16 Billion Reasons To Read This Article by Leah Shahum

California Senate President Pro Tempore John Burton has announced plans for a $16 billion series of transportation bonds. What will that money Ñ your money Ñ be used for? New highways running through your town? Paving farmland? Streets designed to carry only cars at the expense of bicyclists? The consequences of such policies are everywhere: explosive sprawl, communities where pedestrians cross streets at their own peril, subdivisions straddling strawberry fields, and neighborhoods where children cannot cycle or walk safely.

There is a better way. We could use a fair share of the money to make our communities places in which people can more comfortably bicycle or walk to school, to work, for errands, or just for fun.

Which vision will prevail? The California Bicycle Coalition (CBC) Ñ California's leading statewide bicycle advocacy organization Ñ is fighting for a better future for bicycling. Since 1994 CBC has provided quality representation for cyclists at the state capitol, organized the California Bike Commute each May, and trained and supported local bike advocates. So far CBC's efforts have resulted in a thirteen-fold increase in the allocation to the Caltrans Account, the only Caltrans account dedicated solely to bicycle projects. Already $79,632 of these funds have been allocated to an exciting bike station project in San Francisco. And CBC played a critical role in passing two bills that are helping to make the dream of a bike facility on the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge a reality.

CBC is also co-sponsoring the Safe Routes to School Bill, which would reallocate Caltrans money normally used for highway goodies such as medians, guardrails, and rumble strips; instead, Caltrans will be required to allocate about $15 million annually for projects which improve school-area which improve school-area safety. "Safe Routes" will get kids of all ages back on their feet and onto their bikes. Youth obesity rates are at an all-time high, and an estimated 300,000 Americans die prematurely each year from causes related to their inactive lifestyles. For more info. on the bill, see www.baypeds/saferoutes.org.