In July 2012, Congress passed and President Obama signed a new federal transportation law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). While the law has eliminated some of the guaranteed funding for active transportation projects, California’s implementation of MAP-21 presents many opportunities to ensure that the investments we’ve made to advance walking and biking over the past two decades are not compromised.

MAP-21 has consolidated many of the dedicated funding streams for active transportation projects (Transportation Enhancements, Safe Routes to School, Recreational Trails) under a single new program: the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)-roughly a 30% cut to active transportation program funding. On the other hand, MAP-21 increased the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) and has clarified that the safety of ALL road users should be improved-not just motorists. Additionally, MAP-21 gives great flexibility for Caltrans to shift (or “flex”) money between its many programs–representing a potential opportunity to actually increase the amount of federal funding that supports pedestrian and bicycle projects and programs across the state.

In early January 2013, Governor Brown proposed to consolidate several separate active transportation funding streams (state and federal Safe Routes to School programs, federal Transportation Alternatives Program, state Bicycle Transportation Account, and the state Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program) to create a new Active Transportation Program (ATP). While such a bold move once again positions California as a leader in advancing walking and biking transportation, California Walks and a coalition of organizations have several concerns with the initial trailer billRead our analysis of the ATP trailer bill here.

The following principles guide California Walks’ MAP-21 advocacy efforts:

Maintain Level Funding for Active Transportation

The consolidated programs that make up the Active Transportation Program (ATP) total $147 million/year at FY12 levels. Unfortunately, the Governor’s initial proposal for the ATP funds the program at only $134 million/year. Cal Walks believes that the State should at the very leaast maintain level funding for the ATP by flexing additional money into the program. Furthermore, Cal Walks believes Safe Routes to School should remain administrated by a statewide agency under the ATP and should be funded through a set-aside of the HSIP.

Fair Share of Safety Funding for People who Walk and Bike

Only 3% of FY12 federal transportation funding in California was spent on pedestrian and bicycle programs and projects–and yet these modes represent 15% of all trips in the State. Moreover, people who walk and bike disproportionately make up nearly 27% of all traffic fatalities in the State. In 2010 alone, pedestrians represented 22.1% of all traffic fatalities and bicyclists 3.6%–and this number has been rising over the past several years. Given the HSIP’s revised focus on the safety of ALL road users and its increase in overall funding, Cal Walks advocates for a fair share of the HSIP equal to the percentage pedestrians and bicyclists make up of total traffic injuries and fatalities (an average 23.2% between 2008-2010). These funds would support both infrastructure AND non-infrastructure programs and projects (in conformity with FHWA HSIP eligibility guidelines) to decrease the  disproportionate injury and fatality rates of our most vulnerable road users.

Alignment with State Sustainability Goals, Policies, & Mandates

Transportation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and State’s implementation of MAP-21–over $3.5 billion per year in federal funding–needs to advance, NOT undermine, the State’s sustainability and climate change goals, policies,  and mandates (e.g. AB32, SB375, SB391, etc.). Projects funded by MAP-21 should not increase GHG emissions, air pollution, or encroach on open space and agricultural lands. Successful alignment of transportation programming with sustainability goals will require dedicating resources to Complete Streets implementation, community transportation planning, and the regional Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCSs). Cal Walks recommends that TAP funds be directed toward pedestrian and bicycle projects identified in regional SCSs or Regional Transportation Planning Authorities’ (RTPAs) sustainable communities processes.

Comment Letters & Policy Sign-Ons

For more information or to find out how you can get involved, please contact Tony Dang, State Network Coordinator.