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Posts by: "Tony Dang"

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.

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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.

California Walks and our partners have beeen hard at work these past few weeks during the Governor’s special session on transportation, and thanks to our collective efforts, we have helped shift the conversation from simply repaving roads and fixing potholes to linking up to $6 billion of potential new state transportation investments with our state’s climate change, social equity, and complete streets goals.

California Walks and the Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership are championing two transformative bills that will make complete streets a reality so that every Californian can walk, bike, or take transit if they so choose. Here’s what these bills would do:

  • Implement a Complete Streets policy for new state funding: Senator Jim Beall has included a sensible complete streets provision in SBX 1-1 that will make the most cost-effective use of road maintenance funding to meet our state’s many ambitious goals–from state of good repair to climate, public health, and social equity goals.SBX1-1 would require all  SHOPP and STIP projects to provide safe, protected facilities for people walking and bicycling in transit-dense areas on most roads with a speed limit over 25 miles per hour. Additionally, the bill would require Caltrans and local agencies to report on the impacts of all SHOPP and STIP funded projects in terms of their greenhouse gas emissions; public health, air quality, and natural resources impacts; pedestrian, bicycle, and transit mobility improvements; and co-benefits to disadvantaged and underserved communities. If these Caltrans and local agency projects do not further the state’s climate, equity, and health goals, their funding could be withheld in the future.
  • Increase dedicated funding for biking and walking projects: Assemblymembers Eduardo Garcia, Autumn Burke, and David Chiu have co-authored ABX 1-23, which doubles the size of the Active Transportation Program (ATP) with a $125 million increase. The ATP is the sole source of state funding dedicated to walking, biking, and Safe Routes to School projects. Last year, the ATP was underfunded by nearly $800 million for shovel-ready walking, bicycling and safe school access projects. ABX 1-23 also includes a new ATP category to fund complete networks of walking and biking facilities that would connect every destination in communities throughout the state with an unbroken web of sidewalks, safe crossings, bike paths, protected bike lanes, and quiet bicycle boulevards. A minimum of 1/3 of funding available for these network grants shall be reserved for Safe Routes to School projects and of that, a minimum of 10 percent and a maximum of 30 percent shall be used to fund noninfrastructure programs.

What You Can Do

  • Contact Your State Senator & Assemblymember Now to let them know that you support implementing strong “complete streets” policies to ensure that state funding is spent to build sidewalks, safe crossings, and protected bike lanes; increase the Active Transportation Program; and enable communities to build out entire walking and biking networks. Send an e-mail here
  • Send In an Organizational Letter of Support: We’ve made it easy for you to send in a letter of support from your organization! Modify these template letters for SBX1-1 (here) and ABX1-23 (here) and send in to show your organization’s support.
  • Spread the Word! Share the action link (http://fundingaction-calbike.nationbuilder.com/) by posting to Facebook & Twitter using #CompleteStreets

Last week, the Governor released his “May revise” budget proposal, and despite over $1 billion in new available revenues, we were disappointed that the Active Transportation Program (ATP) did not see an increase in funding. Earlier this spring, 120 organizations statewide called for an additional $100 million to build out bicycling and walking networks statewide, and high demand for the program at the local level far outpaced available funding in the first grant cycle. A hallmark of Caltrans sustainability efforts, the ATP is California’s statewide competitive grant program dedicated to increasing walking and bicycling, especially in underserved communities.

The May revise includes an expenditure plan for $2.2 billion in Cap-and-Trade revenue from auction proceeds–more than twice the amount in the January budget proposal–which is the most likely source of new ATP dollars. However, most of the Cap-and-Trade revenue is slated to boost funding to the same set of programs in the January expenditure plan, with a small portion directed to a few new programs related to drought management, energy efficiency, and healthy soils.

While walking and bicycling improvements are technically eligible in several of the Cap-and-Trade programs that received a boost in the May revise, these programs primarily focus on public transit and affordable housing development. These programs’ constraints on project financing and development limit their ability to fund meaningful walking and bicycling projects critical for shifting the nearly ⅔ of trips in California under 1 mile that are currently taken by car. Walking and biking must be a core component of the Cap-and-Trade expenditures in order to reduce vehicles miles traveled (VMT) and ultimately, to help the California achieve our ambitious climate change goals.

The ATP continues to be the most effective source for robust bicycling and walking projects that create safe travel corridors, connect people to transit, provide Safe Routes to School, improve intersections, and close key gaps between destinations for people who walk and bicycle. Furthermore, these projects are essential to improving access to transit and regional economic opportunity for California’s rural disadvantaged communities. Our broad coalition–which includes environmental, affordable housing, transit, parks, public health, social equity, and walking and bicycling advocates, among others–will continue to push for $100 million directly into the Active Transportation Program in the final budget.

The Legislature will review the May revise in a second round of budget hearings over the next few weeks, and the final 2015-16 State Budget must be adopted by June 15.

Support the push for more ATP funding by signing the petition at bit.ly/IncreaseATP.

This statement was issued by the Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership including the California Bicycle Coalition, California Walks, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, California Park and Recreation Society, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, and TransForm.

California has a tremendous opportunity to achieve climate goals and create healthy active communities by fulfilling its promise to increase funding for the Active Transportation Program (ATP). Yet in the first Program Cycle, nearly $800 million in shovel-ready walking, bicycling and Safe Routes to School projects and programs were left unfunded.

SRTS_AP Lynne Sladky

To support a larger, stronger and more effective ATP, we’re asking the Legislature and Governor to:

  1. Increase the Active Transportation Program by $100 million.
  2. Integrate & incentivize green infrastructure as well as access to parks and open space with active transportation projects to maximize climate and health benefits.
  3. Ensure meaningful benefits to disadvantaged communities through ATP projects.

What You Can Do

This is a coalition-led effort by California Walks, California Bicycle Coalition, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, PolicyLink, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, TransForm, and the Trust for Public Land.

Caltrans is currently updating two very important planning documents–the Interregional Transportation Strategic Plan (ITSP) and the Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP)–that will lay out the state’s priorities for spending its transportation dollars in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) and the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP), respectively. Cal Walks has been hard at work with our partners statewide to provide recommendations to both these Plan updates to better integrate active transportation into these funding streams, as well as to better align the Plans with the State’s climate change, sustainability, and equity goals under AB 32, SB 375 and SB 391. Stay tuned for more details as the draft Plans are released for public comment in the coming weeks.

For the ITSP Update, Cal Walks and 16 ClimatePlan partners submitted detailed recommendations on how to better align Caltrans’ ITIP investments with the Department’s updated Mission, Vision, and Goals, including:

  • Fully Integrating Active Transportation, Multimodality, Sustainability, & Equity into the ITSP Vision & Objectives
  • Prioritizing Investments in Interregional Rail Over Highway Widening & Expansion
  • Advancing Multimodal & Livable Corridors to Mitigate Barriers & Impacts to Health, Active Transportation, & Conservation
  • Ensuring Performance Measures Drive Project Selection
  • Committing to Transparency in the ITIP Review Process

Read the Full ITSP Update Recommendations Letter Here. The draft ITSP is expected to be released within the next few months (Winter 2015) with at least 2 rounds for formal public comment (Spring 2015) and the final Plan is expected to be published June 30, 2015. Public comments will be accepted at HQ.System.Planning@dot.ca.gov.

For the SHSP Update, Cal Walks and 19 of our statewide active transportation partners submitted several important recommendations to ensure that the safety needs of people walking and biking will be fully addressed in the SHSP Update, by:

  • Retaining Separate Challenge Areas for Pedestrians & Bicyclists
  • Adopting a Minimum Funding Target for Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Education & Enforcement
  • Seeking Enabling Administrative Authority or Endorse Legislation to Authorize Local Jurisdictions to Implement Automated Safety Enforcement Systems
  • Realigning Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) Funds to Match Safety Needs on Local Roads
  • Elevating the Importance of Non-Infrastructure Projects & Programs in the HSIP for Comprehensive Traffic Safety Approaches (the 4 E’s)
  • Improving & Expand Data Collection to Address Safety Needs of People Walking & Biking
  • Endorsing the Goal of Reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) as a Safety Strategy
  • Strengthening Public Engagement & Transparency in the SHSP Update Process

Read the Full SHSP Update Recommendations Letter Here. In response to our recommendations, Caltrans has committed to hosting a 2-week public comment period on the draft SHSP Update. We expect the draft SHSP Update to be posted on or around February 13 at the following website: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/shsp/update.html.