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Posts by: "Tony Dang"

Yesterday, the Governor and the legislative leadership announced a package of over $50 billion of new funding to repair and improve California’s transportation infrastructure. Unfortunately, a last-minute deal struck with the freight industry threatens not only to derail the tenuous support of many sustainable transportation, social justice, and environmental advocates but also to grant trucking companies free license to continue polluting our communities indefinitely. Even worse, the package is being fast tracked and is headed for a vote in the Legislature next week!

While our coalition has been able to greatly influence the transportation funding package for the better–including an unprecedented state investment in transit (both operations and transit capital!); nearly doubling state funding for walking, biking, and Safe Routes to School projects; preserving environmental regulations; and focusing funds for fix-it first projects and limiting investments in highway expansion projects–these progressive investments are paired with a provision that binds the hands of the Air Resources Board (ARB) and prevents ARB from effectively regulating dirty diesel.

This issue not only has no place in this funding package but will also exacerbate the poor air quality our most low-income residents living next to trucking routes and ports experience in their daily lives. The health and safety of our most vulnerable Californians is not a cost we’re willing to pay to fund fixing our roads and transit systems.

We are calling on the Governor and our legislative leadership to reverse this irresponsible decision and to live up to our shared values for a healthy, sustainable, and equitable California.

Today, Governor Brown released his 2017-18 State Budget proposal, which includes $4 billion in new annual investment for transportation to repair our roads and help Californians travel more efficiently and sustainably. While the majority of the new revenue will be directed towards maintaining state highways and local roads, this proposal does provide meaningful increases to a variety of other road, transit, and active transportation programs that will help put California on a path toward meeting state climate and equity goals. The new revenue will be raised from a combination of gas and diesel taxes, vehicle license fees, and state climate investments from the possible extension of the Cap-and-Trade Program.

The Active Transportation Program (ATP)–the state’s dedicated source of funding for walking, bicycling, and Safe Routes to School projects–is slated to receive an additional $100 million per year from Cap-and-Trade proceeds in the proposal, with at least half to be invested in projects in communities where they are most needed. “As one of the first state programs to weave social equity into its very fabric, the ATP has already invested millions in communities that are too often left behind,” said Tony Dang, Executive Director of California Walks. “The ATP’s investments have brought the needs of our most vulnerable Californians to the forefront and enable them to walk or bike for their everyday needs safely and conveniently.”

Though the proposal does not meet the unrelenting demand for these investments at the local level–totalling over $1 billion in requests annually–it would nearly double the ATP.

“We applaud the Governor for proposing to significantly increase the state’s commitment to the Active Transportation Program and ensuring that walking and biking project funds are prioritized to disadvantaged communities,” said Jeanie Ward-Waller, Policy Director for the California Bicycle Coalition. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature on crafting the details of this funding proposal to ensure investments in state and local roads also include improvements for people walking and bicycling to create “complete streets” and provide safe alternatives to traveling by car.”

“We are pleased to see the Governor champion such a big investment in the Active Transportation Program in this year’s budget. This money will benefit children across the state who walk and bike to school every day, and encourage many more to do so by creating safer crossings, improved sidewalks and Safe Routes to School education programs,” shared Bill Sadler, California Senior Policy Manager, Safe Routes to School National Partnership

“The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association welcomes the Governor’s plan to increase funding for the Active Transportation Program,” said Eric Batch, Vice President of Advocacy. “As one of the nation’s oldest public health organizations, we know that physical activity is an important tool in preventing heart disease and stroke. We will continue to work with the Governor’s office to adequately fund Active Transportation, Safe Routes to School, and the creation of complete streets.”

The proposal would also invest an additional $400 million of Cap-and-Trade funds in new transit projects to expand our rail and bus networks statewide. “We support and appreciate the Governor’s desire to invest in new transit projects and service; however, we need to see a proportional investment in improving existing service for people who already rely on the bus for their daily travel,” commented Joshua Stark, State Policy Director, TransForm.

Finally, Governor Brown proposes new programs to empower regions to achieve our ambitious state climate goals: regional sustainability planning grants to major metropolitan regions in the state and the new Corridor Mobility Improvement Program to improve congestion on major commute routes, which with appropriate direction could be a boon for public transit improvements and walk and bikeway projects along those corridors.

“Given the ambitious nature of our climate and equity goals, we are pleased to see the Governor provide the regions with much-needed resources to tackle improving access and mobility while ultimately addressing climate change through these innovative programs.” said Chanell Fletcher, Associate Director for ClimatePlan. “We remain committed to working with the Governor and Legislature to ensure that the regions–and local communities–have the necessary tools to create sustainable, healthy, and equitable communities.”

Despite the strides in the Governor’s Budget to increase investment in walking and bicycling, new transit, sustainable planning and corridor improvements, the vast majority of new transportation revenue still short-sightedly enables auto travel. The Governor’s proposal includes an additional $800M for new projects in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP)–this is on top of $750M to restore funding for projects that were cut in 2016. Additional funding to programs like the STIP should include clear accountability measures to ensure it is spent on projects that reduce driving and promote social equity, or it will ultimately hinder the state from meeting its climate change reduction targets.

California Bicycle Coalition, California Walks, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, TransForm, American Heart Association, and ClimatePlan are non-profit organizations committed to advancing walking, bicycling, and affordable transit for all Californians.

Cal Walks is growing, and we’re excited to announce 3 new full-time positions that will be joining our team this coming year!

We are looking for energetic and dynamic professionals to take on the following new positions:

Applications are due on Friday, October 21, at 5:00 pm Pacific. The positions will begin on December 1, 2016 or earlier.

To view the job descriptions and directions for how to apply, please visit californiawalks.org/employment

Help us spread the word and forward these exciting job openings to others who might be interested!

Last week, 39 organizations from all around the state signed onto our comment letter on Governor Brown’s proposed transportation budget. Collectively, our organizations are disappointed with the lack of forward-looking vision in the proposed transportation budget that is needed for our state to meet our ambitious climate, social equity, and public health goals. The proposed budget would raise billions of dollars in new and much-needed transportation revenues to repair and maintain our state’s roads but misses a huge opportunity to leverage these investments smartly to advance our state’s climate, health, and equity goals in tandem with the state’s highway and road system maintenance and preservation goals. In other words, investments in repairing and maintaining our existing roadway infrastructure should be matched with an investment in repairing and operating public transit systems and expanding transit, walking, and bicycling networks statewide, especially in low-income and otherwise disadvantaged communities.

A summary of our comments and recommendations can be found below. Click here to see the full comment letter.

  • Mandate Complete Streets Improvements for People Walking & Biking during Maintenance & Operations Projects on Off-Freeway Highways & Local Roads
    Despite the Complete Streets Act of 2008 (AB 1358, Leno) and Caltrans’ internal Complete Streets policy (Deputy Directive 64) adopted in 2008 and updated in 2014, the uneven and inequitable implementation of complete streets demonstrates the need for a stronger mandate. Our organizations urged the Legislature and the Administration to require repair, maintenance, and rehabilitation projects to include meaningful Complete Streets project components to ensure implementation of the 2008 state policies.
  • Leverage Transportation Investments to Create Economic Opportunity for Vulnerable Californians
    Our organizations urged the Legislature and the Administration to ensure that the state’s billions of dollars of new transportation revenue meaningfully benefit our most vulnerable Californians by requiring transportation agencies to implement workforce training and employment strategies–in effect, leveraging our new transportation investments to create pathways to economic opportunity for our most vulnerable Californians.
  • Reject the Low Carbon Roads Program Concept & Invest in the Active Transportation Program Instead
    Rather than creating the new Low Carbon Roads Program–which includes questionable road project eligibilities (e.g., traffic signal synchronization)–our organizations recommended redirecting the $100 million proposed for  the  Low Carbon Roads Program into the already existing and successful Active Transportation Program (ATP), which continues to be hugely oversubscribed.
  • Increase Investment in Transit Operations and Discounted Transit Passes
    Funding the expansion of our transit systems and replacement of our bus and rail fleets is absolutely an important component for reaching our climate goals; however, the fix-it-first principle should apply to transit systems as well as to roadways and be supported by traditional transportation dollars, not just GGRF monies. Of the $400 million one-time funding proposed for the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP), our organizations recommended allocating half ($200 million) to that program and half to the Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP). Of the $200 million to the LCTOP, we also recommended earmarking $50 million for implementation by transit operators of a transit pass program for college, university, and K-12 students and low-income residents, an allowable use under the LCTOP Guidelines.
  • Increase Dedicated Investment in Active Transportation
    In each of the last two Cycles of the Active Transportation Program (ATP)–the state’s sole dedicated source of funding for walking, biking, Safe Routes to School, and trail projects and programs–local communities requested over $1 billion to implement transformational walking and biking projects and programs that respond to how Californians want to get around to access employment centers, schools, housing, and other key community destinations. Our organizations urged the Legislature and the Administration to increase funding for the Active Transportation Program by redirecting the $100 million in savings the Administration aims to generate from Caltrans efficiencies improvements to the ATP.
  • Mitigate & Avoid Health, Safety, & Environmental Impacts of Trade Corridor Investments
    Our organizations urged the Legislature and the Administration to include explicit direction for the proposed $200 million Trade Corridor Improvement Fund to proactively address the health, safety, and mobility needs of communities directly impacted by the freight traffic facilitated by these investments, as well as to discourage investments that expand highways contrary to our state’s climate goals, in recognition of the historic disproportionate health and safety impact freight operations has had on California’s low-income and communities of color.

Our organizations look forward to continuing to work with the Legislature, the Legislative Joint Transportation Infrastructure Conference Committee, and the Administration to structure our state’s transportation investments to not only meet our ambitious climate change goals but also to improve the health, safety, and livability of all of California’s diverse communities.

The full comment letter is available here.

Last month, the Governor attended key climate talks in Paris where he touted California’s success to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the world stage. Unfortunately, the Governor’s transportation budget, released today, moves the state in the wrong direction.

“The proposed budget would invest $16.2 billion in transportation dollars for programs that focus primarily on repaving and expanding roads versus moving people–even proposing to use money designated to fight climate change to do so,” said Jeanie Ward-Waller, Policy Director for the California Bicycle Coalition.

If we want to tackle climate change for the benefit of all Californians, we must invest in clean, affordable transportation choices–such as bicycle paths, continuous sidewalks, safe crossings, and robust transit–that reduce driving, congestion, and air pollution; improve public health; and advance social equity. However, the 2016-17 proposed transportation budget does not shift traditional transportation funding to address climate change.

“We need to make smart investments that ensure people have real choices in how they travel to where they work, live, learn, play, and go to school.” said Chanell Fletcher, Senior California Policy Manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

This includes investing in programs such as the Active Transportation Program (ATP)–which prioritizes disadvantaged communities and provides provides $120 million annually for transportation projects that enable people to travel by bicycle or on foot to access work, schools, and other key destinations. In the last round, more local communities applied for the program than could be funded, leaving over $800 million worth of ready-to-go projects from across California on the table.

The Governor’s budget also proposes a new program: the Low Carbon Roads Program, which provides another $100 million of climate funds for complete streets, traffic synchronization, and other streets improvements. However, the Administration’s own research demonstrates that traffic light synchronization and road repaving do not reduce greenhouse gas emissions and are an illegal use of climate funds. Yet, this budget establishes a new, duplicative program of the ATP that undermines efforts to improve Caltrans efficiency and opens the door for more cap-and-trade funding to go towards roads.

The Administration has an opportunity to addressing climate change while also addressing safety and mobility needs of all Californians. It’s vital the budget focus on meeting the serious transportation challenges facing California’s families and communities in the here and now–such as investing in complete streets and providing multi-modal choices that will ensure all communities can thrive.


American Heart AssociationCalifornia Bicycle Coalition, California Walks, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN), Public Advocates, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, TransForm, and the Trust for Public Land are non-profit organizations committed to advancing walking and bicycling in all communities by engaging in policy analysis, advocacy, and education with the goal of improving active transportation policies for all Californians. Support for the organizations comes from foundation grants and individual contributions.