Legislation & Policy

Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCS)

Over the next few years, the Bay Area will develop its first Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) with the goal of aligning transportation investment, land use, and housing policies to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.  BABC is working with partners including Transform to ensure that these new policies encourage investment in biking, walking and transit.  Click here for more information on the Sustainable Communities Strategies

BABC's Sustainable Communities Strategies Platform

Transportation investments

Transportation Demand Models must include bicycling and walking forecasts.
Transportation Demand Models play an important role in determining funding priorities for transportation funding.  Models that do not include biking and walking forecasts inevitably focus efforts on improving auto travel.  California should adopt new transportation demand modeling programs and standards which can measure the effect of transportation planning decisions on biking and walking to ensure that all modes are represented in the data that transportation funding decisions are based on.

Improved Bike and Pedestrian Data Collection
Comprehensive annual bike and pedestrian counts using the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project are needed to provide accurate data for Transportation Demand Models to use in predicting changes in bicycle and pedestrian modeshare.

The American Communities Survey is currently the primary source for bicycling and walking modeshare data.  The survey underreports biking and walking as many of those trips are part of a multimodal trip where they provide connection to transit and are thus classified as such on the results.  This is why annual bike and pedestrian counts and the installation of automated counters are necessary to provide accurate data.

The result of insufficient and inaccurate bicycle and pedestrian modeshare data is that evaluation of GHG reductions from various transportation investments is currently skewed against biking and walking as current data sources underestimate the volume of bike and pedestrian commute trips.

GHG emissions should be primary target for reduction rather than Vehicle Hours of Delay (VHD)
Currently VHD have such a high value that investments such as the Freeway Performance Initiative, which actually increases Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT), are given priority for their cost-effectiveness.  In the long term, the additional VMT created will cause additional VHD, reducing the long term effectiveness of such investments.

Programs to reduce GHG emissions should be required to not increase VMT.
Programs that reduce GHG emissions primarily through reductions in congestion end up increasing VMT by encouraging more vehicle use.  Though these programs reduce GHG emissions in the short term by creating additional roadway capacity through decreased congestion, in the long term they will encourage more vehicle use, which will increase congestion and increase GHG emissions.

Our focus for GHG reductions should be on encouraging more transit, biking and walking trips rather than reducing congestion, which will only encourage more vehicle use and create increased emissions in the long run.

Establish minimum bicycle parking requirements for new developments
To encourage bicycling, new and majorly renovated developments should be required to include bike parking facilities that meet or exceed the expected bicycle modeshare for their area.

Signalization must work for all road users
Bicycle detection should be included into the construction of all new intersections and should be added to existing intersections.

Signals that do not detect bicycles discourage commute cycling by increasing travel times and encourage cyclists to disregard signals.

Encourage the use of alternative measures to LOS in CEQA reviews
New changes to CEQA allow for alternative measures other than LOS to be used for reviews.  LOS discourages dense urban development which should be encouraged, as it encourages higher transit, biking and walking modeshares.

Alternatives such as MultiModal LOS and Auto Trips Generated should be encouraged as they capture the effects of development on biking, walking and transit much more effectively.

As these changes to CEQA are new and allow flexibility in the choice of which metric to use in reviews, it is critical to support the use of alternatives to LOS as many counties and cities currently choose LOS because they are more familiar with it and want to ensure that they are not subject to legal challenges for choosing newer metrics.

Require a minimum of 4% of Transportation funds to be spent on non-motorized infrastructure.
The American Community Survey estimates that 1% of Californians commute by bike.  We should set a goal of 4% bicycle mode share by 2020 and fund non-motorized infrastructure accordingly.

Establishing an effective non-motorized transportation network is the most effective means of reducing GHG emissions over the long term.

50% of all trips in California are less than 5 miles in length, which is a perfect distance for biking or walking.

Bicycle and pedestrian access shall be established in new construction and reconstruction projects in all urbanized areas
Caltrans  Complete Streets policy or Deputy Directive 64 revision 1 currently “provides for the needs of all travelers of all ages and abilities in all planning, programming, design, construction, operation and maintenance activieies and products on the state highway system.” But we need a stronger policy to support non-motorized transportation.

Florida has already approved a policy that requires new construction and reconstruction projects to include bicycle and pedestrian access.  Their policy is available for review at: http://law.onecle.com/florida/public-transportation/335.065.html

Safe Routes to Transit
Bicycles are an important link in multimodal trips.  They provide quick and flexible connections to transit which in turn increase transit modeshare and reduce auto trips.  As such, the state should provide Safe Routes to Transit funding to support bike connections to transit.

Transit Agencies should include questions in their surveys to their riders on how they connect to their transit trips (bike, walk, drive, other transit, etc.) to evaluate whether they are adequately supporting biking and walking connections to their routes with parking, ramps and other access improvements.

New Sources of Funding

Carbon Cap and Trade Income from AB32
AB32 allows investment of income from the cap and trade program to be used for SCS planning that is in accordance with Strategic Growth Council guidelines.  The latest Economics and Allocations Advisory Committee (EAAC) recommendations are available at: http://www.climatechange.ca.gov/eaac/

2035 Regional Transportation Plan

Transportation planning agencies around the nine-county Bay Area planned ways to improve and change the way we will get around in the next 25 years.  New tunnels, larger train networks, more ferries, road rehab, highway projects, new bike facilities and pedestrian accommodations are all on the table for consideration during the revision of MTC’s Regional Transportation Plan.

This process and document, known as the “RTP” or “T2035 Plan,” articulates a 25 year vision for getting around in the Bay Area. The RTP decides $100 BILLION+ in regional transportation investments and is one of the major opportunities the public has to shape how the Bay Area will grow and travel.  This blueprint is revised every four years.

Download a copy of the T2035 plan from the MTC website.

BABC worked together with local bicycle coalitions and TransForm to advocate for increased funding for sustainable transportation.  Working together, our coalition managed to secure several important wins:

A Billion for Bikes
The greatest success for bikes was a huge increase in regional bicycle funding, with the regional commitment increasing 5-fold from $200 Million to $1 Billion dollars over the next 25 years.  This money will fund the Regional Bikeway Network, a 2100 Mile network of bike facilities connecting all the counties in the Bay Area and providing better bicycle access to transit stations.

A Commitment to Climate
The RTP includes a promise of $400 Million dollars to a 5 year Climate Initiative aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by encouraging sustainable transportation.  Included in this program is funding for Safe Routes to School and Safe Routes to Transit.

Building Livable Communities
Over $2 Billion dollars in funding over the next 25 years is promised to the Transportation for Livable Communities (TLC) program which encourages Transit Oriented Development by improving bicycle and pedestrian access to transit stations.  This is double the funding TLC received in the 2030 RTP.

The fight for regional funding for bikes is far from over.  While the RTP is intended to guide funding decisions for the region, MTC still has the flexibility to choose how funds are distributed among the programs defined in the RTP.  BABC will continue to work with our allies in monitoring funding proposals from MTC to ensure that these commitments in the RTP are fulfilled.  Follow the Funding section of BABC's website for updates on our advocacy on bike funding for the Bay Area.

These wins wouldn't have been possible without your letters, public comments and financial support.  We would like to thank everyone who supported our efforts to secure more funding for bikes in the RTP.  Please support BABC so that we can continue to build a better future for bicycling in the Bay Area.

Regional Transportation Agencies

BABC works with Bay Area-wide transportation planning agencies—primarily the Metropolitan Transporttation Commission and Caltrans District 4—to make sure important regional policies and funding distributions represent the interests and safety of bicyclists.


Given our cross-county travel habits and the growth of our region, there is obviously a need for a coordinated approach to planning and managing our nine-county transportation infrastructure.  That is the specific role of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC). 


Technically, MTC is the Bay Area’s metropolitan planning organization or MPO.  An MPO is a federally-mandated body that is responsible for transportation planning and approval of federal transportation funding for the region.  Usually each county has its own MPO.  But because of the nature of travel in the Bay Area, we have one MPO for nine counties.


MTC coordinates significant regional planning and budgeting efforts like:

• the $100 billion+/25 year Regional Transportation Plan (RTP)

• new BART or rail extensions
• the Regional Bicycle Plan and Regional Bicycle Network

• distribution of a percentage of Bay Area bridge toll money

• the allocation of a large amount of federal transportation dollars.


BABC staff are regular visitors to MTC’s downtown Oakland headquarters.  Various MTC committees meet on a regular monthly or bi-monthly schedule, and if a relevant item is on the agenda, a BABC representative will attend. MTC also runs a Regional Bicycle Working Group as a forum for city or county professional bicycle planners to work with representatives from regional transit as well as the advocate community. 


Caltrans—California’s Highway Transporation agency—divides its focus up into districts.  District 4 covers the whole Bay Area (the same nine counties that MTC governs). District 4 has a Bicycle Advisory Committee, which meets quarterly at Caltrans’ downtown Oakland headquarters. BABC co-chairs this meeting.  (One of our goals is for this public meeting to have an internet presence.  Until then, refer to the BABC website for meeting schedule and agendas.)


Other important regionally-minded transportation planning agencies BABC works with are the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the Bay Conservation Development Commission (BCDC), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and the San Francisco Bay Trail. 


Beyond those, BABC watches the agendas and sometimes attends meetings of the Joint Policy Committee (JPC), which is a collaborative effort of MTC, ABAG, BCDC, and BAAQMD that is pursuing the implementation of the Bay Area’s Smart Growth Vision.  The JPC has also taken the lead for the Bay Area agencies on climate protection.


All of these “acronyms” make decisions that greatly impact the quality of life in the Bay Area. BABC is there in the mix, reminding staff and decision makers of the need for better bicycling facilities, education, and planning policy.



Another of the very effective means for making change in the way our transportation system works is through legislation.


Bills are crafted to define policy, designate minimum standards, to amend deficient laws, and to create funding sources.  (To get more familiar with the process of turning ideas into law, read this Overview of Legislative Process)


BABC primarily works through the State of California’s California Bicycle Coaltion (CBC) to articulate a legislative agenda.  CBC contracts with a lobbyist, sponsors legislation, and has a legislative committee (which BABC is a member of) which deliberates positions of support and sometimes opposition for other bicycling-related legislation.

California Legislation Affecting Bicycling

AB 32 - Air pollution: greenhouse gases: California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006
Sets Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Targets for California

SB 375
- Transportation planning: travel demand models: sustainable communities strategy: environmental review

Ties AB 32 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions to Transportation Planning

AB 1358 - Planning: circulation element: transportation
Requires Cities and Counties to include a Complete Streets Policy in their General Plans
SB 391 - California Transportation Plan
Sets the scope of the state transportation plan, including Smart Mobility and Transportation Demand Modelling standards
SB 1061 - San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge: capital projects
Seeks to allow toll funds to be spent on the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge West Span Bicycle Pedestrian Maintenance Pathway
AB 1951 - Vehicles: misdemeanor: collision: pedestrian and bicyclist
Vulnerable Road Users Law seeks to increase penalties for distracted drivers involved in a crash with a bicyclist, pedestrian or other vulnerable road user.
SB 1475 - Vehicles: electronic wireless communications devices: prohibitions
Seeks to increase penalties for cell phone use while driving and extends penalties to bicyclists.
SB 518 - Vehicles: parking services and fees
Seeks to restrict state funds from subsidizing auto parking.

2030 Regional Transportation Plan

Ever wonder what will the Bay Area be like in 25 years?  The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is not only wondering about our future—they are planning and budgeting it!

In the T2030 Regional Transportation Plan, BABC successfully lobbied MTC (the

regional transportation planning agency for the 9 counties of the Bay Area) to create a new account solely for the purpose of funding bike and pedestrian projects.  And we succeeded:  $200 million over 25 years was designated to flow through the “Regional Bicycle and Pedestrian Program.”  This money, $8 million a year, is meant to build out the Regional Bicycle Network and improve walking facilities around regional transit and business hubs.

That was a big improvement over the 2001 RTP, where no money at all was designated specifically for bikes and pedestrians.  Yet the $8 million per year advance we made in 2004 is not guaranteed to be included in the T2035 Plan.  And even if it was, $8 million a year is not enough to build many projects for the entire Bay Area.

In fact, the projected “shortfall” (the amount we don’t have) to complete the Regional Bicycle Network is estimated to be around $965 million (2004 dollars).  At $8 million a year, it will take us literally 120 million years to get a region with a coherent bicycle infrastructure! 

So yes, $965 million is a lot of money.  But compare it to a single proposed highway project in Marin:  the current cost estimate to add one automobile lane in each direction to the 16-mile Sonoma-Marin Narrows is estimated at more than $800 million.

Download the T2030 Plan from the MTC website.

Visit the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan to see the wins BABC made for bicycling in 2009.
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