Monday, October 18, 2010

Candidate Questionnaire: Pam O’Connor (4 year Santa Monica city council seat)

1) Do you ride a bike, and if so, describe it?

Don’t have a bike right now. I had bad knees for the past few years that limited me. Now have new knees, so…(See bonus questions for last time I rode a bike.)

2) If you ride, what kinds of trips do you make by bike, how often, and do you ever ride with friends or family? 

3) On the Council, what will you do to ensure the goals set by the LUCE plan for various bicycling improvements, are seen through to completion in a timely and accountable fashion as we move forward. Additionally for incumbents, what are any notable actions you’ve done on the council in the past to improve the environment for bicycling in Santa Monica?

LUCE provides the umbrella for developing a multi-modal transportation system. However, a more detailed Bicycle Master Plan needs to be created to lay out specific bicycle network elements. Some streets can become “complete streets” with roadway shared but others may not be easily made safe for bicycle travel because of the intensity of vehicles and parking. But Santa Monica has a strong street grid that will allow for “complete corridors”—i.e. dedicated bike lane on a parallel street (thus the corridor is “complete” with bike route on the safer street). Other residential streets with less traffic would be shared. On the Council and as a Metro Board member and as First VP of SCAG I have promoted multi-modalism (pedestrians, bikes, transit). Coming out of SCAG’s Integrated Planning Task Force (which I chaired) SCAG has just begun a “Wiki for bike and pedestrian planning ( which is a participatory planning process for bicycle and pedestrian improvements throughout the region.

4) $20,000 was recently budgeted by the council specifically for bicycling education. How do you think that money would be best spent?

As a Councilmember I am a policy-maker, not the project manager…but I expect that city staff would first look at ways to leverage the funds to get the most out of them, look for best practices to implement, and identify other funding sources to enable ongoing bicycle education for everyone (drivers, pedestrians, bike riders, school children, seniors).

5) How would you work to improve the safety of our streets for all users?

See answer to Q3—need to identify appropriate streets for bicycle lanes (and some streets with heavy traffic, future dedicated bus lanes would not be appropriate for the bike lane). And Q4—need for ongoing safety education (there will always be a new rider, a new driver, etc).

6) In the interest of improving multi-modal connectivity, would you support upgrading Big Blue Bus racks to ones that can house 3 bikes? As some bus stops in the city are being upgraded, would you ensure bike parking considerations are made at important bus stops in addition to the coming expo-rail station stops?

Yes to 3-bikes rack and yes to better bike parking. But there is a capacity limit, as there will be with bike parking. I think we also need to investigate bike-sharing programs as another option (i.e., Paris, London, Minneapolis).

7) What will you do to ensure that resources for bicycling are distributed equitably through out the city?

That will be part of the Bicycle Master Planning—identifying all the elements needed for an effective bicycle netsork including bike parking.

8) What would you do to ensure it be common knowledge that bicycles belong on the street, and that everyone, including drivers, understand the various rights, rules and regulations as they pertain to cycling?

See Q4—the education program has to be ongoing (new drivers, new bicyclists). Also traffic enforcement is needed for drivers and bicyclists. In Paris with the introduction of the Velib bike-sharing program there were more bicyclists on the streets and they are allowed to use the dedicated bus lanes. This was only possible with proactive enforcement of traffic rules: drivers and cyclists each had to adhere to rules of the road.

9) How would you propose improving bicycling connectivity to the beach bike path, to promote more synergy with beach riders and local business, as well reduce driving trips to the beach by residents who live close enough to ride there?

Again, that is part of the Santa Monica bicycle Master Plan that must be developed and on a regional level, through planning such as SCAG’s bicycle wiki for planning. At Metro (I am on the Metro Board of Directors and Chair of Metro’s Sustainability Committee) the next “Call for Projects” will encourage funding to those projects that promote bicycle and pedestrian improvements. As the Sustainable Communities Strategy for Los Angeles County (part of SB 375 which requires reduction of GHG from light vehicles) is undertaken at SCAG (I am First Vice-President of SCAG) multi-modal travel support for bicycling will be an important way to improve travel options that reduce GHG thus focusing attention on the investments needed to support safe cycling.

Bonus) Finally, you can also include any comment you’d like to say to my readers, on any topic you’d like.

When my knees were still ok (about 4 years ago) I got to try out the bike sharing program in Lyon, France (which pre-dates Paris’ Velib). It was great!

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