In response to Metro’s draft expenditure plan released the morning of March 18th, Investing in Place and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition released the following statement:
Community and Transportation Advocates Call for More Funding for Walking, Biking, and Safe Routes to School
This morning, Metro released the draft expenditure plan for their potential ballot measure identifying the agency’s funding priorities for over $100 billion in new sales tax revenue over the next 40 years.
Metro’s proposal, if passed by voters in November 2016, would be the region’s 4th transportation sales tax measure. The previous measures have failed to dedicate funding for safe routes to school, improving first/last mile access to transit, and ensuring our communities are safe places to walk and bicycle.
With so little funding in previous measures, transportation advocates were optimistic that this new measure would finally begin addressing the overwhelming need for active transportation funding in Los Angeles County. Active transportation refers to non-motorized modes of travel like walking, biking, and rolling. Earlier this month, Metro’s draft Active Transportation Strategic Plan estimated that between $740 million and $1.7 billion per year was needed to build out a robust network for walking and biking in Los Angeles County over 20 years. The draft expenditure plan only proposes to spend a small fraction of this amount.
Other counties in California dedicate much more funding from sales tax measure to walking, biking, and safe routes to school than is proposed by Metro. Based on best practices from Alameda County and elsewhere, Investing in Place and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition recommend that Metro dedicate at least 10 percent for active transportation. Metro’s proposal is less than half of this recommendation. We look forward to working with our community and public agency partners to demonstrate broad support for greater funding for walking, biking, and safe routes to school.
People walking and biking represent 19 percent of all trips in Los Angeles County, yet make up 39 percent of those killed in traffic collisions. In low-income communities of color, people walk and bike at higher rates and are at even greater risk of being hit and killed due to lack of investment in safe streets.
“What we’re looking for in this expenditure plan is how Metro is making it safer for people on the trips they take every day in their communities,” said Tamika Butler, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “People should be able to walk and bike to school, to the store, and to the park without risking their lives. It would be a missed opportunity to spend billions making it easier to drive across the county when so many of our residents can’t even walk safely to the bus stop or bike to the train station.”
Reinforcing the need for safe streets for people of all ages and abilities, Nancy McPherson, State Director of AARP California stated, “While transportation is a critical link between older adults and the services they need, many community designs do not encourage those who travel by foot, bicycle, or wheelchair. We, at AARP, believe that what makes a community livable for an older adult, should have the same effect for everyone.”
“Walking, bicycling, and safe routes to school is not and never was a special interest… it’s a common interest,” said Jessica Meaney, Managing Director of Investing in Place. “It is something we all do in some way or another to get around our neighborhoods and to fulfill daily needs – and, it’s a necessary mode of travel for some of our most vulnerable people – seniors, students, low-income community members, and individuals with disabilities.”
Investing in Place and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition appreciate that, for the first time, funding for walking and biking has been included in the ballot measure. However, the need for active transportation is so great in the region that we call on Metro to increase this proposed investment to better match their peer agencies. Walking and biking are the most basic forms of mobility, particularly for low-income communities of color, people with disabilities, youth, and older adults – all of whom are at the greatest risk of being killed on unsafe streets. We encourage Metro to match the needs of Los Angeles County’s most vulnerable residents.
For information about Investing in Place, please visit www.investinginplace.org.
For information about the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, please visit www.la-bike.org.