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.
Except for driving to/from work or taking the bus, I most often navigate our city by walking. My bicycle is a cargo bike, and I am a cargo mom. I use it often for transportation purposes, though having just had a baby I haven't been seen on it much since last summer. I can proudly assert that it holds four grocery bags and our son, it's been used to return heavy equipment to the hardware store, and it has even on occasion held out-of-town guests for jaunts around the neighborhood.
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. For most of last summer I was without a car. I have children, I use a stroller often, I live across the street from a bus stop. I also work frequently with residents around me who are seniors, are transit-dependent or have disabilities.
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 Vice-Chair of Transportation and Public Works for the city, I collaborate with Public Works in road resurfacing and reconstruction to help implement the bicycle master plan, advocate for Complete Streets and Vision Zero kinds of policies and planning initiatives. Our 20-year Parks and Roads agreement will have a long-term commitment to additional roads funding that will help this to do more than we've otherwise been able to achieve. In my ward, we've specifically been focused on pedestrian corridors with heavy foot traffic and connecting bike routes.
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.
I advocated for Complete Streets policy before I was a politician, prioritized it while in office, and it is really rewarding to see it coming to be in our city. I believe in encouraging alternative transit methods for healthy living and to provide alternatives to driving. I very much believe in the European model which is multi-model and has all forms of transportation because users have different needs at different times. I believe in the city we have to consider the need for parking in small business districts which are important in our neighborhoods, and this model has evolved (ex: the Linden Hills Pedestrian Overlay and its transition to a modern pedestrian overlay district). The goal is increased mobility for all users.
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 supported the current amount, and any increased amount would have to be scrutinized alongside other budget needs in the city as we do every year. If possible I would add more. Also, I would like MPRB to consider putting more of their budget proportionally toward the maintenance and growth of protected pedestrian/bike trails as part of the goal for healthy living across our city. We look forward to seeing the improvements planned for 2017 around many local MPRB walking/biking trails and we have been advocating for improved conditions for years. This year, we will also have some great coordination of efforts with the city and MPRB for better connections and articulation of ped and bike paths that are not high-cost but will mean a lot for transit safety and efficiency (ex: W 50th St/Minnehaha)
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 have supported protected bikeway plans that mean loss of parking or driving lanes, and I have done so at times where it has made me unpopular. However, when I haven't been able to support bike plans, it was in consideration of all the facts and resident or stakeholder issues around a project.
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?
Traffic violations can quickly prove deadly for bikers and walkers, as we have unfortunately seen across our state. I want police to enforce traffic laws that could have dangerous consequences- this typically means distracted driving and negligence to yield to pedestrians, often willfully. This year, for the first time ever, our city attorney is prosecuting three cases involving distracted drivers (all left turns into a crosswalk who had pedestrians crossing in accordance with the walk signal). What used to be a misdemeanor is now a gross misdemeanor, meaning it can carry jail time, and if reckless driving is proven it can be a felony. I would like to see more enforcement against distracted driving and for people in Mpls to know that if you are driving dangerously we will prosecute you. Often places like the University of Minnesota do traffic enforcement push efforts as a way to let folks know about safe biking practices at the beginning of the year- this is good and typically it is a courtesy stop. We also want police to stick up for the rights of bikers in other situations, so we need all the facts to get them on board.
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?
Bike lane clearance is good. The city needs to thoroughly clean curbs at intersections and enforce sidewalk snow shoveling and salting. We've worked hard to decrease the timeline for shoveling mitigation but 12 days is still too long. With climate change and warmer winters icy walkways will become more of a problem.
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 came into office advocating for this approach and we are finally having some great preliminary discussions about it. See answers above.
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?
Safety and enhanced mobility for all users. I believe we will have achieved some wins on this front in my first term and we also have a long way to go.
Ward Specific Question
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?
In Ward 13, the West Calhoun corridor, from SW LRT (future) station area to Lake Calhoun/Bde Maka Ska is most in need of pedestrian/bicycle infrastructure. As one of the busiest traffic corridors in all of Hennepin County, this is a place with several bus routes coming together, a bustling commercial node, the future site of West Lake LRT station, the protected bike trails to the north and the state's busiest park to the south. It is also, unfortunately, where two county trunk highways come together. It is outlined here.
While it has the most traffic, and is growing in density of housing, it is the worst for pedestrians and cyclists in all of southwest Minneapolis. I've spent an incredible amount of time considering improvements to this corridor and working with professionals on it, and the improvements I envision are here and in this order of near-term and long-term recommendations.
The inter-jurisdictions of the county, city, and park board all come into play in this challenging area. While we have been able to make very minor improvements, I look forward to implementing near and long-term recommendations as soon as possible.