Renderings of East Palo Alto’s bike/ped bridge, which received a $8.6 million ATP grant.

Renderings of East Palo Alto’s bike/ped bridge, which received an $8.6 million ATP grant.

The California Transportation Commission (CTC) recently announced a list of recommended projects to receive funding from the state’s Active Transportation Program (ATP) [PDF].

A new statewide program, the ATP provides grants to fund bicycle and pedestrian projects across the state. The CTC will award $221 million in grants to 145 projects; local funding will match these grants with another $207 million for a total investment of $426 million.

A wide range of projects in both urban and rural areas were funded, including bicycle and pedestrian plans, Safe Routes to Schools (SRTS) programs, and specific capital improvements. 110 projects ($189 million) benefit disadvantaged communities, which is significant given these communities tend to experience the highest rates of walking and biking yet have some of the most dangerous streets. Unsurprisingly, the demand for ATP funds far outstripped supply: 771 applications were submitted from across the state, of which only 19 percent were funded. However, many of these projects could be funded regionally by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), which will have their own discretionary funding as well.

What projects got funded? Short answer: a lot. Let’s highlight a few winners:

  • The East Bay Greenway received $2.6 million, presumably for another small phase of the 12 mile project.
  • Oakland received $2.4 million for pedestrian lighting and sidewalk repairs along International Boulevard, which should dovetail nicely with the East Bay Bus Rapid Transit project.
  • Albany was awarded $335,000 for complete streets improvements to San Pablo Avenue and Buchanan St. Combined with complete streets investments in El Cerrito, San Pablo Avenue will soon look very different than it does today.
  • Los Angeles received over $22 million in grants for 13 projects to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety at hot spots throughout the city.
  • East Palo Alto was awarded $8.6 million for a much-needed bicycle/pedestrian crossing over US 101, which should dramatically enhance mobility for the city.
  • San Francisco won $2 million to continue street safety enhancements as a part of its Vision Zero program.
  • A number of Safe Routes to Schools Programs in Southern California were awarded grants. SRTS programs in SoCal have been relatively underdeveloped compared to NorCal, but the ATP could start to change that. Cities including Los Angeles, Inglewood, Cudahy, Santa Monica, Jurupa Valley, Moreno Valley, Rialto, and Indio received grants, while even more applied and were unsuccessful this round.
  • Stockton was a big winner, receiving $2.6 million for three projects, including an update to its bicycle master plan. Stockton is in desperate need of safety improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians, suffering from one of the highest fatality rates of any major city in the state, as well as high rates of obesity. Interestingly, Stockton submitted 18 ATP applications – far more than any other city, by population. While the city missed out on most of its applications, it’s encouraging to see a shift in priorities for the city – and these projects could still be funded regionally.

It appears a large majority of cities submitted applications for the ATP program, and many submitted multiple applications as noted above. But a few cities were noticeably underrepresented:

  • Berkeley, interestingly, only submitted three applications (each for Safe Routes to Schools), and none were funded. Given Berkeley is the most dangerous city of its size for walking and biking in the state, it’s surprising that so few applications were submitted. We covered Berkeley’s seemingly complacent attitude toward street safety in May, and its inaction in the ATP grants appears to be another example of how it’s falling behind its neighbors.
  • For a city of its size, San Jose was fairly quiet in the ATP process: it submitted only five applications and was awarded none. Silicon Valley is more car-dependent than Los Angeles, so there is a clear need for more transportation options. San Jose has shown renewed interest in bicycle and pedestrian safety and recently joined NACTO, so its relatively limited involvement in the ATP may just be an issue of timing.
  • The Bay Area’s Tri-Valley cities (Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon, and Danville) submitted only one application combined, which was not funded. For a growing subregion with a limited bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, this is certainly not promising. Interestingly, many suburban cities in Southern California applied for more grants and have shown a stronger commitment to active transportation; in comparison, Dublin voted down adding bike lanes on Dublin Blvd, and the Tri-Valley area as a whole remains among the most car-oriented in the state.

The $221 million in ATP funding still represents only a fraction of Caltrans’ $12.8 billion budget; however, the ATP is one of the largest investments that the State has made in active transportation (it’s worth noting Caltrans funds active transportation projects through other programs as well, but these are much smaller pots of funding). It’s exciting to see the state providing much-needed leadership in active transportation, and this leadership will only grow stronger as Caltrans reforms its historically car-centric practices and more funding becomes available through the Cap & Trade program.