While California has made significant policy gains in advancing active transportation (such as Caltrans Complete Streets Deputy Directive (DD-64); AB 1358-Complete Streets Act; SB375-Sustainable Communities Strategies; AB321-Reduced Speed School Zones), implementation of these policies will be the true test of California’s commitment to healthy and sustainable forms of transportation. Recognizing the importance of Caltrans staff in the implementation of these policies, California WALKS co-authored a Healthy Transportation Network report–in conjunction with the Rails to Trails Conservancy and California Active Communities (a project of the California Department of Public Health)–that examined existing Caltrans bicycle- and pedestrian-related technical training strategies, programs, and opportunities provided to its staff. From over two dozen personal interviews with Caltrans management, a review of current Caltrans training opportunities, and an online survey to more than 1,000 Caltrans staff, we found that a majority of respondents (51.4%) expressed that Caltrans was not effective at advertising bicycle/pedestrian training across districts or divisions–in other words, while one division may receive a much needed designing pedestrian facilities training, staff from another division may not even be aware of the opportunity.
Among the recommendations of the Healthy Transportation Network study was that bicycle and pedestrian considerations need to be integrated much earlier in the Caltrans planning process. Our report also found that the more difficult task will be for Caltrans to foster and cultivate an organizational culture that treats bicycle and pedestrian transportation on par with other modes as it evolves into a more multi-modal transportation agency. “Caltrans has an enormous opportunity to deliver on its Complete Streets promise. Having already invested in and developed a Complete Streets Implementation Action Plan–Caltrans needs to now provide training for its staff to bring this vision–decades in the making–into reality,” says California WALKS Executive Director Wendy Alfsen. “We’ve made it this far, and now more than ever before, we can’t let the chance to advance a truly multi-modal transportation system slip through our hands.”