Just as the long days of summer are enticing more Californians to get out and enjoy a walk or bike ride, the state’s main funding streams for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements have hit a bump in the road.
The path looked passable earlier this year, when Governor Brown proposed an unconventional but promising reform of bicycle and pedestrian funding. The Governor’s Active Transportation Program (ATP) would consolidate and direct revenue for bicycle and pedestrian projects, including under its banner the current programs of Safe Routes to Schools, the Bicycle Transportation Account, and the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (EEMP). The ATP would create a central revenue source and competitive grant process, managed by the California Transportation Commission (CTC), for bicycle and pedestrian projects and programs.
While this program could lead to better walking and biking projects through greater efficiency and better project selection, it must be done right. Important components would include robust minimum funding for successful programs; expert staff kept on in order to keep good programs up and running; and removal of the EEMP from this pot of money altogether.
Additionally, the CTC will need to manage the process in ways that ensure greater health, safety, and pollution reductions are prioritized. (One way to help the CTC better accomplish this task is moving through the Legislature right now as Assembly Bill 1290 – read our support letter here.)
Unfortunately, TransForm and our allies could not support the first iteration of the program for a number of reasons. Namely, the first draft contained no guarantees to fund such great programs like Safe Routes to School; it also eliminated the EEMP, to the disappointment of many of our conservation allies.
The Legislature had agreed with TransForm and our allies, and decided to take the matter up later in the summer or next year to allow time to find a solution everyone could support. But Governor Brown feels this is an important priority, and he has pushed the timetable up, guaranteeing that a deal for active transportation projects and programs will be met by the end of August. Sadly, he has done this by holding the revenues for existing bike and pedestrian programs and projects, including Safe Routes to Schools and the EEMP. As a result, critical funds are frozen until a deal is made regarding the ATP.
Simply put: the Governor is threatening to stop funding bicycle and pedestrian projects, including Safe Routes to Schools, if the Legislature does not pass some form of ATP by August 31.
We do not want to see funding for these projects and programs cut off, and we sincerely hope the Governor shares our thoughts. TransForm and our allies look forward to working with the Transportation Agency and the Legislature to develop an ATP that puts our state back on the road to better health and safety through walking and biking improvements. We’ll post updates here on our blog as this process moves ahead.
You can also check out our state legislation page for more information on bills being considered in Sacramento.