Sustainable Communities Strategies (SCS)

Over the next few years, the Bay Area will develop its first Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS) with the goal of aligning transportation investment, land use, and housing policies to meet greenhouse gas emission reduction targets.  BABC is working with partners including Transform to ensure that these new policies encourage investment in biking, walking and transit.  Click here for more information on the Sustainable Communities Strategies

BABC's Sustainable Communities Strategies Platform

Transportation investments

Transportation Demand Models must include bicycling and walking forecasts.
Transportation Demand Models play an important role in determining funding priorities for transportation funding.  Models that do not include biking and walking forecasts inevitably focus efforts on improving auto travel.  California should adopt new transportation demand modeling programs and standards which can measure the effect of transportation planning decisions on biking and walking to ensure that all modes are represented in the data that transportation funding decisions are based on.

Improved Bike and Pedestrian Data Collection
Comprehensive annual bike and pedestrian counts using the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project are needed to provide accurate data for Transportation Demand Models to use in predicting changes in bicycle and pedestrian modeshare.

The American Communities Survey is currently the primary source for bicycling and walking modeshare data.  The survey underreports biking and walking as many of those trips are part of a multimodal trip where they provide connection to transit and are thus classified as such on the results.  This is why annual bike and pedestrian counts and the installation of automated counters are necessary to provide accurate data.

The result of insufficient and inaccurate bicycle and pedestrian modeshare data is that evaluation of GHG reductions from various transportation investments is currently skewed against biking and walking as current data sources underestimate the volume of bike and pedestrian commute trips.

GHG emissions should be primary target for reduction rather than Vehicle Hours of Delay (VHD)
Currently VHD have such a high value that investments such as the Freeway Performance Initiative, which actually increases Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT), are given priority for their cost-effectiveness.  In the long term, the additional VMT created will cause additional VHD, reducing the long term effectiveness of such investments.

Programs to reduce GHG emissions should be required to not increase VMT.
Programs that reduce GHG emissions primarily through reductions in congestion end up increasing VMT by encouraging more vehicle use.  Though these programs reduce GHG emissions in the short term by creating additional roadway capacity through decreased congestion, in the long term they will encourage more vehicle use, which will increase congestion and increase GHG emissions.

Our focus for GHG reductions should be on encouraging more transit, biking and walking trips rather than reducing congestion, which will only encourage more vehicle use and create increased emissions in the long run.

Establish minimum bicycle parking requirements for new developments
To encourage bicycling, new and majorly renovated developments should be required to include bike parking facilities that meet or exceed the expected bicycle modeshare for their area.

Signalization must work for all road users
Bicycle detection should be included into the construction of all new intersections and should be added to existing intersections.

Signals that do not detect bicycles discourage commute cycling by increasing travel times and encourage cyclists to disregard signals.

Encourage the use of alternative measures to LOS in CEQA reviews
New changes to CEQA allow for alternative measures other than LOS to be used for reviews.  LOS discourages dense urban development which should be encouraged, as it encourages higher transit, biking and walking modeshares.

Alternatives such as MultiModal LOS and Auto Trips Generated should be encouraged as they capture the effects of development on biking, walking and transit much more effectively.

As these changes to CEQA are new and allow flexibility in the choice of which metric to use in reviews, it is critical to support the use of alternatives to LOS as many counties and cities currently choose LOS because they are more familiar with it and want to ensure that they are not subject to legal challenges for choosing newer metrics.

Require a minimum of 4% of Transportation funds to be spent on non-motorized infrastructure.
The American Community Survey estimates that 1% of Californians commute by bike.  We should set a goal of 4% bicycle mode share by 2020 and fund non-motorized infrastructure accordingly.

Establishing an effective non-motorized transportation network is the most effective means of reducing GHG emissions over the long term.

50% of all trips in California are less than 5 miles in length, which is a perfect distance for biking or walking.

Bicycle and pedestrian access shall be established in new construction and reconstruction projects in all urbanized areas
Caltrans  Complete Streets policy or Deputy Directive 64 revision 1 currently “provides for the needs of all travelers of all ages and abilities in all planning, programming, design, construction, operation and maintenance activieies and products on the state highway system.” But we need a stronger policy to support non-motorized transportation.

Florida has already approved a policy that requires new construction and reconstruction projects to include bicycle and pedestrian access.  Their policy is available for review at:

Safe Routes to Transit
Bicycles are an important link in multimodal trips.  They provide quick and flexible connections to transit which in turn increase transit modeshare and reduce auto trips.  As such, the state should provide Safe Routes to Transit funding to support bike connections to transit.

Transit Agencies should include questions in their surveys to their riders on how they connect to their transit trips (bike, walk, drive, other transit, etc.) to evaluate whether they are adequately supporting biking and walking connections to their routes with parking, ramps and other access improvements.

New Sources of Funding

Carbon Cap and Trade Income from AB32
AB32 allows investment of income from the cap and trade program to be used for SCS planning that is in accordance with Strategic Growth Council guidelines.  The latest Economics and Allocations Advisory Committee (EAAC) recommendations are available at: