1. What is the most unsafe aspect of the current transportation system in your district/in the city, and what do you propose be done to improve the situation?
The current transportation system serves residents in each of Boston’s neighborhoods in different ways. As a result, residents face different safety challenges depending on where they live. In some neighborhoods, the greatest safety threat is posed by the environmental hazard associated with emissions from high concentrations of public bus traffic. In other neighborhoods, vehicle-pedestrian accidents pose the most significant threat to safety, due to insufficient traffic calming measures.
As an At-Large City Councillor, I will work to address safety challenges posed by our shared city-wide transportation system across all of Boston’s neighborhoods. Specifically, I will work to develop strong and transparent partnerships with community organizations in each neighborhood, and move towards transportation development choices that reflect the needs of each specific community.
2. We know that lack of physical activity leads to overweight, which leads to rising health care costs. How would you make it easier for people to incorporate physical activity into their everyday activities by making it significantly easier for Boston residents to move around their communities by foot or by bicycle? What would you do to encourage the Safe Routes To School program or other ways to increase the number of children who walk or bike to school? What would you do to make it safer for seniors to walk or bike on our sidewalks and across our streets?
Any plan that will effectively address the problem of overweight and increasing obesity needs to consider the variety of challenges to walking and bike riding in each of our communities. In many Boston neighborhoods, mode of transportation choices have as much to do with issues of economic development and safety as they do with the features of the physical transportation infrastructure. Investments in allocating existing road space to bicycle and walking traffic will do little to encourage increased usage of these transportation modes if residents do not have anywhere to walk to, or feel safe in doing so. Investments in encouraging children to walk or bicycle to school work best when they are matched with equitable investments across neighborhoods in the schools themselves.
With this in mind, my main focus in making it easier for Boston residents to move around by foot or bicycle is to focus on investing in the development of safe and economically thriving neighborhoods. By supporting community-based planning efforts, and connecting community members with existing municipal planning agencies, I will work to create jobs in every neighborhood so that all of Boston’s residents will feel safe enough to consider the widest range of transportation options. While working to ensure that every neighborhood in Boston is safe and economically vital is my first priority, I believe that simultaneous investments in programs like Safe Routes to School are important as well.
3. What would you do to help get increased public transportation services in your district/city? In particular, how would you help bring rapid transit to the large sections of Roxbury and Dorchester that currently lack it?
While it is important to identify service corridors that are most in need of more effective transportation services, it is critical to make sure that proposed changes reflect equitable investments in transportation, and that they meet the needs of the residents in the neighborhoods most directly affected as well as the needs of residents city-wide. The Blue Hill Avenue/Warren Street Corridor is certainly such a corridor, and the proposed 28X project rightly draws attention to its potential to provide clean, environmentally sustainable and speedy transportation to many citizens who are currently underserved along all of these dimensions.
Many residents of Mattapan, Dorchester and Roxbury who would be most directly affected by the proposed changes to existing MBTA services as well as the use of the road itself have expressed a number of concerns about the project. As an At-Large City Councillor, I would work hard to ensure that these concerns are translated into specific modifications to the proposed plan. In particular, I would insist on the serious consideration of light-rail as an alternative to the enhanced bus service currently being proposed. The neighborhoods currently served by the proposed route already suffer from a high concentration of air pollutants from the high concentration of bus service as a form of public transportation. Given the history of transportation system decisions across Boston neighborhoods, the revitalization of this corridor provides an excellent opportunity for city leadership to demonstrate the value of equitable treatment of communities.
4.How would you apply "complete streets" design concepts, already being discussed by city agencies, that meet the needs of all travel modes including bicycle, pedestrian, transit, and automobiles, to all city streets, rather than just to those being repaired? How would you prioritize which streets are to be dealt with first?
As a long term objective, I would absolutely support the revision of existing Boston Transportation Department and BRA planning practices to fully embrace complete streets design concepts. I would explicitly encourage these planning practices to include, at a minimum, the explicit consideration of pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transportation users of streets in addition to personal and commercial vehicles. These ideas need to be incorporated at a fundamental level in order to transform all Boston streets into resources shared by each of these types of users.
In order to achieve this objective, I would support Mayor Menino’s recent efforts through the Complete Streets Advisory Committee to bring to together experts on compete streets design, city planning agencies. I would extend these efforts by providing community-level organizations with transparent access to this planning process. Residents of each of Boston’s neighborhoods have different transportation needs that must be addressed, and are differently affected by decisions that are made about transportation to and through their communities. It is critical that residents are not only kept informed of decisions that will impact their lives, but also have input into the decision making process.
In keeping with the logic of complete streets design principles, I would not identify specific individual streets to target for repairs, but rather work with individual communities to identify networks of streets that provide opportunities for enhanced transportation opportunities for Boston residents as a whole. I would particularly support proposals that combine transportation enhancing investments integrated with coordinated economic development efforts in neighborhoods currently underserved along either or both of these dimensions.
5. Street space is the largest physical asset owned by the city. Devoting almost all of it to car traffic has a major impact on neighborhood quality of life. On what streets would you propose that pedestrian and cyclist use be prioritized, for example through the creation of temporary "cyclovias" that only allow non-motorized travel, or more permanent "shared spaces" and "bike boulevards" that allow cars but at reduced speeds?
Cyclovias, permanent shared spaces, and bike boulevards can all be effective elements of a sustainable neighborhood transportation network. In a complete streets design framework with community input, I would absolutely support the inclusion of each of these options as tools that could be used to enhance transportation between and within each of Boston’s neighborhoods. I would prioritize the selection of pedestrian and cyclist use using the same principles as I would apply more broadly to planning transportation, by identifying opportunities to enhance transportation opportunities for Boston as a whole, particularly in cases where this could be coordinated with planning opportunities for economic development in underserved areas.
In particular, the idea of temporary cyclovias shows significant promise as a way to bring residents from different Boston neighborhoods together, to promote alternative forms of transportation, stimulate economic development and jobs growth, and generally benefit the health of residents in a cost-effective way that largely builds on an existing resource base. I would be particularly inclined to support such a program if cyclovias were established using different roadways in order to showcase all of Boston’s diverse neighborhoods.
6.Currently, it is technically illegal to ride a bike in city parks; and many neighborhood parks are underutilized. What would you do to increase access to parks by foot or bike or public transportation, and to facilitate cycling in the parks?
Our world-class public parks could easily be more effectively used to provide recreation, education, and community-building activities for residents of Boston. I believe that there is a real opportunity to expand transportation options to and within our parks to take advantage of this amazing resource. For example, Franklin Park, considered by many to be the crown jewel of the Emerald Necklace, would particularly benefit from increased access by safe, high-speed public transportation. Expanded access to the park would benefit both residents who live in the communities bordering the park as well as those who live in other parts of Boston who are interested in taking full advantage of the park's resources.
I believe that many of our parks would be more widely used if they were better served by high-quality public transportation, and I would support investments targeted to this specific goal. Depending on the identified needs of the surrounding communities, these investments could take the form of enhancements to existing public transportation infrastructure, or possibly could be used to subsidize the cost of transportation to public parks. I also would support legislative changes to formally allow for the legal riding of bicycles in city parks. It should certainly be possible to develop legislation that ensures the safety of pedestrians and of park resources while allowing at least some pathways and roads to be used by bicycles.
7. Better parking management is even more of a need in many commercial centers than more parking spaces. Reduced parking requirements (in zoning ordinances), Parking Benefit Districts, and other market based policies that price city-owned curb parking to reflect market rates are methods that can help to alleviate parking congestion and shortages. How would you better manage commercial parking areas in your district/in the city?
Commercial areas city-wide stand to benefit greatly from a more thoughtful approach to parking management. I wholly support reform of the current parking management system and I would take steps to find more appropriate pricing for parking using market signals, and to ensure that parking fees are collected. Parking Benefit Districts for both residential and commercial parking areas are one of many tools that might be used to manage parking areas throughout Boston neighborhoods. I would certainly support the use of these districts, as long as they are implemented with appropriate safeguards for ensuring that parking revenues are applied to equitable economic growth across our many communities.
8. How would you leverage opportunities for Federal stimulus funding to create a more "active transportation" infrastructure in our city? What federal programs do you consider most able to be used for this purpose?
Going forward, I believe that the best way to leverage opportunities for using Federal stimulus funds towards creating a more active transportation infrastructure is to identify opportunities to shape the implementation of existing projects. Deadlines have already passed for applying for new program funds for many segments of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act that would be particularly applicable to active transportation infrastructure development, such as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) component. Moreover, the requirement that stimulus funds be spent on projects that will quickly stimulate jobs growth in the economy means that these funds will likely be targeted to “shovel-ready” projects at a significant stage of development.
There is, however, significant flexibility in the implementation of many of these projects. As these projects unfold, I will strongly encourage the incorporation of active transportation components into these projects where appropriate. For instance, stimulus funds have been applied for to support both the North BankBridge project between Charlestown and Cambridge, and the aforementioned Enhanced 28X Bus Service project. There are ample opportunities within each of these projects to incorporate infrastructure development that will support active transportation, and as an At-Large City Councillor, I will work to ensure that choices are made in support of this goal.
9. Many bicyclists feel under assault on Boston roads and many drivers view bicyclist as serious nuisances. How would you address the attitudes of drivers and bicyclists to promote a more civil atmosphere of road sharing and cooperation on city streets? How would you incorporate driver and bicycle training programs into the educational system of your district/city?
A key driver of the sometimes contentious relationship between drivers and cyclists in Boston is the unpredictability and volatility of motor-vehicle/bicycle interactions on our roads. Unexpected choices by both drivers and cyclists can lead to conflicts and even accidents, and these interactions are all the more serious to the extent that they happen on roads with congestion or high speed traffic.
By helping to create traffic patterns that work better for both drivers and cyclists, many of the policy recommendations I have made here will help to create more predictable and calmer interactions in the shared road space, which in turn should help to promote a more civil atmosphere. Additionally, programs such as the Safe Routes to School and encouraging complete street design practices will encourage more people to choose to travel by bicycle. More frequent interaction between cyclists and motor-vehicle operators will work to establish greater familiarity, which will also help to create a more civil atmosphere.
10. How do you personally get around the city? Please give percentages for walking, bicycling, public transportation, and automobile.
As a candidate for City Councillor At-Large, I chose to locate my campaign office in Dudley Square. Every day I make several trips to locations within Dudley Square that I can walk to, and several trips to meet with voters across all of the neighborhoods of Boston. Based on this, I estimate that on a typical day, I make approximately 30% of my trips by walking, and 70% of trips by automobile.