A big thanks to the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition for all the great work they do and for facilitating these candidate questionnaires. You can read the answers to my candidate questionnaire on their website here, or below.
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 regularly bike and walk throughout the city, often using the Midtown Greenway and the Grand Rounds bike trail system, and I regularly run around Lake Nokomis . I currently use a car to commute to work, but was primarily a bike commuter before having children. The ability to navigate our neighborhood without a car was a key amenity my family sought when buying a house. As my kids get older, I plan to commute more by bike. For now, my family enjoys walking to the numerous parks in the neighborhood and grocery store.
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 transit-dependent, during that time splitting my travels between public transit and bike, so I have first-hand experience on these issues. Relying on public transit, especially when the state struggles to fund our transit system, requires flexibility in timing, preparing for all weather, and extra walking. Our transit-reliant neighbors depend much more on clear sidewalks and walkways -- especially those who are disabled or have impaired mobility. Also, the prospective Metro Transit fare hike is something I am watching carefully because I understand how deeply it will affect low-income riders who depend on transit for their livelihood.
3. Describe any past work or accomplishments that you have been involved with around the areas of bicycling or walking issues in your community.
As vice chair of the Hale-Page-Diamond Lake Neighborhood Association, I have worked in part on increasing bike lanes in Ward 11. As a neighborhood association, we strive to ensure all voices are heard as Minneapolis moves toward a more multi-modal transportation model.
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 will support the Complete Streets policy. I believe in sustainable infrastructure expansion that prioritizes pedestrians, cyclists, and transit. These transportation methods promote healthy lifestyles and more equitable access to our city -- and they should no longer be marginalized “alternative transportation.” In Ward 11, my challenge is that many of my neighbors see Complete Streets only as a policy for creating more bike lanes. As their City Council member, it would be up to me to explain even broader benefits of the plan, including safer streets for pedestrians and other improvements that empower people to rely less on their cars.
The Complete Streets policy offers us a compelling opportunity to take action now to overcome an unsustainable car-centric culture. Our community is lucky to have widely accessible lakes, parks, and trails. Without thoughtful policies, including Complete Streets, we risk limiting the benefits of these valuable amenities to Ward 11. Additionally, my neighbors care deeply about walkability for seniors and kids, priorities they share with Complete Streets that must be emphasized.
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 would support spending more on building and maintaining our increasingly important bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Minneapolis is a growing city, and as the population expands, the need for easy and safe access to walking and biking infrastructure will only become more pronounced. Minneapolis celebrates its consistent ranking among the nation’s top cities for bicyclists, but we should not rest on our laurels. We can always improve, and as our city grows and evolves, our public infrastructure must reflect our priorities. One way improve our pedestrian infrastructure in Ward 11 in particular is to reduce sidewalk gaps throughout the Ward. In addition, reinforcing our commitment to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure also affirms the city’s dedication to a sustainable future.
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, protected bike lanes are an issue of safety for cyclists and drivers. They make all road users more comfortable, and reduce safety concerns that can arise when sharing road space without them. The process for installing protected bike lanes must be well documented, and neighbors should be kept informed and aware of the benefits to them. During the most recent bike master plan process, many neighbors didn’t voice concerns until bike lanes were being put in because the target dates for implementation were far into the future. Conflict arose when there was limited recourse, but we can overcome these tensions in the future by proactively discussing issues earlier, during the policy development process. Community engagement is a strength of mine, and a priority in my policymaking.
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 believe that traffic enforcement is a very important tool in keeping our pedestrians and cyclists safe. If traffic laws are enforced in a biased way, or not being enforced at all, then those laws are not promoting public safety -- and that is a serious problem. I would support the police department enforcing the laws on the books in an unbiased, non-discriminatory way. Given the Coalition’s findings of likely biased enforcement, it is important for city leaders to hold the police department accountable to this standard.
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?
I have commuted by bike in winter, but not while living in Minneapolis. From that experience, I know that regular winter bike commuters here could pinpoint areas where our normally well-planned bike lanes and bike boulevards tend to quickly get erased as snow shrinks our streets. I understand that this is a safety issue for cyclists in particular, but also all road users, and given our climate, it is essential that we keep roadways accessible to all even in these conditions.
From my own experience in Minneapolis, I think the city does a good job of plowing my neighborhood’s bikeways and walkways and applying salt and sand in a timely fashion. However, I know that this is a particular challenge in parts of the city with narrower streets and a high proportion of residents who park in the street. For me, winter transportation comes down to safety and access, so I would actively seek ways to improve those areas by looking at the costs of plowing streets with bike facilities first to address snow pack, clearing snow on corners, and enforcing shoveling rules.
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 setting and working toward goals to eliminate pedestrian and bicyclist injuries and fatalities in Minneapolis. Further, I support a holistic approach to achieving this essential outcome; there is a lot that can be done. Among my areas of focus for street safety are education for all road users, street design that keeps pedestrians and cyclists safer, better signage, and speed limits (and enforcement) that reflect the specific road use dynamics in each community.
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?
One of the things I love about Ward 11 is its amazing bikeable and walkable amenities, including Lake Nokomis, Diamond Lake and Minnehaha Creek -- just to name a few. But, walking and biking in our city need to be functional modes, not just recreational activities. A challenge for Ward 11 is that we are on the southern fringe of Minneapolis, and most of our transit and bike options only go North-South. I hope to make Ward 11 a more accessible area for multi-modal transportation, throughout the whole neighborhood.
Ward Specific Question
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?
Ward 11 is very diverse in its needs, and two areas need specific focus for very different reasons. The 46th St. Station is important hub for so many commuters in Ward 11. The 46th St. Station, which currently services the A Line bus rapid transit and will connect to the forthcoming Orange Line, is an area ripe for increased multi-modal access. There are no existing Westbound bike lanes from this transit connection, limiting access for people who live farther away. Designated bike lanes to and from this important transit point would expand options for commuters, while also reducing parking congestion around the station. Second, the area around 60th and Nicollet needs a redesign that prioritizes pedestrians and cyclists. It is a very busy area where car traffic currently comes first, inviting serious safety concerns. The pedestrians and cyclists traveling along that corridor need to be a bigger consideration.