This article is cross-posted from the blog of former Streetsblog SF editor Bryan Goebel, who’s aiming to launch a new website “devoted to sustained coverage of biking, walking and transit issues in Sacramento, both at the Capitol and locally.” You can also follow Bryan on Twitter.
A proposal in Governor Jerry Brown’s budget that would change how the administration doles out federal and state money for biking and walking improvements could imperil critical street safety programs such as Safe Routes to School at a time when California is facing a growing health crisis and trying to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“It does not reflect a serious sense of purpose by this Governor’s Office or the transportation bureaucracy to really make bicycling and walking a central part of California’s transportation system,” said Dave Snyder of the California Bicycle Coalition.
The move by the administration is a response to the federal transportation bill passed by Congress last year. MAP-21 ended some dedicated funding for biking and walking programs.
States are also receiving less money under Transportation Alternatives, the federal program previously known as Transportation Enhancements, which historically granted the bulk of bicycle and pedestrian funding to state transportation agencies and metropolitan planning organizations.
The League of American Bicyclists is encouraging state transportation agencies to make up for the cuts by seeking funding for street safety projects from other eligible pots of federal money.
California is receiving $80 million in TA funds, $13 million less than last year. In its current form, Brown’s budget, which has been widely praised for being balanced, would not kick in any other money to make up for the loss.
Under the administration’s proposal, the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which oversees Caltrans, would combine five funding programs, including Safe Routes and the Bicycle Transportation Account, into what’s being called the “Active Transportation Program.”
The combined total in the account would be $134 million, compared to $147 million last year.