As you may have heard, on October 12th, Governor Newsom issued a veto of the Complete Streets for Active Living Bill, SB 127.
To say this was a disappointment is an understatement. Thousands of emails, hundreds of phone calls, overwhelming support from the State Legislature, and the support of more than 80 organizations—all this was insufficient to warrant the Governor’s approval.
More than disappointment, the response was confusing. Governor Newsom has recently doubled down on the need to address the climate crisis, and issued an Executive Order that acknowledges that 40% of our carbon emissions in California come from the transportation sector, and that to meet our state climate goals we must change our transportation funding priorities. Specifically, he declares that the state should fund transportation options that reduce emissions and improve access to biking, walking, and transit. He must know that signing the Complete Streets for Active Living Bill not only would have been in direct alignment with this sentiment, but more importantly that it was the right thing to do.
We certainly know that. We also know that every day of inaction is a day that people risk losing their lives and their loved ones to traffic violence. The Complete Streets bill would have made it clear to Caltrans, and would have bound them by law, to take people biking and walking into consideration when repairing or re-paving our streets. It would have made it possible for people to move safely through their communities, no matter how they choose to travel.
While the bill was not signed into law, we are not declaring defeat. In his veto message, Governor Newsom stated that he trusts that Caltrans, which is under new leadership starting this week, will deliver alternatives to driving. We’ll believe it when we see it. Now it’s incumbent on us to be a vigilant watchdog, and to push Caltrans to implement Complete Streets on its many surface streets—something that it has been unwilling to do in the past.
To be clear, it was a very tough fight to pass the Complete Streets Bill, and reaching the Governor’s desk with a strong proposal was a feat of its own. We couldn’t have done it without the amazing coalition of support over the past three years. Thank you for join us to send emails and make phone calls, for attending in-district meetings, for sharing your stories and making a personal investment in this work and for donating to support the campaign. These collective efforts pushed this bill all the way through the legislature, and let lawmakers know how much Californians care about building safe streets.
Last week, we held our biennial California Bicycle Summit in Los Angeles. More than 300 participants convened for three days of plenaries, panel discussions, workshops, bike rides, and social events. Coming on the heels of this veto, it was incredibly healing and inspiring to come together with a group of committed advocates, planners, and elected officials—people who understand the need for Complete Streets. The summit was full of energy and ideas for how to transform our streets, and left us all with hope that together, despite this recent defeat, we can change California for the better, making our streets safe, our transportation system sustainable, and our communities healthy.
We cannot back down from demanding more for our communities, we will continue to fight for safer streets for all. We know you’ll stand with us as CalBike and the statewide coalition of partners hold the Governor’s feet to the fire to ensure that this administration takes investments in biking and walking seriously.
Senior Policy Advocate, California Bicycle Coalition
Board Chair, California Bicycle Coalition