Caltrans bicycle plan hopes to triple bicycling while emphasizing safety

Plan would double walking trips by 2020

Caltrans bicycle plan

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Caltrans has introduced a bicycle plan which hopes to triple bicycling and double walking trips by 2020.

It's a first-ever statewide bicycle and pedestrian plan that also emphasizes safety.

The plan, called, "Toward an Active California," lays out policies and actions to support active modes of transportation. This achieves the department’s ambitious goals to double walking and triple bicycling trips by 2020 while reducing bicycle and pedestrian fatalities by ten percent each year.

“Thanks to the input of our community partners, this new plan identifies steps we will take to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety throughout the state, as well as ways to make walking and bicycling an appealing option for many everyday trips,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “The timing is right, with the recent passage of the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, which funds an additional $1 billion for the Active Transportation Program over the next ten years, active transportation will continue to play a vital role in California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The plan is the product of a collaborative effort between Caltrans, local and regional agencies, state agency partners, pedestrian, and bicycle advocacy organizations, members of the public and other stakeholders.

This plan is designed to complement local and regional active transportation plans being developed across the state. It will guide the planning and development of non-motorized transportation facilities and maximize the use of future investments on the state highway system and other state facilities.

The plan will also lead to improved connections for the state’s bicycle and pedestrian facilities between local and regional roads, public transit and intercity and passenger rail.

28-year-old Kenneth Dahmen runs the non-profit Bici Centro in Santa Maria.

"We're a do it yourself bicycle shop, we kind of educate the community on how to use a bicycle as their main form of transportation," bicycle rider Kenneth Dahmen said.  

And also that's what Caltrans is looking to do with their multi-billion dollar "Toward an Active California" plan..
which aims to improve bicycle safety, mobility, bike access and bring safe biking to all walks of life.

"What we do is promote a little bit more safety so wearing a high visibility vest can keep you safe," Dahmen said. 

Dahmen is encouraged by the state's plan because he's been using his bike as his primary source of transportation for the past 11 years.

Dahmen says he does have a car, in fact he has two of them - he says sometimes depending on the distance you're traveling and if you're in a time crunch, you need a car but he tries not to use them.

"Both cars are under 80,000 miles so just never get in them too often," Dahmen said. 

Dahmen zips around town just about everywhere.

"So I'll go to work and run errands, if I need to go to the bank, or pick up supplies for work at Costco I'll go there and then go home at the end of the day," Dahmen said. 

And you've probably seen him around.

"Yea, yea I get waved to a lot," Dahmen said. 

Caltrans hopes to triple bicycle riding and double walking trips by 2020 by adding bike lanes, improving signage and adding bike trails - while addressing roadway design for vulnerable users.   

"Especially if you have separated lanes for them, then you can have cars travel in their lane and bicycles travel in theirs," Dahmen said. 

"Toward an Active California" seeks to fulfill the six goals outlined in the California Transportation Plan 2040 and introduces 15 strategies and 60 actions that are specific to active transportation.

At the core of the plan are four objectives: safety, mobility, preservation and social equity.

"It's just going to create less congestion especially as cities continue to grow," Dahmen said. 

Dahmen notes the plan will reduce vehicle emissions.

"I can not go to the gym because I'm getting 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there of cardio a day," Dahmen said. 

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