MEET OUR MEMBERS: Jessica Meaney of Safe Routes to School National Partnership and Los Angeles Walks
Meet Jessica! Jessica Meaney works as the Southern California policy director for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, working on transportation policy priorities specifically regarding transportation finance, equity, and data collection/evaluation. She is also on the steering committee of Los Angeles Walks, a volunteer based pedestrian advocacy group that makes works to walking safe, accessible and fun for all Angelenos. Jessica enjoys being part of efforts to strengthen communities through improved transportation investments and policies. Jessica previously worked at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and the California Community Foundation. Jessica has lived happily car free in the City of Los Angeles for over 15 years.
Why did you choose to become a Hub LA member?
Of course I love the flexibility of not needing an office but I was tired of working at home. I wanted more — more space, friendly faces and community connections. Not to mention our SoCal team keeps growing! Pauline, Mikela and Rye also Safe Routes coworkers, are HubLA members which gives us a great work space considering our organization has no central office. We all still like to work from home and in the field but sometimes we want and need to be together.
What are you most excited about/what’s the best part of your membership?
I love feeling like I’m a part of a creative community. The Hub is a solid space to land whenever I need to connect, meet with colleagues, community, friends or just work a while between meetings downtown. Most recently the Los Angeles County Active Transportation Coalition had a 60+ person meeting in the new Media Lab. Having accessibility to conference/classrooms rocks. Partners love to explore the space, the Arts District, nearby restaurants and brewery but are always impressed by the awesome energy in the main co-working space. People I meet here are always working hard; there is awesome potential for new ideas and meeting new partners.
I really love that it is close to Union Station, the Metro/Gold Line, Dash A and that Hub LA is currently working to add a Metro yearly pass at a significantly reduced rate. There is definitely transit reasonably available for all partners who visit the Hub LA.
Bike parking is en route and we just emailed LA City Department of Transportation staff about our interest in creating a bike corral on Traction! How rad would that be! We support someday having a bike and car share opp’s- it’d be like our own mobility hub! And I’m looking forward to helping pitch in with ideas to convert the Hub LA rooftop into a beautiful urban garden - how cool would that be! We could could eat fresh veggies while composting our lunch scraps!! And have a outdoor work space.
Tell us a little about your work. What does it mean to “do good”/”inspire change” for you vis-a-vis your enterprise?
I’m really into transportation and infrastructure in our cities. Supporting urban environments in which families, people from all walks of life- can live and thrive, learn, earn, and have down time: that’s what I’m interested in. My work with Safe Routes and LA Walks emphasizes being active and utilizing/increasing our public spaces and streets in a way that is resource-mindful - and with the community member/student/family first in mind, not how many cars and how fast can we move through our neighborhoods - but how can we live in awesome neighborhoods. I see active transportation and transit as the key links in urban areas towards a better community - the independence and possibilities that open up when you can walk, bike, catch metro and leave your car at home for trips throughout the week can be awesome - and the co-benefits pretty significant.
While I work on transportation planning and policy my academic background is urban sociology. I approach conversations on transportation through that lens - so the user experience, added value to the community is where I tend to start from. There’s something so rad about having positive public spaces, such as a our sidewalks and bus stops where we can come together with our neighbors, community members while going about our daily lives.
What are some of your enterprise’s goals for the coming months/year? What types of collaborations or partnerships interest you? How can interested community members help your cause?
Help us raise awareness about transportation spending in Los Angeles County. Right now, Los Angeles County Metro invests 1% of it’s budget on walking and bicycling investments and projects in Los Angeles County. That is crazy! My focus is transportation finance in Los Angeles County and increasing investments in walkable, bikeable and transit awesome LA neighborhoods. Close to 70% of our transportation funds come from the sales taxes we pay, it’s critical that these funds go towards projects and investments that serve everyone, and support a even better Los Angeles Region.
I’m struck by stats we found that:
-20% of all trips in Los Angeles County are done on foot or bicycle
-39% of all roadway fatalities in Los Angeles County are people out walking or bicycling
-1% of funding at Los Angeles County Metro supports walking and bicycling projects
Check out this brand new video we have for our campaign that captures those stats. Huge thanks to Youth Speak Collective in making this video for us - we can’t wait to screen it at the Hub for our partners!
I encourage everyone to visit Safe Routes to School National Partnership, particularly our Los Angeles County page, LA Walks, CicLAvia, and the LA Metro and explore the options available for enjoying our city and its endlessly fascinating people. We all are traffic - you can either sit in it your car by yourself or we can rethink what mobility really means to us and our neighborhoods.
Interested but can’t figure out where to start how to do this without your car? Let me know I can talk you through paying your fare on Metro, what apps are good to use to know when the bus or train is coming, how to load your bike on a bus - or anything you’d like! Tutoring is available!
Describe your perfect LA day.
Today was a pretty good one - inspiring day at work and evening walk around Echo Park Lake and then having dinner with a good friend. I love Echo Park Lake and feel so lucky to have a green space - especially with water - to go for a walk (and log some steps on my fitbit - I am a huge pedometer junky) and people watch and chill. And this summer I have gotten so into the Grand Park in downtown and all the rad public space summer performances and events happening there, with Grand Performances at the Water Court and all over the city. Having public spaces, parks, playgrounds, outdoor seating at cafes, places I can people watch and be with others is what I love.
And huge whopper hikes in Elysian Park, bike rides in the city with friends and family, or trips to the beach are pretty awesome too. I’m so glad I became a Hub LA member last December - it’s added so much to my work and LA experiences and awareness.