Better Bikeways

Put down your name to support protected bikeways in California.

Bicycling is growing as more people discover the joys and convenience of bicycling. At the same time, too many people are still hurt or killed while bicycling. The average Californian will not join those of us who already bicycle unless we overhaul our streets with safe streets and bikeways that connect our destinations and protect us from speeding car traffic.

CalBike’s Better Bikeways campaign has two goals to solve this: (1) more funding for (2) safer bikeways.

We’re working with the California State Transportation Agency to increase funding for bikeway networks and to increase incentives for local agencies to build bicycle networks. And we are working Caltrans to update their standards so that local agencies can build protected bikeways and other proven safe designs that are currently not in the agency’s outdated bikeway design manuals. 

1. More funding. 

CalBike, with our allies, won a 35% increase in dedicated bike/ped funding when the California State Transportation Agency created the $129 million/year Active Transportation Program. That’s still just a token investment, though, when our estimates indicate that $8 billion is what we need to achieve our goal of tripling bike use in California. To reach $8 billion, still less than 2% of our transportation budget if spread out over 15 years, local governments will have to look beyond the active transportation set-asides and allocate flexible funds to bicycle safety improvements. With your help we are campaigning to increase those set-asides and strengthen the incentive to match those funds with money from other sources. We are also working to train and encourage local agencies to generate local funds for bicycle safety. 

Click here to see the draft funding guidelines for California’s Active Transportation Program.

2. Approve for use in California safer and more protected bikeway designs so that everyone, from the 8-year old child to the 80-year old grandmother, can enjoy bicycling on facilities largely protected from car traffic. 

The problem

We know that protected bikeways, green bike lanes, and other innovative bikeway designs are necessary to make our streets safe enough to attract significant numbers of Californians to bicycling. Such designs are key to community health and safety and also to economic development. Bicycle-friendly business districts are thriving business districts.

Despite this knowledge and the high priority Californians place on increasing bicycling, Caltrans’ design standards provide next to no guidance on protected bikeways and prohibit them outright in most cases. This shortcoming is made worse by the fact that Caltrans design standards for bikeways apply not just to Caltrans roads but to all roads. When it comes to bikeways, local engineers and planners are stuck with a very old toolbox. Local residents are stuck without the facilities they need to consider bicycling for most trips.

sf cycle track

Believe it or not, this bikeway is not allowed according to Caltrans standards.


1. Amend the Streets & Highways Code to free local agencies from the requirement to use Caltrans’ standards for bikeways.

2. Get Caltrans to promote the use of other guides such as the National Association of City Transportation Officials’ Urban Bikeway Design Guide. We won.

3. Get Caltrans to improve and update their standards, in order to apply them to Caltrans-owned roads and to set an example. Start by defining cycle tracks in the Streets & Highways Code and compel Caltrans to develop standards for such facilities. Sign our petition to show your support.

CalBike’s strategy

With the  help of Assemblymember Phil Ting who is passionate about bicycle safety, we are pursuing the necessary amendments to the Traffic Code through AB 1193.

To promote the NACTO guide and other design standards directly and with Caltrans’ leadership requires communicating the urgent demand by local agencies for more tools to address the safety requirements of their residents who want to ride bicycles. It requires your financial support and your contacts and time. We will mail information packets  to the mayors of the 50 largest cities in California and to bicycle coordinators and key Supervisors and City Councillors throughout California. We’ll follow up with phone calls and be available for consultation. We’ll address every concern a local leader may have so that your community will soon see protected bikeways, green lanes, and other modern bikeway infrastructure! CalBike is also asking key stakeholders to contact the Governor, Malcolm Dougherty the Chief of Caltrans, and Brian Kelly California’s Secretary of Transportation with their request for more guidance and flexibility in implementing safer streets.

Sign our protected bikeways petitionfollow this campaign via email.