A major victory for CalBike this year has been the increase in funding of the newly-created Active Transportation Program (ATP). Months of negotiations and hard work have resulted in the increase of the ATP’s budget from $90 million to $129 million.
California’s transportation budget is $12 billion. Active transportation in the budget is dedicated towards means of transportation other than motor vehicles, i.e. walking and bicycling (bike/ped). Despite the many benefits of these modes of transportation, from health benefits that come directly from walking and bicycling to improvement of the environment, the transportation budget focuses much greater emphasis on motor vehicle transportation even though this is the money for instance that goes into creating safer school routes for children on a state level.
ATP should be much more than 1% of the entire transportation budget!
The ATP has to be increased to $1 billion per year because $129 million for making transportation easier and safer for bicyclists and pedestrians in California is simply not enough. Our major goal is to triple bicycling in California by 2020. For that, we’ll need $8 billion over the next seven years. To increase bicycling in California, we need to heavily invest in bike-specific infrastructure. Building that infrastructure will not only make bicycling feel safer, but also faster than any other form of transportation. That goal simply can’t be accomplished unless the ATP’s budget is increased dramatically year by year.
The increased state funding will bring in major benefits through bicycling. Here are the facts:
Every $1 million invested in bikeways returns between $1.2 and $3.8 million in health care savings alone. Nationally, 11.4 jobs are created for every $1 million invested in bicycling, compared to just 7.8 jobs created with that same investment in road-only projects. 40% of all trips in California are under two miles and studies show that ten people using their bike for a two mile trip is four times more eco-friendly than one person commuting twenty miles. We need more bicyclists! More than half of Californians would choose a bike for some of these trips if they felt the streets were designed with their safety in mind.
In the coming months and years, CalBike will be working with bicycling advocacy groups as well as ordinary Californians who ride bicycles to work on increasing the Active Transportation’s budget. For a healthier more prosperous state, our government needs to allocate more of the transportation budget towards bicycling and pedestrians.