Cordelia "Corde" Pierson

1. Do you navigate Minneapolis by bicycle, walking, or in a wheelchair? If so, for what purposes (commuting, recreation, errands) and how often? Please indicate how you commute to work.

Yes, I bicycle and walk. I commute to work by bicycle and car, and work from home frequently. I commute by car when I have work-related meetings outside of the office and I am not physically able to bike.

2. Have you ever been transit-dependent or car-free? How do you understand the experiences of residents who don't have the option to drive, particularly children, seniors, and people with a disability?

Yes. We moved to the Twin Cities in 1990. For eight years, from 1990 – 98, my family lived car-free. We biked, used transit, and rented a car when we needed it, as car sharing did not yet exist. We explored a car-share arrangement with friends, but insurance companies were unwilling to help us.

Through family members (seniors and youth) and neighborhood residents, I understand the experience of people who do not have the option to drive. They often feel vulnerable and invisible to drivers. Seniors and wheelchair users face significant barriers when sidewalks and crosswalks are not cleared of snow. People using wheelchairs use the bike lanes on Fifth Street SE. Vision-impaired neighbors walking to the bus stop struggle when sidewalks are not maintained.

Ensuring that sidewalks and street crossings are safe is critical for people walking and in wheelchairs; shortening the crosswalks and allowing sufficient crossing time are two important strategies. Frequent and reliable transit is critical for their health and welfare; getting to doctors’ appointments and work is more challenging without a car, and requires planning.

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

As a volunteer and in my work, I have advocated for bicycle, transportation, and environment investments in Minneapolis, the University area, and the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood. Key accomplishments:
• Raised $1M for Mississippi East Bank Trail, Boom Island Regional Park to 18th Avenue NE; drafted grant proposal
• Raised over $70,000 for bike/walk wayfinding in University area, focusing on Dinkytown Greenway connecting Mill District with TCF Stadium; created Dinkytown Greenway Task Force including diverse stakeholders
• Advocate for Mississippi River Trail and Great River Road improvement as elected regional commissioner on the Mississippi River Parkway Commission
• Advocating for closing the 0.6-mile gap between Stone Arch Bridge and University of Minnesota, completing the Mississippi River Trail; successfully advocated for National Park Service to include link on NPS Alternative Transportation Plan; successfully opposed development that would have blocked this connection
• Led Mississippi River walks and convened forums to build community connections with the river while executive director of the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership
• Leading the Sixth Avenue Greenway Task Force; created a team of volunteers to plant and tend native flowers along the Stone Arch Bike Boulevard
• Successfully advocated for retaining bike lanes on University/Fourth Street SE

4. Last year, the City adopted a Complete Streets policy to make streets safer for everyone. The policy states: “Minneapolis is committed to rebalancing its transportation network by clearly prioritizing walking, taking transit, and biking over driving motorized vehicles, in a manner that provides for acceptable levels of service for all modes." Will you support the Complete Streets policy? Please share how you prioritize walking, transit, bicycling, driving, and parking in your decisions.

Yes, I will support implementation of the Complete Streets Policy, and have used this policy and its concepts to guide my community and professional leadership. Serving on the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association Board of Directors and chairing the Land Use Committee and Transportation Committee, I advocated for complete streets policies and implementation in many public and private projects.

This priority order is critical both in public capital investments and in operations; clearing public sidewalks is vital for people who rely on wheels. Following this priority order requires strong elected leadership and persistent advocacy. For example, I recently voted as a Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association board member to support new bike lanes and to reduce on-street parking along 8th Street SE, a transit corridor, even when most of the neighbors speaking at the meeting opposed reducing parking and expressed fear of mixing buses and bicycles.

In reviewing private developments that affect the right-of-way, the city should encourage developers to not just meet minimum requirements but to further complete streets goals and enhance our shared places. This should apply to developments even if they do not require conditional use permits, variances or zoning changes.

5. The 2017 Minneapolis capital budget includes $6.1 million for specific walking and biking infrastructure, which is 9 percent of the total capital streets-related funding. 2010 Metropolitan Council surveys estimated that 15.9 percent of all trips in Minneapolis were done by walking and 5.1 percent by bicycle. Would you support spending more, the same amount, or less on building and maintaining bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure?

I support substantial investment in walking and biking infrastructure, with priority placed on improving transportation alternatives in areas with poorer service or correcting significant public safety problems. The city must do more in the next capital long-range improvement plan to improve sidewalks and other facilities for people walking, as highlighted in the CLIC report. Overall, I support more investment in walking and biking infrastructure, as well as transit-supportive city infrastructure.

6. In 2015, the City adopted a protected bikeway plan that identifies 48 miles of protected bikeways to be prioritized for implementation. (Protected bikeways are a bicycle route where there is a physical barrier of some kind between bikes and cars, and have been shown to be safer and more comfortable than unprotected bike lanes.) Do you support implementing the protected bikeway plan even if it could mean losing parking or traffic lanes for cars in some corridors?

Yes. I support implementing protected bikeways. I support adding to the protected bikeway plan the half-mile missing link between the Stone Arch Bridge and the University of Minnesota.

7. In 2016, we published a report that looked at those stopped by police while riding a bike, and why. We found that it was very likely that police were profiling young black men, and were sometimes using minor infractions such as riding without lights or riding on a sidewalk in a business district as a pretense for a stop. Starting in 2014, Minneapolis police significantly reduced traffic enforcement of all kinds. Traffic violations continue to play a significant role in many biking and walking crashes in Minneapolis. With these factors in mind, how would you, or would you not, change how police enforce traffic laws in Minneapolis?

We need better training for law enforcement in responding to safety problems and enforcing traffic laws that protect people both walking and bicycling. Minneapolis lacks a city-wide, comprehensive traffic law enforcement policy.

A young cousin of mine who was biking to work in Ohio was killed by an impaired truck driver. Advocating for safe bicycling facilities and comprehensive enforcement of traffic laws are critical to creating a city where all can thrive – people walking, cycling, using transit and driving.

8. Public Works is currently studying policy options for winter maintenance of both bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. What changes, if any, would you like to see related to winter maintenance of sidewalks and bikeways?

Faster clearing of bikeways and walkways appears to be a great way to increase walking and biking in all seasons, and implement a complete streets policy. I would like to learn more about the impact of clearing bikeways on the number of people using bikeways in winter, and the cost of clearing bikeways within four hours of snowfall – the required period for multi-unit rental properties.

9. Since 2010, an average of about 250 bicyclists and about 250 pedestrians have been hit and injured in Minneapolis each year, and about 40 have been killed. A number of cities around the country are taking a “Vision Zero” approach which seeks to eliminate all traffic deaths by taking a proactive approach to improving safety and targeting resources to problem areas and proven safety improvements. Would you or would you not support Minneapolis setting and working toward goals to eliminate traffic fatalities?

I strongly support Minneapolis setting and working towards goals to eliminate traffic fatalities. My cousin was cycling to work – not in Minnesota – and was killed by an impaired driver. Her parents, who have no other children, have since advocated for safer cycling wherever they can.

Living in the Dinkytown area, I strongly support taking a proactive approach to improving safety, and developing creative solutions, like the leading pedestrian indicators. Targeting resources to problem areas is essential.

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

1. Improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the ward, with better and safer sidewalks, bikeways, wayfinding to the Mississippi River and destinations, and greening in the public right-of-way
2. Complete the 0.6-mile gap in the Mississippi River Trail between the Stone Arch Bridge and the University of MN-Dinkytown Greenway
3. Improve pedestrian and bike crossings on busy streets where more bicycle-motor vehicle crashes have occurred: Hennepin, Washington, University NE, Broadway, and University/4th St SE

Ward Specific Questions

a) The University/4th St corridor has been identified by the city as a protected bikeways project in 2018-2019. Do you support these improvements?

As a board member of Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association, I am very interested in increasing safety for bicycling and walking along University Avenue SE and 4th Street SE, as well as on Fifth and Second Streets SE. I support the city including the adjacent streets in their study of the area and potential bike/ped facility improvements. The MHNA just sent a letter to the city to ensure project alternatives include potential impacts to these adjacent streets.

In 1995, I led a volunteer bike count to fight a proposal to eliminate bike lanes on both streets, and we prevailed. I am a strong advocate for improving facilities and studying alternatives, not shifting hazards to adjacent streets.

The 2016 Hennepin/First Avenue Transportation Study looked at opportunities to improve Hennepin and 1st Avenue NE between Main Street and 7th St. Options include adding protected or unprotected bike lanes, widening sidewalks, and potentially converting to two-way traffic. These streets will be repaved soon, which presents an opportunity to make some changes. What would you like to see done on Hennepin and 1st Avenue NE in this area?

I want to see improved pedestrian and bicycling facilities and quality of life in the area. All of the options offer protected bikeways, streetcar access, wider sidewalks, increased pedestrian space, shorter crosswalks, on-street parking, and greening opportunities. All of the options are improvements over the current conditions.

Option 1-1b provides a much wider sidewalk – twenty feet - and greater opportunities for creative vitality. Other alternatives provide a barrier for the bikeway. I would like to learn more about the alternatives that convert Hennepin and First Ave NE to two-way streets.

 

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