How Los Angeles Advocates Are Rallying for Regional Funding Reform

Crossing the Street in Echo Park. Photo:##http://saferoutescalifornia.wordpress.com/##Safe Routes California##

Yesterday, Streetsblog looked at the funding differences in the long range planning in the San Diego County Region as compared to the “SCAG 6-County Mega-Region” that includes Los Angeles.  But instead of looking at the success in San Diego and going “why not us,” a group of advocates, notably Gloria Ohland and Beth Steckler at Move L.A. and Jessica Meaney at the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership, is fighting to secure billions for active transportation in the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) long range transportation plan.

And their efforts are beginning to pay off.  At yesterday’s meeting of SCAG’s Transportation Committee, Board Members began talking about the benefits of walking and biking and what they could do to get more people out of their cars.

Santa Ana City Council Member Michele Martinez, who riders her bike nearly every day commented that,  “We need to make sure this region creates a multi-modal network – that has walkable and bikable neighborhoods that connect to transit, rail and more.  Right now the City of Santa Ana has only 3 miles of bike lanes, we are working hard to change that.”

City of Compton Council member Barbara Calhoun also noted that the number of bike riders is growing, “I’ve seen more bike riders than ever before.  Maybe I’ll buy a bike”

With momentum growing, what can you do to help make sure that streets that work for all users are adequately funded going forward?  The most obvious answer is to take time on the first Thursday of every month to head to the SCAG Transportation Committee meetings at 10:00 A.M. at 818 W. Seventh Street in Downtown Los Angeles.

Another way would be to sign Safe Routes to School 2012 RTP Platform for the SCAG Region and encourage friends and organizations to do the same.

Meaney explains the basics of the platform, “This platform will improve safety, increase walking and bicycling trips, provide access to transit, and be cost effective for achieving long term SCAG Regional Goals, including some key public health goals that are critical to address through our transportation investments and choices.”

The Safe Routes to Schools plan, if adopted by SCAG in their Long Range Plan, would improve data collection, change planning models to include an active transportation component in all transportation plans, further educational and promotional programs and, of course, dramatically increase the fiscal investment in walking and biking.

While opponents of investment in active transportation like to point to census figures on commuting trends, the truth is that one’s commute accounts for a small fraction of their total weekly trips.  Investments in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and education in the Regional Transportation Plan should be representative of the mode share, 12% of all trips are made by foot or by bike, and safety trends in roadway collisions and fatalities.  Amazingly, a quarter of all traffic collisions and fatalities are cyclists or pedestrians.

For more information on the SRTS platform, or how you can sign, email Jessica Meaney at jessica@saferoutespartnership.org.

Special thanks to Jessica Meaney for reporting from the Transportation Committee Meeting.

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