John R. Connolly

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?

One of the most unsafe aspects of the current transportation system in Boston is the number of dangers that bicyclists face on City streets. I believe that bicyclists belong on our roads, and I have worked hard in my first term to make Boston more bike-friendly. I am proud to be working with Mayor Menino to bring a shared bike program to Boston and I regularly support laws that make it easier and safer for bicyclists in our City. For example, I recently voted in favor of an ordinance prohibiting parking in bike lanes. We need to continue our efforts to make Boston more bike-friendly by designing and providing the proper infrastructure to make biking safer and more enjoyable for residents. In addition to making bike lanes and bike racks a priority, we need to look at integrating proven design concepts that make bicycling safer, such as replacing solid bike-lane stripes with a dotted line where bikes and cars are likely to cross paths. A dotted line warns cyclists that cars will be turning right, and it invites bicyclists to move left into general traffic, thereby reducing problems at intersections. Making Boston more bike-friendly will also require a concerted effort to change the culture for both drivers and bicyclists through public education and increased awareness. I applaud the work of community groups like Dot Bike and MassBike that advocate for making Boston more bike friendly and that educate drivers and bicyclists on the proper way to safely share the road.

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?

I truly believe that Boston can be a “world-class biking city” and that is why earlier this year, I filed legislation to help bring a shared bike program to Boston. A shared-bike program, which enables a rider to access a fleet of community bikes for short-term use, would further promote cycling as a mainstay form of transportation in and around the city by providing widespread, convenient, and low-cost access to bicycles. This program will make it easier for people to incorporate physical activity into their everyday routines and could encourage those who are uncertain about investing in a bike of their own to consider purchasing one. As Chair of the Special Committee on a Livable Boston, I have held hearings throughout the City on the challenges residents face in making Boston their lifelong home. At the hearings, many of the participants have noted that traveling by foot in Boston is especially challenging for our seniors and children. Many of the crossing times for major intersections and arteries seemed timed for the convenience of vehicular traffic, rather than pedestrian traffic. If we are to encourage walking as an alternative to driving and public transportation, we need to make sure that pedestrians are safe. I will ask that the City look into increasing the time for pedestrian crossing signals, installing and maintaining accessible pedestrian push buttons, and keeping crosswalks freshly painted to make it easier for seniors and children to incorporate walking into their daily routines.

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?

I recognize the economic and social importance of accessible, sustainable, and affordable transportation options for all of our neighborhoods. Not only is mass transit more economical and convenient than driving, but expanding public transportation helps to bring neighborhoods together and to lower our carbon emissions. While the City Council has limited influence over the expansion of mass transit, I support a variety of proposals to extend rapid transit into underserved neighborhoods. For instance, I believe that Governor Patrick's proposed Route 28X Bus Rapid Transit project would provide quick, reliable service to a currently undeserved area. While I support new mass transit projects, I also recognize that they raise a number of concerns. I plan to continually monitor any new mass transit project to ensure that the construction does not negatively impact our communities and that the projects are designed to use low or no-emission vehicles. A wide-reaching and interconnected mass transit system is critical to achieving my vision of One Boston.

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

Boston needs to be committed to making biking and walking a safe and efficient means of travelling throughout the City. This requires actively implementing complete streets design concepts so that we provide the appropriate infrastructure on all of Boston’s streets for drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists, as well as for seniors, children, and people with disabilities. In addition to implementing complete streets design concept for roads that are under repair, I would also advocate a review of the City’s streets to determine which are the most dangerous and heavily travelled routes for all types of traffic. While we can’t redesign every street immediately, redesigning and investing in complete streets infrastructure for these dangerous, heavily trafficked routes must be a priority.

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 believe that we should strive to have a bike-friendly city, which would include dedicated bike lanes, permanent shared spaces, and temporary "cyclovias." During my first term I have pushed for dedicated bike lanes wherever feasible, and I hope in the near future to see new lanes or shared spaces that connect these existing lanes to each other. For instance, it would be great to see the new bike lanes along Commonwealth Avenue connected to the Financial District. This would create a commuter-friendly corridor that would encourage people to travel to work by bike. I would also like to explore the possibility of temporary road closures within the City that would create a bike route to many of our City's green spaces, such as the Greenway and the Commons. This type of temporary-closure program has been effectively used on the busy streets of Manhattan and I believe it could be very successful in our City.

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?

Biking should be allowed on appropriate paths and roads in Boston’s parks, both for recreational purposes and to make it easier and safer for those whose commute takes them through a park. Additionally, to encourage recreational biking on approved paths in Boston’s parks, we must also make sure that there are safe bike routes providing access to the parks and connecting our network of public parks with one another.

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?

Boston’s population nearly doubles during the workday, with many of those commuting into the City for work choosing to drive. This puts an enormous strain on our environment and causes chronic parking congestion and shortages. I believe that we need to look at all options to reduce vehicular traffic in Boston, and I will consider exploring the possibility of using market based polices as a means of discouraging non essential driving.

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?

Investing in infrastructure that makes walking and biking easier and safer for Boston residents makes good economic and environmental sense. Providing people with active transportation options will reduce driving, congestion, and pollution and will encourage a more healthy and active lifestyle for residents. When the City of Boston considers using federal stimulus funding for a particular purpose, the City Council is charged with reviewing the proposal and making a determination of whether or not the grant should be approved. I will continue to hold expedited hearings on these grant requests and leverage opportunities for federal stimulus funding that can provide enhanced infrastructure for both walking and bicycling

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?

I acknowledge that if we are going to make Boston bike friendly and encourage new bicyclists, we need to change the culture—both bicyclists and drivers have a right to use the roads, and I believe that we can accommodate both. The key will be increased public awareness of the laws surrounding bicycling in Boston, and increased educational opportunities for drivers and bicyclists to learn how to share the road with each other. And, as we continue to focus on making Boston more bike friendly and livable, either through complete streets policies or active transportation designs, I believe that drivers will quickly begin to realize that they need to be conscientious when it comes to sharing the road with bicyclists.

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

I always try to walk to meetings whenever I can, however, it’s hard not to use a vehicle when I travel so much around the City and have limited time between meetings. I drive a 2004 Ford Focus which I try to keep as energy efficient as possible. I get regular tune-ups which helps reduce the fuel burned, I keep my tires properly inflated and aligned to burn less fuel, and I obey our state’s anti-idling laws. I hope to upgrade to a more fuel efficient vehicle soon.