Monday, May 16, 2016

Game Changer? Metro Board to consider funding first/last mile improvements

 

On Wednesday at 2:00 P.M., the Metro Planning & Programming Committee will consider adopting the Active Transportation Strategic Plan, a comprehensive document that outlines Metro’s role in planning, funding, building, and maintaining walking and biking infrastructure in Los Angeles County. This is an important opportunity to affirm Metro’s commitment to crosswalk upgrades, sidewalk repair, traffic signals, bicycle lanes, bus stops, and safe routes to school.

Top three reasons you should come support the Active Transportation Strategic Plan:

1) It’s a good plan. We reviewed the plan in March, and it does a great job assessing the need for improvements to make it safer and easier for people walking, rolling and bicycling in Los Angeles County. In particular, it highlights over 660 priority transit stops–bus and rail–for first and last mile access improvements, including terrific financial cost estimates. Metro can and should do more to make it safer to walk, roll and bike to the bus, to school school and other important neighborhood destinations, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color where people have fewer options, but this plan is an important step to integrate those needs into Metro’s planning. (You can read our full comment letter here.)

2) For the first time ever, the plan includes a cost estimate of how much funding it would take to make all communities in Los Angeles County safe and comfortable for people who walk and bike. It won’t come cheap–an estimated $11.0 to $29.5 billion over 20 years–but we’ve never before had a realistic starting point to talk about how much funding we need and how to get it. Wednesday is a great opportunity to remind the board to consider the huge need for walking and biking funding as they finalize the expenditure plan for the potential ballot measure next month. (Read and sign on to our expenditure plan comment letter, which calls for more funding for walking and biking, particularly in the Gateway Cities.)

3) Metro might get serious about first and last mile access to transit. Directors Eric Garcetti, Mike Bonin, Sheila Kuehl, Hilda Solis, Diane DuBois, and Ara Najarian have introduced a motion to complement the plan’s adoption by directing staff to plan and identify funding for improvements around the top 100 bus stops, bus rapid transit stops and train stations. If this motion passes, it will go a long way toward integrating access improvements into major transit projects, as well as fixing barriers to access around existing transit stops.  (You can read the motion here.)

Sometimes it can feel like so much planning and not enough implementation.  But in this case – Metro’s  First Last Mile Strategic Plan and Planning Guidelines  can greatly inform this funding effort which will lead to implementation.  In 2014, Metro studied the top transit access barriers across the County and found:

  1. Long Blocks – Transit Riders prefer direct routes to their destination – long blocks often equate to unnecessarily long routes, or unsafe crossing activity.
  2. Freeways – Freeways carve our region into a number of ‘pedestrian islands.’ Links between these islands are effectively broken by dark and unpleasant underpasses or equally challenging overpasses.
  3. Maintenance – Many of our basic walking and rolling surfaces are buckled, broken and generally impassable to all but the nimble footed.
  4. Safety and Security – Pedestrians in Los Angeles County are victim to some of the highest pedestrian fatality rates in the country. The neglect of infrastructure also adds to the concerns over personal security.
  5. Legibility – It is too easy to get lost in Los Angeles County. Effective transit systems utilize sophisticated yet simple signage and way finding strategies. These strategies do not currently extend much beyond station boundaries.

Will the potential November 2016 sales tax  – expected to generate up to $120 billion in public funds right these missed opportunities and focus on improving access and safety for transit riders? This week presents a opportunity for the Metro Board to do just that.

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Will you join us?

Metro Planning & Programming Committee

Wednesday, May 18 at 2:00 P.M.

Metro Board Room

One Gateway Plaza, 3rd Floor

Los Angeles, CA 90012

#metrofundwalkbike

 


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