Authors: Jessica Meaney and Eric Bruins, Photography: Rudy Espinoza
Earlier this month, Investing in Place held a transportation policymakers breakfast in partnership with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) to discuss best practices for funding active transportation with county transportation sales taxes. We were joined by elected officials, staff and key partners from across Los Angeles County.
Metro Directors Mike Bonin and Hilda Solis opened the meeting with their vision for a walkable and bikeable region. Bonin encouraged policymakers to think differently about what we fund for transportation by looking beyond the commute at all trips that people make–taking kids to school, going to the doctor, to the store–and how investing in a multi-modal transportation system could strengthen communities, not just shorten commutes.
Solis challenged the group to think of investments in the built environment as a justice issue, and a critical issue for the region’s public health. Solis recalled the ease and enjoyment she had riding her bicycle in Washington DC and how the potential 2016 transportation ballot measure could support making that possible for more residents here in Los Angeles County. She also emphasized the importance of stakeholders getting involved now as the Metro Board develops its funding priorities.
Los Angeles County is one of the strongest self-help counties in the nation for transportation investments, with close to 70 percent of the county’s transportation funding coming from existing local sales taxes (Propositions A and C and Measure R). However, none of these existing three sales taxes dedicate a significant amount of funds towards improving walking and bicycling conditions or access to transit. As Metro considers putting a fourth transportation sales tax on the 2016 ballot, there is broad support among policy leaders and the general public in support of walking and bicycling, safe routes to school and improving first and last mile connections to transit. Recent research by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and LACBC estimates this unfunded need at $20 billion over thirty years to make up for historical underfunding and deferred maintenance. Walking and bicycling represent a 19% mode share in the County and 39% of roadway fatalities, yet only one percent of funding identified in the 2009 Metro Long Range Transportation Plan is allocated to active transportation investments, recently reconfirmed by the 2014 adoption of a Short Range Transportation Plan with the same funding level. At this month’s breakfast, policymakers voiced strong support for using the potential ballot measure to reverse these trends.
We invite you to join us at our open partner meeting on March 5th in downtown Los Angeles to learn about our latest research and recommendations, and support our efforts to ensure that future investments can advance our vision of healthier and more socially equitable transportation. Please RSVP today and join this discussion!