Governor Brown: Let’s work together to make California the nation’s leader in active transportation!

Dear Governor Brown:

Your 2013-2014 proposed budget includes an innovative new funding mechanism of $134 million for bicycle and pedestrian projects – the Active Transportation Program (ATP), which consolidates the federal Transportation Alternatives Program (including Recreational Trails), Safe Routes to Schools Programs, the state Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program, and the state Bicycle Transportation Account program. It aims to “streamline … and fund high priority projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the objectives of … SB 375, as well as provide safety benefits.” As stakeholders and advocates, we support this effort to increase efficiency while meeting state goals of safety and greenhouse gas emission reduction and enhancing public health, livability and sustainability for communities across the state!

In crafting the program’s details, we respectfully request that you include the following in your budget trailer bill, the May revise and subsequent proposals:

1. Fund the Active Transportation Program at $147 million initially, a level consistent with the combined total of the funds received in 2012 by the programs now consolidated in the ATP. Funding proposals for future years should include statutory changes that guarantee that, as new revenue becomes available relevant to the goals and objectives of this program (i.e. cap-and-trade, bond and other sources), a portion of the new funds will be used to equitably grow the Active Transportation Program and accelerate the completion of all aspects of safe active transportation networks in all communities throughout the state.

2. Streamline the application process while meeting new and existing statewide needs. Create one annual online call for projects for both the state and regional shares, but preserve the following funding categories so that a broad diversity of project types that advance safety and SB 375 goals will continue to be funded:

a) Safe Routes to School – dedicate at least $46 million to Safe Routes to School projects for infrastructure and non-infrastructure programs, and continue administration at the state level;

b) Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation – dedicate not less than $10 million annually for urban forestry, local parks, resource lands and roadside recreation and trails projects;

c) Recreational Trails Program – continue to allocate, at the minimum, California’s share of these funds from MAP-21, the federal transportation law, for recreational trails; and

d) Active Transportation projects – allocate the balance of funds in the ATP for bicycle, pedestrian and trails systems, projects and programs.

For 2(a) and (b) above, all prior federal standards (where applicable) should be maintained, as well as provisions in current state law, to ensure that these projects with a demonstrated record of success continue to meet the needs of the state as intended while also reducing GHGs and contributing to SB 375 implementation.

 3. Ensure adequate staffing and reporting of the ATP in the Division of Local Assistance and Office of Community Planning in order to continue planning, programming, obligation, and project administration of prior year and all MAP-21 funds, new projects, and the state’s Complete Streets policies. Caltrans should maintain on its website an updated, comprehensive list of all projects programmed in the ATP, including the regional/local share.

4. Engage immediately with diverse stakeholders to craft a strategic vision for this new program, and include in the scope and definition of the ATP the reduction of vehicle miles traveled. Provide for a comprehensive process of stakeholder involvement to develop the guidelines and select projects for the state and regional shares, in order to accelerate achievement of state goals for safety, greenhouse gas emission reduction, mobility, accessibility, public health, sustainability, and social equity.

With this new program, California has the opportunity to set a national trend for safe and accessible bicycle and pedestrian green infrastructure and prioritize meeting the needs of the most at-risk communities. We look forward to working with you to ensure California is a leader in active transportation!