The City Council voted Friday to allocate $5.34 million of Measure R tax revenue for bike lanes and racks and to craft a comprehensive Safe Routes to School strategy in order to make walking and biking to school safer for children. About $1.2 million of that money is dedicated to the Safe Routes study. Supporters say it will help Los Angeles better target about $47 million in state and federal Safe Routes to School grant funding released annually.
Last October, the city was awarded $637,000 for two Safe Routes projects. An unannounced amount of federal money will go up for grabs later this month, and the next round of state funding will be announced in the fall.
Los Angeles' strategy for obtaining those grants has been lacking, said Jessica Meaney, California policy manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. The city typically submits 15 applications -- one for each council district -- for each round of state Department of Transportation funding, she said.
“That's not a systematic approach to address where the need is, and it ends up in less competitive applications,” Meaney said.
The funding announced by the council comes from the 2008 Measure R half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters to raise an estimated $40 billion in revenue for transportation projects through 2038.
“We're using local dollars to make ourselves more competitive to receive state and federal resources. That to me is a smart investment,” Meaney said.
In addition to the Safe Routes funding, the council unanimously approved $2.67 million for bike lanes, bike racks and bike-friendly pavement markings.
“This is another major day in moving forward a plan to deal with pedestrians, and it's a work in progress,” said Councilman Bill Rosendahl.