tod news

California climbs to 8th most bike-friendly state
MacGregor Eddy | The Californian


Construction workers with Capital Rail Constructors lift a 2,000-pound girder into place on the Dulles extension of the Silver Line of the Metro last month. (Pete Marovich For The Washington Post)

California is now the eighth-most bike friendly state in the nation, according to the annual list compiled by the League of American Bicyclists. Two years ago, in 2013 the Golden State ranked 19th. Ratings were based on overall scores derived from five categories: legislation, policies, funding, education and planning.


So, what happened in 2014? Well, a lot.


The California Transportation Commission allocated more than $360 million in 2014 for locally administered Active Transportation Program (ATP) projects, with 2015 ATP grants expected to total even more. Locally the Via Salinas Valley project will use state ATP money to improve bike paths and sidewalk safety in east Salinas and south valley cities.


Caltrans has set a goal of tripling the frequency of cycling, adding bicycle-friendly features to streets as part of its Complete Streets Implementation Action Plan.


In 2014, Caltrans also officially endorsed the street design guidelines of the North American City Transportation Official, which includes augmented features for bicyclists and pedestrians. Salinas will implement complete streets policies with the downtown Vibrancy plan.


Cars cost us all: Americans believe that drivers pay for the costs of roads, while trains, buses and bicycles get government subsidies. This belief is not accurate.


Car drivers pay less than half the total cost of roads, according to just released report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund (PIRG) and Frontier Group. "Who Pays for Roads? How the 'Users Pays' Myth Gets in the Way of Solutions to America's Transportation Problems" shows that the automobile is heavily subsidized by public funds.


Half of the money for roads comes from income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes levied on everyone whether they use the roads or not. These road subsidies exceed what is spent on all forms of non-automobile transit combined including: bus, subways, light rail, passenger rail, bicycling and walking.


"The highest return on investment is on bike, pedestrian and transit projects," said Gabe Klein, former Commissioner of Transportation for Chicago and Washington, D.C.


The report argues that, with general taxpayers bearing an ever-greater share of the cost of transportation, America should instead invest in projects that are likely to deliver the greatest benefits.


The share of the family income that is used for transportation varies with what is available. Households in car-dependent suburbs spend 25 percent of their income on transportation, while families in transit-rich areas spend 9 percent, according to a study by The Center for Transit Oriented Development. (


Americans believe that the nation should give greater priority to transit, bicycling and walking in transportation spending, according to a national Mineta Institute opinion poll.


Tax oversight man: Juan Pablo Lopez is the Salinas representative on the Monterey-Salinas Transit Measure Q oversight committee. Lopez, a North High graduate, is getting his master's degree in public administration with an emphasis on local economic development and finance. Those are excellent qualifications for the Measure Q oversight committee, which will review how the tax funds are used for county bus service.


Lopez said he decided to apply for the committee after reading this column, to my delight. Lopez has won the free bicycle rental from Bay Bikes, a prize that I offered to readers who volunteer for a Car-Less activity.


Eye on prize: The Transportation Agency for Monterey County's (TAMC) new software intended to aid public comment on county bicycle paths is still not being used. The program (reported in this column May 4) costs $5,000 a year has been used by only three people, including me. The name apparently changed from mindmixer to "my sidewalk." I am offering this week's Car-Less prize to any reader who will try to use the TAMC site and give me feedback on how usable it is. This week's Car-Less prize is an MST bus pass worth $90.