Thank you for using your leadership to emphasize transportation and traffic congestion relief. These important issues affect the health, environment, use of time, family, and quality of life of every citizen in California. Transportation infrastructure also directly affects land use, which either encourages or limits sprawl – the driving factor that increases traffic congestion.
In the June 16 edition of the San Franciso Chronicle you were quoted as saying, "I’m a great believer there should be something for everyone in the budget." This contrasts with the fact that your $5.3 billion Transportation Plan for five years includes no funding for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure despite a request from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for $80 Million for the San Francisco Bay Area Region alone, and a request from the Legislative Smart Growth Caucus which asked for $250 million statewide.
Your commitment to multimodal transportation, public health and safety, community, mobility for seniors, youths, and those with special needs, and congestion relief is not complete without sincere attention to the walking and bicycling trips which weave together the fabric of any truly multimodal system -- facilitating connections to transit as well as local travel.
In the Bay Area, bicyclists and pedestrians make up at least 11% of all transportation trips (by conservative estimates), yet suffer 25% of fatalities and presently receive less than 1% of funding. Throughout California, the total number of trips by bicyclists and pedestrians is also substantial, but the potential has only begun to be tapped. It is within our reach to increase walking and bicycling while reducing injuries and fatalities. To this end, we the undersigned, are writing to respectfully request the following:
- SUPPORT CALTRANS COORDINATORS AND THE ABANDONDED RAILROAD ACCOUNT FUND IN BUDGET: Please keep the budgetary inclusions for the 14 Caltrans bicycle coordinator positions, and for the $5 million for the abandoned railroad account.
- SIGN PRO-BICYCLE/PEDESTRIAN LEGISLATION INTO LAW: There are seven bills currently pending in the Legislature which we expect will reach your desk for your signature. We are asking for you to please sign the following bills into law: SB1629 (Sher), SB 1772 (Brulte), SB 1809 (Johnston), AB 1885 (Correa), AB 2140 (Keeley), AB 2522 (Shelley), and AB 2767 (Jackson).
- OPEN BAY AREA BRIDGES TO BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ACCESS: Bicycle and pedestrian access on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge has been requested and desired since the 1970’s. Thousands would use such access daily, providing true congestion relief and a major tourist attraction. We are asking for you to direct Caltrans to immediately open the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to bicycle and pedestrian traffic. There is a 12’ wide shoulder on the bridge which is currently grossly underutilized. Immediate access could be provided cheaply by merely striping a multiuse sidewalk, putting up signs, and covering the expansion grates. We are also requesting immediate bicycle access to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge by re-configuring the auto lanes (reducing their width slightly from 12 feet to 11 feet). This would provide enough space for a five-foot bicycle lane/motorist safety lane: more width than bicyclists and pedestrians currently enjoy on the Antioch bridge (another 50 MPH Bay Area toll bridge). We are also requesting full funding for the West Span path on the Bay Bridge, which would connect with the proposed new East Span's multiuse path.
Passing legislation and providing funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects now is a good idea because:
- We have not yet begun to realize the potential of bicycle commuting in California. The State of California ranks 48th out of the 50 states in spending on bicycle facilities. Looking to Holland, over 30% of all trips are made by bicycle, and up to 60% in cities. In the Netherlands, bicycle fatalities are less than 1/10th our rates. We can vastly increase the percentage of bicycle commuters by providing better facilities and safety.
- Bicycle and pedestrian use encourages transit use.
- Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure does not need an ongoing subsidy. Indeed, numerous studies show that such public investments actually save a great deal of public money in the long run.
- Thirty years ago, 60% of children walked or biked to school. Today, that number has dropped to less than 10%. This seriously impacts the health, development, freedom of mobility, and family life of our youth.
- Seniors are left helpless and endangered as they lose their drivers' licenses to age. In contrast, in the Netherlands, even folks 75 years and older make 26% of their trips by bicycling and another 25% by walking. The British Medical Association recently determined that each hour spent bicycling adds an additional hour to one's life.
- Bicycling can actually help cure diseases such as arthritis and asthma, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- One out of four children and adults are considered obese today. The Center for Disease Control has found that much of the rise of poor health of U.S. citizens is due to sedentary lifestyles and inactivity, and has found this to be a number one killer.
- Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna E. Shalala writes in Physical Activity and Health: A report from the Surgeon General that, "a regular, preferably daily regimen of at least 30-45 minutes of brisk walking, bicycling, or even working around the house or yard will reduce your risks of developing coronary heart disease, hypertension, colon cancer, and diabetes." But, she warns, "we have found that 60 percent - well over half - of Americans are not regularly active. Worse yet, 25 percent of Americans are not active at all. For young people - the future of our country - physical activity declines dramatically during adolescence. These are dangerous trends. We need to turn them around quickly, for the health of our citizens and our country. We will do so only with a massive national commitment - beginning now". Bicycling and walking saves time and lives by combining exercise with travel.
- One in six traffic fatalities in California is a pedestrian.
- When walking and bicycling decline, communities decline, and crime can increase.
- Surveys have shown that the number one reason people are not bicycling more is fear of motor vehicle traffic. Bicycle-friendly infrastructure can reverse this vicious cycle.
- Forty percent of all transportation trips are for two miles or less. These are the perfect length trips for walking or bicycling. The worst traffic pollution is created when first starting an automobile. Investing in bicycling and walking is investing in traffic and pollution relief.
We are hopeful that you, Governor Davis, will embrace bicycling and walking and usher in a new era of transportation policy in California that will encourage and fund bicycle and pedestrian-friendly planning. This is long overdue in California. You are in a position to make bicycling and walking an integrated part of 21st century transportation policy.
We look forward to working with you in the future to help provide mobility and access to all Californians regardless of age, ability or income level. Please contact us at any time for further assistance. Thank you for your consideration.
PLEASE SEE THE UNDERSIGNED SIGNATURES
cc: Senator Burton
Assembly Member Wiggins
Assembly Member Hertzberg
Assembly Member Baugh
Assembly Member Florez
Assembly Member Jackson
Assembly Member Keeley
Assembly Member Mazzoni
Assembly Member Shelley
Assembly Member Torlakson