Tom Hoch

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, rollerblade and ride a bike, primarily for recreation and errands. Minneapolis must support a multi-modal transportation strategy that allows for our residents to choose what best suits their lifestyle but emphasizes the personal and civic benefits of walking and biking. I generally commute to work in an electric car, especially in winter.

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 transit dependent in college and regularly use LRT today. Through my varied work history I have had ample opportunities to learn about transit issues from a range of people who rely on public transit. I learn from listening to people from all backgrounds and situations and incorporating those suggestions into my understanding of their experiences. One of the primary reasons I have chosen to run for mayor is that I hear that our current leadership isn’t listening. Residents who should be inclined to support some city policies seem to feel excluded from the process. It’s not the “what” it’s the “how”.

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 a founder of the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District, which has made our pedestrian experience cleaner, greener and safer after I led streetscape improvements on Hennepin Avenue. I will continue to be an advocate the City’s Complete Streets Policy and as a result of my work on the preliminary design for the Hennepin Avenue reconstruction, believe I helped successfully set the stage for the inclusion of a dedicated bikeway, despite previous resistance from property owners. As a result of those discussions, I assisted the coalition in expanding its conversations to include emphasis on the walking environment. As mayor, I will ensure that Hennepin Avenue possesses a dedicated bikeway and ample sidewalk capacity.

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 am a solid supporter of this policy and believe it is spot-on to think about street design beginning at the outer edges and moving towards the center. We should conceptualize and design with these priorities in mind: walking, biking, public transit, then single motor vehicles. We need to assume as well that autonomous vehicles are coming and should be incorporated into our planning. We must do more to incentivize alternative transportation options, encouraging more residents to walk, bike and use public transit through a “health and wellness” campaign. However, a large portion of Minneapolis residents still use a personal vehicle as their primary mode. The city has a responsibility to them to ensure that streets are safe and well maintained.

I support the goals of the Complete Streets policy, with one adjustment. The policy states:

“The City will continue to engage partner agencies, schools, businesses, neighborhood associations, and developers in a cooperative manner throughout implementation of the Complete Streets policy process.”

The omission of “residents” is problematic. The city must do more to directly engage the people who live and work here, rather than just relying on stakeholder organizations.

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?

The city must clearly state its goals for transportation, then commit to those goals financially. Our transportation strategy and the Complete Streets Policy should not be just a political talking point, but an actual, implementable framework and I would generally support a gradual increase in funding to support this. Priority should be given to those streets that are undergoing some level of reconstruction, since they present the greatest opportunity to fully implement the Complete Streets Policy and the best opportunity to leverage funds. Increased spending will likely cause pressure to delay or reduce other budgetary activities, but I will work with the coalition to develop strategies with which we can all live.

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 support evidence-based approaches to policymaking. Traffic studies are an important part of the process. In areas where a study has been done, the loss of traffic lanes or parking is deemed feasible, and the demand exists, I’ll be a strong supporter of expanded protected bike lanes. The Third Avenue project of last year was a particularly vexing situation. It involved the removal of privately-funded improvements nowhere near the end of their life, and was viewed harshly for vehicle traffic flow by adjacent buildings. The Coalition could be more successful if it could get in front of potentially affected constituencies to educate them before a specific project occurs. Seniors should be talked to as they are more likely to resist if they aren’t educated early; they are especially interested in safe walkways and street crossings, so emphasizing walkability may help gain acceptance.

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?

I believe that issues of equitable enforcement should be a top priority for our city. Profiling and discrimination have no place in our policing strategy. The city is making progress with collecting information on stops, training around implicit bias and an increased focus in community policing strategies as well. This is of particular concern to me as we know that over 50% of African American and Native residents never ride a bike. We cannot hope to expand biking as an equitable endeavor if profiling occurs.

I also believe we need to refocus our resources to ensure that the most serious crimes are getting solved. Minneapolis ranks as more violent per capita than 95% of cities in the U.S.. Our clearance rates for the most serious crimes are shockingly low – fewer than one in every ten crimes result in an arrest in some precincts. Traffic enforcement is important, but should not be the primary focus of our police.

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?

Sidewalks (especially corners) and bikeways should be treated with at least the same priority given to streets. The city should pursue education and enforcement to ensure that property owners act on their responsibilities. I would like to see Public Works staff recommend what additional equipment and processes are needed to keep bikeways cleared year round. I suspect that there is a way to schedule bikeway clearance that will not conflict with roadway clearance and will look to you and Public Works staff to inform me.

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 would absolutely support this. I am intrigued by using data to drive the discussion to make our streets safer for everyone and can envision a city-wide campaign around this effort. I am excited by the prospect of gathering a team to lead this initiative. I believe that everyone who lives, works, or visits Minneapolis, deserves a safe community. I support the goals of Vision Zero and would add Minneapolis to the list of cities working toward these changes. It’s disheartening that Saint Paul is the only city in Minnesota even considering these policies. Minneapolis should be a leader in eliminating traffic fatalities.

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?

I am a strong advocate for developing transportation modes that do not rely on individually owned vehicles. I will champion the introduction of autonomous vehicles to ensure that all residents, including seniors and those with physical limitations, have access to mobility and in the disruptive nature of that conversation see a large opening for biking and walking to move forward exponentially. I am especially concerned that we have not fulfilled the promise of biking to all segments of our community and will work with you to set measurable goals for more uniform participation.

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