Jono Cowgill

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 do not own a car. I ride a bicycle for all transportation purposes, and have conducted my Park Board campaign exclusively on my bike. Even though I do not own a car, I do not claim to be in the same situation as one who does not even have the potential option to own a car. For those who cannot drive, it is critical that we plan infrastructure and community improvements that put them first. Our most vulnerable travelers are those who do not have the protection and luxury of having an automobile.

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 spearheaded a paint the pavement project, the first of its kind in my neighborhood of Lowry Hill East. This project created a long-term mural on an intersection in the Wedge, helping slow traffic and providing a greater sense of place for community members (plus it was Bike-themed!). I also was the developer of one of Minneapolis' first locally-developed Parklets. This parklet has been seasonally located on Bryant Ave and later on Lake Street, and functions to extend the pedestrian space and slow automobile traffic in the adjacent driving lane.

I work as a city planner known primarily for its work in Bicycle and Pedestrian planning. I have worked on a variety of bike-pedestrian plans, including local school plans in St Paul and Minneapolis, and comprehensive route planning in Minnesota and Wisconsin municipalities.

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?

The parks are used by different people in different ways. Our parks can be responsive to all user types by creating accessible community-engagement processes that account for changing trail use as our city becomes more dense.

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

A few important strategies:

  1. Prioritizing youth programming over police enforcement. In 2017 the Park Board is spending nearly $2 million more per year on police enforcement than they are for positive community programming. This is backwards for community safety and its backwards for racial equity.

  2. Strengthening the racial equity matrix developed for the 20 year planning process and applying it to programming funding. That means investing more in community programming for historically underserved areas, and investing in enhanced leadership pathways for people of color.

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 would like to conduct an assessment of the cost and potential usage increases associated with maintaining more sidewalks and trails for bicycle commuting and wheelchair use in the winter months.

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?

My position is that to "Be Respectful and Considerate of All Trail Users" might be a more effective sign for safe trail use for all than maintaining a 10-mph speed limit. My current understanding of this issue is that the 10-mph speed limit is effectively unenforceable and somewhat arbitrary. This leads me to believe that it is an unnecessary, unhelpful rule. I would also be interested to learn more deeply what issues bikers or pedestrians have faced related to this speed limit, and any law enforcement concerns that are associated.

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 hope to foster an environment where all users feel safe and confident while walking and biking in the parks. That means:

  • Deepening the Park Board role with Safe Routes to School planning principles to promote walking and biking to school
  • Developing a plan for having safe transitional spaces between park trails and neighboring streets for pedestrians
  • Expanding winter biking trail options for riders
  • Expanding trail maintenance of useful bike commuting trails in the winter
  • Investing in youth bike programming to ensure that all kids have access to a good bike that they feel confident using in our parks and in our neighborhoods

Thank you to Our Streets Minneapolis for the opportunity to fill out this questionnaire!


Share this with friends!

© Copyright 2023 Our Streets Minneapolis. All rights reserved.