“Extraordinary Session” Update: New Fees and Taxes Should Include Bikeways

The Legislature has been out on summer recess for the past three weeks, but your California Bicycle Coalition has still been active in the Capitol, meeting with staff and developing a proposal to fund California’s bikeways as part of a major new transportation funding package. Before the legislative break, Governor Brown called an “extraordinary session” of the Legislature to resolve the multi-billion dollar gap in needed revenue to repair our highways, local roads, and bridges. We’re excited about the possibilities this new funding package could open up—more funding for bikeway networks in communities around California. It’s big money we’re talking about—possibly as much as $6 billion for the whole pie. Even a slice of that could connect whole communities with interconnected webs of bike paths, quiet neighborhood streets, and protected bike lanes.

Senator Beall from San Jose has been out in front on addressing the funding gap, with a serious proposal to raise the gas tax, increase vehicle license and registration fees, eliminate an out-of-date annual gas tax adjustment, and require efficiency improvements at Caltrans that could raise more than $4 billion in new revenue for transportation infrastructure. CalBike’s proposal would require that maintenance projects funded with the new revenue, particularly improvements on high-speed or high-traffic roads, include the addition of protected bikeways and walkways. In addition, we’ve proposed a percentage of the State Transportation Improvement Program fund community-wide bike and walk network grants, to the tune of $25 to $50 million per grant that would be prioritized to the highest-need communities in the state.

Working with our allies in Sacramento, we’ve pitched these and several other concepts to ensure that any new transportation revenue prioritizes public health, investment in under-served communities, reduction of greenhouse gases, and environmental protection. We have received  positive response from several of the leading members in the special session, and continue to push for more champions.  The real negotiations will begin in earnest next week when the Legislature reconvenes in Sacramento for a very busy final month of session.

Stay tuned, as we’ll be asking you to lend your voice to ensure that members of the special session hear from people who care about bicycling!