Budget Questions

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Today, January 7th at 10am, Governor Jerry Brown will present the first proposal for the California Budget. Included in it is the transportation budget, which is currently massively underfunded. Going into the press conference, we, the California Bicycle Coalition, have six questions for the Governor’s office based on our conversations with officials and previous proposals:

  • In a press release on December 12th, 2015 Governor Brown “committed to reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50 percent within the next 15 years.” In 2013 the Office of Traffic Safety reported 3,000 deaths in California that year alone that were the result of the way our transportation infrastructure is designed—not including the thousands of deaths caused by the emissions of cars and trucks. The most effective way to ameliorate these problems is to reduce the number of car trips. Caltrans has set a goal to triple the number of people biking, double the number of people walking, and double transit ridership throughout the state by 2020. Does the governor’s proposal allocate adequate funding to projects that will meet those goals?
  • The Active Transportation Program is the sole source of funding for biking, walking, and school children’s infrastructure projects; its funding is focused on helping impoverished communities that cannot afford much-needed safety improvements. In the last round, over $800 million worth of ready-to-go projects were left unfunded, leaving not only people walking and biking vulnerable, but especially children in impoverished communities. Does the proposal increase the Active Transportation Program to fund those much needed infrastructure projects?
  • Texas’ State DOT expanded capacity of Houston’s Katy Freeway to 23 lanes, making it “the world’s widest” highway at a cost of $2.8 billion, and traffic actually got 30 percent slower. Almost every freeway widening in California results in a longer travel time because of increased capacity and induced demand. Does this proposal finally stop funding grossly inappropriate, and highly destructive freeway widenings?
  • In this proposal we expect a new program: the Low Carbon Roads Program. From what we’ve seen, this proposal uses cap-and-trade funding to fund measures that increase automobile capacity on local roads, without a focus or pledge to encourage healthy mobility options, Bus Rapid Transit, and other transportation options. How does this program help California meet our climate goals when it encourages more car trips, and how is increasing capacity for car trips an appropriate use of cap-and-trade funding?
  • California needs a real #CompleteStreets policy, with teeth. One that mandates protected biking and walking improvements when state funds are used to repave streets or repair bridges. We are thankful to Senator Jim Beall for including sensible complete streets provisions in SBX 1-1 in the special session that mandate the inclusion of “new bicycle and pedestrian safety, access, and mobility improvements” in every non-freeway project funded by the state. It calls for sidewalks and protected bike lanes or bike paths in transit-dense areas on high-traffic local streets with a speed limit over 25 miles per hour, with the obvious exception of freeways (as parallel bikeways and walkways are already required for new freeways under §887.8 of the California Street and Highways Code). We need these Complete Streets policies in any transportation deal that’s made in Sacramento. Does the proposal include a strong complete streets mandate for maintenance projects where state funding is used?
  • Historically, major highway infrastructure, especially freeways, has crippled the economy of adjacent communities, destroyed communities’ social fabric, put the health of communites’ most vulnerable people at risk–including the safety of children and families, while entrapping communities in poverty. We ask for state funding to establish a minimum percentage of funding and a robust process for prioritizing projects that provide meaningful benefits to air quality, safety, and livability in disadvantaged communities across all transportation investments, ­­including providing job and workforce development opportunities for people living in disadvantaged communities. Does the proposal invest in jobs and clean, affordable mobility options for Californians trapped in poverty?