May 1, 2013

Your monthly pass to world-class public transportation and more wonderful, walkable communities.

Looking for something to do tonight? How does “helping shape the future of the Bay Area” sound?

Tonight, May 1, the last two public meetings on the draft of Plan Bay Area will be held in Fremont and San Jose.

These will be the final in-person opportunities to speak up for a future where transportation brings greater health, mobility, and opportunity to all Bay Area residents. You don’t need to live in these counties to attend, so if you missed the meeting in your county, click here to RSVP for one of the meetings tonight.

It’s critical that you weigh in, even if you don’t make it to a public meeting. Written comments will be accepted until May 16, and we’ll share your input with Commissioners who will have the final say on this critical plan for the region’s future.

Click here to take action now.
Click here to learn more.

And now onto the rest of the e-news:

Over 200 trek to Sacramento to transform transportation

TransForm’s second annual Transportation Choices Summit on April 23 had something for everyone, from affordable housing to public health to the hottest legislative issues. One participant called it “the best kind of crash course in transportation advocacy I could have asked for,” while another appreciated hearing from Secretary Brian Kelly and Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols, “rock stars in their fields.” But with nearly 230 participants from dozens of cities across the state, the best part for many was the chance to meet fellow advocates during breakout sessions and walking and biking tours of Sacramento.

If you couldn’t make it to the Summit this year, check out our blog post here and stay tuned for video and slides from selected Summit presentations on our website soon. We’re already planning to make Transportation Choices 2014 one to remember and welcome your suggestions. Thanks to everyone who attended, to our speakers, and to our wonderful volunteers.

Keep the heat on state leaders for real transportation choices

Following the Summit, advocates stormed the capitol and visited 90 legislators to tell them that Californians can’t wait – we need our leaders to take action this summer and fund public transportation, walking, biking, and affordable homes near transit with revenues from the state’s new cap-and-trade program.

But our work is far from over. Next week, the Governor will issue his recommendations for how to spend the cap-and-trade revenue. While the California Air Resources Board agrees with us that investing in transportation choices is best way to fight climate change, we’re not sure what the Governor’s proposal will say.

We need to make sure state leaders remember our meetings and keep transportation on the front burner as the cap-and-trade debate gets cooking. Click here to contact your legislators now, and stay tuned as things heat up in the weeks ahead!

We have a plan to improve Plan Bay Area

As of yesterday, 20 of TransForm’s ally organizations have signed on to a letter urging regional leaders not to leave solutions on the table, as they work to complete the Bay Area’s plan for reducing climate pollution and meeting transportation and housing needs over the next twenty five years. The draft Plan Bay Area contains some significant steps forward – but it fails to go the distance on key issues like affordability and funding public transportation.

TransForm and our allies are pushing regional leaders to take another look at their own analyses and incorporate the best policies of the Equity, Environment and Jobs alternative that were left out of their draft plan. We’ll submit our final sign-on letter at the close of the comment period on May 16, so it’s not too late for organizations to sign on. Click here to learn more and read the full letter, or contact Transportation Advocate Clarrissa Cabansagan with questions.

Help protect BART at upcoming budget hearings

We all know that fixing a leaky roof should come before building a new wing on the house. But for years, BART pushed off critical maintenance for extensions they couldn’t afford, putting the entire system at a financial and safety risk. With new leadership that has started to change, so the BART Board needs to hear from riders that they must continue to move in the right direction: towards a responsible focus on maintaining and improving the existing system, and away from heedlessly promising costly extensions that burden the existing core system.

Upcoming budget hearings in May and June will include evening meetings – unusual for BART – to make it easier for the public to participate, so let's make sure we're there! Click here to learn more.

Transforming Oakland's public transportation corridors

Last year, the City of Oakland was awarded nearly a million dollars to help make International Boulevard a model for future public transportation corridors throughout the city – a vision to eventually include affordable neighborhoods with great public transportation along streets like San Pablo Avenue, Macarthur Boulevard, and Foothill Boulevard.

The City of Oakland's Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative is now recruiting approximately 20 community residents to play a leadership role in reviewing and advocating for the needs of the community around this planning process. Residents will be provided with a stipend to complete some training and receive support to better understand policy making and community planning processes. If you live in East Oakland (anywhere between 14th Ave. and San Leandro, and between Macarthur Blvd. and the waterfront), please consider applying to be one of these resident policy makers!

To learn more and to download an application (deadline: May 3), please visit our International Boulevard webpage. If you'd like to learn more about this effort, please contact Senior Community Planner Joël Ramos.

Speak up to speed up light rail in Santa Clara County

Would you like to move a little faster on VTA light rail? The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is taking steps to speed up light rail operations, be more responsive to riders, and prepare for growth -- including the 49ers stadium and the BART station at Milpitas. The possibilities include express trains from Mountain View to Santa Clara, faster service along North 1st Street, and direct service from Almaden to Mountain View.

Chime in now by sending an email to customer.service@vta.org to let VTA know what changes you support. Find out more at www.vta.org/lightrail or contact Silicon Valley Community Planner Chris Lepe with questions.

Tell VTA to ensure safe walking and improved bus service in downtown San Jose

Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) can bring better streets for walking as well as faster bus service – but only if it’s done right. Tomorrow night, May 2, plans for one of the most important stations in the Silicon Valley’s BRT network are being considered, and it’s essential that the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) board reject proposed changes that would compromise pedestrian safety and slow down bus travel.

Weigh in now to tell the VTA Board that multi-million dollar public transportation projects should put transit first and improve public safety, especially in dense urban centers like downtown San Jose. Come to the VTA Board meeting tomorrow night, email comments to customer.service@vta.org, or contact TransForm's Community Planner Chris Lepe with questions.

Record number of students walked and biked for the Golden Sneaker

An estimated 20,000 students across Alameda County walked, biked, and carpooled as much as possible during the first two weeks in March, competing in the “Pollution Solution Golden Sneaker Contest.” While each school recognized their top classroom with a Golden Sneaker Trophy, the highest honors were awarded to McKinley Elementary School in San Leandro, where walking, biking, and carpooling increased by over 40%, earning the Platinum Sneaker Award.

This annual contest organized by the Alameda County Safe Routes to School program challenges students to increase their walking, biking, carpooling, and transit use to reduce emissions and increase physical activity. Participation has increased from 12 schools to 58 schools in just two years, and is expected to continue growing in years to come.

TransFormers spread the word with both panels and pedals

As if the Transportation Choices Summit weren’t enough, TransForm staff were on the move throughout April at various events in the Bay Area and beyond.

On April 4, TransForm’s Silicon Valley Community Planner Chris Lepe joined experts from around the country to discuss how to create more equitable and sustainable communities at the Urban Affairs Association Conference in San Francisco. Rachel Davidman of our Safe Routes to School team coordinated the Berkeley Bike Festival on April 20, which brought out hundreds of parents and kids to celebrate the health and environmental benefits of biking to school and learn how to do so safely. Check out this 90-second video for a taste of bicycle fun.

Farther afield, Ann Cheng, Program Director for GreenTRIP, presented at the Housing California conference in Sacramento on April 18. More information about the panel on creating more affordable homes through less parking and free transit passes, including the presentations by Ann and representatives from AC Transit and First Community Housing, can be found here.

Help TransForm make a difference: Donate now to our spring Cap-and-Trade Campaign

We know you share our vision of a California where everyone can choose to live in a great community with streets that are safe for people, jobs that are near affordable places to live with lots of ways to get around. Over the next six weeks, the California legislature will decide how to spend cap-and-trade revenues for the coming three years – and what they approve this summer is likely to shape spending plans for the following decade.

This is TransForm's top priority through June and we have all hands on deck. Help us win the funding we need for public transportation, affordable homes, walking and biking so that we can bring this vision to life. Support our spring Cap-and-Trade Campaign with a donation today.

Upcoming events in the Bay Area and beyond: Happy Bike Month!

Below is a sampling of upcoming events in spring and summer. Visit TransForm’s events webpage frequently for details on transportation-related events in the Bay Area and beyond.

Bay Area Bike To Work and School Day
Thursday, May 9 in your city!

Just one week until Bike to Work Day – the biggest bike day of the year! You can sign up now for the Team Bike Challenge, bow in awe to the recipients of the Bike Commuter of the Year award, and volunteer in your local community to make this a special day for everyone who bikes, no matter if it’s their first try or a routine experience. Mark your calendar and get ready to celebrate beautiful weather, healthy transportation, and fun on two wheels.

Click here for more information about Bike to Work Day in the Bay Area.

Oakland Planning Commission hearing on Lake Merritt BART plan
Wednesday, May 15 at 4:00 p.m. in Oakland

The Lake Merritt BART Station Area Plan is nearing completion, but we’re still not sure if it will keep the neighborhood – including Oakland’s thriving Chinatown – affordable for the people and businesses who are already there. We need the plan to ensure that as new development happens, measures and policies are put in place to help protect the current residents from being pushed out either directly, or indirectly through increased real estate values that make it unaffordable to stay.

Please join us at City Hall at, at 4PM in Hearing Room 1 on May 15th as we urge staff and the Planning Commission (and ultimately the City Council) to adopt policies that will help Oakland grow without displacing current residents! To learn more, please visit our Lake Merritt Station Area Plan webpage, or contact Joël Ramos.

Affordable Housing Week 2013
May 10-19 throughout the East Bay

Join our allies at East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO) for their 17th annual celebration of affordable housing, including tours, panel discussions, groundbreakings, and other events throughout the East Bay. The week launches with a Kick-Off Celebration on May 10 to honor champions of affordable housing, including state Senator Mark DeSaulnier, author of the California Homes and Jobs Act that was one of the legislative priorities at last week’s Transportation Choices Advocacy Day.

Click here to learn more about all that’s going on during Affordable Housing Week 2013.

California Climate Ride Finish Rally – Welcome Home Carbon Crushers!
Thursday, May 23 at noon in San Francisco

Help welcome home the TransForm Carbon Crushers and make a statement against climate change in front of San Francisco City Hall, where 200 bicyclists will end their 5-day, 320-mile journey in support of organizations working to curb climate change. Speakers including Paul Hawken will lead the call to action – but our heroes are the nine TransForm riders who are working hard to raise $30,000 for our work to curb greenhouse gas emissions by making public transportation, walking, and biking safe and convenient for all.

Click here to learn more about the Carbon Crushers and their free-wheeling, fundraising adventure.

Save the Date: An Evening at the Press Club
Tuesday, July 16 from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. in San Francisco

It was so much fun last year, our Board of Directors has already signed up to do it again! Join our Board and friends for a nice evening out to benefit TransForm. Learn about our work, meet and mingle with our Board, staff, and supporters, and have a drink – or three – because 10% of all food and beverage sales will be donated to TransForm. Bookmark this page for forthcoming details and RSVP information as the summer comes closer.