On Monday, Caltrans announced the adoption of an action plan to improve walking, bicycling and transit options throughout the state.
The 2020 State Highway Operation and Protection Program was approved in May; currently, the program includes $100 million in additional funding for Complete Streets, a Caltrans program that plans and maintains facilities providing safe mobility for pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles. The Caltrans press release also identified public engagement as a critical element of its plan.
The action plan, developed in consultation with the California Walk and Bike Technical Advisory Committee discussed the need to identify bicycle and pedestrian-focused needs in communities, such as adding more bike lanes and walking paths to reduce the number of deaths on state roads.
Other high-priority actions for Caltrans to begin to take within the next year are to create bike and pedestrian advisory committees for districts without them, develop data collection tools and specifically focus on engagement with disadvantaged communities.
Caltrans is communicating with local stakeholders to identify improvements to 22 ongoing projects, while more projects are to be determined through community outreach, according to the press release.
“Caltrans is developing tools, training, and guidance for each district to lead its own public engagement activities,” reads the statement, encouraging the public to give input on improving local bike lanes and walking paths.
According to Walk Bike Berkeley coordinating committee member Ben Gerhardstein, Walk Bike Berkeley supports Caltrans efforts to prioritize safe and convenient transit options statewide.
“The City of Berkeley has identified both state highways here in Berkeley (Ashby and San Pablo) as high injury streets,” Gerhardstein said in an email. “We need action at the state, regional, and city levels to achieve the City’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating severe and fatal collisions by 2028.”
Others, however, say the action plan is not specific enough.
According to Streetsblog California editor Melanie Curry, for the past year, the California Bicycle Coalition and other groups have been strongly pushing for more programs surrounding walking, biking and transit safety.
Curry said she wanted to see very clear guidelines in the action plan, and she still has unanswered questions on how Caltrans will decide on the projects that the $100 million will be allocated to.
“They absolutely need to get residents involved and find out what people want,” Curry said. “What they’re saying in this plan is that they’re going to do a better job, but they’re not saying specifically how they’re going to do a better job.”
Curry added that Caltrans District 4, which encompasses the Bay Area, Oakland and Berkeley, is ahead of other districts in terms of biking and pedestrian planning, and that its active transportation plan is used as a model.