Charles Exner

1. Do you navigate Minneapolis by bicycle, walking, or in a wheelchair? If so, for what purposes (commuting, recreation, errands) and how often? How do you understand the experiences of residents who don't have the option to drive, particularly children, seniors, and people with a disability?

Cycling is a major part of my day-to-day life. I have been a bike commuter since 2011, exclusively using either my bicycle or transit to get around the metro area. As such, I bicycle for all errands and commuting in the summer and most errands in the winter. There is no car in my possession, so I understand perfectly about not having the option to drive.

2. Describe any past work or accomplishments that you have been involved with around the areas of bicycling or walking issues in your community.

While I was on the Board of Directors of MPIRG, on both the finance and hiring committees, I worked with our coalition members to help create great bike infrastructure in Minneapolis. Recently, I have been active with Corcoran Grows, our local transition town group whose mission strongly advocates for creating infrastructure for sustainable transportation.

3. What is your view on people using the trails within the park system for commuting to work, taking children to school, running errands, etc - as opposed to using the park system for exclusively recreational purposes?

The trails within the park system are open to all cyclists, regardless of their reason for using them. One sticking point that has caused me consternation in the past are the one-way bike paths around the lakes--this makes it quite difficult for anyone using the park system to commute.

4. What strategies, if any, will you advance to promote racial equity in Park Board programming?

The MPRB is mired in controversies related to racist practices. I would ensure that all parks receive equivalent funding for programming (arts, classes, and so on) instead of just equivalent funding that is not earmarked for programming specifically.
I would also support hiring a full-time Diversity Officer and keeping tabs on the superintendent to make sure the Park Board is pursuing affirmative hiring practices so that all our residents feel welcome in our beautiful park system.

5. Currently, the Park Board maintains only some trails and sidewalks in the winter time for walking and biking. What changes, if any, would you like to see to winter maintenance of sidewalks and trails in parks?

As one of the annoyingly hardy winter cyclist types, I have often been forced onto the road due to inadequate maintenance of our bike trails. This is very dangerous as snow pile-ups can turn city streets into one lane traffic and I've encountered many drivers who were less than compassionate for winter bikers. The MPRB should be promoting cycling as a year-round lifestyle change, and the best way to do that is to increase the number of trails and sidewalks that we maintain.

6. Park Board trails have a 10 mile-per-hour speed limit for people biking. The Board discussed potentially eliminating the speed limit in 2015, but decided against a change. What is your position on the bicycle speed limit on Park Board trails?

The speed limit is arbitrary and unenforceable. Many of the trails are too winding or hilly to surpass 10 mph anyway. I don't think it's too much to expect folks to use common sense and be respectful of pedestrians. The speed limit indicates that MPRB holds cyclists in such low regard as they don't believe that we can live up to the basic expectation of neighborliness and consideration, and as such it should be removed entirely.

7. What do you hope to accomplish to make Minneapolis parks and trails better for bicycling and walking by the end of your term, if you are elected?

My goal for improving our trails is to build bike infrastructure that is not simply directed towards the leisure cyclist. While I was on the Environmental Stewardship Committee at Augsburg College, my greatest accomplishment was the creation of a permanent Bike Fix-It station on campus. To encourage cycling as a lifestyle should be part of a robust healthy living campaign on the part of the Board. As an avid biker, I personally have thought about the need for many things to encourage cycling: making sure that all bikeways have two-way access, ensuring that trails do not dump off bikers on random dead-end side streets that complicate a journey, having bike fix-it stations at all our major parks, frequently providing free lights for bikers, providing bike racks for which the usability is not sacrificed for decorative appeal, and hosting bike safety classes.

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