As Los Angeles County considers a fourth transportation sales with potential to generate tens of billions of new transportation dollars, we look to best practices to guide the framework and metrics used to prioritize investments. And the City of Los Angeles Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan provides just that. It is an example of transportation policy that is based on data and need, taking precedence over political boundaries and supports a citywide vision.
In 2012 the City’s department of transportation (LADOT) launched the Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan to make the most of the city’s resources to address mobility needs for students and families and the 500 public school within the city limits. This strategic plan developed a prioritization and methodology for targeting the top 50 highest Los Angeles Unified District Schools (LAUSD) schools using the criteria:
- Collision rates
- Number of enrolled students living within walking distance and bicycling distance of the school (thanks to a critically valuable partnership the City of Los Angeles has developed with LAUSD)
- Percentage of students eligible for free and reduced lunches
- Determination if the school has previously received a Safe Routes to School State or Federal grant before
As a result of this data based strategic plan that addresses public health and social equity goals, in 2014 LADOT was successful in being awarded over $20 million from the State Active Transportation Program (ATP) to increase safety through street improvements around nine of the highest need schools, develop complementary safety and education campaigns and create school travel plans for the remaining top 50 high need schools. And the Safe Routes to School strategic plan is also a critical part of the City of Los Angeles Vision Zero efforts, enabling the city to layer on data, need, and prioritization methodology to address social equity and public health in not only in its policies but in its funding decisions.
This local example is a powerful story on how regional transportation funds could be allocated on need and desired safety and mobility outcomes using public health and social equity metrics, data, prioritization methodology and partnerships.