120 Groups Call for More Funding for Active Transportation Program

bikesandcars
California should invest more to increase biking and walking, say community groups and advocates. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

A broad coalition of organizations called today for California to increase funding for walk and bike projects. More than 120 organizations signed a petition urging the state to increase its investment in the Active Transportation Program (ATP), citing cost savings and health benefits from better bike and pedestrian infrastructure and the low level of funding currently available.

The ATP provides $300 million biannually for projects that encourage people to take trips by bike or on foot, including infrastructure (paths, lanes, sidewalks, crossings) and programs (education, safe routes to schools). In the last round, announced in the fall, many more projects applied for the program than could be funded, leaving over $800 million worth of ready-to-go projects on the table.

“We know that 20 percent of trips by Californians are on foot or by bicycle, but despite the overwhelming demand for projects that create safer streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, and pathways, the state Active Transportation Program still only receives around one percent of Caltrans’ annual budget,” said Jeanie Ward-Waller, Senior Policy Manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

The 120 organizations that have signed on so far [PDF] include community and advocacy organizations that focus on health, walking, biking, the environment, equity, and economic policy. Several cities also signed the call for more funding.

The coalition emphasizes cost savings from investing in active transportation, which are less expensive to build and require less maintenance per trip than highways. It also refers to the recent Smart Growth America report, Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, that presents data on community economic benefits from better bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

The petition calls for a $100 million increase in ATP funding, the integration of green infrastructure like shade trees and access to parks to make biking and walking a more attractive transportation option for more people, and clearer rules to make sure that low-income communities are truly benefiting from the ATP.

The draft state budget released by Governor Brown in January did not include an increase for the ATP, but legislative hearings are set to begin soon. Deliberations will continue until the June 30 deadline to adopt a budget.

Meanwhile the California Transportation Commission will consider the final guidelines for the ATP at its monthly meeting tomorrow in Irvine, when the commission is also expected to release the call for projects to apply for the next round of ATP funding. Applications will be due June 1. Regional agencies—such as the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Mendocino Council of Governments–are actively seeking ideas for projects and gearing up for the process by offering technical assistance workshops for local applicants.

Caltrans and several partners, including the Safe Routes to Schools National Partnership, have been offering technical assistance workshops this month and next to help would-be applicants meet the sometimes complicated guidelines. A second set of workshops, just announced, will help small and disadvantaged communities develop appropriate projects and apply for funds. These began yesterday in Marysville, and a workshop will be held in every Caltrans district throughout the state some time between now and May 4. The schedule and registration information is available here.

Active transportation supporters can add their signatures to the petition for increased funding here.

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