SCAG Creates Active Transportation Division and Subcommittees!
July 23, 2012 3 Comments
As a result of the tireless efforts of stakeholders and coalition members, who voiced their concerns about the 2012 – 2035 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategies (RTP/SCS), the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is creating a new active transportation department and subcommittees in the transportation committee to address public health, active transportation, and transportation finance.
We first heard the potential for an active transportation department from Hasan Ikhrata, SCAG’s Executive Director, during a panel discussion at the California Pedestrian Counts Conference in May 2012. Since then we have been waiting patiently to see how this statement would play out. The wait is finally over! The reorganization was formally communicated at SCAG Regional Council meeting in June 2012 and in SCAG news updates on July 10, 2012 (link). Executive Director Ikhrata confirmed his earlier statement:
“During the public hearings for the Draft 2012-2035 RTP/SCS, we heard many testimonies from local citizens and elected officials on the need to increase bike infrastructure investments and improve safety for bicyclists and pedestrians…By creating a formal Active Transportation department, we are shifting roles to implement our landmark long-range plan and better meet the needs of our stakeholders.“
We must celebrate our victories and acknowledge the efforts required to get here. These huge milestones for transportation advocates were achieved through a combination of energies. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the great achievements by our partners. First, advocates set the stage for discussions about the RTP/SCS by collaborating and increasing the avenues for public participation and transparency. Second, research and documentation begin to illustrate the alarming health, economic, environmental, and social consequences of unchecked growth in Southern California. Third, the passage of legislation, SB 375 and AB 32, to address land use and transportation planning brought created a forum for like-minded advocated that did not necessarily have a stake at SCAG prior to this legislation. As a result of SB 375, transportation planning had to factor health, equity, environmental sustainability and transportation options. Finally, active transportation advocates actively participated to make the issues in the RTP/SCS known and understood by elected officials and SCAG staff. These efforts lead to the passage of a post-implementation motion by the SCAG Regional Council members to take a longer and deeper look into active transportation planning, data funding.
The SCAG reorganization is an effort to align the functions of the departments with the goals in the RTP/SCS. At the July 2012 SCAG Regional Council meeting, RC members approved the creation of 6 subcommittees “to facilitate information exchange and policy development around their respective emphasis areas, identify regional priorities, and help facilitate the implementation of the 2012-2035 RTP/SCS.” (link to July 2012 agenda) The 6 subcommittees focus areas are (1) active transportation, (2) goods movement, (3) high-speed rail and transit, (4) public health, (5) transportation finance, and (6) sustainability. While, the relevant subcommittees have only 6 month life span to make policy recommendations and collect data for prioritization. Each subcommittee will be staffed by Regional Council members, who self-selecting to participate in each subcommittee. Their recommendations will be voted on by committees and the larger body of SCAG Regional Council member.
With these changes, we will expect to see long and short term impacts to regional active transportation policy. The journey has not quite ended but we have time to reflect and strategize for the next SCAG fiscal year. This is another reminder that going forward public participation and education are some of our strongest tools.