Michael P. Ross, incumbent

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?

I believe that the lack of late-night MBTA service has compromised the safety of my constituents. I helped to bring Night Owl service to Boston, and am continuing to fight to bring it back. Pedestrian safety has been compromised in the West End with the removal of the pedestrian footbridge in Leverett Circle. It needs to be rebuilt to allow safer travel through the intersection for both motorists and pedestrians.

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?

One of the main ways we can combat the obesity epidemic is to keep our children active. An active child is more likely to become an active adult, and I have worked to bring physical education back to the Boston Public Schools. For adults, we need to foster a more bicycle-friendly culture in our city. We can do this by building dedicated bike lanes, as well as trying bike rental services like the one which is currently being pursued by the city. I have worked to mitigate unsafe crossings in elementary schools to help keep children safe as they walk to school.

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 am currently working to ensure that my district does not lose the public transit services it already has. I am opposed the MBTA’s proposed elimination of the 55 bus route, which services an area where car ownership is the lowest, and the percentage of elderly residents highest, which would make it difficult for residents in my district to access grocery stores and subway lines. I believe that we lost an opportunity to bring additional light rail service to Boston when the Silver Line was created.

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?

Years ago, my former colleague Paul Scapicchio and I fought to bring a bike czar to Boston. We now have Nicole Freedman who is overseeing our efforts. I believe she is a great addition to the Mayor’s staff, and will execute a sound plan to make Boston more bike-friendly.

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 our city has a good number of areas that are open to car-free cycling (the Southwest Corridor and Esplanade being examples). Our focus needs to be on developing a city-wide bicycle network that connects these spaces to each other. The South Boston waterfront is an area that would allow us to try new things, and should be explored for further development of dedicated bike-only lanes. I also support the plan to bring bike lanes to Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay, which will connect the lanes that have already been built throughout the 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?

I am currently working on an initiative that would allow more cycling opportunities in parks which I strongly support. As the details of this work develop, I am happy to share them but the effort is in the early planning stages.

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?

The Back Bay is among the most heavily visited commercial districts in Boston. I have worked with community groups and business owners to establish parking resources for residents and businesses. On the north side of Commonwealth Avenue, the parking is for commercial use until 6 P.M., and is available to residents thereafter. This frees up hundreds of spaces for drivers—both residents and visitors. Smart parking policies, combined with good public transit options and bike lanes, help create an ideal balance for an urban setting.

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?

As City Council President, I created a Special Committee on Economic Stimulus, which is chaired by Stephen Murphy. This committee serves as a clearinghouse for ARRA funds, and will help shape sound public policy in how to best use federal funds to improve our transportation infrastructure.

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 believe that cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians crave predictability, which traffic laws help create. But Boston’s transportation infrastructure is antiquated, causing frustration for cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians, which leads to law-breaking by all parties. I have consistently pressed for increased funding in the Boston Transportation Department budget to upgrade the traffic grid system to allow for better technology, and a better user experience.

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

Automobile: 70%, Walking: 20%, Bicycling 5%, Public Transportation 5%