As Americans go to the polls today, Californian residents aren’t just voting whether to elect Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as its 45th president – but whether to implement a staggering $8.3billion on cycling schemes.
Polling cards in the US on election day include a hatful of ballots on other measures, and in California there are 11 transport schemes to be voted on.
Should all proposals be approved, a mind-boggling $8.3bn will be spent on cycling infrastructure and measures to improve cycling safety and its usage.
The biggest prize for cycling campaigners is Measure M, that would raise the sales tax rate in Los Angeles County by half-a-cent to fund huge investment in the region’s transport infrastructure, of which $3.9bn would be reserved for cycling projects.
Some of the proposed projects include connecting existing cycle paths along the state’s rivers and greenways, to cost an estimated $650m. There would also be commitments to improve and construct bike lanes to provide safer routes to schools, while all new transport projects would have to allocate three percent of the total cost towards improve cycling and walking facilities within its vicinity.
Increasing the rate of tax to fund the projects is behind 10 of the 11 ballots in California. Sacramento, the state’s capital in which Mark Cavendish has won Tour of California stages in each of the past three years, is voting whether to increase sales tax by half-a-cent for the next 30 years to implement cycling master plans. If voted for, $3.6bn would be spent.
There is $657m of funding up for grabs in the other 10 states which proposes transportation measures: Virginia’s residents will be voting on whether to invest $27m on new bike trails, dedicated cycle paths and bike share schemes; voters in Burlington, Vermont, will be asked if the city should spent $12.5m on modernising bike paths; ballot paper in Austin, Texas will ask if the city should ratify a new $720m transportation measure, of which $120m would go towards the construction of new cycle lanes.
Given that Trump believes that climate change is a myth, it isn’t unsurprising that the Republican party completely omits any mention of cycling improvement measures in its manifesto. Instead, it calls on bike share schemes to no longer be under the control of the federal government, but rather the respective states. “These worthwhile enterprises should be funded through other sources,” it reads.
The Democratic party, meanwhile, mentions in its July draft platform document that it would build “bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure across our urban and suburban areas”.