All children deserve to live in safe, healthy communities. Complete streets policies make communities and neighborhoods more livable by ensuring all people can get safely to where they need to go — work, school, the library, grocery stores, or parks. This year saw the passage of the Los Angeles County Transportation Improvement Plan, a ballot proposal which will secure more than $100 billion over the next four decades for transportation infrastructure in L.A. county through a ½ cent sales tax. Included within the language is at minimum 2% in funding for walking and biking, however there are several other projects which will be funded and will increase the investment for walking and biking to 6 – 8%. This equates to billions in dollars for walking and biking in Los Angeles county.
In addition to the specific funding that was identified for walking and biking, the Metro Planning and Programming Committee unanimously approved policy language into the ballot around local jurisdiction participation in major transit projects. Previously the local jurisdiction had to contribute 3% of the capital cost of the project. This was a hardship for local jurisdictions who are also trying to build and rebuild their neighborhoods to be more walk and bike friendly. If passed by the voters, those local jurisdictions will now be able to count walking and biking improvements within a mile of the transit project as part of that match.
Essentially, it provides an incentive to local cities to continue to build opportunities for walking and biking in relation to the major transit projects. It is estimated that this could lead to an additional $300 million investment.
Finally, through the engagement of Investing in Place and polling which they completed in May 2016, there is a greater emphasis on walking and biking within the ballot language itself. When originally proposed the ballot language didn’t include the word “sidewalks,” but thanks to Investing in Place and their advocacy efforts, sidewalks are now included within the language. In addition, the Los Angeles Times came out with an editorial in support of the ballot measure while stating that projects that make it easier to walk and bike are “a vital part of the transportation infrastructure that has been too often overlooked.”