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 travel in Minneapolis by foot, bike and car. I most often commute to work by car, because I tend to be on “kid duty” most mornings, but often in the spring and fall I’m able to drop my son at his school and bike from there. In the summer I am more likely to bike. I also bike and walk to do errands, get to destinations that are not work related and for recreation.
I have biked in Minneapolis since childhood.
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 been car-free several times in my life, including when I was in high school, in college and after college. For several years after college I did not own a car, and commuted to work by bicycle in spring, summer and fall and by bus in the winter. I lived car-free as a young parent as well for several years.
I best understand the experiences of people who don’t have the option to drive through my conversations with them. I regularly report to the City’s Advisory Committee on People with Disabilities and Committee on Aging, and much of my work experience prior to being a Council Member was as a Montessori teacher. I am also a father, and think about walking and biking questions from the perspective of my children. I am also informed by the experiences many of my car-free constituents have shared with me over the years
3. Describe any past work or accomplishments that you have been involved with around the areas of bicycling or walking issues in your community.
My experience with improving biking and walking in Minneapolis is extensive. I have supported and led on numerous new bikeways in Ward 2 since taking office in 2006. A not fully comprehensive list: bike lanes on Franklin Ave E and SE, 15th Ave SE, Como Ave SE, 27th Ave SE, Minnehaha Ave S, 5th Ave SE, 19th and 20th Aves S, 15th Ave S. Trails and protected bikeways in the ward I have helped create include Oak Street SE and the Dinkytown Greenway. Upcoming projects I’m excited to see built include a bike lane 4th St SE, protected bikeways on University or 4th St SE, bike boulevards on 24th St E and 29th Ave S (including a hard-won full closure of 29th at the Greenway) and the Prospect Park Trail. I took the lead on restructuring the Bicycle Advisory Committee to make it more representative of the viewpoint of bicyclists, and my policy aide has served as the Council’s representative on the BAC since it was reformed. I pushed to adopt the Climate Action Plan, the protected bikeway plan, the Complete Streets policy and other citywide policies to benefit people on foot and on bikes.
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.
My office helped lead the drafting of the Complete Streets policy last year. A very influential draft by my Policy Aide, Robin Garwood, became the basis for the final document. I strongly support the Complete Streets policy: it makes the approach that I have used for years into formal City policy. Our priorities should be on the modes we want to see used more often, the modes that have seen chronic deprioritization in the past, and the most vulnerable road users. For that reason, I prioritize people on foot or assistive technology first, people on bikes and transit second, and people in cars third. You can see this reflected in my votes on specific projects, including 3rd Ave S, Penn Ave, and Glenwood, where I was unfortunately not on the winning side. Our Complete Streets policy is only as good as our commitment to implementing it; I hope the Council will be more committed in the future.
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 have long supported investing more in walking and biking. I strongly support the goal in the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan of getting to 15% bicycle mode share, and know that can only happen if we put significant resources towards biking. I helped lead the defense of the City’s first Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator position back in 2011, a fight we won on an 11-2 vote. I have supported both individual projects and an overall increase in funding dedicated to building and maintaining walking and biking facilities. I also pushed last year to ensure that the proposed parks funding package include funding for streets. One reason I thought that was important is that when we reconstruct streets, we have a chance to ensure that they become the true complete streets we want to see.
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?
Yes. I support building out the entire proposed network of protected bikeways, and then getting to work planning and building out the next phase of that network. And my votes align with my values. I have been willing to remove parking on streets in the Second Ward for traffic calming and bike facilities, and voted to prioritize greening and safety over the (unnecessary, according to staff’s analysis) fourth lane of traffic on the 3rd Ave S bikeway. We can’t claim to be in favor of a Complete Streets vision for our city if we continue to prioritize cars over people walking and biking. I also believe the evidence that in many cases, removing or narrowing travel lanes and introducing better pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improves safety for everyone, including drivers.
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’m proud to have taken the lead on a staff direction that has ultimately resulted in the police department for the first time tracking demographic information on the people stopped by police. I view racial profiling as a significant societal ill, and the result of implicit bias that many of us carry but police have much greater capacity to act on. At the same time, I believe that we need to do more to protect the most vulnerable road users from dangerous actions by drivers. Distracted driving is increasing, failure to yield - especially to pedestrians - is rampant. Failure to yield to bikes causes many of the car/bike crashes. Neighborhood groups in my ward have clamored for years for the police to more actively address traffic safety. I will continue to advocate for enforcement of traffic safety rules and push back against racial profiling.
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?
Many sidewalks, including in commercial areas, are impassable after snowfalls, many on-street bike lanes disappear and bike boulevards become unusable. If we’re going to be a world-class walking and biking city, we have to be a safe and comfortable place to walk, bike, and take transit year-round. We’ve also had the potential cost of clearing snow from protected bikeways used as a reason for caution about them. But in my view, while clearing snow from a protected bikeway clearly comes with an expense, it is at least possible, unlike clearing snow from an on-street bike lane adjacent to parked cars. I would support creating a priority network for winter bikeways, including faster clearance for some bicycle boulevards. I’m also open to exploring targeted parking rules during winter where the only option for the priority network is an on-street bike lane next to parked cars.
I am very open to exploring new ideas for clearing sidewalks, including more consistent and faster enforcement of shoveling rules and potentially having the City clear some corridors. I am more and more convinced that sidewalk clearance along pedestrian priority corridors is important enough that it should be done by the City.
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 strongly support the proactive Vision Zero approach, and have advocated for it for years. In 2011, I joined with the family and friends of Audrey Hull to remember her and honor her life. I’m proud that the City’s response has included more conflict markings at high-risk intersections like the one where she was hit and killed. The lives of road users, especially the most vulnerable, must be our highest priority, not moving traffic. And where we are hamstrung by rules like the Municipal State Aid standards from building the safest possible street, we need to push back against those rules, seek variances, and push to change them. I convinced that more safety requirements specifically for trucks to better alert drivers of bikers or pedestrians in their paths (especially while making turning motions) should be implemented.
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?
Locally, I want to build out the parts of the protected bikeway network that remain to be finished in Ward 2. I want to see a connection from Oak Street to the Dinkytown Greenway, a Hiawatha Trail connection, and a Grand Rounds “missing link” parkway connection. Citywide, I want to meet or exceed the goals of the protected bikeway plan and the mode share goals in the Climate Action Plan; to prioritize pedestrians and bicyclists at every signal; to evaluate streets based on their effectiveness for pedestrians and bikers as well as motor vehicles; to make it more difficult for private contractors to close bike and pedestrian routes, and require better detours when they do; to update the Bicycle Master Plan, more fully implement the pedestrian master plan, and adopt the next phase of the protected bikeway plan; to develop clearer policies on how we identify car free streets. I’d like to see aggressive biking and walking priorities clearly identified in our new comprehensive plan. I want to see a Vision Zero plan adopted, and for it to impact everything from street design to traffic enforcement to the safety equipment that is required on trucks.
Ward Specific Questions
a) 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?
This is a difficult question, because there are several corridors I think need better pedestrian and bike infrastructure (including the Oak Street connection to the Dinkytown Greenway, University Ave SE protected bikeway and more). I will focus on the planned protected bikeway along 20th and 19th Avenues on the West Bank, across the 19th Avenue bridge and up along 10th Ave SE to Como. This is an already heavily traveled bike route with many major destinations directly adjacent to it, including the U of M, Augsburg College, the Cedar Riverside business node and more. It is a critical connection between many different bike facilities, including the Hiawatha LRT Trail, the Dinkytown Greenway, bike lanes on Riverside and Como, and the planned University Ave protected bikeway. And it will serve populations that have been shown to bike in large numbers when given high-quality facilities, including University students.
b) Do you support extending the Midtown Greenway over the Mississippi River? If so, what will you do to support this extension?
Yes, as I mentioned above, I support this extension. It is an opportunity to connect the immensely successful Midtown Greenway into St. Paul and directly up to the University of Minnesota via the planned Prospect Park Trail. The difficulty with this connection is a very common one on “rails to trails” projects: the railroad that owns the bridge structure itself and the line on the east bank of the river. I do not foresee the situation with the railroad changing until it loses its last remaining customer on Hiawatha Avenue, ADM. In the meantime, I have pushed for the City to take an active role in acquiring this rail corridor from Franklin Ave SE to 27th Ave SE, and required that the developer on the west side of 27th leave open a corridor for the planned trail connection nearly all the way to Essex - to connect to the University. I view this as the first phase of the Prospect Park Trail, which will ultimately connect to the east side of the bridge over the Mississippi. By starting to build out this first phase, I hope to demonstrate what a great connection this can be once it’s fully built out.