In 2013, California’s Senate Bill 99 created California’s first active transportation program. Earlier in the year, the governor had proposed cuts to active transportation funding. A coalition of advocates—including Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, the Coalition for Recreational Trails, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, California WALKS, the California Bicycle Coalition, PolicyLink, TransForm and the Public Health Institute—pushed back on this plan. What resulted was an agreement to consolidate California’s existing state and federal active transportation grant programs under one roof: the Active Transportation Program (ATP). In addition, the coalition produced a commitment from Gov. Jerry Brown to continue to increase funding for the ATP in future years.
Trails have successfully competed for funds in ATP since the program’s inception. In late 2016, ATP secured additional funding from the state’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The existence of dedicated and consolidated funding pots for active transportation can provide a stable source of funding and a place to invest new funds.
Restructuring California’s funding programs for walking and biking projects helped legislators better understand the demand for this type of funding—turning a negative into a positive. ATP was successfully created because a broad, cooperative coalition worked together for the benefit of all.