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Caltrans announces focus shift that includes cyclists

Most of the major cities and roads planned in California have a focus on motor vehicle accessibility, safety and parking. It is common for cyclists to have to contend with a lack of cycling lanes, inadequate bicycle parking options and inattentive drivers when they travel on California roads. Most areas simply weren’t set up with bicycles in mind, and even road repairs often focus on car safety, not bike safety.

Unfortunately, that means that planners, project managers and lawmakers are stuck with the task of trying to retrofit existing roadways in order to make them safe for cyclists and pedestrians who have to share the road with larger enclosed vehicles. Given that cycling is increasingly popular, there is plenty of pressure to make the roads safer for those who use self-propelled transportation options.

After years of activism prompting moves at the state and local levels, the push to integrate biking into the state transportation agenda seems to have gained traction. Caltrans recently announced an update to its Mode Share Action Plan. These updates indicate how seriously policymakers and others have begun to take the concerns and needs of cyclists across California.

A shift in state-funded transportation policy

Caltrans is a major guiding factor in transportation projects and infrastructure development. They currently have a special funding reserve of approximately $100 million that can influence growth research and the adoption of new transportation policies.

Some of those funds may become available to local communities to help them research or implement ways to make the roads safer for cyclists and pedestrians that must share the street with enclosed vehicles. The end result may be increased driver awareness, more bicycle lanes and other improvements for California cyclists.

Progress is important but still slow-moving

While it is positive to see Caltrans and other influential state authorities taking the needs of cyclists seriously, these changes occur at a rate that will not prevent injury and death to cyclists in the meantime.

Those who get hurt while biking because of negligent drivers and those who lose their loved ones may have to consider asserting their legal rights after a tragic and preventable cycling accident, at least until policy changes enough to reduce these unfortunate collisions.