The Brown administration created the nation’s largest Active Transportation Program in 2013, dedicated to providing about $120 million each year to develop safe bicycle and pedestrian facilities in communities throughout California. The program was designed to move such investment from the periphery of the state’s transportation funding strategy toward the center, assuring that the state is meeting mobility, health, safety and environmental objectives.
That’s why it’s so puzzling that Daniel Weintraub (“Brown’s roads budget is bad for environment and heath,” Viewpoints, Jan. 19) says that Gov. Jerry Brown “proposes almost nothing to promote ‘active transportation’ – human-powered movement through neighborhoods and cities on bikes and on foot that are better not only for the environment, but also for our health.”
This assertion bears no resemblance to the reality of the Brown administration’s transportation strategy.
Our program has been a major success. Since its inception, the California Transportation Commission has approved funding for 472 bicycle and pedestrian projects throughout the state, including the 19th Street BART to Lake Merritt Urban Greenway project in Oakland, the Willowbrook/Rosa Parks Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Hub in Los Angeles and the Edinger Protected Bike Lanes project in Santa Ana.
In addition, the Brown administration continues to invest hundreds of millions in cap-and-trade dollars in public transit and sustainable community development projects that include transit and pedestrian safety.
California is leading the nation in bicycle and pedestrian facility investment. The governor’s proposed budget for active transportation projects brings the total programmed since 2013 to about $720 million. Moreover, the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research just issued proposed changes to CEQA guidelines designed to make bicycle and pedestrian projects easier to permit and construct.
Contrary to Weintraub’s suggestion, a hallmark of the governor’s transportation investment strategy is good environmental stewardship and smart climate change policy. Since 2012, the administration’s investment priorities have been in clean vehicles, public transit, high-speed rail, bicycle and pedestrian facilities and “Fix-it-First” projects to repair existing streets, roads and bridges.
These investments are not antithetical to smart climate change policy, but are necessary to implement it.
Brian P. Kelly is secretary of the California State Transportation Agency. He can be contacted at email@example.com.