BPAC asks questions of City Council candidates

On April 12, BPAC sent six questions to the City Council candidates to help educate voters about candidates’ perspectives on walking and biking in Alexandria. Their responses are included below, in alphabetical order by candidate’s last name. (May 28 update: John Chapman’s responses are now included below.)

  1. Please describe your walking and biking experience in Alexandria.
  2. If you are elected, will you champion investments in walking and biking infrastructure in Alexandria to contribute to Alexandria’s economic health, including the necessary Complete Streets staffing?
  3. If elected, how will you increase the numbers of kids who choose to walk or bike, and make sure they can do it safely?
  4. Do you support the City’s Transportation Master Plan, Complete Streets Policy and the Vision Zero Action Plan? Please explain why or why not.
  5. How would you approach the decision-making process on a Complete Streets project that requires tradeoffs between important issues? 
  6. How would you encourage a more civil discourse within Alexandria, especially on controversial transportation projects, and how would you encourage wider participation in outreach by communities that are often not heard from in our traditional process?

(Note: the following candidates did not respond – Kevin Harris, Amy Jackson, and Patrick Moran).

1. Please describe your walking and biking experience in Alexandria.

Canek Aguirre

I walk. For nearly 7 years, I called Del Ray – one of the most walkable communities in Alexandria – home. I appreciated being able to walk to my favorite restaurants or take the bus down to the Metro. My first year in Alexandria I didn’t have a car but was able to walk or take the bus to work at GW Middle School. Earlier this year, I became a homeowner in the West End and have noticed a marked difference. Cars don’t usually stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, drivers disregard traffic signage, bikers don’t seem to feel safe on the roads, and sometimes there just flat out is no pedestrian walkway. We need to ensure that bicycle and pedestrian safety is a priority in every part of the City. 

The paragraph above is my exact response to your questionnaire in 2018 and I’ve left it as part of my response because the words still ring true and helps explain the approach I have taken on Council and the projects I have helped bring to completion. For decades our cities and street designs took a car centric approach, prioritizing the movement of automobiles. What we have learned over time, especially in terms of the environmental impact, is that we need to return to a more pedestrian centric model. By prioritizing vulnerable road users and public transit we can have not only a more enjoyable experience, but also give great benefit to the environment in our urban setting. 

Sarah R. Bagley

Sadly, my bike did not survive my move to Alexandria from Washington, DC so I have only biked on Capitol Bikeshare bikes. I have used those bikes to engage in simple pleasure rides around the City as well as a brief commute I had for a period of time between Southeast Old Town and the King Street Metro area. 

My walking experience is broad given that I have a dog who I walk frequently and I have lived in smaller spaces without yards during my time in Alexandria. We cover several miles a day along the waterfront, through Old Town or sometimes we get in the car and walk a new part of town. 

I chose to live in my current location, North Old Town, so that I can take the bus to DC (though not presently) or Metro, walk to groceries and coffee shops and connect to the Metro when necessary. I do own a car but use it generally when traveling out of the City or when I take my dog along to places in the City. I am fortunate to work from home prior to the pandemic so I have not had a car based commute since moving to DC in 2003 (save limited stretches of jobs or assignments).

William E. “Bill” Campbell

I’ve lived in Alexandria for over seventeen (17) years.  I’ve raised three (3) children here who are now young adults.  Throughout the kids youth and our early years in Alexandria, we’ve been through a series of different bicycles and bikes.  We live in northwest Old Town in the Parker-Gray neighborhood.  While the kids were growing up, we were often a family of walkers and bikers going to both elementary and middle school (our home is approximately a quarter mile from Jefferson-Houston Elementary and one half mile from George Washington Middle School).  When we first arrived at Jefferson-Houston, there were not enough bike racks for the students and we were one of the families who fought to have more installed.  And when the new school was being designed, as the PTA President, I worked hard to ensure that sufficient bike racks were contained in any new designs.

Our family also have two dogs and Ruby and I walk them every day.  Generally these walks vary in length and duration.  We may walk as far west as the metro tracks and walking trail.  If going north, we often walk over to George Washington Middle School fields.  When walking south, we’ll generally walk down as far as Duke Street and if walking east, we’ve walked as far as to the waterfront (where the dogs enjoy the dog park and chasing geese!)

Now that we are both retired, Ruby and I now use biking generally for three reasons.  We bike for exercise, for relaxation and oftentimes when running short errands.  We currently own two all terrain cycles, a K2 Shadow Nine 21-speed and a Genesis V2100 18-speed.  We’ve been impressed with the improvements of bikes over the years from having cycles with no brakes to now one of ours has dual disc brakes!

Lastly, again likely due to being retired, we absolutely walk more as a family than we ever have.  We’ll take strolls around the neighborhood oftentimes to help clear our minds or to push away from the tv or computer screen.  We’ll walk down to King Street to enjoy a new or favorite restaurant.  Oftentimes, we’ll stroll down to the waterfront to people watch and enjoy the new amenities there.  Lastly, we love to just walk alleys and other areas and discovery the amazing architecture and yards as well as finding new pocket parks around the city.

John Chapman

I grew up in this city and as a child biked with my family on many occasions. As a youth attending St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School, I’d walk home sometimes – learning how to traverse the city I know and love. My sister biked to work at the Harris Teeter on Duke Street for many years. My experience with the biking public has been nothing but positive. The Alexandria biking community is tremendously filled with passion for the lifestyle and sport.

Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins

I have the pleasure of living on the West End, specifically in Cameron Station. While I have always loved my neighborhood, the pandemic further illustrated how important it is to invest in walkable neighborhoods. Cameron Station’s web of sidewalks and trails made it easy for my family and I to connect to parks and nature throughout the pandemic. I am committed to making sure that my experience is not the exception but the norm. All Alexandrians should have access to sidewalks and safe and direct pedestrian crossings that connect them to one another, as well as places to work, learn, and play and other transportation options.

Florence King

My walking and biking experience maybe different from the average person because my office and resident is within walking distance of each other.  I use to own several bicycles, however, now that I am an older adult citizen I very seldom ride my bike. I have traded in my biking routine to walking daily. I practically walk every in my neighborhood. Old Town is considered a pedestrian neighborhood. Access to all the amenities that I need is blocks away. The CVS is across the street, the bank is downstairs from my office. My dry cleaner is just two blocks away to include locksmiths, restaurants, ice cream parlors, shoe repair and the list goes on. I walk to all of these places.  North Old Town is no exception. I walk to the parks and patronize the business there as well.

James C. Lewis, Jr.

For the last decade, I’ve walked around Alexandria as a pedestrian. I’ve had the opportunity to live in different areas around the City including N. Old Town, S. Old Town and the West End. We have always focused on living in walkable neighborhoods.

Additionally, I’ve served on the Traffic and Parking Board for more than 7 years and was the Board’s representative to the Transportation Commission for 3 years. On the Board/Commission, I’ve had the opportunity to work with the community and City staff on a number of bike/ped improvement projects, crosswalk improvements, ADA bus stops and bikeshare expansion.

Kirk McPike

I have been fortunate enough to live in many walkable areas in our wonderful city. When I lived in the Potomac Yard area, I would often make many of my errands on foot: to the Harris Teeter at Glebe and Richmond Highway, to Target and the Regal Cinemas movie theater, to Arlandria or Del Ray for a meal, and even to Russell Road to attend church at Grace Episcopal. When I lived in Parkfairfax, I would routinely walk to Shirlington to shop and dine, as well. Having many livable, walkable, beautiful neighborhoods to choose from in our city is a great thing for Alexandria and its residents. Though I am not a cyclist, I have many friends who commute to work, and travel to visit me, primarily by bicycle. I want to ensure that this phenomena of traveling through and experiencing Alexandria is preserved for future generations. To ensure that Alexandria’s historic charm remains available for all, we must work to ensure that our city is easily navigable and safe for all pedestrians and cyclists.

William C. “Bill” Rossello

I have been a pedestrian in Alexandria for the past 32 years, including 6 years living in Old Town, where I walked daily as a principal form of mobility. I have been an avid cyclist since 2015, racking up about 45 miles per week.

Mark Leo Shiffer

I’ve had, generally speaking a great experience walking and biking in Alexandria.  My wife and I often walk around my neighborhood (Clover-College Park) and Angel Park in the evening to chat and relax.  In addition, when we can we walk around along the river front and King St areas.  In addition to walking, I’m a runner and have run (with my daughter biking) a few mile radius around my neighborhood.  The experience running is a little different depending on where.  Duke St. has a number of crossings (particularly Telegraph connectors) that can be hairy at times.  And of course crowded pedestrian ways like King St. are no good if you’re running.  🙂  In terms of biking, pre-pandemic I would bike to old town and my son biked to George Washington Middle School.  Until I turned about 35, bicycles were my primary mode of transportation and that was in major cities.  I biked in Long Beach for five years and in Boston for ten years, so comparatively I find Alexandria very safe.  My son prefers to bike on the sidewalks on King St., which I encourage while also telling him that on the sidewalks, pedestrians have right of way.  While some may get upset, I believe that as long as they are not making pedestrians unsafe bikers should be biking where they feel comfortable as well.

Meronne E. Teklu

Growing up, my family and I would dedicate many Friday nights dining and walking in our historic Old Town — one of the most vibrant hubs of our Northern Virginia region, both for residents and visitors. Ten years ago, sharing the road with pedestrians and bikers was a foreign concept. Today, I enjoy the new investments our City has made, whether related to street repavement or bike-sharing, to make it more safe, bikeable and walkable in Alexandria.

I live off of Duke Street in the West End and am probably one of many residents who avoid driving during the morning or evening rush hour in our City. Pre-pandemic, I would commute to work daily through our public transit to neighboring Arlington County and Washington, D.C. My morning and evening walks were a key component of maintaining a more healthy lifestyle and made possible through accessible, convenient and frequent on-peak bus and metro routes. I believe Alexandria has made great strides to eliminate barriers to affordable transportation and, ultimately, decrease our City’s greenhouse gas emissions.  

However, while biking in many of our diverse and working-class neighborhoods, I’ve noticed a lack of connectedness between new development and many of our more affordable, historic communities, especially in the West End. I want to ensure that our streets are safe for all users, including people that drive, walk, bike and ride transit.

2. If you are elected, will you champion investments in walking and biking infrastructure in Alexandria to contribute to Alexandria’s economic health, including the necessary Complete Street staffing?

Canek Aguirre

If re-elected I will continue to support the Complete Streets program, Vision Zero, and continue to invest in data-driven technology and innovation to tackle these issues. We need a multimodal transportation system that will help foster economic development in all parts of Alexandria. During my first term, l I have advocated for the equitable distribution of Capital Bikeshare stations and scooters across the city. When any new projects come before Council, I always take into consideration how it can impact our pedestrian and bike infrastructure for the better. I believe we need to continue to invest in our connected bike network as we are doing in our Eisenhower East plans and highlight how this benefits our entire community.  

Sarah R. Bagley

Yes, I firmly believe that we must invest in improving and maintaining our walking and biking infrastructure. Not only will this promote equity and safety, it is also an essential part of reducing pollution and slowing climate change. We must create environments that encourage people who are able and interested to step out of their cars and reduce the number of single occupancy vehicles miles driven. The health benefits to our bodies and our environment are clear with such an approach.

William E. “Bill” Campbell

As the boys entered six grade and were off to George Washington    Middle School, we became more concerned with safety and walking or biking to school.  While at Jefferson-Houston, the kids didn’t need to cross any major thorofares with West Street being the exception and thankfully there was a street crossing guard assigned at the corner of West and Princess Streets.  When she entered high school, our daughter Janay, was eligible to ride the bus and she had no desires to bike up to T.C. Williams (primarily due to safety concerns).  I think it was around this time that I first met Jim Durham perhaps working to organize a “Safe Bikes to School” event at George Washington Middle School.  At GW, we advocated (generally unsuccessfully) for safer ways to cross Braddock Road.  Because of our concerns, the kids generally did not bike to middle school until they were in the eighth grade.

Given our many experiences with walking and biking in Alexandria, I absolutely would be the primary champion for investments in walking and biking infrastructure.  Once elected to the school board, I lead an effort to re-examine our school boundaries and we ultimately re-districted our elementary schools which apparently had not been done for nearly twenty years.  I also was able to get a birdseye view of the web of connections and necessary interactions between our schools and city staffs and leadership as it relates to roads and safety (and money!)  I recall arguing once at a city/schools joint meeting that our city seems to only focus on safety at intersections AFTER something bad happens! 

As a function of the re-districting effort and our school’s new strategic plan, there is a renewed focus on safe walkability and biking to schools.  Likewise, our city has approved and continues to update a “Complete Streets” comprehensive plan that also focuses first on safety and then on the ability for ALL users to be able to better navigate throughout Alexandria whether they are walking, biking, in personal cars or using mass transit.  I am one hundred percent supportive of this plan and as a councilman, I would work hard to ensure that all aspects of the plan are timely implemented including all staffing requirements and continuous monitoring and actions as required.

John Chapman

Absolutely. I plan to champion investments in tools that get people out of their cars to make it easier to bike or walk in our city. As a part of my COVID-19 recovery plan, focusing on more open space initiatives that focus on health and safety, including creating more pedestrian-only areas and neighborhoods, opening streets for walking, limiting vehicle traffic, and widening sidewalks to cultivate a more walkable community is paramount.

I will advocate for expansion of Bikeshare in neighborhoods that do not have stations but have infrastructure to support it. Also, I will work to with city staff to add supporting bike infrastructure to neighbors where it does not currently exist.

Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins

Yes. As a former member of the Alexandria Transportation Commission and Chair of the Alexandria Mobility Plan, I have been an active supporter of transportation investments that make our community healthier and more equitable. As a member of Council, I will continue to champion building a world-class, integrated, climate resilient, multi-modal transportation system that provides greater access and accessibility for all people while prioritizing the most vulnerable. That means investing in a diverse portfolio of transportation options for our residents, including walking and biking, and meeting the commitments necessary to fully realize the aspirations of our Complete Streets goals. A top priority for me is ensuring that any investments in walking and biking not only improve connectivity and safety but also improve equity by focusing on the needs of low-income and minority communities and persons with disabilities. As a public health professional, I recognize that these investments are not only important for the City’s economic health but for the physical, mental, and social health of our residents

Florence King

If elected, I will champion investments in walking and biking infrastructure only in high density areas that are already in our neighborhoods. I will refine what we have already by making it more pedestrian friendly. I am against random development without community engagement and a workable plan that would appease not only the city but the concerned citizens who live there.  I am for evenly distributed growth and infrastructure that is scattered throughout all of our neighborhoods and will challenge the development in isolated areas where people do not have a voice.

James C. Lewis, Jr.

Our infrastructure needs to reflect 21st century needs and demands. The Vision Zero goals are a necessity. We don’t want a City with unsafe infrastructure and protecting everyone should be a priority as we rebuild our infrastructure.

Additionally, I support the continued expansion of bikeshare on the West End of the City. There is a clear demand and need for this transportation infrastructure.

Kirk McPike

Yes. If elected, I will push for the City Council to heavily invest in our city’s infrastructure, including the Complete Streets initiative. Investing in Alexandria’s infrastructure makes our city safer, more attractive to outside investors, and helps us reduce our carbon emissions. I will also seek the advice of local civic organizations like Trails for Youth and the Washington Area Bicycle Association on how to further protect and increase Alexandria’s pedestrian and cyclists populations.

William C. “Bill” Rossello

Yes. I will work to change the current approach to improving pedestrian safety by decoupling safety improvement projects from the City’s road repaving schedule. I will work with civic associations to identify the most dangerous intersections for pedestrians in their neighborhoods, and advise T&ES to use that feedback to prioritize projects. I am well known as an opponent to the Seminary Road diet and I will not apologize for that position. However, we do need to balance interests in the City. While bicyclists represent a tiny minority of commuters and road users generally, I will work with cycling organizations and other residents to identify 2-3 north/south and 1-2 east/west bike routes that will enable cyclists to traverse the city safely and reliably.

Mark Leo Shiffer

I am happy to invest in walking and biking infrastructure, especially given that my kids’ primary mode of transportation to and from school is by bicycle and walking.  That said, there are competing priorities for funding in the city and any investment in infrastructure should be made with an analysis of usage and impact and compared with competing investment priorities. 

Meronne E. Teklu

Yes. As the daughter of a retired Virginia Department of Transportation civil engineer, infrastructure issues have a special place at our family dinners. I believe to be efficient and fair, our City’s public transportation approach must be multimodal. In order for us to successfully execute our Complete Streets projects, we must ensure that we have the necessary full-time staff to support the community engagement, research and strategic planning that will be needed to design solutions for ALL Alexandrians. 

3. If elected, how will you increase the numbers of kids who choose to walk or bike, and make sure they can do it safely?

Canek Aguirre

I believe we need to celebrate and continue efforts such as the Bicycling in Schools program, a partnership our schools are engaged in to teach more children how to ride a bike and the rules of the road while also promoting physical activity. As we foster the idea of a more walkable and bike friendly community in our youth, it will be easier in the future to promote and sustain such investments. I have supported efforts to improve pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure that will make it safer and more feasible to use alternative modes of transportation in Alexandria.  

Sarah R. Bagley

The Complete Streets Policy and the Vision Zero Action Plan are both great steps toward guaranteeing that our kids can walk and bike safely. If elected, I would promote continued education and public discussion about transportation safety to create an open dialogue around the benefits of walking and biking. I will work to expand our bikeshare program, and support groups like BPAC to help promote walking and biking. Working with BPAC to promote events like “Bike to Work Day” and forums on transportation related issues and projects being discussed on City Council will help promote bicycling as a regular means of transportation. I would also work to prioritize and fund Complete Streets Projects in order to make Alexandria as safe as possible for bicyclists and pedestrians. We should also make bike locks and bike maintenance more readily available to those who own bikes or want to use bikes for transportation.

William E. “Bill” Campbell

One of my biggest achievements while serving on the Alexandria City Public School’s board, was how we significantly improved the understandings of and the relationship between the elected school leadership and the elected city leadership.  We formed joint city-schools taskforces, had frequent joint meetings and basically mandated constant and improved interactions between the Superintendent and the City Manager and our respective staffs.  To this end, this is exactly what will be required as our city works to honor our commitments identified in the Complete Streets comprehensive plan.

We will also need to improve our communications with schools and families.  Our effort to increase walking and biking has to be a collective effort and the focus has to be first on safety and then we need to put emphasis on the many benefits of walking and biking from health to financial.  We need comprehensive campaigns that emphasize these benefits and the championing of the campaigns needs to come from elected leaders, school leaders and parents.  We also should not put all of our focus on our kids and students.  The benefits of walking and biking are not restricted to any specific group.  Our campaign will need to have a strong emphasis toward EVERYONE to include all of our working-age citizens as well as our seniors.

Lastly, we need to remove any barriers that may be present related to bike ownership.  Bicycles are quite an old transportation method and many bikes will last years with proper maintenance.  As a parent liaison for the Dunbar Boys and Girls Club (corner of Princess and Payne Streets), we several times conducted drives to secure bicycles for our club members.  Over the years, we’ve been able to secure both new and old bikes and distribute them free to families.  We have also had bike shops donate time and materials toward needed cycle repairs.  These types of generous acts and donations are available in Alexandria and we need to look to elect leaders who have the drive and desires to interact and to simply want to contribute in these types of ways.  My life experiences having been married for thirty-seven years and raising three kids; having been elected and serving six years on the Alexandria City Public Schools Board and having served this city now on more than twenty various boards, committees and commissions to include now serving on the Commission on Aging, I am extremely confident that no candidate in this field has the levels of relevant experiences and desires as I to serve as the councilperson who will lead the efforts to increase walkability and bikeablity in our city.

John Chapman

I would continue to work with the Alexandria City Public Schools to see if they would consider pushing out the radius for bus service, to help save on transportation money, but also make walking and biking a more explored option for families. To ensure safety, I would work with the school system to provide more crossing guards as well as work with the PTAs to provide parent volunteers that can help ensure safe travel for our students.

Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins

When I was at the National League of Cities, we served as the lead partner for Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties initiative. In my role, I was responsible for working with organizations such as the National Safe Routes to School Partnership and KaBOOM! to provide education and technical assistance to communities from across the country to promote active living. I would bring this experience and these relationships with me to the Council and actively work with our entire community to ensure that all our young people have the opportunity to move safely throughout our community.

To accomplish this goal, I will prioritize engagement, infrastructure investment and education. I believe that when we make decisions, we have to center those who will be most impacted in the decision making. First, I would start by engaging our young people to better understand the challenges/barriers they face to walking and/or biking to school and their ideas for what it would take to increase their use of these travel modes. Their voices are needed to inform how streets are shaped, built, and maintained. Next, I would engage our parents, teachers, advocates, public health professionals, transportation engineers and other stakeholders in identifying gaps in our infrastructure, and then work to remedy those issues. Addressing these infrastructure challenges is critical to make it safer for students to walk and bike to school and encourage more walking and biking. Finally, from expanding Traffic Gardens to supporting National Walk and Bike to School Day, I would work to raise awareness of the benefits of active transportation. I would want to work with the City’s Chief Race and Social Equity Officer to ensure that any engagement, infrastructure investments, and/or educational activities are done with an intentional focus on equity and have clear metrics attached so that we can hold ourselves accountable.

Florence King

The city is already increasing in the number of kids who live here. We can give these same kids options. My forefathers did not have any options, they all walked as much as five to ten miles one way to school.

They appreciated an education and had no other choice.

Fast forward to 2021, the current climate today carries risk factors.

Whether the sidewalks are safe is irrelevant, these young children who elect to walk to school living less than 20 minutes away, face unanticipated danger, keep in mind they should not venture out alone without strict supervision. Predators still watch and prey on young children who have the tendency to wonder off. They are also unsafe when it comes to inclement weather, which includes severe thunderstorms and heavy rain that will put these kids in harms way. Parents are unavailable to walk them to school and the city’s only alternative is to offer security by hiring city employees to do the job which would cause an added burden on tax payers. We don’t want to encourage parents to drive their kids to school. Keep in mind our school buses can carry up to 84 kids to school on one bus.

The risk factor decreases when these same kids opt to take the bus which adds security, shelter from the storm, calculated arrival and departure time that minimizes the stress on parents when the kids are running late. We can also factor into the fact that the city does not need to allocate additional funding resource from the budget.

James C. Lewis, Jr.

The City’s Safe Routes to School program works. We need to continue this process AND leverage it in the planning stages for the new school construction that our City desperately needs.

Furthermore, I’m particularly interested in strategically using alternative crosswalks around schools to protect walking students.

Kirk McPike

The easiest way to increase the number of kids walking and biking in our city is to increase the quality and safety of our roads. Through the implementation of pedestrian oriented policy like the Safe Routes To School program and direct investment in Alexandria’s infrastructure, we can reduce the dangers associated with pedestrian traffic in our city, which is essential in giving parents the comfort they need to send their child to school on a bike or on a walk to the bookstore.

Additionally, partnering with local organizations like Vision Zero and Trails for Youth is integral in helping the city educate our students on pedestrian safety measures and traffic regulations; with the added benefit of gaining their advice on how Alexandria can improve on-the-ground conditions for children. If elected, I will work to increase cooperation between city government and these essential organizations and strive to build an Alexandria that’s accessible for all and safe for our students.

William C. “Bill” Rossello

Child safety is of paramount importance. We have an excellent group of principals, teachers, parents and crossing guards in the city that help ensure the safety of kids walking and cycling to school. In terms of overall safety, the best thing we can do is education. I applaud BPAC’s efforts to educate bicyclists of all ages on how to ride safely. I would continue the City’s partnership with BPAC in that regard.

Mark Leo Shiffer

Whether kids are walking or biking is a personal choice dependent on a number of factors.  Safety, distance, ability, weather, etc.  I would encourage and fund education around the benefits of these modes of transportations for health and the environment.  In addition, educating motorists to be aware of bicyclists, slow down and be on the lookout so that they can have a safe experience.  Finally, I would be in favor of networks of bike paths so that bicyclists have safe paths to get to their destinations. 

Meronne E. Teklu

  • Partnerships: Making sure to work with our Safe Routes to Schools program is key. Most importantly I will continue to build partnerships with schools, non-profits, families and private and public partners to make sure our education around the importance of building and waking is accessible to our kids and students. 
  • Prioritize Equity: Safe Routes to School is important for students to be able to exercise outside of school. I will work to make sure we continue to include prioritizing Title 1 schools in Alexandria. 
  • Advocating for Funding Mechanisms: Federal funding is no longer dedicated to SRTS and programs are beginning to dwindle even as demand for education programs and street safety improvements are on the rise. I will advocate for multi-jurisdictional investments to allow our city, schools and partners to prioritize limited funds on core expenditures, resulting in additional increased performance on transportation accessibility.

4. Do you support the City’s Transportation Master Plan, Complete Streets Policy and the Vision Zero Action Plan? Please explain why or why not.

Canek Aguirre

Yes, I support the updated Transportation Master Plan, the Complete Streets policy and the Vision Zero plan. Congestion on our roadways is only expected to get worse as USDOT’s 2016 Beyond Traffic study revealed which makes it imperative that we invest in smarter alternatives now. With a massive infrastructure bill on the horizon, Alexandria must be ready to take advantage of potential funding sources to make projects that we  may have thought near impossible into a reality, such as how to improve the 395  interchange at Seminary Road. It is evident the highway interchange was designed with a focus on cars, but with a school, a library, shopping center, and apartment homes it behooves us to make the necessary infrastructure adjustments for the safety of all road users. We are in an exciting moment where we have the opportunity to truly reimagine transportation and how it interacts with all aspects of our lives. I have been no stranger to any of this having served on the steering committee for the Partnership for a Healthier Alexandria when we voted unanimously in favor of being a partner in the Vision Zero initiative several years back. I truly believe in smart growth and the importance of fostering pedestrian and bike friendly communities.  

Sarah R. Bagley

I do support the City’s Transportation Master Plan, Complete Streets Policy, and the Vision Zero Action Plan. All three of these plans and policies were developed to improve safety of motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Improving our data collection and making this information available to the public, is a huge part of promoting and encouraging safety on our roads. I believe all three of these programs are necessary to keep Alexandria safe and desirable, and will continue to promote education and safety of all who use our roads. With our aging population, we should also be conscious of the role safer streets play in allowing people to age in place and continue safely living independent lives.

William E. “Bill” Campbell

Absolutely!  The Vision Zero goals and actions should be a given for all municipalities i.e., always pressing for and desiring zero accidents or injuries.  But to continuously strive for these goals requires vigilance, group actions and resources.  We need council members who have the experiences to understand that there will never be enough resources to do everything that everyone wants and so we must use our life experiences and interactions to help prioritize distribution of funds.   As leaders, we have to be able to see and respond to events happening each and every day and we also have to be able to plan for monies and projects and requirements that will be required years from now.  On the school board, I lead the charge to develop six operations budgets and six capital improvement budgets (CIP).  Developments of these budgets required many tradeoffs and tough decisions focused on serving students and families today as well as ten years and more into the future.  I would apply these experiences on council as we work toward the development of the city’s total budget.

Beyond prioritizing and budgeting, as leaders, we’ll need to also ensure that plans are timely and sufficiently updated to accurately and adequately reflect current and emerging citizen desires as well as available technologies.  Our transportation master plan, Complete Streets policy and Vision Zero Action Plan all will require continuous monitoring and updating.  As we do update these plans, we need to work to ensure that we have a strong representation of diverse citizen on the update committees.  The more diverse voices that we can get at each of these “decision-making tables” will do nothing but increase the value of the products and more importantly, increase the citizen ownership. 

John Chapman

I do support the City’s Transportation Master Plan, but believe it is time for update and we are working on that right now. A current draft of the newly named – Alexandria Mobility Plan which is out for public comment now. I support the plan because it focuses on expanding high-quality transportation choices so transportation in the city continues to serve the needs of residents, businesses, and visitors as the region grows and new technology impacts the ways we get around. The community-driven planning process raised several priorities including reducing congestion, improving transit, cut-through traffic, and making transit more useful. This input informed a set of recommendations that will address these needs and improve access to safe and convenient travel choices for all Alexandria. I’m committed to continued funding and support to the Complete Streets Policy, Vision Zero and will push for staff to continue to work with neighborhoods to have local projects and improvements implemented in a way that is transparent and ensure that we are continuing to make progress year after year.

Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins

As a former member of the Alexandria Transportation Commission, I worked to advance projects and efforts to ensure that our transportation network better supports all users with infrastructure that enhances mobility for pedestrians, transit users, cyclists, and drivers. Furthermore, I worked to ensure that equity was a critical factor in our transportation planning. Each of the above plans are focused on making our transportation infrastructure more sustainable, smarter and safer. I support each of these plans because the way we design our streets and the mobility options must enhance connectivity throughout the region, reduce traffic fatalities and injuries, and encourage more social and community cohesion. COVID-19 has exposed the gaps in our existing transportation systems and demonstrates the great value in rethinking streets and reshaping public space to meet the needs of all people, especially essential workers. As a member of Council, I will commit to engaging more voices, especially voices from traditionally marginalized communities, in determining how these plans are implemented to ensure we all benefit from new transportation investments. I will also commit to working with the City’s Chief Race and Social Equity Officer and staff from the Department of Transportation and Environmental Services to develop equity metrics to ensure the fair distribution of transportation resources as part of the implementation of the City’s Transportation Master Plan, Complete Streets Policy and the Vision Zero Action Plan.

Florence King

I support the Vision Zero Action Plan. We should at all cost eliminate unnecessary deaths due to busy intersections and densely traveled streets. I would strongly encourage any prudent method that could put mechanisms in place to slow traffic down. This would circumvent more deaths that under is inevitable under our current transit system.

Drivers speeding through our streets breaking the law should suffer the consequences.

We must first stop the bleeding and do something. At least offering a quick fix is better than ignoring this serious problem.

We should install cameras, drastically reduce the speed, and incorporate speed bumps. These would be considered temporary quick fixes, however in the long run these measures could save a life.

Drivers who do not live in our city frequently accessing our major interstate thoroughfares in our local neighborhoods do so on a bases.  

They should incur a fee or the city must close the entry way and redirect traffic in an area less traveled.

Routes that cause injury and deaths on more than one occasion need addressing immediately with solutions in place to curtail these tragic and unnecessary incidents.

I have yet to finish researching the city’s Transportation Master Plan. I Would like to address the problem head on but I am still listening to the General Public and I would like to incorporate their ideas as well.

James C. Lewis, Jr.

Yes. I have voted for many of these plans as they advanced through the Transportation Commission and Traffic and Parking Board. The fundamental goal of all these documents is to protect Alexandrians. This should always be our goal.

Kirk McPike

Yes, I do. And if elected, I will continue to support all of these city initiatives as they are essential in building an Alexandria that is safe to traverse and easily accessible for all, regardless of whether or not one may have a car. These policies also have the added benefit of helping our city reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and carbon emissions, which is a central concern of my campaign. As our city works hard to become greener and more sustainable, the next council must ensure that there are safe, reliable alternatives to driving in our city so that our residents can make the switch; these policies do just that.

William C. “Bill” Rossello

I am a member of the Alexandria Mobility Plan Advisory Committee, which was chartered to advise city staff on the new master plan, now referred to as the mobility plan. I cannot endorse the draft plan at this time in its entirety since it does not adequately balance the needs of all users based on the proportions of each type of user on our roads. However, I do endorse much of what is recommended regarding traffic technology, pedestrian safety and transit. The major failing of the document is that it promotes few solutions for getting traffic moving again on arterial roads and it does not adequately address the dangerous cut through traffic that result from arterial road congestion. I agree with the spirit of both the Complete Streets and Vision Zero policies. However, it’s time for a refresh in both cases since the overwhelming majority of those who authored those policies were part of the tiny minority of residents who cycle in the City. We need to a new committee to refresh these documents in a more balanced manner. The committee should consist of motor vehicle drivers, pedestrians and cyclists in approximate proportion to their current use of the roads.

Mark Leo Shiffer

No answer provided.

Meronne E. Teklu

Yes. Streets and roads are the largest chunks of property owned by most cities and states.

We have choices to make about how to use and share this real estate with all users. Who benefits? Who decides? Who pays? It is critical that we take care of ALL Alexandrians by reducing the ways in which we can prevent deaths in our streets and roads. I support Vision Zero’s goal to reduce these deaths because our community deserves to be able to use such spaces without fear of not coming home to their families if we can be proactive and prevent it. 

I also support these efforts because I deeply believe that our transit system has an enormous impact on our way of life, on the air we breathe and on the vitality of our communities. Transit choices influence personal decisions about where to live, shop, attend school, work and enjoy leisure. They affect stress levels, family budget and the time we spend with our children and family. The more accessible, affordable, eco-friendly and safe that we make our transportation infrastructure choices, the better we build a more equitable, healthier Alexandria. 

5. How would you approach the decision-making process on a Complete Streets project that requires tradeoffs between important issues?

Canek Aguirre

In 2018, I said the City needed to redouble our efforts to encourage more mass transit and sustainable transportation including bicycling and walking. Now in 2021, Alexandria is on the brink of becoming the first jurisdiction in Northern Virginia to have a fare free bus system. During my first term, we have expanded bike share and tried to make road improvements that will not only benefit all road users, but also prioritize vulnerable road users. I believe if we want Complete Streets to be successful we have to remain committed to making the necessary infrastructure investments.

Sarah R. Bagley

My number one focus when it comes to transportation infrastructure is guaranteeing the safety of motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. When making decisions that require a tradeoff between important issues we must guarantee that the decision we make prioritizes safety first. As decisions are being made, it is also important that we not only receive citizens input but welcome and encourage it. When decisions are being made that require tradeoffs I will work to collect data and citizen input (in a variety of methods beyond council testimony that may not appeal or be an option for all citizens) to inform the Council’s decision. After collecting and listening to all relevant input, I will support moving forward with the project path that promotes safety and minimizes negative impact on the impacted community.

William E. “Bill” Campbell

The primary value that I would bring to the decision-making process would be my life and elected experiences.  I have spent years working on projects and issues that have required various tradeoffs many if not most having to do with overwhelming or competing goals and insufficient funding.  Also, oftentimes Federal or State mandates will be handed down with little or no funding which can add additional trade-off difficulties. 

As elected leaders, consideration of Complete Street project tradeoffs will be inevitable.  As with all potential projects and votes, leaders will be dependent on staff research, expert opinions, citizen desires, City Manager recommendations and their own knowledge and experiences related to the specific project/issue.  Certainly safety will always be paramount.  The next set of tradeoffs all will be with the goal in mind of EVERYONE being able to adequately use our thorofares, in whatever manner they desire.  This is a noble goal and one that EVERY CITIZEN should support.  In this goal, there is no inherent bias as to the users.  The goal is that each type of user will be able to equally share in the use of the roadway.  To me, there should not be any arguments related to this goal and it is with that attitude that I would always approach the Complete Streets project tradeoffs.  How can we SAFELY allow ALL users to access the roadway?

John Chapman

Since being elected to City Council, I’ve always taken time to listen to the concerns of residents and have made my myself available to learn about the intricacies and nuances that exist in each and every neighborhood before making decisions that affect their lives. In addition, it is important that we have reliable and accurate data to also inform those decisions and my approach is to ensure we have that data and that it is specific to Alexandria’s unique needs and character. I will continue that approach if reelected to City Council.

Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins

Every decision we make will require important tradeoffs. I would approach a Complete Streets decision with the same approach that I have been using throughout the campaign. I would start by reaching out to the impacted community and asking questions. Specifically, I would want to understand from residents: What has been their experience as a user of the road? What problems do they see? What would it look like if the problems were solved? My goal would be to hear as many perspectives as possible, especially from our most vulnerable road users such as children and seniors. I would also want to review the data related to safety and travel patterns to make sure that I understand the existing conditions. Next, I would work to bring together a diverse array of stakeholders, transportation, public health and planning professionals, community groups, etc. to co-create a series of options for how we move forward. By listening to the community and creating an inclusive and transparent process, we can expand opportunities to not only surface important tradeoffs but to co-create solutions to address them.

Florence King

The Complete Street Project should not be taken lightly. People in certain areas of our city are feed up because they don’t have the information on the pro’s and con’s of this project. Bringing everyone to the table can result in a workable solution that could incorporate tradeoffs and bonuses that is best for the city staff, city council and our concerned citizens.

James C. Lewis, Jr.

City projects advance through a clear, transparent process that involves public hearing so the community can voice their opinions and concerns. While I think we need to do a better job of incorporating feedback and notifying the community at the earliest stages, we have a process that allows Boards and Council to make informed decisions.

I approach decisions with a focus on finding win-win situations, if possible. Given reality, not all projects are as simple. I hope to weigh the options, with an eye toward safety, and make the decision that seems most appropriate.

Kirk McPike

Each transportation project in our city is different and while I couldn’t generalize for all, I can guarantee that the human impact of the city’s decisions will be my guiding factor in settling disputes and prioritizing city projects. As Alexandria struggles to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic and address key infrastructure issues, consensus on how to allocate city funds and best invest in Alexandria are split. I believe the next Council should make our residents and working families the centerpieces of all our future policies. Regardless of a simple policy disagreement or funding dispute, our city should continually ask “how will this policy better the lives of Alexandrians?” and make that Alexandria’s mantra in administering projects. If faced with competing projects vying for the same resources, I’ll analyze their impacts on our city and our residents and support whichever helps Alexandrians the most.

William C. “Bill” Rossello

The most important factors for me in weighing in on Complete Streets decisions will be the extent to which: (1) the affected neighborhood(s) approve of any of the proposed changes to how the road is designed, (2)  the proposed design keep traffic moving for commuters and families who must depend on motor vehicles for most of their mobility; and (3) there is a verifiable and significant safety predicate for forcing one community segment to sacrifice their mobility for the benefit of another segment. 

Mark Leo Shiffer

I would look for ways that best satisfy all stakeholders.  Generally speaking there are tradeoffs when solving any complex problem.  When doing so for the city, we should as much as possible be looking for compromise solutions that satisfy as many stakeholders as possible.  Often compromise is available and too often we look at all or nothing solutions.  While biking and walking are fantastic for the environment, they are often not a feasible mode of transportation due to time, distance, cargo (ferrying multiple people) or the need to look professional upon arrival.  I would look for ways that encourage alternative modes of transportation by making them more accessible and more convenient but I’m not a fan of forcing change by making alternatives less convenient.

Meronne E. Teklu

When we make decisions that include trade-offs, I believe it is important that we weigh all possible alternatives and perspectives. My approach will be to ensure that we are as transparent as possible with impacted residents and business owners through data-driven proposals and I’ll work to manage realistic expectations around our goals, desired outcomes, and timeline, to increase trust between City leadership and ALL Alexandrians.

6. How would you encourage a more civil discourse with Alexandria, especially on controversial transportation projects, and how would you encourage wider participation in outreach by communities that are often not heard from in our traditional process?

Canek Aguirre

I think the City has work to do in terms of how it explains the benefits of initiatives and why other alternatives are not chosen. We have a very capable and professional staff that works very hard, but there is always room for improvement. That being said, it’s important to remember that to have respectful discourse both parties must be willing to show respect. Unfortunately, the climate over the last four/five years has spawned outright nastiness and animosity that we have not seen the likes of in a very long time. In those situations there is not much we can do. 

In terms of outreach to communities that have not been traditionally involved in the process this is something that I have taken personal interest in and have been championing on Council. In 2019, the City held the first ever small area plan community meeting entirely in Spanish. During the Alexandria Mobility Plan outreach phase, pop ups were held throughout the City including at community hotspots where those who are not usually involved in the process had the opportunity to provide feedback. 

As a direct result of my influence and advocacy, the City created a new Spanish language text line and produced multilingual, multimedia communications to share information with our diverse community throughout the pandemic. Building upon these efforts as we continue to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 will be key to ensuring all voices are at the table, especially those that have been marginalized or actively excluded.

Sarah R. Bagley

Part of encouraging civil discourse is providing a venue for the discussion and feedback. I would support more public facing town halls on issues regarding transportation and new transportation projects, as well as more online forums for citizens to submit feedback. People want to feel heard and they deserve to be heard. I support creating a more direct line of communication for the City Council to receive feedback on these projects. 

Our traditional process of outreach simply doesn’t reach everyone, I believe we need to utilize all of the tools in our toolbox to guarantee all Alexandrians have access to information and the opportunity to participate in City government. This includes email newsletters, mail, and social media, as well as virtual and in person (when it’s safe) town halls that encourage participation and feedback. We also must offer all information and communications in multiple languages. A resident not being fluent in English should not be a barrier to civic participation. Equally, we should seek out feedback from less traditional sources like social biking and walking groups, providing surveys in gyms, bike shops and other places where people might have an opportunity to engage. We should strive for outcomes where residents can understand not just the goals and intentions of a particular project but how that project fits into a larger vision for the City’s transportation goals and needs.

William E. “Bill” Campbell

During my many years in Alexandria, being involved in PTA’s, working on city committees, serving as an elected official and now throughout the time that I’ve been campaigning and speaking with citizens about issues, there has been one thing that I’ve been able to galvanize as absolutely being the most important issue facing Alexandrians today and that is the need for more timely and accurate communicating of facts and truths.  In the absence of timely dissemination of facts and truths, folks will fill the void with hyperbole and rhetoric which only adds to vitriol and less civil discourse. 

As an elected coucilperson, I’d love to be the member who’s primary focus would be to work each and every day sharing truths and facts as to what council is considering.  Having been previously elected, I’m infinitely familiar with current disclosure requirements/minimums (Sunshine Laws).  I likewise have many years of experience negotiating millions of dollars in contracts and my engineering and legal training in these areas will continue to assist our group as we did any necessary closed-session contract negotiating.  Finally, having served on the school board, I know well that there are voices that have been historically not heard and families that have been underserved. 

At a youthful fifty-nine years young, I’d certainly be one of the two oldest councilmember elected.  Through my life experiences, I’ve garnered abilities to better interact and understand folks primarily through listening and questioning.  I’ve learned that if folks can’t agree on a few facts then the value of any at length or continuous conversations will likely not yield much benefit (and one should then move on).  As a leader and councilperson, we will need to have a similar attitude toward discord.  It is incumbent on the councilperson (and staff) to overcommunicate goals.  We must clearly articulate why we are proceeding on a certain course.  We must share, to the extent possible, all of the restrictions that are present.  We must over communicate the current laws, ordinances, policies and plans. 

Experience also tells me that to be an effective leader, we must always realize that the loudest voices are oftentimes not the only voices and they also may not be the most affected by the decision that is at hand.  As a councilmember, we must continue to work hard to reach historically underinvolved and underserved communities. 

Lastly, as leaders, we need to know, and constantly communicate to citizens, that oftentimes there will be competing or even seemingly opposing goals.  We need to over communicate that there will always be a shortage of funds.  And finally, we need to be able to acknowledge to everyone that there will never be total agreement by each and every citizen on each and every issue that comes before city council.  My wife and I will be starting our thirty-eighth year marriage this fall and we agree perhaps seventy-five percent of the time.  As a councilperson, we need to understand that there will always be citizens that will disagree with a council decision or even with an individual councilperson’s position on some specific issue.  However, if we have strived to over communicate facts and truths, we should always be able to disagree with one another and not have conversations deteriote into negative discord and personal vitriol. 

As I close, let me say that I’ve always thought that partisan politics should be reserved for the national level.  Party politics seem more appropriate when discussing larger, more esoteric philosophies such as religion and right-to-life issues.  In a city as small and densely compact as Alexandria, party politics, to me, simply has not room.  Nearly every decision that council makes has a direct and oftentimes immediate effect on our citizens such that we should barely even have time to ask and then ponder the ramifications as to what political party someone belongs to.  I grew up a blue-dog Democrat in an overwhelmingly red state (West Virginia).  That upbringing has given me the experience and knowledge that there are good and bad folks and good and bad ideas in all political parties.  To be an effective leader, most especially at the local level, I think that it is imperative to check your political party affiliation at the door and simply listen and interact in as neutral a manner as is possible.  As is the case when serving on the school board, so it is so as a councilperson, we are elected to serve ALL Alexandrians and I am confident that I can do so fairly and effectively.

John Chapman

Any of the changes, enhancements that are on our horizon must get this done with considerable community involvement – and this is a key tenet of my platform – fostering inclusive public engagement. I believe we have a unique opportunity to reconfigure Alexandria’s relationship with community members. With the diversity of technology that is available, there are many more effective tools to engage people with their local governments beyond traditional public hearings. While important, public hearings reach a limited audience. I will work to find new ways to meaningfully engage Alexandrians in decisions that affect them. We need to expand citizen input beyond the standard board and commission model and we should employ innovative, inclusive, and creative methods of engagement to meet community members where they are, such as expanding the use of participatory budgeting and providing increased access to municipal broadband infrastructure. This will in turn cultivate proactive citizen engagement to foster greater community trust, transparency, and buy-in.

Alyia Smith-Parker Gaskins

Transportation policy has been a core theme of my campaign from the very beginning because healthy communities are built on a system of sidewalks, roads, bike paths, and buses that connect people to each other and to places where they live, learn, and work. I am committed to engaging all users – pedestrians, transit users, cyclists, and drivers – in transportation decisions. That means engagement with all corners of our community, not just those with the loudest voices or those who most regularly participate. I believe that those closest to a problem are best situated to understand how to solve it. To reach communities that are not often heard from, as a member of Council I will commit to:

  • Meeting people where they are and traveling the city with them to better understand the challenges they face.
  • Engaging the City’s Chief Race and Social Equity Officer to help our community better understand the ways in which transportation decisions have impacted traditionally marginalized communities.
  • Partnering with community groups that have trusted relationships, especially with marginalized groups, and compensating them for their help engaging residents.
  • Expanding language access and translation services.
  • Working with City staff to facilitate a more interactive planning process that facilitates more opportunities for co-decision making and developing metrics to hold ourselves accountable.
  • Exploring opportunities to engage artists in creating other ways for people to provide feedback and share their stories about the challenges they face navigating our transportation network.

Florence King

I would encourage a more civil discourse on controversial transportation projects by restoring public trust. In order to do that, the community should have the opportunity to hear from staff and council in the very beginning of a proposed project. To the surprise of many, community engagement could save the city money by sometimes simply listening to the ideas and input of the citizens who will be affected the most. They will certainly have a better idea of the flow of traffic and patterns that a city employee will not see sitting behind a desk. The expertise and knowledge have to come from all sides. They feel that projects are already under way and they find out about it after the fact. The city states that their plans are public knowledge and under the freedom of information act it is all laid out and publicize. If I am elected to city council I want to keep our citizens abreast on any type of transportation project or development. I would make a deliberate effort to go to the people first by having Town Hall meetings, coffees and conversations and written communication to everyone involved. My goal is to eliminate the blame game and be as transparent as possible.

James C. Lewis, Jr.

Alexandria is a small City and we are all in this together. When facing controversial issues, everyone should remember that everyone is advocating for ideas they strongly believe will benefit our community.

Kirk McPike

Ensuring a safe and livable community in Alexandria where it is possible to travel safely through a variety of means, including cars, transit, bicycles and by foot, is crucial to creating a prosperous community for all. To do this, I would work hard to make sure our discourse centers on the human faces of our transportation issue, particularly our working families.

One central goal of my campaign is to increase outreach to minority communities in our city to ensure that none in our city are overlooked. To accomplish this, I would push for outreach programs that seeks direct input from residents in underserved communities on city projects and promotes easier methods of civic engagement for these communities; to help them realize the Alexandria that they want. Along with the city’s community outreach board, the next council has the unique opportunity to hear the voices of many in our city who have had no reason to speak up before. By showing them that our city wants to listen to their voices, wants to hear their ideas, and to take action, the next council can truly work towards an Alexandria that is accessible and prosperous for all.

Further, I will be a member of Council who proactively seeks public input. If elected, I intend to hold regular town hall meetings in different parts of the city and online throughout the year. I will actively solicit opinions from diverse voices on the issues facing our city. I will encourage staff to be more responsive to resident requests and to resident input earlier in planning processes. I want to ensure that every Alexandrian feels heard and understood on the issues that matter most to them, and can see how their input was considered in the policymaking process. That doesn’t mean everyone will always get what they want, but it is essential to democracy to ensure that folks understand how and why policy decisions are made.

William C. “Bill” Rossello

I believe wholeheartedly in civil discourse and have proven that in my debates with the cycling community during the Seminary Road debate, particularly on NextDoor. After the final City Council vote, I even extended my hand to the BPAC chairman to congratulate him. During that time and afterward, I rarely received the same civil behavior in return. So, as a city leader, I will encourage those on both sides of every transportation issue, and particularly activists, to be civil to each other. And I would be happy to work with BPAC on selecting and supporting major bike routes through the City. The most important changes we need to make in our civic discourse on transportation projects are to: (1) include affected neighborhoods early and often in the process, refraining from applying for any project grants until community support has been established, (2) significantly discount the voices of non-city-based national and regional advocacy groups, and (3) solicit resident feedback honestly using unbiased polling – of only actual residents – performed by qualified external survey experts with no ties to special interest groups.

Mark Leo Shiffer

Again I would look for compromise.  Too often those on both sides believe that these decisions are all or nothing and that those who want one thing (such as bicycles) also want NOT something else (such as cars).  I believe that we should be encouraging alternative modes of transportation but doing so in a way that allows people to make the choice that is best for them and their circumstances, and would encourage stakeholders to respect others’ choices.  In my experience in speaking to residents, they want ALL modes available so that they can make the choice that is right for them and the specific circumstance.  I would elevate those voices.  

The second part of the question is a general problem and not just for this subject.  It is difficult for some communities to participate in our traditional processes for many reasons.  I think we need to rethink those processes in order to remove the various barriers to participation.  Knowledge of the process is probably most important.  Second, the ability to participate once someone has received information depends on time, place, and mode of participation.  I would direct staff to improve outreach and create frameworks that make participation easier for people to participate on their own terms.

Meronne E. Teklu

  • Building collaborative coalition partnerships directly with our most impacted communities.
  • Ensuring community engagement efforts for new transportation projects include translation support in Spanish, Amharic and Arabic.
  • Providing educational series opportunities led or co-led by our transportation justice partners. 
  • Meeting community partners where they are instead of requiring communities who don’t have the time to meet us at City Council.