Last week, Investing in Place and our partners spoke at two key Metro committee hearings to ensure adequate investments in walking, biking, safe routes to school, complete streets, and first and last mile planning. We were joined by our partners from Los Angeles Walks, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, Fixing Angelenos Stuck in Traffic, California Walks, Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Prevention Institute and Multicultural Communities for Mobility (MCM).
— Investing in Place (@InvestinPlace) June 16, 2016
Safe to say, the Metro Planning and Programming Committee unanimously approved the critical first and last mile motion proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Metro’s expenditure plan moved through Planning and Programming and Executive Committee without a hitch.
An unprecedented opportunity to invest in safe and walkable communities
In Los Angeles County, we have an unprecedented opportunity to invest in fixing our region’s transportation woes this November. This morning, the LA Times editorial board called Metro’s expenditure plan and sales tax “generally logical and fair.” The LA Times went so far as to say projects that make it easier to walk and bike are “a vital part of the transportation infrastructure that has been too often overlooked.”*
In fact, making it safe to walk and bike to school, improving dangerous crosswalks, and fixing broken sidewalks are voters’ highest transportation priorities, ranking above support for widening freeways and building new rail lines. With this ballot measure, Metro has the opportunity to spend more on making our neighborhood streets safer for walking and biking. These new polling results show that investing in walking and biking is both good policy and good politics.
Overwhelming demand for walkable and safe neighborhoods
Many of our partners have said this for years, but we reiterated it at Metro committee last week: our neighborhood streets are where every one of us starts and ends our daily travel, no matter whether we walk, bike, take transit, or drive. We use them every day. So when voters are asked about what transportation improvements they’d most like to see, it only makes sense that they start with making their streets safe for them and their families.
Our new poll found that 81 percent of voters who drive on a regular basis report feeling like they have no choice. Well over half of respondents would like to use public transit more often, and even more said they would like to be able to walk and bike more often. But, voters overwhelmingly said that in order to walk, bike, and take transit more, they need to feel safer walking and biking in their communities.
Metro’s plan for improving transportation in Los Angeles County is bold, even audacious. But as we dream big about a future with less traffic and more mobility options, we can’t afford to overlook our most basic — and popular — transportation needs. Our communities deserve safe streets so our kids can get to school, we can get to work, and everyone can get to the new transit system we are building. These are the priorities voters are asking for, and for the measure to garner the two-thirds support that it needs to pass, Metro should listen.
*LA Times. June 21, 2016. “L.A. needs a great public transit system. Is a permanent sales tax the best way to do it?” http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-metro-sales-tax-20160620-snap-story.html