The future of California’s transportation in light of proposed changes

Read the full report: CaliforniaBikeBudgetProposal2013 

A new federal transportation program has cut dedicated bike/ped funding by a third, but it  maintained the program’s flexibility. The California Transportation Agency has proposed using that flexibility to actually increase bike/ped funding. However, the increase of approximately 30% is part of a plan to eliminate a number of long standing bike/ped programs into a larger consolidated Active Transportation Program (ATP).

The California Bicycle Coalition supports the consolidation of existing programs into the ATP because it supports the single most important strategy to accomplish our goal of tripling bicycling by 2020: increasing the state’s investment in bicycling infrastructure. As this report shows, the ATP’s funding is a small fraction of the $8 billion needed to build the necessary bicycle networks, but it is an incredibly cost-effective investment as this report also shows. The ATP is a good start, but its size should dramatically increase and its rules should leverage much more local funding and locally-controlled funding. These proposals will enable more Californians to bike and induce millions more bike trips every day.

Eight billion dollars over the next ten years, say, is a small fraction of the nearly $300 billion expected to be spent on transportation in that time frame, and it will have sensational benefits. For every $1 million invested in bicycle infrastructure there is a $2.8 million dollar return on healthcare. Replacing short distance trips (2-mile trips account for 40% of all trips in California) with bike trips could change communities and help achieve our state’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. In communities with safe biking networks bikers shop more frequently, closer to home, and spend more per capita, partially because 75% of every dollar spent on gas is dedicated to crude oil.

We propose a number of ways that the state can induce the increase in bicycling investment necessary to triple the amount of biking in California:

  1. Establish an official goal of tripling biking, and require annual reporting.

  2. Require transit capital projects to dedicate 1% of funding to strictly bicycle access.

  3. Strengthen the complete streets requirement by requiring safe bike accommodations on every project or a set-aside 1% of the budget for bike safety.

  4. Increase the ATP to at least $300 million per year.

We also propose a number of ways the state’s investment can leverage the greatest change on behalf of more bicycle-friendly communities:

  1. Provide some very large grants, in the range of $25-$50 million, for communities that are prepared to develop whole networks that meet certain standards and who are willing to match state funding with a similar amount of local money.

  2. Provide some relatively small grants to projects that are similar to the projects currently funded by the Safe Routes to School program and the Bicycle Transportation Account.

  3. Require the adoption of strong complete streets policies to qualify for state funding.

  4. Hire staff at the California Transportation Commission to ensure the success of the Active Transportation Program.

  5. Require the incorporation of best practice in bikeway designs including the use of protected bikeways.