25 Days to Make Walking, Bicycling, and Transit a Priority

We have just 25 days to convince Governor Brown and legislative leaders to provide funding for alternative transportation, including public transit and bicycle & walking projects, in this year’s transportation funding package.

To aid in this effort, the California Transit Association has launched iTransit, a grassroots-style advocacy campaign designed to connect everyday Californians with their representatives in Sacramento to further promote the benefits of public transit and other modes of alternative transportation.  Using cutting-edge civic engagement software, iTransit makes it easy for transit riders and advocates to email, Tweet, and post on the Facebook walls of their state representatives in support of including alternative transportation funding in the work of this year’s special session.

If you:

  • Want better transit service?  Go to iTransit  and tell your state reps to support new money for public transit.  #iTransit #fundtransit
  • Believe walking, bicycling, and transit is key to healthier environment & economy. Visit iTransit  to support money for alternative transportation. #iTransit #fundtransit
  • Know that California thrives when all transportation modes work. Visit iTransit to urge your state reps to invest in all forms of transportation. #iTransit #fundtransit

We urge you – don’t delay, act now to promote iTransit!

California Legislature Adjourns in Memory of Deb Hubsmith

unnamedTributes and remembrances celebrating Deb Hubsmith’s legacy continue to pour in from partners, organizations, and those whose lives were impacted by Deb in California and across the nation. Deb’s family has shared a tribute and plans for her memorial services, as well as her obituary. A Celebration of Life for family, friends and the wider community is planned for Saturday, October 10 at the Mill Valley Community Center. More details will be forthcoming at lovehealingdeb.com and we will share them on our website as they are available.

Today, Deb would be especially proud to know that the California Assembly adjourned with a tribute honoring her life and work. Assemblymember Marc Levine, who represents the district where Deb lived, delivered a moving speech celebrating Deb and the impact that her work left on California and the nation. Deb would have been proud to know that the elected leaders and decision makers in her home state are remembering her life and legacy as they vow to continue investing in safe bicycling and walking infrastructure for every community in California.

In his remarks, Assemblymember Levine said:

“Deb was a passionate, creative, thoughtful, dedicated and tenacious advocate and leader in the movement for healthy, active communities. She brought incredible integrity and commitment to her work to advance safe routes for children and families to walk and bicycle to school and in everyday life. She simply did all the right things for all the rights reasons.”

Assemblymember Levine outlined Deb’s many achievements and accomplishments, both nationally and in California. He concluded by saying:

“In a final statement to the National Partnership’s staff and board members, Deb said, “I have so much gratitude for all of you. Thank you for growing and diversifying our movement for healthy kids, streets and communities.” If Deb were here today, she would call on all of us in the Legislature to continue to increase California’s investment in safe bicycling and walking infrastructure for every community in the state.”

The National Partnership thanks Assemblymember Levine and the California Assembly for this moving tribute to honor Deb.

Riverside County Active Transportation Network holds first meeting to discuss regional strategies

The Riverside County Active Transportation Network (RCATN) held its first meeting on August 19th to discuss active transportation opportunities and strategies for the County. A packed house filled the Riverside SCAG office and also included teleconferences sites at Coachella Valley Association of Governments and the Los Angeles SCAG office. Co-chaired by Taylor York of Western Riverside Council of Governments, Miguel Vasquez of Riverside County Health Department and facilitated by Marsie Huling of Riverside County Health Department, the group brought together a coalition of stakeholders including government officials and advocates.  The first meeting’s agenda included an overview of the group’s mission and goals. The meeting also includes regional updates on topics including Safe Routes to School’s Walk to School Day countywide activities and a debrief on the Active Transportation Program Cycle 2 process.

The group’s next meeting is scheduled for Fall 2015 and plans to meet on a quarterly basis. For more info on this meeting or how to get involved in future meetings, please email Taylor York at york@wrcog.cog.ca.us


Weighing in on guidance for cap-and-trade revenue

Last week, over twenty advocates – including the National Partnership – attended workshops across the state to give input on the concept paper for the second investment plan and the draft funding guidelines for agencies administering California’s climate investments. Both of these documents are important if we want to increase walking and bicycling and promote social equity statewide: The concept paper is the first step to developing a three-year investment plan for the Greenhouse Gas Emission Fund (GGRF). The concept paper will eventually become the three-year investment plan that the Legislature will use to determine future investments from GGRF in the state budget. And the funding guidelines provide direction for the vast number of State agencies, local transit agencies, and academic institutions that oversee funds from the GGRF.

For the concept paper, the National Partnership offered the following recommendations:

  • All transportation investments should contribute to climate, equity, and health goals: Ensure that all of California’s transportation investments, especially new investments, contribute to achieving California’s climate, equity, and health goals.
  • Discuss the implications of additional funding to the Active Transportation Program (ATP): Provide information to shows how additional funding to the ATP could be invested in larger grants that increase walk and bicycle network connectivity, provide safe routes to school, and improve neighborhood mobility.
  • Integration should be at the forefront: Discuss in-depth the need for California to achieve greater greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and co-benefits through integration of sectors and strategies.
  • Provide a robust analysis of the Needs: Both the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program and the Active Transportation Program (ATP) suffer from oversubscription due to the high need for these funding sources.
  • Expand Co-Benefits to show the many benefits from sustainable communities: The co-benefits from investments in sustainable communities go far beyond air quality and public health. Expand the co-benefits section to highlight safety, environment, and transportation benefits.
  • Protect against unhealthy land uses in residential communities: Include measures that will protect communities from harm.  Direct investment into projects and methodologies that reduce harm to communities.

For the draft funding guidelines, the National Partnership recommended the following:

  • Ensure a Meaningful and Robust Public Process: Prioritize community engagement and strengthen public participation for disadvantaged communities.
  • Expand GGRF Funds to include planning activities that will lead to projects that reduce GHG: Invest GGRF Funds in pilot projects that reduce GHG and elevate best practices.
  • Maximize GGRF Co-Benefits to Disadvantaged Residents and Communities: Increase housing and transit opportunities and provide robust technical assistance to disadvantaged communities.
  • GGRF Investments Should Not Directly or Indirectly Harm Disadvantaged Communities: Zero Emission Vehicles in DACs does not provide a meaningful benefit. Half mile proximity and zip codes as a proxies for benefit to disadvantaged communities is inadequate

Safe Routes to School National Partnership will continue to work with our partners to provide input to ensure that the investment plan and funding guidelines increase opportunities to fund and support active transportation and promote social equity. Keep checking our blog for more updates on this!

Comments were due on Friday, August 14th for the funding guidelines. However, the comment period is still open for the concept paper! Click here to submit comments – all written comments are due on September 1st.

Fresno COG Regional Forum

The Fresno Council of Governments (COG) will hold a regional forum on transportation issues on October 14. 

When: Wednesday, October 14, 2016
Where: Doubletree Hotel by Hilton — Fresno Convention Center
Time: 8:00 am to 3:30 pm

There will be presentations from federal and state and local transportation agencies, and discussions on transportation and public health, technology and more.

Confirmed speakers include Malcolm Dougherty, Director of the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), and Will Kempton, Executive Director of the California Transportation Commission.

Registration and other information is available here.


Registration Now Open for the AHOC Active Transportation Forum on October 16!

ahoc-logoThe Alliance for a Healthier Orange County (AHOC) is holding its annual Active Transportation Forum on Friday, October 16 from 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the University of California Irvine! Registration is free and now open! This forum is a great opportunity to hear all the great things happening in Orange County to promote safe walking and bicycling. The event will feature local and national speakers, including Leah Shahum of the Vision Zero Network and Mark Fenton, national walkability expert.

Event Details:

2015 Active Transportation Forum

Friday, October 16, 2015

8:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

The University Club, University of California, Irvine

The agenda is available here.

Event Description:

It’s that time year again and the Alliance for a Healthy Orange County is looking forward to the beginning of a new school year. It’s not just our kids who’ll be learning what’s new in the big, ever-changing world. Those of us striving to make Orange County a role model for complete streets have lots of new transportation ideas to share.

In the two years since the last Active Transportation Forum, southern California has shifted its thinking from cars, cars, cars to a more balanced approach to moving people. For many communities in O.C., integrating walking and biking facilities with every new project is now commonplace. But that has brought its share of challenges.
How do we create safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure when the roadway is curb-to-curb motor vehicles? Is it possible for pedestrians and bicyclists to share space with high-speed motor vehicles on an arterial roadway? How do we find the money to make changes? Do we need to entertain shifting priorities? Those aren’t easy questions to ask or answer.
One thing’s for sure: coming together makes a difference. At this year’s Active Transportation Forum, we’re bringing top-flight national advocates to share what’s needed to generate that “ah-hah” moment every community needs.
On board, we’ve got Leah Shahum, Founder and Director of America’s Vision Zero Network and Mark Fenton, nationally renowned expert on transportation, planning, and community health. Both bring a wealth of knowledge from dozens of communities coast to coast, all of whom have been in our shoes and on our saddles.
We hope you’ll join us October 16, 2015, at our third Active Transportation Forum. Click HERE to register.

SCAG Holding Environmental Justice Workshops on August 18 and 31

Screenshot 2015-07-17 17.27.13The Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) will be holding two workshops in late August to share progress on the Environmental Justice analysis being conducted as part of the 2016 update to the Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS). These will be a follow-up to the workshops conducted in April and focus groups conducted in July. The first one will be held in downtown LA on Tuesday, August 18 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., with videoconferencing from several locations available, as well as a call-in option. The second one will be held in the Inland Empire in Ontario on Monday, August 31 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is available here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Downtown LA with videoconferencing
SCAG Main Office
818 West 7th Street, 12th Floor
Los Angeles, CA 90017

Monday, August 31, 2015, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Inland Empire – Ontario
Ovitt Family Community Library
215 East C Street
Ontario, CA 91764

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, along with 32 other organizations, submitted a comment letter to SCAG on July 17, outlining our suggestions for improving the analysis. The full letter is available here. We are planning to meet with SCAG staff in early September to address our concerns and suggestions. Our recommendations include asking SCAG to commit to measuring active transportation usage and safety in the performance measures; map accessibility to schools, parks, jobs and other destinations; study the impact of gentrification and displacement on the region’s disadvantaged communities; and include more sub-regional analysis of health and environmental impacts.

SCAG has also released the analysis framework for the environmental justice analysis, which is available here. To see the previous environmental justice analysis from 2012, click here.

We encourage our partners to attend these workshops and voice your support for the suggestions in our comment letter and help us ensure a strong and meaningful environmental justice analysis as part of the the 2016 RTP/SCS!

Getting ready for Round 2 of the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities Program!

In late June, the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) approved the staff recommendations for the first round of awards for the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program. Out of 147 applications submitted, only 28 projects were awarded from the $120 million available.  However, with these awarded projects, it is estimated that we’ll see 723,286 metric tons in avoided greenhouse gas emissions – that’s the equivalent of taking 140,000 cars off the road for a year! And around 75 percent – or $92 million dollars – was awarded to disadvantaged communities. This is a huge step forward for these communities, which have suffered from years of underinvestment and neglect. Finally, around a quarter – or $32 million dollars – of AHSC funds went towards transit, walking and bicycling. These are big wins for California!

While there were big wins with the AHSC program, there were also places where the program could be improved to better support and integrate walking and bicycling into communities. For example, only 10 percent of the awarded AHSC projects went to active transportation!  In July, the SGC hosted two “Lessons Learned” workshops in both Northern and Southern California to hear from partners on what worked well and what could be improved. At these workshops, a number of groups – including the National Partnership – attended to suggest key changes to help the AHSC Program better implement its goals. Click here for more information on the Lessons Learned workshops!

For Round 2, the National Partnership recommends the following for the AHSC Program:

  1. Increased Transparency: Ensure the public understands how these projects successfully integrate affordable housing, active transportation, transit, urban forestry, green space and conservation by posting all applications and scoring evaluation criteria on-line.
  1. Creation of Technical Advisory Committee: Develop a technical advisory council of external stakeholders and key agency staff to guide the staff through the AHSC cycle. This will improve transparency and public participation.
  1. Remove key barriers to successfully fund transportation projects – specifically bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure – that will result in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG): Transportation and housing projects are planned and implemented at different scales and timelines, with different approval processes and funding constraints. Remove barriers such as the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) clearance threshold requirement from transportation projects so strong transportation projects that reduce GHG can apply for AHSC funds.
  1. Maximize Co-Benefits on Community Identified Priorities: There are many benefits for projects funded from the AHSC program, such as improved air quality and greater economic development. These co-benefits should be considered along with GHG reduction and extra points should be awarded for projects that provide multiple benefits.
  1. Strengthen ICP to Better Serve Rural and Small Urban Communities: The current transit requirements in the guidelines exacerbate disinvestment and limits GHG reduction strategies outside of an urban context. The program should better address opportunities for transportation investment in rural, unincorporated, and small urban communities.
  1. Improve Modeling Tools to Better Quantify GHG reductions from Active Transportation: The current modeling tool for the AHSC Program does not distinguish between projects more or less likely to create mode shift. In addition, modeling for active transportation primarily focused on access to transit when most walking and bicycling that replace short trips does not involve transit. The current model needs to be updated to address these concerns or if the model cannot address these issues, the guidelines need to be updated to create scoring incentives based on the co-benefits above.  
  1. Leverage other state funding sources such as the Active Transportation Program (ATP): One of the AHSC’s enabling statues is to increase options for mobility, including the implementation of the Active Transportation Program (ATP). The guidelines should increase points for projects leverage funds from the ATP.
  1. Strengthen Community Engagement Provisions: The program should require applicants to explain what steps were taken to ensure public participation and explaining how the public participation process resulted in project proposal where community identified needs emerged and are meaningfully reflected in the projects.

The National Partnership worked with the Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership (CATL) to submit comments, click here to see the full recommendations for the AHSC Program. We are excited for this program and believe it can be a model for other state funding sources. We will continue to work with our partners and agencies to ensure that the AHSC is a robust program that supports all elements of healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities.

California’s Transportation Funds Make Slow Strides to Sustainability

It’s increasingly understood that if California wants to meet its ambitious climate goals, we need to move away from transportation and land use planning that centers around the automobile. The state needs to align its transportation funding to support the creation of livable, healthy communities that integrate walking and bicycling to school, work, home, and key destinations. The State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) is one of the state transportation funding sources that has traditionally lacked strong ties to our state’s sustainability goals and primarily funded big, expensive highway projects. In fact, 81 percent of the 2014 STIP went to highway expansion while only 2 percent funded active transportation.

Over the past year, the National Partnership worked with key statewide partners to better align the STIP with our state’s ambitious goals to shift funding away from highway expansion to focus on creating livable communities where residents – especially children – could safely walk or bicycle. Our work has focused on shaping the 2016 STIP guidelines to better reflect California’s regional and statewide goals. Last week, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) held a workshop to update stakeholders on the 2016 STIP.  And there was some good news! From our previous comment letter to our most recent one, we saw the following improvements in the draft 2016 STIP guidelines:

  • Recognition of state goals: The 2016 STIP will now recognize regional and statewide goals and objectives in the improvement of the state’s multimodal transportation system
  • Simplified Performance Measures: Performance Measures went down from 34 to 14! They now focus on vehicle miles traveled (VMT), mode share, and fatalities/injuries per capita per mode
  • Improved transparency: the CTC will host workshops in Northern and Southern California on the Interregional Transportation Improvement Plan (ITIP) and all regional agencies will post their Regional Transportation Improvement Plans (RTIPs) on-line
  • Consideration of Governor Brown’s Executive Order B-30-15: The 2016 STIP guidelines require regional agencies to consider the Executive Order – which calls for 40 percent reduction from 1990 levels in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 – when considering new projects for the 2016 STIP
  • Identify the Exemptions: Regional agencies will now need to identify which proposed or current transportation projects are exempt from SB 375 – which set GHG reduction targets for each of the region’s transportation plans.

While we celebrate these improvements, there is still more work to be done to ensure that this state funding source prioritizes walking and bicycling. Right now – due to lack of funding – it is likely that the 2016 STIP Fund Estimate and Guidelines will be delayed from the original August adoption date. With that delay, the National Partnership will work with our partners to submit a follow-up letter to further emphasize that the 2016 STIP must prioritize transportation projects – specifically bicycle and walking – that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support our state goals.

For those who want to get involved, please email Chanell at chanell “AT” saferoutespartnership “DOT” org

Lessons Learned from the Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities Workshops

Last month, the Strategic Growth Council (SGC) announced the awards from the first round of Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities (AHSC) grants, allocating $120 million to 28 projects around the state that reduced greenhouse gas emissions by building affordable housing and integrating pedestrian, bicycle, and transit-friendly infrastructure with strategies that promote conservation and urban forestry. Right now, the SGC is holding workshops in both Northern and Southern California to gather feedback on the guidelines. In both regions, National Partnership staff shared comments with the Council and staff. If you want to weigh in on the AHSC guidelines, send your comments to AHSC@sgc.ca.gov. Comments are due on July 31st.


In Southern California, SCAG will host a forum on the AHSC program on Thursday, August 6 from 1:00-3:00pm. RSVP here.


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