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State Government Leading the Way on Employer-Provided Bike-Share

California lawmakers earlier this summer rode in support of S.B. 702. From left: Assemblymembers Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara), Todd Gloria (D-San Diego), and Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), California Bicycle Coalition Policy Director Jeanie Ward Waller, Senators Henry Stern, Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), and Ben Allen (D-Redondo Beach). Photo by Lorie Shelley

To bring attention to his bill to make free bike-share available to state employees throughout the California, Senator Henry Stern (D-Agoura Hills) hosted a short bike ride in Sacramento yesterday. Despite the heat—at 4 p.m. the temperature was reaching 105 degrees—a hardy and enthusiastic group of state assemblymembers and senators emerged from the air conditioned Capitol building ready to ride.

The bill, S.B. 702, would require the state's Department of General Services (DGS) to expand a program currently available in Sacramento. There, DGS maintains a small fleet of bicycles in one of the downtown garages for use by state employees in the many nearby state agencies during the workday. They can use them to get to meetings or do errands or get lunch or just get out of the office for a spin. The bill would require DGS to bring the program to any sites it deems feasible and reasonable, which could be anywhere throughout the state.

Senator Stern congratulated the attendees for their dedication to “a bikeable California” and for being willing to come out in the heat. “The DGS program has been incredibly successful,” he said, “and we're just looking to build on that success for all of those in our district offices and other places around the state—and who knows, maybe even in the state Capitol. There is a little bit of self-interest in this legislation.”

Earlier, Stern had pointed out that the state—until recently, anyway—provided cars for senators and representatives, and still pays for vehicle expenses. But when he asked about getting a bike, the answer was no.

Assemblymember Laura Friedman listens to Senator Henry Stern. Photo by Lorie Shelley
Assemblymember Laura Friedman listens to Senator Henry Stern. Photo by Lorie Shelley
Assemblymember Laura Friedman listens to Senator Henry Stern. Photo by Lorie Shelley

“We all want to ride to work, too, and all Californians should [be able to], for their health, for the environment, and for a more livable community,” he said. “By reducing the number of state vehicles we use every day, and building upon successes we've already seen with bike sharing, S.B. 702 will save taxpayers money, offer workers happier and healthier transportation modes, and reduce air pollution.”

“Sacramento is a great bicycle town. But L.A. and Glendale and Burbank, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and the San Fernando Valley—all the areas we represent—deserve to have bike access as well.”

Yesterday's ride was organized and led by the California Bicycle Coalition and Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates in part to showcase how easy it can be to get around on a bike in the capital city. The ride was super short—with one stop at a nearby, very air-conditioned brewery—but that is kind of the point of a bike-share system: to encourage people to use bikes for short trips, rather than getting in cars.

Photo by Lorie Shelley
Photo by Lorie Shelley
Photo by Lorie Shelley

The lawmakers clearly enjoyed themselves, chatting amicably along the way and proving that bike riding, in its essence, is just fun. Two of the attendees, Senators Ben Allen and Bob Hertzberg, even kept the bikes to get to their next meeting near the Capitol—where their security detail, tagging along in a car, kept an eye on the bikes while they went inside.

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