Russ Henry

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 navigate the city by bike and walking often. I'm on my bike to go to meetings, run errands, and for recreation 3-4 times per week. I used to be a winter biker too and i have at times in my life used bicycles as my main mode of transportation for work.

Many friends and acquaintances of mine don't have the option to drive including my son who lives in Minneapolis. For years I've been a vocal proponent and supporter of safer streets because my friends and family are out there every day and we need to do all we can to protect bikers. I'm a member of Our Streets Minneapolis and I have supported the amazing infrastructure improvements that Minneapolis has undertaken to make streets safer for bikers.

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 spent my time as an advocate working on issues including pollinator protection, urban farming, local food system development, restorative justice, and soil health. A number of years ago I was a regular attendee of Critical Mass bike rides, and am a member in good standing of Our Streets Minneapolis.

My number one accomplishment in relation to biking is teaching my son how to ride a bike in Corcoran Park many years ago. Then we worked together on bike maintenance and now he's a pretty good bike mechanic.

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 am a fan of bike commuting as I have at times been a full time bicycle commuter. Parks can be designed to support both safe bicycle commuting and recreation purposes. I support bicycle commuting in parks.

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

Fully staffed neighborhood parks are the number one priority for advancing racial equity. Right now our park system has more staffing available in wealthy, mostly white areas of town and less staffing in low-income and racially more diverse areas of the city. I'm pushing for a robust budget discussion in order to drive us towards fully staffed neighborhood parks in low income areas of Minneapolis.

We need to change the requirement for a 4 year degree to become a park manager, this discriminates against long time employees who didn't attend a 4 year college, I'll work on this. I will work to institute policies that will result in the MPRB hiring more people of color.

We need to stop cutting basketball courts in half, remake full court basketball and soccer fields and turn on the lights at night to encourage folks to be in the parks, I'm ready to work on this.

It's time to involve more community members in important decision making. I'm advocating for stronger, community advisory committees with a clear leadership from community and a stronger presence of people of color.

I've been working to uplift several candidates of color including in the same at-large race that I'm in.

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 love using the trails in parks in the winter. I want to work with the Bicycle Advisory Committee and other advocates to find out how we can more effectively plow paths for bike commuters and walkers in the winter.

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?

I am open to discussion on the speed limit. I believe that park trails need to be safe and they need to be kid friendly spaces. At the same time I support bike commuting and want to find a way to accommodate commuters.

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'd like to work with Our Streets Minneapolis and other advocates to begin a safe streets bike training program in each of the 51 neighborhood parks. Ideally this would be for youth and adults and I'd like to find a way as a part of this for an organization or the MPRB themselves to donate a bike and a helmet to each kid who passes the training.


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