By many definitions, Southern California is a paradise. It’s replete with lovely weather year-round; bountiful edible produce; beautiful landscapes with endless opportunities for recreation; and a world-renowned melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and languages.
But how do SoCal’s 18 million regional residents navigate their paradise? How do they travel between work, play, and home? The answer is not so sunny.
According to the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), “Southern California’s transportation system is becoming increasingly compromised by decades of underinvestment in maintaining and preserving our infrastructure. Transportation funding is scarce and insufficient. Many people in our region suffer from poor health due to chronic diseases related to poor air quality and physical inactivity. Our region is projected to grow to 22 million people by 2040. … Communities will need to make their neighborhoods more resilient to these changes.”
That’s a hatful, but it’s definitely not hopeless—thanks in no small part to proactive citizens like our ioby leaders.
ioby has successfully supported over 20 projects in Southern California since 2010. Now, as the area’s growing movement of citizen leaders looks to make a difference in how their neighbors get around, we see an increasingly important opportunity to leverage our expertise and resources to help them help their cities survive and thrive into the mid-2000s and beyond.
Many projects initiated by ioby leaders address at least one of the goals in SCAG’s 2016 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (2016 RTP/SCS). A great current example is the Trick Out My Trip 2016 Bicycle Hubitat in San Bernardino, one of many rider-led mobility projects that are growing in popularity as we speak. The “Hubitat” (“Bike Love at the Hub!”) explores the role of mobility in building community resilience. “The project provides bicyclists who live in the area or who arrive there by transit an opportunity to perform low-cost repairs on their bicycle to ensure that it’s in working order,” says Nina Mohammed, the project’s leader. “At an area with one of the lowest incomes per capita in the state, bikes provide transit users with a quick and easy way to traverse the infamous ‘first and last mile’ that exists between many transit stations and someone’s final destination.
When used in concert, each compliments the other and helps to provide a complete transportation system that is quick and easy to use.” The Hubitat operates out of the San Bernardino Transit Center, a multimodal hub served by 16 bus routes and a bus rapid transit line. The 2016 RTP/SCS’s goals of “promoting walking, biking and other forms of active transportation” and “promoting local bike networks by integrating them with the region’s transit system” are well-served by projects like the Hubitat.
Another aspect of improving transportation for all is examining the connections between pedestrian safety and public transit. For the Pico Aliso Neighborhood Project in Los Angeles, leader America Aceves and her organization Proyecto Pastoral have reviewed years of data gathered from local surveys, focus groups, and community meetings to determine which walking routes and intersections in their neighborhood are most in need of safety improvements—with an emphasis on those used to access public transit. They will now choose one of the sites and lead their community in developing, testing, and implementing appropriate safety improvements there. “Pedestrian safety and walkability are pressing issues in Boyle Heights, which is surrounded by six freeways and serves as a gateway into downtown Los Angeles,”Aceves says. The Pico Aliso Neighborhood Project also speaks to the 2016 RTP/SCS goal of “providing neighborhoods with abundant and safe opportunities to walk, bike and pursue other forms of active transportation.”
The Bicycle Hubitat and the Pico Aliso Neighborhood Project both aim to harness the knowledge and expertise of locals—the people who know their neighborhoods best—to develop and sustain meaningful transportation improvements in Southern California. They are exactly the kinds of projects ioby leaders all over the country are known for, and exactly the types of initiatives that are beginning to help state and regional governments move the needle of sustainable, collective transportation to create better-connected, healthier, and happier communities.
If you like these transit projects as much as we do, visit Trick Out My Trip to follow their progress, volunteer to help, or donate a little cash to the cause—this week only, we’re matching the first $100 of every donation made, until the money runs out!