How do regional transportation plans take shape, and how are government funds allocated among roads, light rail, bicycling and pedestrian facilities, freeways, and other infrastructure alternatives? One major influence on investments is the Southern California Association of Governments’ Regional Transportation Plan, updated every four years and now in the process of being finalized for 2012.
According to the SCAG link above, “Transportation projects must be included in the RTP in order to qualify for federal and state funding.” The organization has produced a list of alternatives and is now inviting public comment on these tentative plans, which will be finalized in draft form around October 2011.
This is a major opportunity for bicycling and pedestrian safety advocates in Glendale to make their voices heard, and build on the foundation laid by the Glendale Safe and Healthy Streets Plan. The public outreach session closest to Glendale will be held in downtown LA at SCAG’s Main Office on August 16 (see this link or the Sunroom Desk calendar entry for details).
At an LA County Bicycle Coalition meeting last week, SCAG planner Alan Thompson presented draft maps of expanded bicycle routes throughout the region, part of SCAG’s 2012 draft Bicycle/Pedestrian Plan. This is the time to advocate for even more such projects and increased funding, said Safe Routes to School California Policy Manager Jessica Meaney, as she stressed in a City Fix online interview last year:
In the SCAG Region, less than 0.5 percent of all regional transportation funding goes toward bike and pedestrian projects, yet 12 percent of all trips are made by bicycling and walking. And, worse yet, 25 percent of all roadway fatalities and accidents involve pedestrians and bicyclists. It is a huge problem that these numbers are acceptable to our policy makers. Safety should be our number one priority for all of our communities, especially for our most vulnerable community members such as kids. All users of our roadways and community space should be safe and protected–not just for those in cars. The other day I read that according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for people in the U.S. under age 34—that blew my mind.
Here in California, we are fortunate to have climate legislation that is working to further increase the sync between our land use and transportation investments to reduce car tips (SB 375). Now more than ever, local short trips (40 percent of all trips are less than 2 miles) become great solutions to our regional challenges, and it’s key that our policy makers know this. Many still see the need for big regional infrastructure investment, which in many instances is great—yet we still seem to continue to overlook that creating walkable and bike-able communities offer a great, cost efficient investment to meet these challenges, not to mention the co-benefits that it brings.
We’re lucky in California; we have a lot of great existing legislation and policy for active transportation. We need to now see it implemented.