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 am dependent on my vehicle to navigate Minneapolis. As a mother of four with a strict work schedule that often has me in various parts of the city with little time in between, I find myself heavily dependent on my car. However, when there isn't a need to use it, I don't. My family enjoys walking to the park, convenience stores, the lake, etc. For recreation locally you'll find us walking 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?
Dependence on my vehicle wasn't always the case during my life. I didn't own a car until I was in my mid-20s. I can vividly remember the days when I had to lift a double stroller, packed with two kids and a diaper bag, on and off several different buses. I grew up riding the bus to work as a high school student. Back and forth to school in NE Minneapolis from S. Minneapolis. My oldest daughter walks home from school which is 18 blocks and she crosses many busy intersections. Almost half of my life I did not have the option to drive and I can say that my experiences resonate with many residents in our district.
3. Describe any past work or accomplishments around the areas of bicycling or walking issues in your community.
As the chair of my neighborhood organization I hear from my neighbors often about safety issues surrounding walking and cycling. I live off of E. 38th St between Park and Portland Avenues. As a neighborhood we have been trying to work with the City Council to get the sidewalks expanded on that stretch of E. 38th St. since they are far too narrow and not ADA compliant. People waiting at the bus stops are just inches away from turning cars. Something that I've been pushing hard for is a flashing crosswalk on the E. 39th St. crossing Park Avenue. After school and during the summer months, children in our neighborhood have to cross this intersection to get to Phelps Park. Traffic is coming toward E. 39th St. downhill and therefore increasing speeds are a significant problem here. I've seen too many of my neighbors darting across this intersection. We absolutely cannot wait for a tragedy before we act.
4. In 2009, Hennepin County adopted a Complete Streets policy to help guide the County’s work to make streets safer for everyone. Would you support implementation of Complete Streets in the County? If so, how? Please also share how you prioritize walking, transit, bicycling, driving, and parking in your decisions.
Yes, I would certainly support implementing Complete Streets. The first step is always bringing in community to help guide this process. We can look at areas of opportunity and consider design that promotes safety and is led by the needs identified by community members. This is about partnerships; first with community then with other government entities. The first step would be to evaluate heavy traffic areas and other areas for opportunity. We should be thinking outside of the box on this policy and think of new ways of design (recently I've seen 3D painted crosswalks!) and tapping into the expertise of those who live, work and play near those areas. The mode of transit that you prioritize has to do with the area of design. In high traffic areas there would be less of a priority on parking and more on the timing of stop lights, technology for shared turns at intersections with cyclists, opportunities for bike lanes if none exist and a high priority on crosswalk design for pedestrians. Around transit corridors we want to make sure people get to and from our buses and trains safely so this means a high priority around crosswalk design and technology.
5. In 2015, Minneapolis 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 between bikes and cars, and have been shown to be safer and more comfortable than unprotected bike lanes.) The County is finishing a study of protected bikeways this year. Do you support implementation of protected bikeways on some Hennepin County roads even if it could mean losing car parking or traffic lanes for cars in some corridors?
The results of this study are alarming and we simply can't wait for more tragedies to occur before we take pedestrian safety seriously. Our county is not only responsible for those roads, we are also responsible for the safety of everyone using our roads. I want to see a safety plan led by pedestrians that outlines how the county should design or redesign roadways to increase safety, especially at intersections. My aim would be to have this plan complete, funding identified and a start date for improvements during my first term.
6. Fatal and serious injury traffic crashes in Hennepin County are concentrated in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis Pedestrian Crash Study found that 80% of pedestrian crashes occurred on 10% of the streets (110 miles), and 38 of those 110 miles are owned by Hennepin County. See pages C-6 and C-7 for data. What would you do, if anything, to ensure that the County improves safety on these streets?
Yes. Protected bikeways are safe not only for cyclists, but are also helpful for drivers. As a driver, there is a huge fear of hitting someone. We must be diligent about sharing our roadways and a great way to do that is with protected bike lanes. In fact, I love the raised lanes on 3rd Ave and Washington Ave in downtown Minneapolis. I would like to see that in other areas of the district as well.
7. The 2018 County budget includes a total of $85.6 million for roads, bridges, and these walking and biking items. It also includes sales tax funding for transitways. The County currently provides $600,000 a year to support bikeways. This is far short of the $1.5 million a year staff have said is needed to implement the County’s 2040 bike plan by 2040. The County currently provides about $150,000 a year to build new sidewalks on County roads (requiring a 75% local match), $300,000 a year for walking/ADA improvements along streets getting repaved, and $1 million a year from the state for other ADA improvements. Last year, a new transportation safety fund was created, which is funding projects for all modes. It was funded at $2 million for 2018 and $1 million for future years. Would you support spending more, the same amount, or less on building and maintaining bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure?
Bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are pieces of our livability that we should not fall short on. If the county has already identified $1.5M to implement our bike plan, that is what the county should be spending. I would certainly be interested in learning why we are not spending an amount already settled on. I support spending what we identify as the cost needed for safe infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists. There is still much work to do on ADA compliance and improvements, especially where I live. I would like to see us maximize that $2M to become fully compliant while maintaining and building infrastructure that is safe and accessible.
8. Many Hennepin County roads are plowed by the City of Minneapolis through an agency agreement. The County currently compensates the City only for the costs it incurs by maintaining car lanes on County roads and does not financially support clearing for walking or biking. Hennepin County staff are currently evaluating options for winter maintenance of bikeways and Minneapolis 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 bikeways and sidewalks, including county-managed tax forfeited properties?
As part of our mission and vision as a county, we promote safety in transit, no matter what mode of transit we're using. Therefore, we must fully fund winter maintenance of bikeways and sidewalks (including tax forfeited properties). The county contracts for snow clearing at some of our libraries. I see this as a way to expand those jobs during the winter months (no less than $15/hr). I would like to see the same rules applied to street plowing applied to bikeway and sidewalks as well. If elected, I will work with our partners on the City Council to evaluate cost and set a clear policy for snow clearing that is not limited to our roads.
9. What do you hope to accomplish to make the County and your district better for walking and bicycling by the end of your term, if you are elected?
My biggest hope is to gain the trust of community members and groups who are already doing this work. My hope is to be guided by experts in our neighborhoods who walk and bike regularly to help inform decision-making as it pertains to safety. Because of our density here in the 4th district, more and more of us are choosing to bike or walk to where we need to go (my daughter is doing this, she had no interest in driver's ed) and that means we need to be leading in safety, leading in intersection and road design and investing in technology to make getting around easier no matter what mode of transit you are using. By the end of my term, if elected, I hope to have invested time and resources into improving safety, establishing key partnerships and securing the funding necessary to continue current planning efforts.
DISTRICT SPECIFIC QUESTIONS:
a) Do you support extending the Midtown Greenway over the Mississippi River? If so, what will you do to support this extension and what role do you think the County should play?
I had a wonderful opportunity to learn more about this project at the kick off event! I absolutely support extending the Midtown Greenway over the river. The planning and design looks manageable and cost-effective. There also seemed to be a lot of community support behind this extension. Supporting this extension means that I will work in partnership with the community groups and coalitions that currently exist and are doing the brunt of the work on this extension project. The county should be listening to proposals from the coalition, gathering support from other elected officials and be guided by project leaders on what is needed from the county. The county should be a key partner in this great work that's being done in our community.
b) In 2016, the City and County released a study of potential improvements to the Lake and Hiawatha interchange. A phase 2 of the study is being finished this year. What improvements do you think should be made at this intersection and what role do you think the County should play?
The county should remain a key partner and support these improvements with allocated funding. I like the design the city and county have come up with and would want to hear more community feedback. I work at this intersection and pass through frequently. I've seen my share of near misses and am grateful work is being done to improve this intersection. The biggest improvements for me are improvements to pedestrian crossing, timing and placement of stop lights, lighting under the bridge, landscaping and artwork. This is where I could see non-traditional crosswalk design prove successful. We have an incredible opportunity to try something new that drastically improves pedestrian safety, limits confusion and gets people through the intersection smoothly.