Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Breaking: LA County voters support safe, walkable neighborhoods and options other than driving

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 7, 2016
Primary Contact: Jessica Meaney
jessica@investinginplace.org
(213) 210-8136
Twitter: @InvestinPlace, #metrofundwalkbike, #metroplan
www.investinginplace.org

Alternate: John Guevarra
john@investinginplace.org
(310) 619-5611

STATEMENT: With a November Los Angeles County transportation sales tax, voters strongly support making streets safer for walking and funding alternatives to driving

LOS ANGELES, CA — Investing in Place, a Los Angeles non-profit whose mission is to create livable and safe communities, commissioned Goodwin Simon Strategic Research to survey Los Angeles County voters on their priorities for the use of transportation funds. This poll was funded in part by a grant from Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the American Heart Association.

On June 23rd, the Metro Board of Directors of Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (also known as Metro) will decide whether to approve an expenditure plan for a transportation sales tax in the November 2016 general election. Metro’s proposal, if passed by voters in November 2016, would be the region’s 4th transportation sales tax measure.

The survey conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research demonstrated strong voter support for using the revenue from a potential Los Angeles County Transportation sales tax measure to fund alternatives to driving and especially for investing in a county that is safer for walking.

Although there is certainly strong support for spending potential ballot measure funds on freeways, rail transit, and bus service, there is even stronger support for spending the revenue on alternatives to driving. In fact, interest in spending funds from the measure on such alternatives is much higher among those who say they would vote yes on it. In short, making alternatives to driving and especially walking and biking part of the funding priorities for the measure will earn it additional votes.

“We’re on the verge of truly aligning transportation funding with the needs of our communities,” said Jessica Meaney, Managing Director of Investing in Place, “Our survey shows Los Angeles County voters want — and are willing to vote for — investments in making their neighborhoods walkable, bikeable, and easier to get to public transit and bus stops.”

The survey found that support for using ballot measure funds on more freeway lanes (65% in favor) is actually lower than support for investments in making it easier and safe to walk and bike:

  • 83% favor using funds from the measure to make it easier and safer for children to walk or bike to schools.
  • 81% favor using ballot measure funds to improve crosswalks so they are safer for people walking.
  • 74% favor using ballot measure funds for fixing sidewalks, including more street trees, benches, wider sidewalks, lighting, and more separation from cars.
  • 61% favor using ballot measure funds on additional bike paths and bike lanes.

Whereas most County voters are regular walkers, and a lower but still notable 25% bike at least once a month, those proportions could be higher if Los Angeles County addressed concerns about safety from crime and safety from crashes while walking or biking — this could include better lighting, safer crosswalks, and smoother surfaces for strollers, bikes, and wheelchairs.

Two-thirds of Los Angeles County voters would walk or bike more if the streets felt safe — this number jumps to 78 percent for women under age 60, and up to 80 percent of Latinos,” said Tamika Butler, Executive Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, “People should be able to walk and bike to school, to the store, and to the park without risking their lives. It would be a missed opportunity to spend billions making it easier to drive across the county when so many of our residents can’t even walk safely to the bus stop or bike to the train station.”

Official traffic data estimates people walking and biking represent 19 percent of all trips in Los Angeles County, yet make up 39 percent of those killed in traffic collisions. In low-income communities of color, people walk and bike at higher rates and are at even greater risk of being hit and killed due to lack of investment in safe streets.

“A majority of voters across Los Angeles County support using transportation funds to fix our sidewalks,” said Emilia Crotty, Policy and Program Manager for Los Angeles Walks. “Besides protecting people from injury, we need to avoid the legal mess cities get tangled in when people fall and hurt themselves on our sidewalks. Repairing broken sidewalks is not only the right thing to do, but is a smart fiscal strategy to avoid legal fees in the long run. It also increases transit use by making it easier for people to walk to train stations and bus stops.”

Anisha Hingorani, Policy and Program Manager for Multicultural Communities for Mobility said, “Investing in Place’s survey found that 64% would walk or bike more if the sidewalks were in good repair and accommodated strollers and wheelchairs. Over three-fourths of voters in Southeast Los Angeles, including the Gateway Cities subregion, want more funds to be spent on improving sidewalks. Repairing our sidewalks is a crucial first step to ensuring safe passage for all Los Angeles County residents, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. These community members have been historically shut out of public investment discussions and deserve equitable, walkable and bikeable neighborhoods.”

“There is a strong connection between the built environment and public health. Los Angeles County has a tremendous opportunity to leverage billions of dollars in public funds and invest it in improving walking and bicycling conditions throughout the region,” said Eric Batch, Vice President of Government Relations for the American Heart Association. “Investing in Place’s survey found that dedicating funds from the measure to make it safer for our young people to walk or bike to school or near their homes is extremely popular with voters. Also, with 83% of Metro bus riders getting to their stop by walking, funds from this measure can improve options for current bus riders and attract new riders to Metro’s transit system.”

Goodwin Simon Strategic Research conducted 601 interviews in Los Angeles County with a margin of error about plus or minus 4% at a 95% confidence level.

Other key findings of interest from the survey:

  • Just under two-thirds (65%) say they would vote yes on the measure, including 45% who say they would definitely vote yes.
  • Driving is the primary mode of transportation for Los Angeles County voters, and this is true across party, race, and geographic differences. However, voters have conflicted feelings about driving: most feel forced to drive and would prefer other options. For example, more than two in three voters overall (68%) and 79% of those who drive on a regular basis, would like to spend less time in their cars.
  • Among those who drive on a regular basis, 60% would like to be able to walk and bicycle more often to destinations like shops and schools. Among those who say they will vote in favor of the upcoming sales tax measure, 66% say they would like to be able to walk and bicycle more often.

The key findings memo can be found on Investing in Place’s website here: http://tinyurl.com/InvestingInPlaceSurvey

For information about Investing in Place, please visit www.investinginplace.org.

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