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 commute to work on a bike for 80% of the year. I still use transit or drive a car when it is face-freezing cold or actively snowing and sleeting. I also use my bike for errands and general transportation when I’m on my own. I have three sons who are just now reaching the age where they can ride longer distances on their own so we are starting to work more family rides into our routine; we commute as a family by car and transit. I was always a little envious of smaller families who could hop in a burly or wealthier families who had a cargo bike to cruise around town but like I said, we’re closer than ever to being a biking family.
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 have spent many years car-free out of economic necessity. That coupled with my experience of being a single mother of three gives me a unique perspective that I share with many of the people that I represent. I know there are lots of moms in the Ninth Ward who hustle to multiple jobs, pick up kids, take laundry to the laundromat, get groceries, and do all the other necessities without a car, on buses and walking and biking. This is why I am always advocating for better bus stops and fully funding transit for the folks like that mom who keep our whole regional transit system afloat. As the child of undocumented immigrants who were low-wage workers, these realities, and those of the elders and disabled folks in our community, are on my mind and in my heart as I move through my day and make decisions.
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 am proud to have supported the City’s complete streets policy as a City Council member. After generations of building our streets and infrastructure with only cars in mind, with the adoption of the complete streets policy, we have made a decision as a City that we are going to design our streets and make decisions about development that prioritize walking, biking, and transit.
I have been a stalwart advocate for biking and walking throughout my time in office. When we installed the longest span of protected bikeways in the City on 26th and 28th Streets, it was far from a sure thing and my office advocated for the alternative that included both a two-way bike lane on 26th street and a one way lane on 28th. We ultimately ended up with a compromise plan but I am proud that we were able to get a world-class bike amenity in our Ward. During my time in office we have also installed bike facilities on 31st Street, for which we had to remove parking, and Chicago Avenue.
On the few divided votes we have taken on the City Council: 3rd Avenue-Glenwood, Penn-I have been on the side of making the investments.
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 discussed above I was a proud supporter of the complete streets policy and I will continue to be an advocate for investing in people friendly streets as we implement our protected bikeways plan and the 20 year street repaving plan that we adopted in 2016. As outlined in the Complete Streets policy, when making decisions about streets and other public infrastructure investments or private projects that impact the public realm, I will first prioritize the disabled and pedestrians, second bicyclists and users of transit, and third cars.
My support for the complete streets policy is reflected in my record. I have consistently advocated for and supported investment in bike infrastructure in the Ninth Ward and beyond, even when it has been hard. I still get pushback on a regular basis for supporting the protected bike lanes on 26th and 28th streets. I understand that sometimes there have to be trade offs in our pursuit of a well-connected bike, pedestrian, and transit friendly transportation system and I am willing to defend them.
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 am open to exploring spending more than we currently do on building and maintaining bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. There are expenditures in our capital budgeting process that I feel could be reduced or postponed in order to free up resources for these important investments. As a as a racial justice advocate and a representative of one of the most diverse words in the city I am particularly interested in seeing parity between investment in the different geographies in our city with a concerted effort to invest in infrastructure in communities that are the most transit-dependent.
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 am very supportive of the protected bikeway plan; I was proud to support it on the City Council and I am willing to do what it takes to implement it. I was happy to support one of the first and certainly the largest protected bikeway project at the time of implementation: the protected bikeway on 26th and 28th Streets. This project, spanning as it does a large and diverse set of land uses, required the removal of both travel lanes and parking. These are often difficult discussions to have with communities as some people feel as though they're losing something to which they are entitled when parking or a travel lane is removed. This project in particular had some growing pains associated with the community engagement that happened. In a certain way that has colored the project for a lot of folks in the community and we learned a lot and continue to try to help even opponents see the benefits that the bike lanes have brought to our community in terms of traffic calming. I am committed to having the necessary conversations with my constituents and explaining to people my rationale for supporting investment in multimodal infrastructure, even when these conversations get difficult.
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?
Racial profiling is a deeply concerning issue for me as a representative of a very diverse ward. It is realities like this disparity in stops along racial and cultural lines that breeds mistrust and prevents people in my community from calling on law enforcement when they are needed. I know that we are working hard with the Minneapolis Police Department to address implicit bias and to ensure that all of our officers are properly trained in de-escalation techniques. By collecting demographic data about stops, we are letting police officers know that we are keeping an eye on this issue of racial profiling and I will continue to monitor this data as it becomes available.
I believe that the top priority for enforcement of traffic violations needs to be for those that are potentially damaging or even deadly to people. Pedestrians and bicyclists are the most vulnerable parties traveling on our streets and I believe that our guiding principle in enforcing traffic laws needs to be to protect those who are walking and biking. Most infractions on Bicycle such as those cited above are not issues that rise to the level of needing a citation and I certainly don't believe that they should be used to justify a stop and search.
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?
As a city we have made a decision that we will invest the money that it takes to ensure that cars are able to move freely as soon as possible after winter storm events. I would like us to make the same commitment to bicycles and pedestrians. As a wintertime bike commuter I have to report uncleared bicycle lanes to public works dozens of times each winter; the same does not hold true for roads. I would like to see Public Works develop a comprehensive plan for ensuring that all bicycle lanes are cleared on the same schedule that we expect the roads to be cleared after a winter storm.
Our current system of enforcing the ordinance that requires property owners to to clear their sidewalks is inadequate. I am open to having a conversation about what it would look like for the city to take on this maintenance in certain areas or to dramatically streamline and fortify our enforcement of the existing ordinance. For example, many times an icy sidewalk will remain in bad shape for weeks while Public Works issues orders, inspects, issues a citation, reinspects again, and finally has a contractor perform the work.
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?
Our community has lost too many people to senseless and almost always preventable encounters with cars. It is a serious issue and we need to address it. As a woman of color in the bike movement I resonated deeply with Dr. Adonia Lugo’s piece “Unsolicited advice for Vision Zero” . I think that we need to be intentional about addressing the concerns that she expresses, especially the piece about policing, should we decide to move forward with using a ‘Vision Zero’ framework. I look forward to continuing this conversation and looking for ways to make bicycle advocacy relevant to communities of color and open the doors for more participation.
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 will continue to advocate for the best bike and pedestrian amenities that we can get out of any street project that I have input or get to vote on. In particular, I look forward to seeing the protected bike lane on 26th and 28th Streets extended through the 10th Ward this summer, bridging the Hiawatha trail gap, and bike and pedestrian improvements at Lake Street and Hiawatha Ave.
Hiawatha and Lake, like some other intersections in town- the Franklin-Minnehaha and Olson Memorial Highway-94 area, no doubt there are others, are just ripe for longer term improvements to make them more legible to bicyclists and pedestrians. The connections between downtown and the Northside are particularly unfriendly on the whole and I believe addressing this will take some longer term planning and investment.
What specific corridor/steet in your ward is most in need of improved ped/bike infrastructure? What kinds of improvements would you envision and why is this place important?
The intersection of Lake Street and Hiawatha Ave. provides a unique challenge and has been one of my transportation priorities in the last two years. At the Intersection of a State Highway (55) and a county road (Lake) with the blue line LRT coming through and hundreds of new units of housing recently opened or planned for the next few years and a permanent home for the Midtown Farmers Market in the works, it is of high interest to the community and the City. It is also uniquely confusing for motorists and unfriendly to pedestrians, disabled people and bicyclists. Since it is at the literal intersection of so many different agencies and interests, it is important that we have gotten some buy in from the concerned parties, but what we are able to implement will be limited by political will and resource considerations. In my ideal world we would explore bringing everything back down to grade. Realistically, we have the goal to make it possible to walk in a straight line across the intersection and to close some of the more confusing entrances and exits. Stay tuned!