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September 30, 2013

California's Active Transportation Program (ATP)

© Courtesy
Fort Point, western end of the San Francisco Embarcadero,
where tourists and locals enjoy walking, running, and biking
along the bay and green space areas of the city.

California's Active Transportation Program (ATP), which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2013, rolled most of California's existing state and federal sources of funding for trails, biking and walking into one fund. Transportation officials and the Brown administration believed that the creation of one larger program would raise the profile of active transportation projects in the state, and streamline the process for financing biking and walking infrastructure by reducing administrative costs.

The ATP bill states that "the program be designed and developed to fund projects that encourage increased use of active modes of transportation, such as biking and walking." The bill also states that the goals of the program are to:

  • Increase the proportion of trips accomplished by biking and walking.

  • Increase safety and mobility for non-motorized users.

  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Enhance public health, including reduction of childhood obesity.

  • Provide environmental mitigation that supports and encourages active transportation.

During the development of ATP during 2013, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and our partners in the Coalition for Recreational Trails took a lead role in galvanizing the trails community to protect trail funding in the new program. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy was also an integral part of the state-wide Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership that was instrumental in shaping the ATP. The Coalition for Active Transportation Leadership also includes the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, California WALKS, California Bicycle Coalition, PolicyLink, TransForm and the Public Health Institute, and a number of other state organizations

Which programs are being consolidated?

  • Federal funding sources rolled into ATP: Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), which includes the Recreational Trails Program (partially) and Safe Routes to Schools program.

  • State funding sources rolled into ATP: Bicycle Transportation Account, Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program (partially) and California's state-funded Safe Routes to Schools program.

Total 2014 Allocation to ATP: $129 million. Of the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program, $3 million per year is to be rolled into the ATP. $7 million per year will continue to be managed by the Resources Agency as a separate, stand-alone program, for which trail projects will continue to be eligible.

  • Of California's annual Recreational Trails Program allocation – about $5.8 million in total – 60 percent will continue to be managed as a separate program by State Parks. The balance will go into the new ATP. The entire allocation will still be used to fund recreational trails construction and maintenance under the existing federal guidelines.

Which agencies will program the funds?

  • 40 percent of ATP funds will be made available to metropolitan planning organizations in urbanized areas with a population greater than 200,000; 10 percent for smaller urban and rural regions; and 50 percent on a statewide basis, with all awards to be made competitively.

  • The California Transportation Commission (CTC) has been charged with developing guidelines and project selection criteria for the ATP in consultation with designated representatives of California DOT, Strategic Growth Council, Department of Housing and Community Development, Natural Resources Agency, Air Resources Board, Department of Public Health, Office of Traffic Safety, Metropolitan Planning Organizations and Regional Transportation Agencies.

Where can I review the ATP legislation?

  • ATP was established by Senate Bill 99 , and the corresponding budget bills that fund the program are Senate Bill 95 and Assembly Bill 101 (concurrence in both houses, so both versions are the same). You can search for those here:

  • The bill correspondingly eliminates the state Bicycle Transportation Account and the Safe Routes to School Program as separate programs.

For more information on ATP and active transportation in California, contact Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Western Region Director Laura Cohen at, or 415.814.1101.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037