SoCal Regional Network

SR2S_NP_RNET_SoCalifornia_rgbThe Southern California Safe Routes to School Network, formed in January 2010, is working with partners and government agencies to leverage additional funding resources and supportive policies to advance Safe Routes to School in Southern California.  Our Regional Scope includes 7 Counties: Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura. We are working to share best practices and maximize the variety of areas of Southern California expertise and leadership to:

  • Increase physical activity in school aged children by increasing opportunities for children to walk and bicycle to schools.
  • Leverage additional resources and policy changes to support walking and bicycling to schools and improvements to the built environment.
  • Build partnerships with regional and local agencies, non-profits and community members to ensure that Southern California SRTS and SR2S funds are being expended on quality projects in the region, and that these funded projects are being constructed.

To read more about what the Southern California Regional Network is doing in  your county read our Southern California Active Transportation Platform. For questions please contact Jessica Meaney (jessica@saferoutespartnership.org).

State of the Region – Halftime Update

Looking back to the momentous and unanimous adoption of the Southern California Association of Governments’ (SCAG) 2012 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS), there is a lot to be proud of and quite a bit of work left to do.

Successes: Over the past two years a number of important planning and policy successes have been achieved at both SCAG and the County Transportation Commissions (CTCs). These policies and planning efforts will develop a clear framework to support the need for additional active transportation infrastructure improvements and programmatic activities. Of particular importance are the Joint Work Programs that have been adopted between SCAG and the CTCs. The Joint Work Programs commit SCAG and the CTCs to make significant improvements with Complete Streets implementation, countywide Safe Routes to School plans, improved performance metrics, improvements in modeling active transportation trips and expedited active transportation funding. Below are some of the policy documents that will guide the implementation of the 2012 RTP/SCS.

In addition to the these policy advancements, there are growing coalitions and champions that support the integration of public health and active transportation into the larger planning dialogue. The National Partnership believes that the continued growth of these networks will be key to expanding support for active transportation and improving public health outcomes – especially in our disadvantaged communities.

Challenges: Despite the great strides made by county and local agencies, there is still much to be done. This can be highlighted by the release of Metro’s Draft Short Range Transportation Plan and OCTA’s Draft Long Range Transportation Plan in 2014. While the 2012 RTP/SCS tripled the projected funding for active transportation to $6.7 billion, the Metro plan allocates less than 1 percent of funding, and the OCTA plan allocates just over 1 percent to active transportation funding. In addition, while the 2012 RTP/SCS outlines performance metrics and goals related to public health outcomes for physical activity, air quality and greenhouse gas reductions, neither of the two plans adequately addresses these issues.

The National Partnership believes that a number of policy changes needs to be implemented at each of the CTCs to ensure that the priorities outlined in the 2012 RTP/SCS are accomplished by the CTCs. The first step is to ensure that the CTCs implement the Joint Work Programs that have been signed with SCAG. Through these programs, improved modeling, data collection and performance metrics will be developed that will help give our policy makers clear choices when making transportation investments. An example of how this could be achieved was recently highlighted by the San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), which used a new performance assessment to rank large projects and prioritize them based on clear policy goals.

Equity and disparities in access need to be addressed. Many of California’s most disadvantaged communities are located within the SCAG region. Future transportation investments need to be prioritized that reduce public health outcomes related to physical inactivity, poor air quality and crash rates. To do this we will need to expand our use of data to analyze the impacts of our transportation investments on these communities, and to ensure that they also receive a fair share of investments to allow access to jobs, open space and educational opportunities. One example of this type of planning is the use of the new CalEnviroScreen Tool  to help prioritize applications to the State Active Transportation Program.

Opportunities: The energy and excitement that has been developed around active transportation and public health through the 2012 RTP/SCS process will need to be maintained over the next two years to ensure the 2016 RTP/SCS goes even farther to improve conditions for active transportation. The National Partnership believes that by focusing on three objectives we can maximize the opportunities for success over the next two years: 1) expand planning and project list development for active transportation projects; 2) improve performance metrics and monitoring for all projects; and 3) expand funding for active transportation projects.

Currently, in Southern California it is difficult to estimate the total funding needed to improve conditions for active transportation because many agencies have never adopted bicycle, pedestrian and Safe Routes to School master plans. The National Partnership believes that by working with cities, counties and other regional agencies to expand planning for active transportation we can develop better funding estimates and justify additional investments.

SCAG’s efforts to improve their Scenario Planning process and modeling should be supported and monitored to ensure that they accurately predict the benefits of active transportation. To this end the National Partnership worked with over 20 agencies to draft a letter asking for a “Jobs, Health and Quality of Life Scenario” to be developed in the next RTP/SCS. With this scenario we hope to refine the 2012 RTP/SCS and shift investments for active transportation into the early years of the plan. The National Partnership also recently released a report on how agencies around the state can improve their capacity to improve data collection and modeling for active transportation. By improving modeling and scenario development, SCAG will be able to clearly demonstrate the benefits of these projects and expand support for further investments.

Of course the key to building active transportation infrastructure is funding. In order to expedite active transportation investments, invest in clean transportation options, prioritize infill around transit stations, reduce chronic health disparities and improve access to goods and services using active transportation we will need a significant shift in the funding priorities at each of the CTCs. Over the next several years several of the 1/2 cent sales tax measures such as Measure I in San Bernardino County will be up for review. Other counties such as Los Angeles are discussing brand new sales taxes such as Measure R2. Additionally, State and Federal funding sources such as Cap and Trade dollars and Active Transportation Program funding are currently in play. If the SCAG region is to lead the nation in advancing active transportation each of these sources will need to be leveraged to meet the $6.7 billion needed in SCAG’s 2012 RTP/SCS. If this can be accomplished, the entire region will all reap the benefits of cleaner air, reduced health care costs, reduced congestion and a higher quality of life.

 

 

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