February 2, 2012 e-news

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

“Health happens in neighborhoods, not doctors’ offices,” says Dr. Jackson, an environmental health professor at UCLA in Monday’s New York Times.

He’s right, of course: the more we’ve sprawled, the more chronic disease rates have soared. Car-centered places foster obesity, inactivity, social isolation, stress and depression. It’s tragic but true.

But TransForm’s just-released report, written in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health, shows how we can win better health outcomes by harnessing opportunities in Regional Transportation Plans. 

And if you’re into the intersection between health and transportation, we want you to get involved in the new Healthy Transportation Network we’re launching here in the Bay Area with the Safe Routes to Schools National partnership February 15. 

Now onto the rest of the e-news:

House releases awful version of the federal transportation bill

As detailed in the Chronicle, the House of Representative’s version of the draft federal transportation bill is a far cry from the bipartisan, transportation choices-friendly Senate version that Senator Boxer shepherded. The House version would eliminate all dedicated bicycle and pedestrian programs, including Safe Routes to Schools. And just today the House Ways and Means Committee introduced eliminating guaranteed funding for the Mass Transit Account and forcing transit to go begging before Congress for general funds each year.

Things are going to get ugly as a compromise between the House and Senate is sought – and we need to be sure legislators hear how important public transportation, walking, and biking are throughout. The House bill is expected to move very quickly, so contact your Congress members now about this intolerable approach to transportation funding.

Transit, biking and walking fare okay in Governor Brown’s state budget

When Governor Brown recently released his proposed 2012/13 budget, it included some hope. First, the Governor is interesting in putting some of the revenue from the nascent Cap and Trade program developed by the Air Resources Board towards public transportation. Though this revenue will be modest at first, it could grow significantly over time. There is also a small increase in State Transit Assistance in the budget. It’s not enough to address the past decade of massive state cuts to public transportation, but it’s something. The governor also proposed an increase in funding for bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Read the details in our budget analysis.

Join us in taking on Sacramento in the name of transportation choices May 1 and 2

We’re hosting the first ever California-wide Transportation Choices Summit and Lobby Day on May 1 and 2 – and we want you to be part of it!  Hundreds of people and organizations will unite in pushing our state legislators to invest in a California with real transportation choices: safe, abundant options for walking, biking, and public transportation. Learn more and register now (sliding scale registration and travel scholarships make attending affordable for all). We are also looking for sponsors and volunteers to help us make this day as big and bold as possible. Contact Ahmad about ways to get involved.

Be part of the new Healthy Transportation Network

TransForm and the Safe Routes to School National Partnership are kicking off a powerful new collaboration of advocates, community members, health professionals, and planning experts from across the Bay Area: the Healthy Transportation Network. If you want to learn about and shape key transportation decisions so they yield healthy outcomes for all, get plugged in at our kickoff on Wednesday, February 15 from 9 - 10 a.m. To make it easy to participate, this first meeting will be a free call-in meeting and focus on ways the Bay Area's Sustainable Communities Strategy can be harnessed to improve health. Sign up to get the meeting info and on the Network email listYou can also contact Manolo to learn more.

Transportation spending plan adopted by Alameda County

Last week, the Alameda County Transportation Commission approved a transportation spending plan for funds that would be raised if voters approve increasing the County’s transportation sales tax in November. The final plan was definitely an improvement from where the Commission started, but lacks some taxpayer safeguards we and others recommended.

Many thanks to the hundreds of people like you who spoke out at the hearings and sent a flood of emails to Commissioners, to our allies in the Community Vision coalition, and to several elected officials who pushed hard for a better plan. We are analyzing the details of the adopted plan, are looking for opportunities to win those safeguards in other forums, and will keep you posted on where we go from here. Read more or contact Manolo.

Learn options for saving Caltrain tonight

We need a permanent solution to Caltrain’s lack of a dedicated funding source so we’re not back where we were in 2011, desperately fighting to keep all trains running and stations open. Tonight, February 2 at 7 p.m. in Menlo Park, join Friends of Caltrain for an update on legislative options for Caltrain funding from Assembly Member Jerry Hill and an update on Caltrain's modernization plan with Program Director Marian Lee. Get the detailsIn other train news, efforts to derail the Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit have failed so far – hooray!

The revolution in East Bay bus service is beginning

Bus Rapid Transit is revolutionizing bus service around the world by mimicking rail with features like dedicated lanes, state-of-the-art buses, and traffic signal priority. After years of advocacy, final decisions to start construction of Bus Rapid Transit in the East Bay are within sight!

AC Transit has released its final plan for the route between San Leandro, Oakland and Berkeley based on community input about pedestrian safety, traffic, stations and more. The final plan includes adjustments to station locations, new traffic signals (including signalized pedestrian crossings), new bike lanes and even some new landscaped medians!  We hope you’ll join us in supporting the plan at upcoming public meetings which will soon be listed on our websiteContact Joél with questions and to be kept in the loop on the project.

Eight new projects will make it safer to get to public transportation

The Safe Routes to Transit program – first proposed and now administered by TransForm and the East Bay Bicycle Coalition – just awarded $4 million for projects across the Bay Area that will make it safer and easier to walk or bicycle to public transportation.  

Check out what was funded, like a new bike station for Downtown Oakland and a pedestrian tunnel at the Santa Clara Caltrain Station. Funding for the program comes from Regional Measure 2, the one-dollar bridge toll increase for public transportation passed by voters in 2004. The Bay Area’s getting better and better thanks to this first-in-the-nation program, and now, TransForm is spreading this idea statewide!  We’ve been working with advocates in the San Diego region to promote Safe Routes to Transit and it received $700 million over 40 years in their Sustainable Communities Strategies (as documented in our recent report).

Watch a recording of our webinar on how we can grow smarter near transit

GreenTRIP is TransForm’s cutting-edge program that certifies residential and mixed-used developments that reduce parking, create more affordable homes, plus offer incentives for new tenants to drive less and own fewer vehicles. If you missed the recent webinar with TransForm’s executive director, Stuart Cohen, and program director, Ann Cheng, you can watch a recorded version now on the Switzer Foundation’s website.

Be a model in our photo shoot February 17 in San Francisco

We are doing a photo shoot on Friday, February 17 at the Caltrain station in San Francisco (4th St.) from 7:30 - 9:00 a.m. We would love you to be part of it!  We are especially looking for people in business/professional clothes with bicycles for this photo shoot, though would like to get a few more casual, bike-free shots, too. We will take photos near Caltrain but not in the trains.  No experience is required and all ages and ethnicities are encouraged to participate.  Read the details and RSVP, then invite your friends on Facebook.

Conference on affordable housing and climate February 4 in Oakland

The League of Women Voter’s annual league day will focus on how to meet regional housing needs as part of the Bay Area's Sustainable Communities Strategy mandated by California’s new climate and smart growth law, Senate Bill 375.  Register now.

Sustainable mobility conference February 23 in Berkeley

The University of California Transportation Center’s is presenting “Sustainable Mobility and Cities: Marrying Technology and Policy.” Topics will range from transportation pricing to the “last mile problem.”  Learn more and register now.