes Eric Bruins, the Policy and Program Director for the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC). “With the distracted driving bill and the 3-foot passing bill, the Legislature is responding to the public’s concerns about traffic safety.  It’s time for the Governor to engage on these issues and protect victims of dangerous and distracted driving.” Streetsblog will have more on the distracted driving bill in a second post, later today.

The California Bicycle Coalition was even harsher.

“Brown has offered no indication of how he views bicycling or expressed any ideas for ensuring the safety of Californians who rely on bicycling as everyday transportation,” writes the Coalition on their website. “By vetoing SB 1464, he makes clear that he prioritizes legalistic speculation over the safety of Californians.”

“We’re deeply concerned about what his lack of vision and leadership means for the safety of our streets and roads.”

Read more…

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Three-Foot Bike Passing Bill Passes CA Assembly, Needs Gov’s Signature

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A driver prepares to pass a bicycle rider on the Wiggle. Photo: Aaron Bialick

The California State Assembly passed a bill yesterday that would require motorists to provide three feet of space when passing bicyclists. SB 1464, which passed with a 50-16 vote, is expected to be signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September following a “largely procedural” approval by the State Senate, which already passed the bill in May, according to the California Bicycle Coalition.

Thousands of supporters wrote their Assembly members in recent weeks to urge a “yes” vote in a campaign spearheaded by TransForm and the CBC. The bill, according to the CBC, has “none of the organized opposition that fought SB 910,” the 3-foot passing bill that was vetoed by Brown last year. At the time, Brown said he was responding complaints from the California Highway Patrol and the American Automobile Association over a provision that would have required drivers to slow down to 15 MPH to pass if providing three feet was unfeasible. Instead, SB 1464 would require drivers in that situation to “slow down to a speed that is reasonable and prudent given traffic and roadway conditions and only pass when it’s safe to do so.”

The debate in the Assembly yesterday offered a glimpse of certain legislators’ views on cycling.

“This is a common sense approach to safety for bicyclists,” said Assembly Member Steven Bradford, a Democrat who represents the 51st District in Los Angeles. “Where it is unsafe to move over three feet, drivers have the discretion of just slowing down and passing a bicyclist.”

Three Assembly members spoke in opposition to the bill, all Republicans. Assembly Member Diane Harkey, representing the 73rd District in Orange County, eschewed the responsibilities of drivers to watch out for vulnerable street users and said more of the onus should be placed on bicyclists.

The bill, said Harkey, “Allows for lawsuits on motorists who are trying to do the right thing, but for some reason or another, a cyclist comes up behind, maybe in a blind corner, and the cyclist thinks he has the right-of-way and maybe is going full speed ahead, and knows that he’s got the law on his side, however, he may not have the poundage on his side.”

“Just because you have the right-of-way, doesn’t mean that you will survive or live,” added Harkey. “The cycling has gotten a little bit out of control. They are not cars.”

Read more…

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Three-Foot Passing Bill Up for Vote at State Assembly Friday

Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz. Photo: Richard Masoner/Flickr

A state bill that would require drivers to give three feet of leeway when passing bicyclists in California is headed to the State Assembly for a vote this Friday.

TransForm and the California Bicycle Coalition are calling on supporters to email their Assembly members and urge them to vote “yes.” If approved by the Assembly, the bill could be signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September, bringing California in line with 21 other states and the District of Columbia, which have similar laws.

Support for the bill looks strong. The bill sailed through the State Senate in May, and by yesterday afternoon, supporters had sent at least 1,340 letters to their Assembly members, according to the CBC. The real question remaining is whether the bill will be signed by Governor Brown, who vetoed a previous version of the bill last year.

The new bill was modified to address Brown’s complaints about a provision which would have required drivers to slow down to 15 MPH if they are unable to safely provide three feet of room. Instead, the bill would require drivers in that situation to “slow down to a speed that is reasonable and prudent given traffic and roadway conditions and give the bicyclists as much clearance as feasible.”

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CA Senate Passes 3-Foot Passing Bill. Will Gov Brown Sign It This Time?

Close passes like this one on Market Street would be explicitly illegal under the three-foot passing law, which is already in place in 21 states. Flickr photo: Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious

The three-foot passing bill for bicyclists sailed through the California Senate today, reports the California Bicycle Coalition on Twitter:

Senate just voted 27-6 to approve SB 1464. No debate or opposition! 6 Republicans voted YES.

The bill still needs to make its way through the State Assembly, but all signs point to little opposition.

The real question remaining is whether Governor Jerry Brown will veto it again. Brown vetoed the previous version of the proposal, SB 910, last October due to opposition from the California Highway Patrol and the American Automobile Association over hypothetical traffic congestion caused by cars slowing down to pass bicycles.

However, the language in SB 1464 is tailored to address Brown’s concerns, so hopes are high for California to catch up with the 21 other states that have similar laws.

Enjoy the long Memorial Day weekend — we’ll see you back here Tuesday.