by CalBike — SACRAMENTO, CA (September 11, 2019) – On the afternoon of September 11, the Complete Streets for Active Living Bill (SB 127) championed by California State Senator Scott Wiener, was passed by the state legislature and has been sent to the desk of Governor Gavin Newsom for his signature.
The bill would require Caltrans to consider bicycle and pedestrian safety improvements when it repairs or repaves state routes that serve as local streets. This bill aims to ensure state roads that run through local communities (e.g. 19th Avenue in San Francisco, Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles, San Pablo Avenue in the East Bay, Santa Rosa Street in San Luis Obispo) are safe for people to walk and bike along those routes.
The Complete Streets Bill has strong support. A recent poll found that 78 percent of California voters support a policy requiring safety improvements when improving a road. They want children to be able to safely walk or bike to school. Hundreds of schools exist within a half-mile of a California State Route and these streets remain some of the most deadly in the state. The interim leadership of Caltrans opposes the bill.
Complete Streets advocates celebrated a victory for safety.
Linda Khamoushian, California Bicycle Coalition:
We commend the leadership of Senator Weiner and the Assembly in response to the overwhelming support from California voters. Caltrans is responsible for more than just the fast movement of cars and trucks. Dangerous state-owned roads that cut through our communities can become streets where people going to school, work, and shopping will be able to safely walk and bike. Streets designed for safe travel for people young and old are long overdue.
Jonathan Matz, Safe Routes (to School) Partnership:
SB 127 lays out a process for implementing what the State has long identified as a goal: providing safe infrastructure for people walking and biking on the stretches of the State Highway system that function as local streets. SB 127 will give the Department of Transportation the tools it needs to serve all Californians more effectively. We thank the legislature for recognizing the cost efficiency and potential to save lives when routine repaving projects include Complete Streets improvements, and we urge the Governor to demonstrate California’s commitment to safe infrastructure and transportation alternatives by signing SB 127.
Nancy McPherson, AARP California:
As a longtime advocate for Complete Streets policies in California, AARP is pleased to see SB 127 pass the Assembly today. Legislation like SB 127 is critical to ensuring our roads are safe for people walking, biking, and taking public transportation, thus allowing older adults to live healthy, active lives in their communities. Thank you, Senator Wiener, for your leadership on this critical issue, and to all members of the Legislature who have supported SB 127.
Tony Dang, California Walks:
Crossing the street should never be a matter of life or death–that’s why we applaud the Assembly’s passage of Senator Wiener’s Complete Streets Bill. SB 127 will bring an unprecedented level of accountability at Caltrans to ensure that our kids and families can walk and bike without fear on local and main streets that just happen to be owned by the state. We’re grateful to Senator Wiener and his colleagues in the Senate and Assembly for standing up for complete streets to make our communities safer, healthier, and happier.
American Heart Association:
“Creating more complete streets in all neighborhoods will help encourage people to take the first step to living a longer, healthier life,” said Joe Aviance (aka Papa Joe), an American Heart Association volunteer who took to the streets and walked to lose 250 pounds. “I was 450 pounds when I decided to make a change for the better and started walking. Fortunately for me, I live in a neighborhood that has sidewalks and pedestrian-friendly streets, so the sidewalks became my treadmill. Access to safe, walkable streets is not an available option for some communities of color where investment is sorely needed. Our leaders in Sacramento have taken a big step to help Californians live healthier lives by passing SB 127. I urge the Governor to do the same.”
COMPLETE STREETS BACKGROUND
In California from 2007-2013, nearly 1.7 million people were injured in traffic incidents, including 95,758 while walking along or across the street. In those crashes, 22,117 people were killed, with pedestrians accounting for one-fifth of the total persons killed. The problem is often concentrated around Caltrans roads that go through low-income neighborhoods where more people get around via transit, biking, and walking.
Caltrans often claims to make streets safer when they repair them. But in practice, they prioritize fast traffic over the communities demanding more livable streets almost every single time. Caltrans needed stronger direction from the Legislature. The Complete Streets for Active Living Bill will provide that direction, and force the safety improvements necessary to stop the killing and maiming on state-owned roads.
The bill is not strict. Caltrans won’t have to implement safety improvements if they’re not appropriate for some reason—for example, if they’re too expensive. And the law only applies to sections where you’re likely to see people walking and biking, about 17% of the total system. But it will force Caltrans to implement safety improvements when it’s cheapest to do so: when they’re repaving the street anyway.