Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Letter to Metro CEO Phil Washington: State of the Research on Active Transportation in Los Angeles County

As newly appointed Metro CEO Phil Washington settles into his role, Investing in Place and Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition (LACBC) were pleased to develop a policy brief summarizing research, stakeholder input and collaborative efforts to improve walking and bicycling conditions in Los Angeles County for his review.

A key element in the policy brief was the research conducted by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership and LACBC on Best Practices for Funding Active Transportation with County Transportation Sales Taxes. While 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), none of these existing three county transportation sales taxes dedicates a significant amount of funding towards improving safety and convenience for people walking, bicycling or accessing transit.

This research found, that since 2000, several California counties have set aside as much as 11 percent of sales tax revenues for walking, bicycling and safe routes to school projects and programs, providing a potential model for Los Angeles County as Metro again considers an additional sales tax measure. In addition, many counties subject all funding from the taxes to complete streets policies that require incorporation of walking and bicycling improvements into all projects, while Alameda County requires a minimum percentage of each municipality’s local return be dedicated to active transportation.

Since 2012, the National Partnership, LACBC and Investing in Place have conducted about a dozen convenings with elected officials, policy makers, public agencies and community based organizations across the Los Angeles region. Through these convenings we have found overwhelming support across the county and among the public, nonprofit and private sectors for increasing investments in active transportation. Stakeholders from public health, social and economic justice, environmental and business organizations have rallied around active transportation as a way to address the triple bottom line of environment, economy and equity. Moreover, participants in our convenings have expressed interest in expanding this agenda to address health and social equity outcomes from transportation generally. Our partners see active transportation not as an isolated goal, but as the entry point to expanding our focus on neighborhoods and communities. Read our June 2015 policy brief here.

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