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.
I walk and bike for all daily purposes, including social outings and community meetings, on a fairly regular basis (although I do not winter bike yet). We are a one car household and I carpool, bike or bus to work. I also skied to work on one occasion.
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?
I was car-free until the age of 30, when my daughter was born, and got my driver’s license at that time. As people who use and depend on a transportation system know well, shortcomings in that system can have multiple negative effects: time spent, comfort and limited options in terms of where and when one can travel. An example of these difficulties would be having really strong north-south bus routes for commuters but lacking equally strong east-west connectors. That situation is very limiting for the transit-dependent and is why creating a Broadway route and enhancing a Lowry route is so important for Northeast Minneapolis
3. Describe any past work or accomplishments that you have been involved with around the areas of bicycling or walking issues in your community.
I was active in planning and promoting bicycle infrastructure for many years preceding my time in office, during a time when there was less public demand for bicycle facilities. I worked with Eastside community members to build awareness, acceptance and even excitement around bike improvements as a neighborhood asset. I led efforts to identify bike priorities in my own neighborhood of Windom Park and held sessions that created consensus around all the Northeast neighborhoods. We were the only section of the city to submit a coordinated map in the early 2000s which developed into an early version of the master bike plan. As a Council Member and Chair of TPW, I have advocated for implementation of several miles of bikeways, including Presidents Bike Blvd, 22nd Ave Bike Blvd, 5th St NE & SE Bike Blvd, Broadway bike/ped lanes, and 18th Ave NE Bike Trail. I brought together neighborhood partners to develop the “Great Northern Greenway” plan linking Northeast & North Minneapolis and have been instrumental in launching significant upgrades to sections of the 18th Ave bikeway. I have also advocated for such unique enhancements as the ped/bike-friendly diagonal crossing at New Brighton Blvd.
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.
As a lead participant in the taskforce that created the Complete Streets policy, I support this guiding document in its entirety. While other policy elements such as Access Minneapolis and the City’s Bike Master Plan, as well as annual budgets, site conditions, citizen advisory committee input and stakeholder feedback all play a part in each project, I feel strongly that it’s essential that Design and Engineering staff now start with the guiding framework of the Complete Streets policy for each and every project. In my mind, the concept of Complete Streets encompasses not only “Street” in reference to single projects or project phases, but also places emphasis and extra attention on the “Streets” system and the gaps within that system, in terms of sidewalks and accessibility infrastructure, that need to be completed.
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 would advocate for spending more on both walking and biking infrastructure and now we are in a position as a city to do so with the commitment of an additional $20 million a year to our base project budget. In particular, I would like to see more emphasis on innovative solutions to pedestrian accessibility issues than we have had in the past since I believe that this has been an area of less emphasis in the past. I also believe that upgraded policies and practices around walking infrastructure would have the most impact in terms of improving mobility for the broadest cross-section of users, particularly in economically burdened communities. I will continue to work closely with the BAC and PAC to take a proactive systems approach to the City’s planning efforts.
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?
I fully support implementing the protected bikeway plan and have demonstrated my support for reducing parking and traffic lanes to facilitate that implementation. I believe we should have a full range of bike accommodations from trails to shared boulevards. I think our current 48 mile scheme is a good starting point, but I see that only as a beginning, not an end point. As the system gets built out, greater efforts for upkeep and snow clearance will necessarily be a priority.
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?
The first step I would like to see is a significant investment by the City in this type of data collection. Given the serious nature of the potential racial profiling that your report points up, I think it’s absolutely imperative that we examine larger data sets to get a far more detailed picture of problem areas and forward ways to address this situation. I think that this type of data collection could go hand in hand with a larger examination of bike and pedestrian crash data, so we have all the available tools to craft policing policies that are unbiased in application and focused on best practice, effective enforcement.
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?
Given our climate, it’s essential that we constantly seek out innovative ways to improve our winter maintenance of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. I have worked closely with Public Works leadership on innovations that have already been introduced to improve the pedestrian winter environment, including: pilot sidewalk shoveling program (initially implemented on a trial basis in Ward 1), utilizing private contractors to reduce the time between sidewalk snow and ice complaints and their resolution; utilization of Regulatory Services staff to inspect sidewalks at properties in the Vacant Building Registration program, freeing up Sidewalk Inspections staff; stepped up communications and education strategies to increase public awareness of the importance of the sidewalk network. I was also supportive of commissioning a winter maintenance study to initiate a broader policy discussion. I believe our sidewalks and bikeways need at least the same attention in terms of winter maintenance that our streets receive, if not more, and I fully support creating a broad set of strategies to ensure that happens.
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 believe that all who guide and implement municipal policy have a moral imperative to work toward reducing and eliminating traffic fatalities and I believe we should pursue any and all best practices in terms of design and engineering that further those goals.
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?
With so much groundwork accomplished for advancing biking and walking in the City, I expect a lot to be accomplished. Most, if not all pedestrian system gaps will be eliminated, with continued improvement in terms of snow/ice removal including low environmental impact techniques. I will continue to emphasize increasing best practices at key intersections and be open to trying new ideas to improve the pedestrian experience as they emerge.
I anticipate the completion of the protected bikeway network, which I consider an initial phase, not the end of the story as completed projects may need to add features that didn’t fit with their project budget or elements could be added that are newly recognized best practices. We’ll have a downtown bicycle center perhaps similar to the one in Chicago and in general more places to park bikes in commercial centers. In Northeast all key east-west routes are completed including 33rd Ave, 29th/27th Ave, Broadway and the “Great Northern Bikeway” (which includes 18th Ave and the right-of-way that connects to the river), All schools have a bike club and improved safe routes to school. Hennepin will be completed as an exciting example of how right of way can be enjoyed.
Ward Specific Questions
a) What specific corridor and/or street in your Ward do you feel is most in need of improved pedestrian and/or bicycle infrastructure? What kinds of improvements would you envision, and why is this particular connection important?
For the street in Ward 1 most needing pedestrian improvement, Lowry Avenue comes to mind. It is horrible for both pedestrians and transit riders. I was on the steering committee that updated the Lowry Avenue Plan that narrows the street and creates a wonderful pedestrian environment as a top priority. I am now working to implement the plan, presently focusing first on key intersections. An historical side note: As a community advocate on the original Lowry Avenue Steering Committee, I was one of the few dissenters voting in objection to a plan which took a “clear cut and widen” approach.
For bikes, my top priority for improvement is the “Great Northern Bikeway” which will eventually connect residents from North and Northeast to the river and each other with a much needed east-west protected trail.
b) Marshall Street Northeast has been identified in the protected bikeway plan as a future protected bikeway, and Hennepin County is currently studying details around a reconstruction of Marshall. In addition to community support for a bikeway, there have been some concerns brought up potential parking loss to make space for a protected bikeway. Would you support a protected bikeway on Marshall Street? How would you approach community conversations around a design for Marshall?
I support a protected bike path on Marshall Street. In my approach to community conversations, I would follow the recently successful path to “yes” that we got this month from this community to get a protected path through 27th Avenue NE. This was not an easy action, with lots of conversations with neighbors and small businesses, as well as a significant number of big commercial and industrial properties. It will require parking removals and there wasn’t complete unanimity on this, but overall we built consensus with education, some patience and a determination that it was overall an improvement from multiple viewpoints.