Accessibility: Key To Smart Growth

Cities are launching programs to fuel smart growth and developments, affordability of services and improvements to walkability

What Happened?

Cities are launching programs to fuel smart growth and developments, affordability of services and improvements to walkability. The shift in priorities marks a trend toward less car-centric policies.

San Diego

The SANDAG regional planning agency has launched the Smart Growth Incentive Program and Active Transportation Grant Program in support of more pedestrian-friendly projects. In a third cycle of funding for both programs, SANDAG has made $12 million in Smart Growth Incentive Program funds and $3 million in Active Transportation Grants available.

The Smart Growth Incentive Program provides funding for transit-related infrastructure improvements and planning. Winning public infrastructure projects facilitate compact, mixed use developments centered on increased transportation and housing options for residents. The program offers capital and planning grants to organizations.

The Active Transportation Grant Program is designed to incentivize local governments to plan and build transit networks that connect schools, retail centers, parks, and other community amenities for seamless mobility. This includes special consideration for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as public outreach to educate residents on their carless transit options.

The programs are being funded the TransNet half-cent sales tax for transportation, as well as federal transit grants. Since launching in 2005, the Smart Growth Incentive Program has distributed more than $22.5 million federal dollars and $35.6 million from TransNet to the County of San Diego and nearby cities to plan and complete capital projects.

Cash Bike Share

Arlington County in Washington, D.C., recently announced a new program to increase residential participation in the local bike share services. The county is making it possible for residents to use the service without a debit or credit card. This will allow residents who do not have a bank account or a poor credit history to gain access to the bike share program with cash instead of a card.

Arlington County is essentially vouching for its residents who do not have a debit or credit card to pay for bike share memberships and usage fees. Arlington County Commuter Services will sell transit fare passes and distribute program information to cash buyers with local IDs in its Commuter Stores.

Furthermore, the program is encouraging unbanked bike share participants to open up a checking account through the Bank On DC program. This initiative offers current and new bike share members with a $25 discount off an annual membership when they open a bank account.

Better Bike Share Partnership

The city of Philadelphia is working with the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials and PeopleForBikes to launch the Better Bike Share Partnership . The grant-funded collaboration is designed to increase access to bike share programs in low-income, underserved communities. This is how the duties will break down:
  • Philadelphia: Launch new bike share system in April, including 20 new stations in underserved communities
  • Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia: Educate and engage the underserved communities on bike sharing options
  • National Association of City Transportation Officials: Collect and share best practices for bike sharing systems such as equity strategies

PeopleForBikes will administer $900,000 in grant funding over three years in Philadelphia and cities or organizations hosting bike share programs across the country. The goal is to identify and support best practices in increasing bike share participation in underserved communities.

The Need For More Bikes

EfficientGov has reported on a growing number of bike-focused projects that cater to an increasing number of carless residents that want access to more transit options .

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