Bike Concord endorses Measure X – please volunteer with us to help it pass

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s half-cent sales tax for transportation projects has been certified for the November 2016 ballot as Measure X. This is the same measure known up to this point as “Measure J reauthorization“. Bike Concord, in support of our partner Bike East Bay, has participated extensively in the development of the Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) for this measure, advocating for a significant portion of the funding to go to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and for policy commitments in the TEP to ensure that such projects are serious and not meaningless window-dressing such as Class III facilities.

Although we did not obtain quite the level of bicycle and pedestrian funding we had hoped for, the amount in the final plan is significant – certainly more than it would have been without our advocacy – and will help a great deal with resolving some of the major safety barriers to bicycling and walking in Contra Costa, with particular allotments for Central Contra Costa specifically. The TEP includes a strong Complete Streets Policy governing all projects funded by it, which will be very useful when the time comes to push local jurisdictions to design their projects to serve bicycle and pedestrian traffic as a primary concern. Thanks to all the Bike Concord members who turned out in force at two different CCTA Board meetings to demonstrate support for these elements in the plan.

The TEP also addresses numerous other transportation needs, including those related to driving and transit.

The TEP process, while frustrating at times, was transparent and thorough; it was possible to see the plan change at each stage in response to public input. And input was diverse and at times conflicting. The final plan has the characteristics of a good compromise. It is not ideal to many interests (including ours), but it is acceptable to almost all of them.

Bike Concord is endorsing the measure, and will be contributing volunteers to help campaign for its passage. If you are willing to be one of those volunteers, please email us or comment here. We plan to lead some group bicycle rides to the soon-to-open Walnut Creek campaign headquarters. Your participation would be greatly appreciated.

Measure X will require two-thirds’ support from Contra Costa voters to pass.

Concord City Council signs on for new CCC transportation sales tax

City Council voted unanimously tonight (with the exception of Tim Grayson, who was absent) to adopt a resolution giving Concord’s approval to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority to put the proposed new half-cent sales tax for transportation on November’s ballot. CCTA needs approval from at least 10 out of the 19 cities of Contra Costa County in order to levy the tax, in addition to two-thirds’ approval from Contra Costa voters in November.
 
Bike Concord has been heavily involved in the Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP) for the new tax: by attending meetings to follow the process, submitting letters and making comments in support of significant apportionments for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and a strong Complete Street Policy, and by participating in the Expenditure Plan Advisory Committee (EPAC) in support of Bike East Bay.  This new revenue will be a great help in funding many badly-needed bicycle infrastructure projects across Contra Costa and in Concord in particular.  We hope to be able to commit significant time and energy as volunteers in a few months to help persuade our neighbors to approve the tax in November.

All hands on deck – Fill the CCTA meeting again to support strong complete streets requirements in major road projects

Please turn out to the next meeting of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority on Wednesday next week, March 9, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.  The meeting room is 2999 Oak Rd #110 (CCTA office, across from Pleasant Hill BART and next to Embassy Suites).

This meeting is important because it’s the first time the Authority Board will consider an actual draft of the Transportation Expenditure Plan (TEP).  The TEP is a plan for how the money will be spent from the half-cent sales tax for transportation which CCTA is planning to put on the November ballot.

Background

There have been months of meetings and discussions about what should be in the TEP.  They have involved the Authority Board, its staff and consultants, and a committee called the Expenditure Plan Advisory Committee (EPAC).  The EPAC is a committee of representatives of groups with an interest in the outcome of the TEP.  CCTA convened them to help shape the TEP, with the hope of securing their political support to pass the measure in November.

One of those interest groups is people who care about active transportation such as bicycling and walking.  Bike East Bay, Bike Concord’s partner at the county level, represents this interest on the EPAC.  Bike Concord has been supporting Bike East Bay in getting a significant amount of money planned for serious bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, by working with BEB’s Advocacy Director Dave Campbell to write proposed edits to the measure language, and by sending one of our advocacy organizers to participate in meetings with CCTA staff and consultants and to sit as an alternate for Dave on the EPAC when needed.

Ten Bike Concord members (maybe including you) turned out along with Bike Walnut Creek and Greenbelt Alliance at the Oct 21 meeting of the CCTA board (a.k.a. the “Authority Board”) to support Bike East Bay’s call for 15% of the revenue to go to complete streets projects. CCTA Board and staff have not honored this request.

However, thanks to good collaboration with staff and consultants (and probably in some part thanks to our demonstration of support on Oct 21), we have managed to get decent standards for complete streets infrastructure into the funding category for major roads.  In the current draft this category totals 8.6% of the measure for an estimated yield of $200 million.  This is for major road projects which merely include elements for non-motor users; a large part of this money will still go for motor traffic infrastructure.  For projects aimed exclusively to serve non-motor traffic, there is a separate category called “Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Trail Facilities” with 2.6% of the measure for an estimated yield of $60 million.  Project needs which we are already aware of, without considering future needs, alone justify doubling this amount.

There is still considerable room for improvement in the standards for complete streets, as well as the funding amount for non-motor projects, and Bike East Bay and Bike Concord are working with staff and consultants to make those improvements.

Please turn out on March 9

At this upcoming meeting on March 9, the Authority Board will make its first comments and directions to staff on the draft TEP.  We will urge the Board members to support strong complete streets standards in the Major Roads funding category, and to support a doubling of the Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Trail Facilities category.

Please attend this meeting and submit a comment card expressing support for Bike East Bay’s proposals.  Blank comment cards will be available on the table to your right as you enter the room.  It’s the glass door on the right immediately when you enter the building. Please write your name, put Bike Concord as your organization (if you wish to identify as one of our members) and in the comment space, write “I support Bike East Bay’s proposals for strong complete streets standards and funding in the TEP.”  Submit your comment card to the clerk, and take a seat.

Your comment card will also allow you to indicate whether you want to get up and speak during the appropriate comment period.  It is not necessary to speak, but you may wish to do so if you have a personal perspective to add. In any case, you may be asked by Dave Campbell of Bike East Bay or Kenji Yamada of Bike Concord, while they are making their comments, to raise your hand to show your presence.

Please share this blog post, or our Facebook event for the meeting, with anyone you know who cares about a healthier, safer transportation future for Contra Costa.

Great turnout at the CCTA meeting

The main agenda item at tonight’s meeting of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority board concerned the Transportation Expenditure Plan for the upcoming Measure J reauthorization, an additional half-cent sales tax for transportation that will probably go before voters next year.  The TEP is a plan for how to allocate that money.

Bike Concord turned out ten people tonight to stand up with our allies from Bike Walnut Creek, Bike East Bay, and Greenbelt Alliance, and call on CCTA Board for at least 15% of Measure J reauthorization revenue to go for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. Several board members expressed surprise at our numbers.  There are often no members of the public commenting at CCTA meetings, so we made a considerable impression.

Here is an audio recording of public comments by BC members and our allies at the meeting, excerpted from CCTA’s official recording.  To hear CCTA board members’ responses to our comments, skip to 52:48 in the full meeting recording.

It remains to be seen whether the draft TEP will contain an apportionment for active transportation infrastructure commensurate with its importance in our transportation system.  Bike Concord, in support of Bike East Bay, is attending meetings of the Expenditure Plan Advisory Committee (EPAC) which is drawing up that draft.  We will follow the process closely.

All hands on deck – Fill the CCTA meeting and call for at least 15% of Measure J reauthorization funds to bike and ped infrastructure

The next meeting of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority is this Wednesday, October 21, from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.  The meeting room is 2999 Oak Rd #110 (CCTA office, across from PH BART and next to Embassy Suites).

Our regional partner Bike East Bay is requesting our help to fill the room.

Our target: Secure at least 15% of funds from the upcoming Measure J reauthorization for non-motor transportation infrastructure.  This would mean hundreds of millions of dollars.  Lack of money is a justification we have frequently encountered in refusals to make our streets safe for walking and bicycling.  Let’s seize this opportunity to remove that justification.

Here is BEB’s suggested comment.  Please edit it to suit your own experience and inclinations, but keep in the crucial point of at least 15% of Measure J reauthorization funds for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

“My name is ___ , speaking on behalf of ___ (e.g. Bike East Bay, Bike Concord, etc.) and I support designating more funds, at least fifteen percent, for Complete Streets projects. I use ___ Street/Ave/Blvd/Trail to commute across town and it is severely lacking in terms of safety, convenience and connectivity to to public transit and is in dire need of Complete Streets design guidance and implementation.”

To prevail, we are going to have to bring a lot of political pressure to bear. That means bodies in the room. If there’s no way you can be there, please send a letter. But your physical presence will help a great deal more.

We are hoping for support in particular from Karen Mitchoff and Federal Glover, CCC Supervisors who sit on CCTA.  The Board of Supervisors, represented by Karen Mitchoff, officially expressed support for Bike Concord and Bike East Bay’s work on Bike to Work Day this year.  Allocating at least 15% of Measure J reauthorization revenue to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure is a big opportunity for them to translate that support into action.

Bike Concord organizers will be wearing our BC nametags, and will have BC pins to hand out.  Please come to the meeting, say hi and take a pin!  We need you at this meeting, and look forward to seeing you.