Billy Menz

1. Do you navigate Minneapolis by bicycle, walking, or in a wheelchair? If so, for what purposes (commuting, recreation, errands) and how often? 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 ride my bicycle for commuting, errands and for recreation. I would like to be more informed about how a lack of vehicle transportation affects our citizens. My partner and I were a one car family for many years but found it very challenging with children to accomplish even that goal in Minneapolis. I am open to helping create structures that encourage more public transit and make Minneapolis more bike-able. 

2. Describe any past work or accomplishments that you have been involved with around the areas of bicycling or walking issues in your community.

I have been involved in the Pleasant Pathways Walking School Bus at Lyndale Elementary that encourages walking to school and creating safe routes to school. I also started a Boys on Bike club at Lyndale which encouraged and taught safe biking practices to 4th and 5th grade boys, many of whom did not know how to ride a bike at the time. The group was diverse and already kids are asking me when the bike club will start again. In addition, I have worked with the Pillsbury Pedal Power group at Pillsbury Elementary School over the summer. I assisted with longer rides along the river and think that we must encourage safe biking for our youth. The parks and schools play a primary role in this endeavor for many students uncertain of biking in our community. 

3. What is your view on people using the trails within the park system for commuting to work, taking children to school, running errands, etc - as opposed to using the park system for exclusively recreational purposes?

I think a trail is a trail. It should be used to the highest capacity possible. People should be able to utilize park trails for commuting whenever they see the need. Just like highways, if trails reach capacity, we should build more trails. 

4. What strategies, if any, will you advance to promote racial equity in Park Board programming?

First, I plan to listen. People in Minneapolis, all over the city, are passionate about their parks. Right now, I am not sure the Board is really hearing what communities need from their local parks and I want to change that by hearing what communities want and need. I support a reinvestment in the neighborhood parks through the 20 year plan. I will encourage hiring practices and systems that support our most diverse workers. When we invest in workers, staff and volunteers that live in our communities we encourage our communities to invest in our parks. I will work closely with our schools and athletic partners to increase access for more kids to high quality youth sports. I will work to support food justice programming and encourage access in the parks to local agriculture. Finally, I will work to support the current racial equity work going on at the Park Board right now. We must continue this work with groups like Parks and Power to ensure we are meeting the needs of all our citizens. 

5. Currently, the Park Board maintains only some trails and sidewalks in the winter time for walking and biking. What changes, if any, would you like to see to winter maintenance of sidewalks and trails in parks?

I think it is important to maintain trails and sidewalks during the winter to encourage communities to enjoy our parks year-round. We should, however, be cognizant of maintenance costs during winter months. I will work within the Park Board to determine areas where trail and sidewalk maintenance would be the most valued and then evaluate areas where we could increase our capacity for winter recreation. I would also look into lighting issues within the parks, especially because it becomes dark earlier in the winter, in order to improve safety and access. 

6. Park Board trails have a 10 mile-per-hour speed limit for people biking. The Board discussed potentially eliminating the speed limit in 2015, but decided against a change. What is your position on the bicycle speed limit on Park Board trails?

Speed limits are there for safety. I am not sure how many tickets are being issued for speeding, but I do know that on the Greenway slower bikers (i.e. kids) are at risk. The speed limit is less significant to me than the idea of safe biking. If you are approaching children or a family, slow down, then speed up again. Safety for all on the trails should be the priority, not an arbitrary speed limit. 

7. What do you hope to accomplish to make Minneapolis parks and trails better for bicycling and walking by the end of your term, if you are elected?

I will work to ensure better access to the River trails from the East and the North. I want Minneapolis to maintain and build upon our tradition of being the best trail city in the country. I will work with City Council and the School Board to plan safe bikeways to every elementary, middle and high school in the city. The safer we make our streets and parks to bikers and walkers the better equipped we will be to eliminate car traffic, reduce emissions in our city, and increase our preparedness for an uncertain future climate. 

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