On May 14 (Bike to Work Day in LA and the Bay Area), the Governor released his “May revise” budget proposal, and despite over $1 billion in new available revenues, we were disappointed that the Active Transportation Program (ATP) did not see an increase in funding. Earlier this spring, 120 organizations statewide called for an additional $100 million to build out bicycling and walking networks statewide, and high demand for the program at the local level far outpaced available funding in the first grant cycle. A hallmark of Caltrans sustainability efforts, the ATP is California’s statewide competitive grant program dedicated to increasing walking and bicycling, especially in underserved communities.
The May revise includes an expenditure plan for $2.2 billion in Cap-and-Trade revenue from auction proceeds–more than twice the amount in the January budget proposal–which is the most likely source of new ATP dollars. However, most of the Cap-and-Trade revenue is slated to boost funding to the same set of programs in the January expenditure plan, with a small portion directed to a few new programs related to drought management, energy efficiency, and healthy soils.
While walking and bicycling improvements are technically eligible in several of the Cap-and-Trade programs that received a boost in the May revise, these programs primarily focus on public transit and affordable housing development. These programs’ constraints on project financing and development limit their ability to fund meaningful walking and bicycling projects critical for shifting the nearly ⅔ of trips in California under 1 mile that are currently taken by car. Walking and biking must be a core component of the Cap-and-Trade expenditures in order to reduce vehicles miles traveled (VMT) and ultimately, to help the California achieve our ambitious climate change goals.
The ATP continues to be the most effective source for robust bicycling and walking projects that create safe travel corridors, connect people to transit, provide Safe Routes to School, improve intersections, and close key gaps between destinations for people who walk and bicycle. Furthermore, these projects are essential to improving access to transit and regional economic opportunity for California’s rural disadvantaged communities. Our broad coalition–which includes environmental, affordable housing, transit, parks, public health, social equity, and walking and bicycling advocates, among others–will continue to push for $100 million directly into the Active Transportation Program in the final budget.
The Legislature will review the May revise in a second round of budget hearings over the next few weeks, and the final 2015-16 State Budget must be adopted by June 15.
Support the push for more ATP funding at bit.ly/IncreaseATP.
Statement issued by the Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership including the California Bicycle Coalition, California Walks, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, California Park and Recreation Society, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, TransForm, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, and PolicyLink.