For the 2016 City of Richmond elections, Bike Walk RVA administered a candidate questionnaire to each person running for City Council to see where they stand on issues relating to biking and walking in Richmond. We asked questions on the following five topics, and the responses from candidates running in the 6th District are recorded below:
Note: Sports Backers is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization and does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. Bike Walk RVA’s candidate questionnaire is strictly educational in nature.
QUESTION 1 – TRANSPORTATION EQUITY
Biking and walking not only improves public health, but it is a prevalent form of transportation for people who can’t afford a car and/or gas, are too young to drive, or are not mentally or physically able to drive. According to Census data, nearly 22 percent of Richmond households do not own or otherwise have access to a car. The challenge for Richmond is to increase access to safe biking and walking opportunities for all citizens.
What measures can we expect your administration to take to expand access to safe walking and biking infrastructure for all residents?
Donald Moss: I lived with only a 05 Fuji Track for a number of years, so safe biking and walking infrastructure is very important to me. I’ll ask for a sidewalk survey and will prioritize repairs based on community input and foot traffic levels. I’ll also work for continuous monitoring of bike and pedestrian accident hotspots and corridors and will deploy better protected bike lanes, sidewalks, and crosswalks where they can help the most. I’d also like to implement parking maximums instead of parking minimums.
Ellen Robertson: Richmond’s commitment to creating healthier, safe, clean and green communities should allow for bicycling and walking to be a part of all our daily lives. We have invested in plans to achieve these objectives. Annual implementation objectives must be adopted and met to ensure the plans are carried out. Significant improved has been done in the 6th District. Cannon Creek bike and pedestrian Greenway which is an east coast connector and the Tyler Porterfield Bridge connect he river banks. Both are due to be completed over the next fiscal year.
QUESTION 2 – COMPLETE STREETS
In October of 2014, Richmond City Council passed a Complete Streets Resolution (No. 2014-R172-170) that states the City will – within one year – modify street design and construction manuals, codes, ordinances, and standards to reflect that “all transportation improvement projects in the city be planned for, designed, and constructed to provide appropriate accommodation for persons of all ages and abilities, including pedestrians, bicyclists, transit passengers, and motorists, while promoting safe operations for all users.” Nearly two years later, these changes have not been adopted.
If elected to City Council, how would you work with the administration to help implement the City’s Complete Streets Policy?
Donald Moss: I’ll work with our Department of Public Works to deliver the modifications to design manuals and standards, and ensure these are applied to all new roads and repaving or widening projects.
Ellen Robertson: With the resolution in place, it is the duties of our staff on behalf of Council to follow up on the implementations. Reports of non-compliance are to be presented to Council standing committees for further actions, as neede, to ensure implementation. This is a resolution and does not carry the same enforces as would an Ordinance. I will ask for a status report and action plan to be included in the Land Use agenda in Sept/Oct.
QUESTION 3 – VISION ZERO
Vision Zero is a strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all. On March 7, 2016, Richmond City Council passed a Vision Zero Resolution (No. 2016-R011) that “supports the development of a Vision Zero program for the City of Richmond with the goal of reducing traffic fatalities and serious injuries in road traffic to zero by the year 2030.”
If elected to City Council, what additional policy steps would you work to put in place to improve education, engineering, enforcement, and emergency response with the purpose of achieving zero traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030?
Donald Moss: Once we’ve created safer infrastructure it’s up to the RPD to enforce unsafe practices such as speeding or ignoring the 3 foot passing rule. I would also support further education, perhaps through our high schools and universities, for folks who bike or walk on how to use the new infrastructure and in a safe manner.
Ellen Robertson: Council must expect greater follow through with the Administration to ensure the implement of good policies for the City are not continually disregarded. Our staff must monitor compliance on our part and bring these unmet policies back to the Council for actions through our committees process. I will request this be on the Land Use and Transportation committee in Sept/Oct.
QUESTION 4 – INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS
In May of 2015, the City of Richmond finished work on the city’s first Bicycle Master Plan, which calls for the implementation of 135 miles of new bikeways by 2025. By the end of 2016, the city will have 25 miles of bikeways on the ground, all of which have been “low hanging fruit”. However, the Bicycle Master Plan has yet to be officially adopted by Richmond City Council. In addition, few if any of our new bikeways connect to each other or major destinations.
If elected to City Council, would you support adoption of the Bicycle Master Plan? If so, how would you work with the administration to grow the mileage of bikeways in Richmond to fill in the gaps and form a connected network?
Donald Moss: Yes, I believe we need a core, connected network of protected bikeways and multi-user paths that will form the backbone of a more bikeable and walkable city. From that backbone we can grow the network and add in smaller, neighborhood streets where appropriate.
Ellen Robertson: The value to a Plan, supported with an implementation strategy, budget, sources of funds, and timeline should be presented to Council for adoption.
QUESTION 5 – FUNDING
Establishing safe and accessible places for people to bike and walk for transportation will require additional funding for capital projects, either in the form of Federal grants, State revenue-sharing, or the City’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP). In May of 2016, Mayor Jones proposed $500,000 in the FY2017 CIP budget for bicycle infrastructure – more than any previous fiscal year – in addition to funding for sidewalks, crosswalks, and traffic calming. Furthermore, City Council added $300,000 to the FY 2017 CIP budget to fully fund the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge, a walking and biking bridge from Brown’s Island to Manchester.
Do you support pursuing additional funding (in the CIP or other sources) for biking and walking infrastructure? If yes, how much?
Donald Moss: Yes. I believe at least 1% of our transportation-related CIP funds should go to biking and walking infrastructure.
Ellen Robertson: The City is in a unique situation. Our infrastructure is the oldest in the region and in great need for replacement and major repairs. We must seeking greater funding from Regional, State and Federal governments. With the adoption of the plan, an annual budget with determine the funding demands and sources.
QUESTION 6 – PARKS
Parks and recreation facilities provide opportunities for physical activity and can help people of all ages lead a more active lifestyle. People who live near parks are more likely to be active. However, some lower-income communities and communities of color tend to have less access to quality parks and recreation facilities. While park use has dramatically increased in the City of Richmond, the funding for maintaining the parks has stayed level or dropped.
Do you support the conversion of small parcels of city owned land into parks that serve the immediate neighborhood? Do you support increasing park maintenance funding? If yes, by how much?
Donald Moss: Richmond has some neighborhoods with excellent access to parks and open spaces, I would support this in areas that are more than a 15 minute walk to public open space. We have to balance adding new assets with the difficulty we’ve had in maintaining the current parks we have now. I support increased park maintenance funding, as well as using the temporary, semi-skilled labor needs as a way to train city youth with job skills and provide them with needed income during summers.
Ellen Robertson: Neighborhood parks are undervalued and underinvested. Not only are there disinvestments in maintaining our parks, the staffing are grossly inadequate. I would survey the existing parks and determine the cost to bring up to desired standards, including staffing. Secondly, an assessment of best practices for green and open space should be determined prior to adding new parks.
Want to know how other City Council candidates responded to our questionnaire? Review their answers here!