California Transportation Equity Summit Roundup by Melinda Amato

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From Left to Right - Amanda Meza (Investing in Place), Melinda Amato (LACBC), California Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, and Lyndsey Nolan (LACBC). 

 

Last week, I headed up to Sacramento for the California Transportation Equity Summit with my colleagues Lyndsey Nolan and Monique G. López. We all headed to the conference excited about meeting like-minded people from across the state engaging in transportation equity work.

We started off the day listening to keynote speaker Diane Takvorian, Executive Director of Environmental Health Coalition, talk about why San Diego ranks lower than almost all major US cities when it comes to transportation equity. She spoke about the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and how it has been so poorly run that activists introduced AB 805. A bill that would require SANDAG to employ an independent auditor. Diane's words were a powerful reminder of the importance of holding our representatives accountable. When our elected officials and governing bodies are not standing for the principles we believe in, we must take action. 

 

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From Left to Right: Grecia Elenes (Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability), Karen Borja (Inland Congregations Unites), Carey Knight (ClimatePlan), and Alia Phelps (Alliance for Californians for Community Empowerment) speaking on a panel about statewide advocates and grassroots partnership. 

 

Later, I saw a panel featuring four incredible women talking about statewide advocacy and grassroots partnerships. One of those women, Karen Borja (Inland Congregations United) lives and works in a rural area and spoke to the needs specific to her community. She spoke about the importance of people visiting her community, spending money in her community, and listening to her community.

Authentic voices must drive our work. When we do not hear the voices of people with our experiences, we need to speak up ourselves and encourage others to do the same. Miroo Desai does this work from a planning perspective. She runs the Diversity Committee for American Planning Society’s Northern California chapter. Having conversations with Miroo about how we can incorporate diverse perspectives when we plan our streets and enact transportation policy gave me hope about our fight for transportation equity. Meeting partners with similar goals makes our work seem less daunting.

 

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Lyndsey & Melinda visit Ryan Pessah at California Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas' Capitol Office.

 

One thing I really appreciate about my work at LACBC is that, along with the rest of the Organizing team, I work with residents across the county around needs they have identified themselves. Having chapters across the county allows LACBC to listen to and learn from local perspectives on issues that matter most to people who walk and bike.

It’s everyday people who really bring impact to our work.  We’d love for you to join us in making this impact and making sure transportation equity is a reality across LA county. Joining one of our chapters or becoming a Neighborhood Bike Ambassador is easy and Bike Month is a perfect time to do it! Visit our website at http://www.la-bike.org/membership and help us grow our movement across the county.

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