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 1st 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?
Andreas Addison: According to www.walkscore.com, Richmond is currently ranked 52nd. With the growing and diverse demographics of our city, we must focus on connecting residents with as many different venues of transportation as possible. Any future infrastructure projects should be focused on creating equity between the various methods of transportation, which will include improving sidewalks and dedicated bike lanes as 22% of Richmond residents don’t own or have access to a car. Almost 80% of entry-level jobs in the region aren’t accessible to public transit and roughly 27% of our residents fall below the federal poverty line. City Council has an obligation to address this critical infrastructure need so that all residents, regardless of what part of our great city they live in, have access to transportation and the opportunities our diverse economy offers. It will be a key focus of my time on City Council, to partner with organizations like SportsBackers, neighborhood and civic associations, and most importantly the citizens to improve the pedestrian and bicyclist infrastructure in our city.
Jonathan Cruise: I intend to work very closely with the Mayor’s Office and City Council to ensure that we give considerable thought to the options for walking and biking when deliberating any infrastructure or development. As Councilman, I will also commit to enhancing the city’s ability to provide basic, reliable infrastructure and services by assessing the city’s commitments and identifying more efficient methods of providing these services in a timely manner wherever feasible. I will ensure that access to safe sidewalks and biking infrastructure is part of this commitment.
Harry Warner: No response.
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?
Andreas Addison: The Complete Streets resolution passed in 2014 (over a year and half ago), but sadly little progress has been made. Issues like this are far too often treated more as a checklist item rather than on as a focused priority, which is a culture change I will make to meet pressing needs such as implementing the Complete Street Policy. We need to prioritize a 21st century multi-model transportation strategy, which will help connect our burgeoning college aged population with our cities economic drivers and make Richmond regionally and nationally competitive. More and more residents are likely to rely on bikes and other forms of public transportation, so driving these improvements forward can help inject much needed revenue into our city’s economy. As a long-time employee of City Hall, I have seen many times over, projects such as this given minimum priority when competing with other political priorities. The City’s Complete Streets Policy is a project that advances the needs of our growing population and I will commit to not only bringing this voice to the table of key budgeting decisions of City Council, but will also bring accountability and transparency to the steps taken to implement projects of this importance.
Jonathan Cruise: I plan to collaborate often with the Mayor’s Office to help communicate the needs of residents in the 1st District. In this case, transportation improvement projects must respect the Complete Streets Resolution when under review. I will ensure that any aspects of the resolution that should be considered are done so in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Harry Warner: No response.
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?
Andreas Addison: Having just been hit by a car’s mirror as it was passing me on Main Street recently, I understand all too well that is an issue we need to seriously address. As the Civic Innovator in City Hall, I worked with the Richmond Police Department to publish incident reports that included vehicles and pedestrians as well as vehicles and bicycles on the City of Richmond’s Open Data Portal. This data is valuable in understanding the dangerous intersections in our neighborhoods and can be used to predict and project issues facing our pedestrians and cyclists in our city to address and improve upon the plans for improving our multi-modal infrastructure as well as identify ways to educate and inform our residents to the changes that these projects create. Issues that address salmoning, (riding a bike against traffic rather than with traffic) or challenges with understanding how to approach a cyclist on a sharrow, need to be presented in a customer-focused approach. Outreach and education targeted specifically to pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicle drivers needs to be implemented and enforced to achieve the outcomes of he Vision Zero program. As we expand our cities multi-model transportation infrastructure to include bikes, buses, cars and pedestrians – the opportunity for accidents naturally increases. As we move forward with these critical infrastructure updates - we must partner with groups like Sports Backers, colleges and universities, and our public safety officials to create targeted and in-depth training materials and use them to educate, inform, and engage our communities in how to interact with the increased bike and pedestrian traffic we will experience. These materials must consistently shared through social media, print media, and outreach events and enforced citywide to assure the safety of all residents.
Jonathan Cruise: There are several ways that I believe we can achieve the goal of Vision Zero. We can work with the Department of Motor Vehicles to further improve driver education. We can make sure that considerable thought and data are used to drive decisions around engineering our transportation infrastructure. We can coordinate outreach efforts within the City to help promote Vision Zero to communities. I strongly believe that these steps would help us work closer towards the goals of Vision Zero and I would support any reasonable efforts to achieving zero traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030.
Harry Warner: No response.
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?
Andreas Addison: Richmond currently has one dedicated point person to handle our bicycle infrastructure updates but the role is limited in power and influence as they can only push projects forward that have state or federal funding available. This position is currently buried in the Department of Public Works, which results in our bicycle projects competing with other area of transportation for funding. We must change this if we’re going to make the updates necessary to address this issue and we must elevate this position in order to give them increased to access to revenue streams and ensure these crucial projects receive the attention they desperately need. I will support the adoption of the Bicycle Master Plan and work with the public and SportsBackers to identify the key areas of interest throughout our city to connect via our new bikeways. As these locations become prioritized, I will also see to it that we as a City not only implement the needed infrastructure improvements, but also see to it that we do not just do the easiest, simplest, and cheapest option available, but one that fits the needs and expectations of being a 21st century city that includes supporting all modes of transportation.
Jonathan Cruise: I would reasonably and sensibly support adoption of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan. I strongly believe that neighborhoods must have a voice in this plan for it to succeed. As Councilman, I would work with the Mayor’s Office to communicate the biking needs of those in the 1st District and help contribute towards building a more connected network of bikeways by coordinating my efforts with those of others in City Council.
Harry Warner: No response.
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?
Andreas Addison: Absolutely. I support providing extra funding for adding biking and walking infrastructure. With our ever-growing and diverse population, our city must tackle our transportation needs with an all of the above attitude. With the high levels of citizens living below the federal poverty line coupled with the need to diversify our modes of transit to account for every area of our city – it is imperative that we find funding for these infrastructure improvements and additions. As a member of City Council - I will aggressively pursue all forms of grants, revenue sharing streams and funding from the city’s CIP in order to meet this goal.
Jonathan Cruise: I do support pursuing additional funding for biking and walking infrastructure. I will strive to explore the most sensible means of funding infrastructure while still working to ensure that we maintain the infrastructure that we have already installed. I hope to work closely with Sports Backers and Bike Walk RVA to achieve this goal.
Harry Warner: No response.
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?
Andreas Addison: Public access to parks and public spaces has been a growing issue and topic since Mayor Bloomberg of New York City announced that he wanted all NYC residents to live within a 10 minute walk to a public park before he left office in 2013. Measures like this elevate the importance of building equitable access for all residents to be able to use the public health benefits of parks. During a discussion in 2014 with NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, I learned that NYC faced a problem that became elevated due to this initiative. The equity among city parks was inconsistent. While many New Yorkers had a short walks access to parks, my neighborhood park was nothing compared to the Wall Street executives access to Central Park. Thus, there was inconsistency even with having equitable access to parks. It will be a key priority of my tenure of City Council, to make sure all residents in our city have equitable access to quality public park spaces. Parks that attract activities. Parks that are clean. Parks that are accessible. Parks that have amenities that are attractive to residents of all ages. I want the residents of Bellemeada to have access to a park like that of Lombardy and Park in the Fan. Thus, before looking to convert small parcels of city owned land into parks, I want to make sure that the existing infrastructure of parks is evaluated, qualified, and improved upon to create equitable access to quality parks in our low-income communities. If through this review we find that there are areas of our city that do not have access to parks, I completely embrace the opportunity to use city owned parcels to create new parks. In doing this, it is paramount that we also support the expansion of our maintenance funding for all parks. Regular upkeep and maintenance of grounds and equipment is a fundamental part to assure all parks serve the needs and expectations of our city.
Jonathan Cruise: Generally speaking, I do believe that we need to find effective ways to use the land that we have within city limits. In my opinion, parks are a great way to invest in the local community and encourage an active lifestyle. I would commit to reviewing efforts to convert small parcels of city owned land into parks where these efforts are fiscally responsible and reasonable. I would also consider supporting increasing park maintenance funding where and when the data suggested that this was feasible and effective.
Harry Warner: No response.
Want to know how other City Council candidates responded to our questionnaire? Review their answers here!