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Caltrans: Don’t Forget, California’s Highways Were First Built for Bicycles

"Did you know the movement to create a state highway system came not from automobile drivers or manufacturers, but bicyclists?"

As part of Caltrans' 125th Anniversary, the agency is creating a video series about the history of the state's agency. The first video highlights Caltrans' current shift away from auto-centric planning to multimodal planning by acknowledging that the push for safe bicycling in California actually predates the state's transportation agency.

In the video Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty defends the agency's history as "trying to move people and moving goods" before getting into how exciting the new plan for multimodal planning is.

"We need to be looking at transportation a little bit differently than we did in the past. It needs to be a multimodal, integrated transportation system so that people can move around the state as efficiently as possible," says Dougherty, ending his interview.

So far, the score on the shift towards multimodalism is mixed. On one hand, Caltans' planning divisions are working to dramatically increase funding for sustainable transportation options. On the other hand, there are still some really dumb project ideas being studied...some of which have extremely awful environmental documentation.

But as we continue to monitor Caltrans' efforts to become a multimodal agency, at least they gave us a comeback to our obnoxious uncle who claims that "streets were built for cars" at Thanksgiving. Actually, they weren't...they were built for bicycles first.

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