LA County: Why Is It Important to Understand Transportation Finance?
February 22, 2013 2 Comments
In Los Angeles County, the popular narrative says that everyone drives all the time, and transportation policy has largely reflected this social understanding. However, active transportation modes are a significant form of mobility, calling into question the truth of the dominant narrative. As Los Angeles County implements state and regional policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as the Sustainable Communities Strategy from State Legislation SB 375, active transportation will play an even more important role in the transportation system, requiring additional investment to achieve regional objectives of clean air, healthy populations, reduced congestion, safe mobility options for all, and economic prosperity. As the County Transportation Commission, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is the primary agency responsible for planning, funding, and operating a regional transportation system in which:
- 19 percent of all trips made in Los Angeles County are completed on foot or by bicycle (2009 National Household Travel Survey: 17.6 percent walking and 1.4 percent bicycling);
- 34 percent of Los Angeles County students walk and bicycle to school (2009 National Household Travel Survey); and
- 39 percent of Los Angeles County roadway fatalities are people walking and bicycling (SWITRS 2010);
- One percent (1%) of Metro’s funding is dedicated to pedestrian and bicycling projects (Metro LRTP 2009 p.15)
Research shows that when streets are designed for safe walking and biking, fewer people are injured and killed in automobile collisions and more people walk and bike. Designing streets safe for walking and biking entails building and maintaining a network of sidewalks, bikeways, and street crossings that create safe and comfortable walking and biking environments that connect to transit, commercial centers, schools, parks and other destinations. Further, streets safe for walking and biking are designed to reduce vehicle speeds.
The Safe Routes to School National Partnership’s Southern California Network supports significantly increased funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements in Los Angeles County to rectify the current disparity between the percentage of transportation dollars invested in active transportation projects and mode share (i.e. the percentage of trips made by a particular form of transportation) and injury rates. Increased funding should be used to make streets safer for bicycling and walking, promote active transportation, improve access to and from transit, and support the implementation of state and regional transportation policy goals.
In order to better understand the funding sources and opportunities that exist for pedestrian and bicycling projects and document the flow of current Los Angeles County transportation revenue streams we have been researching, interviewing and meeting with various experts and stakeholders for over six months, as a result we are pleased to share our findings in our research paper: