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 Association, California 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.