Our campaign to get the best deal for bicycling in the voter-approved Santa Clara County Measure B sales tax had another win last week. In a unanimous vote, the Board of Directors approved San José Mayor Sam Liccardo’s motion to require an assessment of the education and encouragement sub-program of the bicycle and pedestrian category. This is a requirement we have been fighting for ever since we learned that the annual $1.25 million earmarked for such programs would be distributed to cities based on population (rather than a competitive grant program), with no follow-up analysis called for to make sure we were seeing results.

This win came on the heels of a Mercury News guest editorial authored by SVBC’s executive director, Shiloh Ballard. Shiloh asked readers to consider:

If you had a million dollars to give to friends, how would you distribute it? You could prioritize those who needed it most. Perhaps you’d act like a shrewd investor and give more to those who promised better results. Or maybe, in the name of fairness, you would give everybody the same cut. In any case, would you want to eventually know what they did with the cash and if it was a wise use of your gift?

The opinion piece was the final step in a campaign that involved months of talking to VTA staff and directors, creating informational hand-outs, asking our supporters to take action, and speaking up at committee meetings. Thanks to the VTA Board, we will now get a clearer idea of what cities achieve with their “gifts.”

Our thanks to Mayor Liccardo for making the motion to include an assessment and all the VTA Directors for voting in support. We’re looking forward to working with VTA staff to figure out the details of the assessment, making sure we’re doing everything in our power to get people to try walking and biking more often and to do so safely!