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The Most Powerful Bike Funding Policy in the Nation?

How San Luis Obispo Established the Most Powerful Bike Funding Policy in the Nation

By Eric Meyer and Dan Rivoire.

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Eight years of careful planning — and a bit of luck — just paid off in a big way for the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Coalition. The central California city recently amended its transportation plan (known as the “Circulation Element” of the general plan) in three very innovative ways.

First, the city revised its transportation mode objectives, dramatically increasing the bike and pedestrian trip goals.

The new mode split goal:

50 percent motor vehicles
12 percent transit
20 percent bicycles
18 percent walking, car pools, and other forms

This is one of the most pedestrian- and bike-centric modal split objectives in the United States.

Second, the city changed its roadway analysis from Level of Service to Multi-Modal Level of Service.

San Luis Obispo rejected Level of Service — an outdated standard that measures transportation projects only on the basis of automobile delay — in favor of Multi-Modal Level of Service. MMLOS puts all modes on a level playing field so that the needs of one mode may only trump the needs of another in a manner designated by the modal hierarchy given to that location.

With this MMLOS objective in mind, the city re-prioritized the modal hierarchy of all of its streets. Some high-traffic arterials are automobile-focused, then transit, then bikes, then peds. Other streets have different hierarchies. Residential neighborhood streets are prioritized for pedestrians first. Major arterials are prioritized for transit first. It is a complex “complete streets” effort that will balance the needs of all modes in the city over time as streets are rebuilt or modified.

Third (and most important!): The city created a policy that allocates general fund transportation spending by mode to match the mode share percentage goals desired.

If you remember only one thing from this article, this is it.

This policy mandates that our city must allocate general fund transportation spending at the same ratio as the mode share goal desired. Meaning 20 percent of funding needs to go to bicycling.

This is a huge shift from business as usual in America.

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These changes didn’t happen all at once. They happened over the course of about eight years under the guidance of many minds at the Bicycle Coalition and with the help of many hundreds of citizens. If we had tried to make this all happen at once during a Circulation Element update, we would have failed.

It happened because we focused on the smallest relevant plans first. San Luis Obispo’s first opportunity for meaningful policy change came when the City Planning Commission was approving a Climate Action Plan, with the aim of reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. One of the suggested strategies in this plan was to decrease single occupancy vehicle trips. One way to do that is to encourage an increase in the mode share of alternative modes such as biking and walking. Eric pitched the idea of pushing the bike mode share goal to 20 percent, thinking that we might get 15 percent as a compromise. But in a surprise vote, the entire planning commission agreed to the new 20 percent bike mode share goal.

In the context of the Climate Action Plan this bike mode share increase didn’t seem that controversial, and the audience in the Planning Commission chamber that night was very enthusiastic. The City Council later easily approved the new Climate Action Plan.

The trouble was that other older city plans, like the Bicycle Master Plan and the city Circulation Element, still had the old 10 percent bike goal. (Note that the current bike mode share is only about 6 percent.) So a year or two later, when the Bicycle Master Plan came up for review, it was modified to match the Climate Action Plan. Since city staff were able to explain that they were merely updating the bike plan to match the more recent climate action plan, it went through without a hitch.

A few years later, the city’s transportation and land use plan, known as LUCE (for “Land Use Element and Circulation Element”) came up for review and updating. Eric was appointed chairman of the citizen task force dedicated to overseeing the update. The task force again debated increasing the modal goal over what was in the old LUCE, but what ultimately led to them to approve it was the simple fact that the Planning Commission and City Council had already approved that figure in the two other plans years before.

In addition to this new modal split objective, the new MMLOS policy and the requirement to allocate transportation funding in the same ratio as the desired modal split were also incorporated into the transportation and land use update.

This 20 percent mode bike mode share goal would never have been approved in the LUCE had it not already been part of the two smaller plans.

This is a key point and may be a pathway that others can follow to create similar changes in other jurisdictions.

Meanwhile, Dan was elected to City Council shortly after the City Planning Commission approved the LUCE update, so when it came before the council, his was the deciding vote that approved it and he is now in a position to help shepherd the new prioritization of funding. Our work to get a place on city boards, as bike advocates, paid off.

Together these new policies create one of the strongest funding mechanisms for bicycle infrastructure in the nation. We hope that other cities might be able to learn from our efforts.

None of this would have been possible without the efforts of hundreds of members of the public and the tireless efforts of many Bicycle Coalition Advocates who showed up at City Planning and City Council meetings to voice their concerns and desires. It is the public that creates the demand and the advocate’s job is simply to help the public and the city find the way forward.

Photos: Top: New Green Lane markings at California Blvd. and the Northbound 101 Freeway offramp. Below: A new bike bridge being installed on the Bob Jones Trail at the south end of the city. Photos:City of San Luis Obispo from 2014.

Originally published by the kind folks at The Alliance for Biking and Walking.

 

 

Advocacy Alert

3 Feet for Safety Law goes live!

On September 16th The San Luis Obispo Bicycle Coalition held an event to inform the press and general public about California’s new bicycle-passing law, “Three Feet for Safety”. P1010551The law states that motorists must maintain a distance of at least three feet when passing a bicyclist.

California joins 24 other states with similar laws. According to Dan Rivoire, Executive Director of The SLO County Bicycle Coalition, “Bicyclists have a legal right to be on the road in California, even on streets that don’t have bike lanes. More and more people of all ages are discovering that bicycles are an easy, healthy, economical and fun way to get around, especially for short trips. Bike riders are vulnerable when motorists pass too closely. This new law is a reminder that sometimes motorists will need to slow down and wait to pass a bicyclist until it is safe to do so.”

Helping Rivoire spread the word were members of the San Luis Obispo Police Department and the California Highway Patrol. After officers discussed the law with local media, a SLOPD patrol car demonstrated the correct distance to give to bikes by driving past Vanessa Amerson,  3ft2pass_300the Bicycle Coalition’s Interim Education Director, as she rode her bike down Pacific Street in front of Bicycle Coalition headquarters in San Luis Obispo.

Some things to remember:

  • To help estimate what three feet is, motorists can think of how much room they give when parking in order to fully open their door without hitting another parked car or a wall.
  • The law applies on all roads: those with bike lanes as well as those with no bike lane.

If you would like more information or have questions about the new law, please contact the Bicycle Coalition at 805-547-2055.

 

Advocacy Alert

Safety Wins: Wider Bike Lanes on Hwy 1

Today we’re excited to report a victory for the people of the Central Coast.

Nearly three miles of Highway 1 north of Piedras Blancas Lighthouse are due to be moved inland next year in response to coastal erosion. California Coastal Commission staff only recommended five foot wide paved shoulders for the new road, failing to fully utilize the opportunity to make this section of Highway 1 safe for riders of all abilities.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 5.10.55 PM.pngThe Bicycle Coalition and our allies (including the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club, The Slabtown Rollers and even Caltrans) got involved, writing letters and testifying before the Commission about the many benefits of a wider paved shoulder:

  • increased safety for bicyclists
  • increased protection from distracted drivers
  • building an infrastructure that supports the local economy, attracting visitors who tour our county by bike
  • encouraging healthy lifestyle choices for local residents

In response to our efforts, the Commissioners voted against staff recommendation, approving a wider, safer, eight foot paved shoulder. We’re very excited about this result and will continue to keep an eye on this project which breaks ground in May 2015 and is expected to take three years to complete.

 

Advocacy Update: City Council Divided over Sales Tax

On the evening of Tuesday, April 1st, SLO County Bicycle Coalition staff joined the Downtown Association, Chamber of Commerce, and various members of the public in asking the City Council to prepare language for a sales tax measure to be placed on the ballot in November. The current sales tax, Measure Y, is set to expire in March of 2015.

With a long list of bike-friendly infrastructure projects still incomplete and awaiting investment, the Bicycle Coalition is proud to support the City’s effort to maintain strong revenues in future years. Despite ongoing concerns in the community about how sales tax revenue has been spent historically, we continue to work to amplify the voice of families and young professionals that believe an improved network of bikeways is essential to community-wide well-being. The Bicycle Coalition always aims to make absolutely sure that the City Council continues to make building better bikeways the highest priority in the City Budget.

For more information about the Council’s divided stance, check out the tribune’s report online here: https://www.sanluisobispo.com/2014/04/01/3001483/divided-slo-city-council-takes.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1

To learn more about our Advocacy efforts check out our Advocacy Page.

 

National Bike Summit Recap

2014BikeSummitIt’s been a literal whirlwind of a week in Washington DC. Amid several inches of snowfall and high winds, the brightest minds and leaders of the national bicycle movement converged to advance efforts towards a more bicycle friendly America.

Day One – Women Bike

The week kicked off with the third annual Women’s Bicycling Forum. Everyone came together to address the gender gap in the bicycle world. With amazing speakers from government, advocacy, industry and culture, the forum had one goal – getting more women on bicycles.

There is great leadership from women in the bicycle world and amazing progress has/is being made towards the common goal of encouraging more female leadership in the bicycle world and even more women out riding! Follow the progress from Women Bike and the forum on their Twitter feed below.

Day Two – Presentations

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Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Image courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists.

It was an early start to a day full of presentations and speakers who are doing amazing things to promote bicycles across the country. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Texas Senator Rodney Ellis (TX), and Pittsburgh Mayor, Bill Peduto were all present to fire up the crowd in the early morning opener.

Anthony Foxx is in his first year as Transportation Secretary, and filling the shoes of former Secretary Ray LaHood is something he is proud to do. LaHood has long been an ally in the administration, being very vocal about his support for biking and walking, lucky for us, Anthony Foxx continues to carry that torch.

On the new $302 billion dollar transportation proposal released that same day:

“We made sure that this plan increases resources to step up bicycle and pedestrian programs and the resources we need for our public transit systems, which are so important to people who walk and ride bicycles… I’ve made investing in bicycles and pedestrians a priority in the president’s plan… We need to make sure Congress acts on this plan.”

We’re looking forward to working with Secretary Foxx in the future, and thank him for his continued support of biking and walking as key components of our country’s infrastructure. Read more from Foxx’s appearance at the Summit on the Bike League’s blog.

Douglas Meyer

Douglas Meyer. Image courtesy of Streetsblog.com

After Foxx, we heard from Douglas Meyer on a study conducted on the perspectives of mayors  on bicycles. Interviews with 40 mayors from across the country revealed that”Everyone is bought in and support is increasing” for biking and walking. This is true for cities of all sizes where mayor after mayor said that those who oppose bicycle infrastructure are now in the minority.

Quality of life was often cited as a main reason for support bicycle projects. Economic development is also closely related to quality of life issues, and bicycle infrastructure has shown to be an incredible opportunity to attract young talent and businesses to cities of all sizes. 

One of Meyer’s best lines from his talk is something we believe at the Bicycle Coalition as well:

“If you have a One Less Car t-shirt, burn it. Anything anti-car adds fuel to a fire you don’t want to stoke.”

You can view his presentation below, and read some fascinating takeaways from his presentation on the on the Bike League’s blog.

Day 3 – Advocacy Day on the Hill

Lois Capps and advocates from SLO and SB counties.

Lois Capps and advocates from SLO and SB counties.

It was a warmer day than last, making for much easier trekking on Capitol Hill for our annual advocacy day. We had a meeting set with local representative Lois Capps (D-CA, 24th District) who has long been a supporter of better biking and walking on the Central Coast.

The common “ask” all of the advocates were making on the Hill was simple:

  • Co-sponsor the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act (HR3494 and S1708)
  • Co-sponsor the Safe Streets Act (HR3978)
  • Co-sponsor the New Opportunities for Bicycle and Pedestrian Infrastructure Financing Act (HR2468 and S2004)

We have a great supporter in Lois Capps, who agreed to the first two and will be paying us a visit here in SLO County later this year, where we hope to highlight some of the new projects on the horizon. Read specifics about these bills and the collective ask from the Summit on the Bike League’s blog.

After meeting with Capps and a few other leaders from across the country to drop off information to their offices, we wrapped up another successful advocacy day with a reception on the Hill to celebrate our hard work! That’s all for 2014, cheers to a bright year ahead and to next year’s trip to Washington DC!

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View more from the National Bike Summit with the #NBS14 tag on Twitter and Facebook.


Building a Bicycle Advocacy Force

Your Bicycle Coalition has big plans for our expanded advocacy efforts in 2014 and needs your help to make it happen! We ask you to make a year-end donation to help the Bicycle Coalition build this stronger advocacy force. 

Advocacy makes it happen, if we don’t show up and ask, bicycle projects will not get built. Thanks to our dedicated advocates we completed major victories this year:

  • Achieved adoption of a new Bicycle Plan in San Luis Obispo including $64 million in projects.
  • Maintained that future Bob Jones trail segments be removed from roadway traffic.
  • Rallied community support for new bike lanes on Grand Avenue in Grover Beach.
  • Secured 4x funding for bicycle projects in San Luis Obispo.
  • Supported installation of new bike lanes on Rambouillet Road in Paso Robles.
  • And even more!

LeadingTheCharge

In 2014 we will inspire decision makers to lead the charge for better bikeways or otherwise be replaced. Our plan for next year is to focus on advocacy, directing our energy to move more projects from concept to completion. We will:

  • Cultivate an army of families advocating for young riders and safe routes to school.
  • Influence elections to achieve a bicycle friendly majority serving in elected bodies countywide.
  • Innovate our advocacy efforts through unique online tools and communications.

Make a donation of $25, $50 or $100 today; invest in the Bicycle Coalition and our ambitious vision for incredible bikeways in SLO CountyYour generous support will make you an integral part of this shared vision. We are committed to making you a proud supporter again in 2014.

Read more about our Advocacy Force plan for 2014.

Sign the People for Bikes Pledge

PeopleForBikesWhether you’re a bike commuter, a roadie, a mountain biker or just a casual rider, by uniting your voice with a million others, we can build a national movement to improve bicycling in our country. We can make a statement through our sheer numbers by raising public awareness and demonstrating our passion to our leaders in Congress and in cities and states throughout the country.

People for Bikes is hosting a national competition to see what state can recruit the most new supporters, help us propel California to victory! Their goal is to get one million people across the country to sign the pledge to support biking. Sign the pledge.

The goal of People for Bikes is to speak with one powerful voice of one million supporters—to let policy makers, the media and the public know that bicycling is important and should be promoted. As more of us join together, we can win more funding, better bikeways, and communities completely connected with safe bike routes comfortable for everyone.

Next-Gen Bike Lanes

The following was originally published in our Spring 2013 Spoken Wheel newsletter.

BIKE LANES 2.0
The next generation of bike facilities will blow your mind

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In all corners of America, we are seeing innovative solutions for bicycles on our roadways. The goal of many of these facilites is to create a safer more inviting space to get more people comfortable riding bicycles.

To share this incredible progress, we put together this quick guide for you. We hope it will inspire you to think big as we shape the future of bicycles in SLO County together!

GETTIN’ IT DONE IN SLO COUNTY

The road towards innovative spaces for bicycles in SLO County is long, but the Bicycle Coalition is in it for the longhaul. We are determined to make our communities beacons for bicycles in the golden state of California. Unfortunately, the drive and energy to pursue these successful strategies won’t come from our local leaders and government staff – it comes from you!

With your help, we can make these visions a reality. Join the Bicycle Coalition today to strengthen our voice for bicycles countywide. The more members we have, the faster we can move towards completing our bike paths and putting these innovative solutions to work in your neighborhood.

BikeBox

A bike box is a designated area at the head of a traffic lane at a signalized intersection that provides bicyclists with a safe and visible way to get ahead of queuing traffic during the red signal phase.

SEEN IN: Boston MA, Austin TX, Madison WI
COST: $
PROS: Greatly increases visibility of bicyclists.
Helps prevent ‘right-hook’ conflicts with turning vehicles at intersections.
Facilitates bicyclist left turn positioning during red signal.
Pedestrians benefit from reduced vehicle encroachment into the crosswalk.

BikeCorrals

On street bicycle parking spaces allow bicyclists to ride straight up to park their bicycles. One vehicle parking spot can accomodate over 10 bicycles. These corrals can be easily branded to promote neighboring businesses or areas.

SEEN IN: Long Beach CA, Missoula MT, Seattle WA
COST: $$
PROS: Decreases sidewalk conflicts between bicycles and pedestrians by preventing bicycle riding on the sidewalk and improper bicycle parking. Increases storefront visibility for businesses. One vehicle parking spot can accomodate over 10 bicycle customers.

Read more