LAO Publishes Review of State’s Active Transportation Program

This week, the California Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) published a review of the state’s Active Transportation Program (ATP), administered by the California Transportation Commission (CTC) in coordination with the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans). ATP provides funding to infrastructure and non-infrastructure projects that facilitate travelers being physically active through means such as biking and walking. Overall goals of the program are to increase the number of walking and biking trips, increase safety and mobility, and enhance public health.

The Legislature, in approving the 2018-19 budget package, directed the LAO to review aspects of the program including the types of projects funded, locations of funded projects, and benefits provided to disadvantaged communities. The LAO determined that the majority of program funding supports infrastructure projects, such as sidewalk construction or improvements, bike lanes, and crossing signals. Less than a quarter of funded projects were non-infrastructure projects such as educational initiatives to improve bike and pedestrian safety. In assessing project benefits, the LAO determined that nearly 90 percent of projects benefitted disadvantaged communities.

The LAO found significant challenges in making meaningful conclusions about whether the ATP increases bicycling and walking. In the report, the LAO discusses inconsistent data tracking methodologies and reporting processes to accurately capture this information. The LAO goes on to recommend to the Legislature to require better data collection on program benefits from CTC and CalTrans and consider providing more flexibility to metropolitan planning organizations in developing projects in rural regions. The full LAO report is available here.