California Cities Rolling Toward a More Sustainable Future

Across California, mayors are showing how cities can lead the charge on sustainable transportation by building safe bicycle infrastructure.
San José Mayor Sam Liccardo rides in a protected bike lane on San Fernando Street.
San José Mayor Sam Liccardo rides in a protected bike lane on San Fernando Street.
Credit: Amanda Eaken

With Bike Month in full swing, now’s a good time to check in on how California cities are doing at making streets safe and comfortable for residents to get around without cars.

In 2018, the City of San José installed five miles of protected bike lanes, three miles of bike boulevards, and two miles of buffered bikes lanes as part of Better BikewaySJ. This year, under the leadership of Mayor Sam Liccardo, 13 more miles of bike infrastructure will be coming, including completion of downtown's Better BikewaySJ project and other efforts throughout the city. Nearby in San Francisco Mayor London Breed has committed to building 20 miles of protected by bikes by 2020, and down the coast in San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is leading the charge to install nine miles of protected bike and scooter lanes through the city’s Downtown Mobility Plan.

A burgeoning trend

This push for safer infrastructure comes as Americans took 84 million trips on shared bikes and scooters in 2018double the number from 2017. As more and more people are trying scooter and bike share services on a daily basis, safer streets with protected lanes are crucial for ensuring broad enjoyment by people of all ages and abilities. Research shows that just a small percentage of people feel comfortable riding in mixed traffic or along painted bike lanes.

The protected bike lanes rolling out in San José, San Diego, and dozens of other cities are proven to increase safety and ridership, adding up to reduced carbon emissions and a more sustainable future. Transportation accounts for the largest single source of carbon emissions in the United States, and for cities in particular transportation reform is one of the best ways to increase sustainability.

People ride along new bike infrastructure on St. John Street in San José
Credit: Amanda Eaken

Climate solutions can be a lot of fun


As the dangers of climate change become increasingly clear, city officials are showing leadership in redesigning streets and prioritizing people by making bicycling an attractive and safe way to commute, explore neighborhoods, and enjoy the outdoors. The end result will be more livable and resilient cities overalland happier, healthier people, too.

Better BikewaySJ is a model for ways that local governments can take tangible steps to encourage safe and sustainable transportation options. Over the past few days, cities and transportation experts from across the country met in San José for the Cities for Cycling Roundtable, where they shared best practices for building bike networks and encouraging community-level support for cycling. The event, organized by the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), drew participants from the American Cities Climate Challenge and coincided with Viva CalleSJ, the city’s open streets event, which brought out tens of thousands of residents to enjoy miles of temporarily car-free streets to bike, skate, enjoy music, and explore San José.

Get rolling

Cities from Honolulu to Boston have committed to improving their bicycle networks. Do you want to see your own city join the fight for safer cycling? Just jump on your bike, find your local advocacy organization, and make your voice heard!

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