The California bike lobby

Sue Lempert, former mayor of San Mateo, California, explains how cycling advocates got to have a voice in California politics.

They may not have an expensive office on K street in Sacramento and they are not known for their generous campaign contributions, but the bicycle lobby is one of the best organized and most effective locally, regionally and in the state. CalTrans now has a full-time bicycle expert in many of its regional offices; the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has one to handle bicycle issues in the nine Bay Area counties and most cities in San Mateo County have a bicycle pedestrian advisory committee in addition to the county=92s bike

Peninsula cyclists won a major victory when they convinced Caltrain that more space was needed on trains for bicycles and bumping cyclists was no longer tolerable. The cyclists wrote letters, many of them printed in the Daily Journal, sent voluminous e-mails to Caltrain elected officials and staff and turned up at meetings of the Joint Powers Board (the three-county board which runs Caltrain) to make
their case. They took time off from work to present a well-researched and well-presented argument for allowing more bikes on trains. Bike riders make up 2,400 of Caltrain customers each day out of a total ridership estimated at 41,000. They are extremely loyal customers and Caltrain was smart to meet them half way.

There’s much more in the San Mateo Journal. Murph takes exception to the description of Mark Simon as the driving force behind Caltrain’s biking initiatives. Simon indeed got the ball rolling, but that’s because he was directed to by the Caltrain Board.

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