Bicycling and walking will receive a 35% boost in dedicated state funding thanks to a bill just signed by the Governor. The bill restructures pedestrian, bicycle, trails, and Safe Routes to School programs into a single $129 million fund called the Active Transportation Program. The fund represents by far the largest state set-aside for bicycling and walking in the nation.
This milestone follows months of negotiations between the administration, legislature, and an ad hoc coalition coordinated by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership including California WALKS, California Bicycle Coalition, Rails to Trails Conservancy, PolicyLink, TransForm, Prevention Institute, California Pan-Ethnic Health Network, and the Public Health Institute.
Still, $129 million is about one percent of California’s transportation budget and barely a drop in the bucket compared to the need. As the California Transportation Commission establishes guidelines to govern how that money is spent, our priorities are the following:
- Make sure the funding supports good, ambitious bicycle planning, just like the Bicycle Transportation Account did. By “good and ambitious,” we mean plans that emphasize modern, low-stress bikeways not just bike lanes, and that provide an unbroken network that connects all neighborhoods in a community.
- Increase the size of the Active Transportation Program. The $129 million includes $83 million of federal funds. If the state were as committed to active transportation as the U.S. government (not a high bar), they would match the federal commitment with state dollars and increase the size to $166 million, still only about 1.5% of the budget.
- Leverage the ATP to encourage dedication of other state and local funds to active transportation.
- Improve the CTC’s attention to active transportation in its programming of other, bigger funds, like the $7.4 billion State Highway Operation & Protection Program and the $3.8 billion State Transportation Improvement Program funds.
The California Bicycle Coalition focuses on bicycling, especially everyday bicycling, but active transportation includes walking and recreating. Many allies are working hard with us on improving California for active transportation. For their perspectives, visit the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, California Walks, and California ReLeaf.