Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Candidate Questionnaire: Susan Hartley (2 year Santa Monica city council seat)

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

Yes I do. A Rallye Mt. Peak men's bike. I had back surgery and am only now getting back into cycling. I plan on getting a better 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?

I don't ride as frequently as I'd like. I used to do the bicycle path every Sunday with frequent excursions from where it ends in Redondo Beach to the northern end. I ride solo, with friends, and with 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?

I am a real advocate for closing off to autos a major east/west street every Sunday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. so that bicyclists can safely and freely travel from all over Santa Monica to the beach and the downtown area. I originally suggested Broadway for this, but Arizona might be better, given the fewer businesses there. It would be a great way to get families out on their bikes, encouraging bicycling throughout the community. I endorsed the re-striping of Ocean Park Blvd. with the clearly marked bike lanes, defending it still to my fellow Friends of Sunset Park board members who prefer re-installation of the 2 lanes of traffic in either direction instead. I see a real lack of continuity and even hypocrisy between the City calling for bike lanes and then not insisting on a bike lane through the Agensys redevelopment project. That was a big mistake by the incumbents. I'd like to see steps taken to utilize alleys for safer bike routes near busy/congested areas of Santa Monica.

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

The money should be spent in participatory events. The Girl Scout program has a bicycle education program which even includes maintenance. (I was a Girl Scout leader for 12 years.) That type of program could be instituted city-wide, even monthly. In addition, programs/events could be planned for bicycle touring of neighborhoods, utilizing "safer/recommended" routes. People would be attracted by the strength in numbers, fellowship, and happening of it. Cooperation with Critical Mass would also help in educating. Police officers could stop traffic, facilitating the groups flow safely through the community, instead of trying to stop the bicyclists. These participatory events would be fun, draw crowds of residents, and be an excellent way to provide bicycling education.

5) Context: (Note: I had mentioned I was leaving provided context out of responses to save space, which I posted here at the beginning of the series, but since Susan made a response specifically to context in addition to question I've included here again.)

The recent sustainability report card noted that collisions between drivers and cyclists had increased 78% in the past 3 years, while bicycle ridership grew 11% last year. The California Office of Traffic Safety report from 2008 rates Santa Monica as having some of the highest, and in some cases the highest number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities and injuries in traffic collisions for California cities of comparable size. 711 victims were injured or killed in all traffic collisions in Santa Monica in 2008 (212 of which were cyclist or pedestrian involved). Making traffic collisions clearly one of the biggest threats to public safety.

These are horrendous statistics. I'd like to see the report, analyses of the types of accidents and the locations of accidents, and the breakdown of fatalities and injuries.

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

I'm for more bike lanes, clearly marked and even painted blue or green. The current re-striping of Ocean Park Blvd and the plans for that boulevard west of Lincoln are very exciting and very bicycle friendly. We need more streets like that in Santa Monica.

Santa Monica needs a clear and extensive bike lane network. My dedicated bike rider friends know which streets are safer and easier to ride from point A to point B. That info could be shared and publicized to encourage others to bike.

Sharrows scare me, both for the bicyclists and the auto drivers. I appreciate the concept but don't think that will help if somebody is killed or seriously injured.

I'm for enforcement of existing laws prohibiting bicyclists from riding on sidewalks as well as revisiting those laws, perhaps making the sidewalk on one side of the street a bicycle/pedestrian share lane. I've had a lot of seniors express to me their fear of being hit by a bicycle on a sidewalk. I know that is something to fear. I was hit by a bicyclist on the school playground when I was in 1st grade and seriously injured. I exercise residual caution to this day for fear of being hit again while I'm on a sidewalk.

Bicyclists should take it upon themselves to never run red lights. That's the law and it's so dangerous to disregard it. While I can understand the desire not to stop at a stop sign, it's hazardous not to. I guess if there is no car in sight, an exception could be made.

Enforcement of light requirements at night is essential. Frankly, I want to get through life without hitting/killing an animal, a pedestrian, and/or a bicyclist. It's scary to see a bicyclist seemingly appear out of nowhere, dressed in dark clothing and without any lighting whatsoever.

The police would have to be educated about bicycle laws and sensitized to the reality that bicyclists have a right to be on the road, that the bicycle population is increasing, and that our community wants to encourage, not discourage, bicycling. The police must get the message that our community demands a more cooperative and conducive environment for bicyclists.

With enforcement of the bicycle laws, there could be a warning ticket first and then a monetary penalty ticket. I think such enforcement would minimize the injuries and fatalities.

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?

Absolutely. There needs to be more available bike parking areas and devices. Consideration should also be given to allowing bicyclists inside some buses, like I've seen on the Metro.

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

The city, perhaps with your and other bicyclists' input, needs to inventory locations of available bike parking facilities. Then they can install more. I'm greatly disturbed by the number of forgotten/ignored areas of our town and the inequity of it. All city resources and services need to more equitably distributed. I've fought for social justice all my life and plan to make equal distribution of city resources and services a primary goal of my time on the council.

Re the 99 cent store on Pico Blvd., that is a prime example of how NOT to plan. It's the wrong store in the wrong place. There is inadequate parking for autos, ingress and egress for autos, and from what you say bicycles. It's always an accident waiting to happen.

I flyered that area north and south of the freeway this weekend and heard over and over, as well as saw, how the city neglects that area. That has to stop. Those people deserve equal access to taxpayers dollars.

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?

My answers above answer this question. We're in a transition stage now, but with more cycling and the education efforts I mention above, there will be not only more bicycling but more synchronization between bicyclists and drivers. People squawk about the re-striping of Ocean Park Blvd., but the stats show it's a safer street now, not only for the pedestrians and bicyclists, but for the drivers. We'll see more cooperation between bicyclists and drivers with cycling becoming more common and widespread. Also, there will be less hostility from drivers when bicyclists follow the law regarding stopping at lights and stop signs and using lights at night.

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?

My idea detailed above about closing off a major east/west street to cars every Sunday for certain hours. Also, specifying already existing easy access routes to get to the bike path, such as Ocean Park Blvd., perhaps even painting them with a beach graphic like a wave. The topography north of the pier is a problem with walking and carrying seemingly the only answer now. With budget constraints on all fronts, it doesn't appear that funds for a bridge for bikes is feasible for that area. It should be considered.

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

I look forward to riding with you during some of the above community events I've suggested. It's an exciting time for cycling. We're at a real turning point in cycling becoming a major mode of transportation for increasing numbers of people. We need to insist that the city not cave to developers like they did with Agensys. Wear ample lighting at night and please don't run stop lights and even signs. It's not good public relations. Stay safe. The cycling climate is only going to get better. I promise to work on that.

1 comment:

Rach Stevenson said...

"Sharrows scare me". OHMYGODITSPAINT.