Efforts in Los Angeles County – transition and looking ahead

It is bittersweet that we share the news that Jessica Meaney will be leaving the Safe Routes to School National Partnership team at the end of this year to pursue deeper transportation finance work in LA County.  We are excited for this new phase in Jessica’s career and look forward to continuing to work together as partners to advance active transportation and Safe Routes to School in the Southern California region.

Since 2012, the National Partnership has worked with our local partner the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) to lead the Los Angeles County Active Transportation Collaborative, an open and inclusive space to discuss issues around finance and implementation for walking and bicycling. In that time, we have achieved representation on Metro’s Technical Advisory Committee, additional funding from Metro Express Lanes and the Call for Projects, a motion to create an Active Transportation Finance Strategy and, most recently, a countywide Complete Streets Policy. Throughout, we have hosted convenings with community-based organizations, business and labor leaders, elected officials and public agency staff. This effort has truly been collaborative with so many partners across the county.

I (Jessica) have been tremendously honored to be a part of national, state, regional and local efforts that support the Safe Routes to School movement for the past five years and remain personally committed to the movement. Through my transition, the Active Transportation Collaborative will be evolving to respond to emerging policy opportunities in LA County such as a broad policy platform anchored in health and social equity for Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan update and a potential new transportation ballot measure. I am excited to start this new chapter in my professional life and continue to work with partners across the county, including the National Partnership and LACBC.

The National Partnership will be hiring a new staff member to join our team in Southern California to continue supporting Safe Routes to School allies in the seven Southern California counties.

Thanks to all of you for your amazing partnership and we both look forward to continuing to work with you to advance healthier and more equitable communities in Southern California and statewide!

Please don’t hesitate to contact Jeanie Ward-Waller with any questions.

Our best,

Jeanie Ward-Waller and Jessica Meaney

AHSC Program update, comments from statewide walk/bike advocates

UCD West Village Family KAREN HIGGINS UC DAVISCalifornia’s Strategic Growth Council (SGC) convened a series of workshops last month on the draft guidelines for the new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Program funded with $120 million of Cap-and-Trade funds in the first year. The AHSC Program is a possible new source of funding for walking and bicycling projects, through proposals that integrate affordable housing, transit connections, and other land uses to maximize reduction of single-occupancy vehicle travel and greenhouse gas emissions. The National Partnership, along with our active transportation and cross-sector partners as well as housing developers, and local and regional agencies around the state, have been following the development of the guidelines closely and weighing in with recommendations for improvement.

Our statewide active transportation coalition submitted a letter during last month’s guidelines comment period outlining our priorities for ensuring the AHSC Program includes strong incentives for innovative active transportation improvements. Our key asks in the letter are:

1. Require applicants to complete walk/bike networks within an acceptable radius of the project for walking and bicycling.
2. Award extra points for connecting many destinations in a walk/bike network, in addition to the primary affordable housing and transit destinations.
3. Increase incentives for projects that maximize health and safety co-benefits.
4. Ensure meaningful, robust public engagement and assistance for disadvantaged communities.
5. Reward jurisdictions that adopt strong policies to incentivize walk and bike improvements beyond projects that receive program funding.
6. Disallow eligibility for uses that support single-occupancy vehicle travel, such as for minimum parking allowances and road repaving.

You can read the full text of our active transportation coalition letter here.  The National Partnership also submitted a letter as a lead member on the Sustainable Communities for All Coalition that outlined similar priorities for walking and bicycling, in addition to recommendations for affordable housing and avoided displacement, transit ridership, and green infrastructure.

SGC staff plans to release the final draft guidelines early in December for Council adoption at their mid-December meeting. Concept proposals from potential applicants will then be due in February 2015. More information is available on the Strategic Growth Council website.

Advocates Raise Concerns About Possible Changes to MTC Complete Streets Requirement

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Advocates are weighing in to ensure any changes to MTC’s Complete Streets policy are made with adequate input from active transportation advocates. MTC’s Complete Streets policy is part of the One Bay Area Grant (OBAG). MTC requires jurisdictions to pass a resolution or certify that their General Plan complies with California’s Complete Streets Act in order to receive OBAG funds. Over ninety-percent of jurisdictions have complied with this policy.
However, jurisdictions that passed a resolution must also update their General Plan by the end of January 2015. There have been discussions about MTC possibly delaying, changing, or eliminating this aspect of the requirement. Advocates have delivered a sign on letter with 12 signatories to MTC expressing our concern that any change to the requirement not be made until there has been considerable discussion and input from an array of walking, bicycling, Safe Routes to School, and active transportation stakeholders and advocates.

MTC Updates Policies Related to Active Transportation

MTC Updates Guidance on Countywide Transportation Plans (CTPs) 
MTC has released an update to its guidance to counties on how to update their Countywide Transportation Plans. Thanks to the hard work of active transportation and equity advocates, the guidance specifies that counties must MTC Logoaddress active transportation needs, Complete Streets, and Safe Routes to School in their plans, as well as conduct an equity analysis.
MTC Finalizes Guidance on TDA-3 Requirements
MTC released a final guidance on complying with requirements to receive TDA-3 funds. This was the end of a long-standing campaign to keep in place a requirement that recipients of TDA-3 funds maintain a Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) or utilize an appropriate countywide committee. This process started with advocacy last year that included key MTC committee and commission votes.

Bay Area Regional ATP Awards Finalized

On November 12, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) approved the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) list of awards for the 2014 Regional Competitive ActiMTC Logove Transportation Program (ATP). MTC approved funding 11 projects totaling $30.9 million in the counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and for the regional bicycle share program. The final description of projects can be found here.

Forty percent of the state ATP funding is being awarded by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in urban areas with populations more than 200,000. At least 25% required to benefit disadvantaged communities. MTC’s share of the ATP funding for 2014 was about $30 million. MTC received 127 applications requesting over $200 million.

AHSC Grant Program – Draft Guidelines out for comments, workshops this week

UCD West Village Family KAREN HIGGINS UC DAVISA couple of weeks ago the Strategic Growth Council released draft guidelines for the Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities (AHSC) Grant Program, a potential new source of funding for walking and bicycling in California.  $120M in grants will be awarded in Spring of 2015 for shovel-ready proposals that integrate many aspects of sustainable communities such as affordable housing development, transit improvements and ridership programs, urban greening and other green infrastructure, along with active transportation network connections to other key destinations.  The goal of the AHSC Program is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, invest equitably in disadvantaged communities, and maximize public health, environment, and economic co-benefits.  Read more of this post

Advocacy Tour: A new model for advancing healthy active places?

Healthy Active Places Tour gets a send-off from Sacramento area cyclists.

Sacramento, CA – Eight energetic women- aged 26 to 63-embarked on a bicycle-powered mission to get schools in the Central Valley ready for Safe Routes to School. Hopes were high among the riders as they departed the State Capitol on a misty Sunday morning. Resource kits for school principals had been assembled, prizes for school assemblies were packed, and a shiny new bicycle to give away was hanging in the back of the support vehicle. Will anyone care about Safe Routes to School? The question was on everyone’s mind as they headed south for the 300 mile adventure.

Read more of this post

Update: LA Metro Complete Streets Policy

Metro_logo.1Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Metro board sustainability committee adopted a long-awaited Complete Streets Policy for the transportation agency. Metro is responsible for the planning, funding, development and operation of Los Angeles County’s increasingly multimodal transportation system. This new policy will govern Metro’s performance of all of its many responsibilities, as well as require local cities to adopt complete streets policies of their own in order to qualify for Metro grants. Read more of this post

$9.8 Million Available through Caltrans Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants

Caltrans has released the Call for Applications for the 2015-2016 Sustainable Transportation Planning Grants. $9.8 million is available to regional and local government agencies through two programs—the Strategic Partnerships grants and the Sustainable Communities grants.

The Strategic Partnerships grants fund planning projects that address statewide/interregional deficiencies in the state highway system and strengthen government-to-government relationships. Example project types include corricaltrans logodor studies, studies for relinquishment of state routes, transportation demand management plans, and system investment prioritization plans.

The Sustainable Communities grants fund planning projects that address multimodal transportation deficiencies, encourage stakeholder collaboration, involve active public engagement, and integrate Smart Mobility 2010 concepts. Example project types include Safe Routes to School plans, complete street plans, bicycle and pedestrian safety enhancement plans, health equity transportation studies, and studies that evaluate accessibility and connectivity of the multimodal transportation network.

Applications are due October 31st!

We encourage communities to apply for these grants as they are excellent opportunities to move your multimodal transportation initiatives forward. The National Partnership is available to support your efforts to work with Caltrans to create a balanced, comprehensive multimodal transportation system by providing feedback on your application or through a formal partnership as a sub-applicant. Please contact Michelle Lieberman, Technical Assistance Project Manager, at michelle@saferoutespartnership.org to discuss ways in which we can support your efforts.

Visit http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tpp/grants.html for more information about the grants and to download application materials.


Planada’s Huge Welcome …And, a Ride into the Mountains

The HAPT Team rolled into Houlihan Park in Planada yesterday morning to find over 100 parents, teachers, school administrators, and students ready to walk to Planada Elementary. The school even arranged to have the buses drop kids off for the event so that everyone could get exercise. The energy was high and kids were excited to have their picture taken with the  HAPT Team and their school mascot.


Planada Elementary Students at Houlihan Park for Walk to School Event


Whole families came out for the Walk to School Event!


After a short walk to the school we led an assembly for several hundred students and -in partnership with the school and community members- gave away FIVE (!!) bikes. Planada’s community has so much going for them. Already they’ve made improvements – and we can’t wait to see what is in store!


Principle Lopez gets the students ready for the Healthy Active Places Team.


The ride from Planada to our campout at Indian Flat Campground was beautiful, hot, hilly, and wonderful. We rode through rolling hills of grasses and crept up arid foothills until we were riding through a sparse pine forest that peaked at town Midpines before a huge 7.5 mile descent that dropped down to the last winding 12 miles along the Merced River.

We’re halfway through the tour, and while we can’t wait to be home, we don’t want the experiences at schools to end.



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