Janne Flisrand

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.

My first choice for navigating Minneapolis is by bike, including for nearly all of my work trips year round. I walk for many local recreational and errand purposes, and rely on MetroTransit as my preferred back-up when biking and walking don’t work. I was the 17th member of HOURCAR and used Car2Go when it provided service in Minneapolis, and I see car sharing as an important resource for people living car-lite or car-free.

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 lived my entire adult life car-free, in Minneapolis since 1996. During that time, I provided one-day-a-week child care for sibling-kids for seven years. We have explored Minneapolis by bus, foot, and bike from pushing strollers to adventuring further away on a trail-a-bike or when first riding independently. I’ve also encouraged my greater-Minnesota-living parents to explore the city with me by bike. Because I see how important it is for others understand those experiences, I’ve blogged for the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition about riding in Minneapolis with my sibkid and my mom. These experiences helped me understand biking from different perspectives and evaluate the ways in which Minneapolis needs to improve its bike routes to maximize accessibility for all riders.

I have not personally experienced navigating the city with a disability. Instead, I seek out stories from friends and online to understand those perspectives.

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 have been a transportation advocate and activist in Minneapolis since I moved here in 1996, and it’s one of the primary ways I became involved in local policy and politics. I’m most proud that I am a co-founder of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition -- the second attempt to found a bicycle advocacy group of which I was a part. I also serve on the board of streets.mn. My primary role in both organizations has been to support the infrastructure that built the capacity needed to make change, from fundraising to volunteer support. I’ve also insisted we grapple with and change our practices around power, race, gender, and privilege because transportation policy and planning is disproportionately set by white, able-bodied men yet has an outsized impact on people who may not have real transportation choices.

I have played a key role in many accomplishments through both of those organizations. As a few examples:

I spearheaded a bike parking initiative the first year of the Coalition, with a secondary goal of making bike riders more visible, which resulted in the installation of more than 160 bike racks throughout the City.

I convened the precursor of the Coalition’s FUN committee.

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 participated in a collaborative Coalition/Pedestrian Advisory Committee effort to ensure a strong Complete Streets policy was adopted, and I blogged our recommendations for streets.mn. I’m proud that these recommendations were largely adopted in the final policy.

I will support full implementation of the Complete Streets policy, including rebalancing the transportation network as outlined in the policy.

My vision is for a city with public spaces that welcome everyone, no matter who we are or how we travel. That’s possible when real transportation choices tame our streets and when we insist new developments do their part in making them lively. But for decades, the City has been building streets that prioritize people driving through our neighborhoods over those of us living in them and allowing buildings that turn their backs on the people walking past them. These spaces are unsafe, both as places that invite illegal behavior and as places where people are at risk for car crashes. And the current council member listens to powerful insiders who oppose transit, bike infrastructure, and quality public spaces, over the people who live in our neighborhoods. As council member, I will work to build safe, vibrant streets for everyone.

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?

Core services, like maintaining streets, is a critical responsibility of the City of Minneapolis. City streets and sidewalks are and will remain part of our biking and walking infrastructure.

Improvements for walking and biking do not necessarily require additional funding. The City and Park Board recently approved capital funding investments that includes $20 million per year for city streets. This kind of capital investment lasts for 50 years, and as we rebuild our streets, we must design them to be the streets we will need 50 years into the future, and not simply rebuild what was designed with now-outdated design standards 50 years ago. This is part of the City’s investment in our walking and biking—and transit—infrastructure, and is critical to offering Minneapolitans real transportation choices. We should seize opportunities that are already funded, such as street rebuilds, to ensure they are consistent with the Complete Streets Policy.

Historically, our investments have been out of balance, focused almost solely on people driving through our neighborhoods rather than the people living, walking, biking, and playing in them. We must also invest in closing gaps in our walking and biking networks, so that we have real transportation choices.

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. Over the last century, we have taken space from people walking and transit vehicles to wedge more car lanes and parking into our cities. We’ve removed boulevards and trees to widen streets, making the experience of walking less safe and less inviting. Walking and biking in Minneapolis should be a joyful experience; safe, pleasant and interesting. In order to ensure the most vulnerable road users—people walking and biking—are safe, we must rebalance how we share the public right of way.
There are tools to optimize space used for parking that the City is not currently using, like off-peak loading, off-peak parking, metered parking and opportunities on cross-streets. Thoughtful communication with neighbors and businesses about changes and more fully using the tools available is key in successfully making changes.

The current council member opposed/blocked installing the protected bikeways designated in the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan when 9th Street in downtown was repaved. To build real transportation options, adopting strong plans like the Minneapolis Bicycle Master Plan is not enough, we must also implement them.

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?

Everyone expects predictable behavior on our streets so we can travel safely no matter what mode we’re using. While people often see traffic enforcement as increasing predictability, data shows that racial profiling is prevalent in traffic enforcement, and that it is a significant entry point into the criminal justice system for people of color and Indigenous folks (POCI). Everyone deserves to be treated with respect when interacting with police officers, but decades of trying to arrest our way to safe streets has backfired, and police are no longer effective—even in times of crisis—because they are not trusted. The challenges are complex, and the solutions are unclear.

As a leader who listens, I will reach out to community stakeholders, in particular those most affected, to build a shared understanding of the ways enforcement, over policing, and the criminal justice system reinforce racial disparities in Minneapolis. From that understanding, I will work with organizations like the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition to identify and adopt the best available solutions, and continue to monitor whether they were having the intended effect.

Data driven efforts (based on crash data) can help keep enforcement focused on actual safety issues. At a minimum, police should capture race data.

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?

Walking and biking should be easy in the winter, just as in the summer. Besides offering real—and increasingly used—transportation choices year round, ensuring sidewalks and bike routes are passable in the winter helps everyone.
Safe and clear sidewalks are imperative in the winter. I would like the City to explore best practices for sidewalk snow removal from other cities with similar climates, including municipal clearing options and streamlined enforcement options. This is a first step towards adopting updated practices that ensure walking in the winter is safe no matter your age or ability.

When we fail to maintain bike routes in the winter, the growing number of winter riders are forced onto main streets and into traffic lanes that are well maintained. That puts people on bikes in the heaviest traffic especially on days when drivers may be struggling to control their cars. In January of 2014, I personally shoveled a bikeway when the public entity responsible failed to do so. Ensuring our sidewalks and bikeways are passable throughout the winter should not fall on the people who use them.

I would like to see a priority winter bike network that is reliably cleared after fresh snow.

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 support Minneapolis setting and working toward a goal of eliminating traffic fatalities. We must make streets safe for the most vulnerable people on them. Traffic fatalities are a public safety issue that must be addressed by the City.

Design drives behavior, and efforts should be focused on designing streets that signal to drivers and people walking and biking how to travel safely and predictably. Design should make it easy for drivers to be aware of others on the streets.

Vision Zero approaches have traditionally included enforcement as well as infrastructure approaches, and I am concerned about the racial disparities prevalent in traffic enforcement. To avoid compounding the extreme racial disparities that exist in Minneapolis, the City must address the disparate impact of policing before applying stepped-up enforcement as part of addressing traffic fatalities in the City.

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 focus on full implementation of the Complete Streets policy, applied equitably across all neighborhoods in the City.

I look forward to leading a robust engagement process around the design details on Hennepin Avenue, ensuring that the street is a great place to walk, to bike, to attend the theater or eat out, and to linger.

I look forward to partnering with other public agencies that are part of providing our transportation network, like the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and Hennepin County, to work towards providing a seamless and excellent experience walking and biking in Minneapolis.

I’m eager to ensure that Loring Park and growing downtown neighborhoods become great places to live, walk, and bike.

Ward Specific Questions

a) Hennepin Avenue in downtown will be reconstructed in 2020-2021. The City has approved a concept for the design of Hennepin, but still has additional details to finalize. What is your vision for Hennepin Avenue in downtown? What will be your approach to the final details of the design for Hennepin?

I blogged my vision for rebuilding Hennepin Avenue in downtown on streets.mn. This is a once-in-50-years opportunity to make Hennepin Avenue more than a thoroughfare that works for people navigating Minneapolis. It’s our chance to make Hennepin Avenue lovable. I was also actively involved in advocating for the protected bikeway included in the concept design for Hennepin Avenue.

The final design details are what will make the difference. Hennepin will be a safer, better way for everyone traveling through downtown. If we do it right, it can be a “sticky” street, drawing people in for the destinations and motivating them to linger on sidewalk cafes or other local businesses, to share space with people from all around the City and state. The opportunity to be part of this design process is one of the most exciting aspects of serving as council member for Ward 7 in the next four years.

b) The City’s Protected Bikeway Plan identifies connecting downtown with surrounding neighborhoods as a key priority given the lack of comfortable routes in the area. How would you approach implementing protected bikeway connections in Ward 7?

As the population of Downtown grows, with the Downtown Council setting a goal of 70,000 residents by 2025, implementing protected bikeway connections as identified in the protected bikeway plan in Downtown is a priority for the future of Downtown. I hear consistent concerns about bicycling on sidewalks in Downtown, a symptom of the lack of comfortable on-street routes. Despite that, the success of Nice Ride and especially it’s heavily used downtown stations shows riding a bike is seen by many as an ideal way to navigate downtown, and that will only increase as the population grows and the other aspects of the Downtown Council’s 2025 plan are implemented.

The existing plan prioritizes a few specific streets for bikeways, and as those streets are rebuilt or resurfaced, these should be implemented. For streets that are on the plan for which improvements are not slated, I would confer with the Coalition and other downtown stakeholders on developing a proposed timeline for implementation. For each project intentional outreach and engagement with neighboring businesses and properties will be important to address concerns about the construction and final design.




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