Felix Arroyo

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?

Boston, in comparison to other cities in industrialized countries around the world, is behind in both pedestrian and bicycling safety, as well as access for disabled persons. This is fundamentally a failure to design roads that accommodate all transportation modes equally. Too much emphasis has been placed on increasing each street's capacity for auto traffic, with pedestrian and cyclists concerns often an afterthought. This is beginning to change, as a result of pressure from walking, cycling, and disabled access advocates, but as a City Councilor, I will work to make sure all of these concerns are taken into consideration when first designing each road, street, path or other corridor. The old excuse of Boston's streets being too narrow to accommodate all needs to be brushed aside. All Boston residents should have equal access to the city's streets, no matter if they walk, drive, cycle or use a wheelchair.

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?

Not only are Boston's obesity rates rising, our population is also getting older. Numerous studies are pointing to the built environment as a significant influence on obesity rates, cardiovascular disease and other ailments. It is clear that access to transit, walkable communities, and a robust bicycling network will improve our city's health indicators, and I will support those efforts as a City Councilor. Design also needs to reflect our aging population. And Safe Routes to School needs to move toward promoting cycling as it was originally intended to do, possibly acting as an incentive to increase good bicycling facilities near our schools. And perhaps a wider cycling promotion effort is in order at the Boston Public Health Coalition as part of current food and fitness initiatives. There are also several policy changes that could help support increased cycling, such as improving the data the city collects on cyclists via the Boston Police Department and in hospital emergency rooms. I will support efforts on all of these fronts.

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?

As a City Councilor, I will work diligently to improve and reform the City's transit system. I will support light-rail service in a few locations, expanded commuter rail service, and will work against reductions in bus services such as the elimination of Night Owl service. I will continue to pressure the MBTA to live-up to it's Big Dig transit commitments, including rapid transit for Roxbury and Dorchester, and to improve it's service. In addition, I will work closely with the City's disabled community for improved access to MBTA services. As called for in Boston's Public Transportation and Regional Connections Plan, we should be creating a Transit Priority Corridor task force, examine more carefully long-term investment options, and revisit our tourism transportation services. The City's commitment to implementing these recommendations deserves further review and oversight by the City Council.

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?

I fully support the idea of ‘complete streets.’ In other words, the revamping of our streets, paths and railways to complement all modes of transportation, including walking, bicycling, access for the disabled, public transit, and driving. Funding is a tricky problem in the current economy, and federal and state funding were a key element in allowing the reconstruction of several of the streets that now support bike lanes in our city. I will work to make sure all future opportunities like these are taken full advantage of, and when more funding opportunities become available I will prioritize the major commuting routes of our city – e.g Columbia Road, Massachusetts Ave., Blue Hill Ave. – as well as streets that provide access to the City’s open spaces like those outside our major parks and beaches.

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?

I certainly would support a wide range of efforts to promote biking through the creation of “safe spaces” for pedestrians and cyclist. The closing of Memorial Drive in Cambridge, for example, seems like a excellent model for this sort of program. I would love to see Boston launch a similar program on one of our major streets. Where that would be would be something to be worked out with the input of transportation advocates and the communities in question. I think Cycle tracks, such as those now used widely in Montreal, are also an interesting possibility.

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?

Parks need to be shared spaces that are open and safe for pedestrians, children and senior citizens. However, cyclists do not currently pose a serious threat to that safety, and the city could look at mitigating any possible dangers by painting separate lanes for cyclists and pedestrians on heavily used shared use paths. Like many others, I was unaware that it is technically illegal to ride a bike in Franklin Park until it recently was brought up by DotBike and the Franklin Park Coalition. As a Councilor, I would fully support a re-examination of this Ordinance, including whether this law should be repealed.

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?

I would support market-based solutions to alleviate congestion and parking shortages. I also support the lower standards for parking set out in the city's special Transit Oriented Development zoning requirements. One of the impediments to this has been local neighborhood resistance, in some areas, to allowing new developments without a parking space for each resident. The BRA should be providing better support for developers who seek to use these TOD areas, in particular by providing more hard data on how TOD affects local parking access to those communities where TOD is being proposed. As to how to better manage private commercial parking areas, this is an area I would need more information on.

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?

The handful of streets that have been and will be repaved and striped with new bike lanes using stimulus funds are a good example of encouraging more active transportation, as is the application for a TIGER grant for the Rutherford St. reconstruction. By steering more resources toward the city's bicycle coordinator, more could be accomplished in the short term. There are undoubtedly more opportunities available. As a City Councilor, I will study this further and ensure that it is raised as an issue in the upcoming budget debate.

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?

Much of the animosity on the cyclists side comes from the fact that they have no physical place to exist on many of our city's roads. The inclusion of bicycling facilities like bike lanes will go a long way in solving the battles on the roads, but I would also support state efforts to include more information about cyclists in driver's license tests and training, such as a requirement that drivers exiting their cars always open their car door with their right hand, so as to look out for oncoming traffic and cyclists.

10. How do you personally get around the city? Please give percentages for walking, bicycling, public transportation, and automobile.

Primarily, I drive a 2005 Toyota Highlander since a private car is necessary for my work and volunteer activities. However, I live close to the Forest Hills T stop and do ride the T on a regular basis. When I worked at Boston City Hall as a legislative aide, I frequently rode my bike to work. I walk with my two dogs almost every day and as often as I am able. Estimated %’s: 70% - Automobile 15% - Public Transportation 10% - Walking 5% - Biking