Are You Bike Friendly? CD 3 Candidate Cary Iaccino Responds

February 21, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Posted in Bike News, Resources | Leave a comment
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LACBC asked each of the candidates running for City Council of the City of Los Angeles to respond to our questionnaire. We hope our members will find the candidates’ answers insightful into how each candidate proposes to make our streets safe, balanced, and livable. Responses are posted by Council District, in the order they were received. Here are responses from CD 3 candidate Cary Iaccino.

1. Please share a memory involving a bicycle that has had a lasting effect on you (whether or not you were the one on the bicycle).

My daughter loves cycling. Of course at 3 years old, I’m doing all the work.  I can’t wait to get her pedaling along this Summer with a tandem add-on.  She started out in a child seat behind me, and the backpack is always stocked with her favorite snacks and drinks.  She has graduated to tricycles and small bikes with training wheels.  She’s the one who really got me riding more consistently, especially since she always tells me, “faster!”.

2. The Department of City Planning is in the process of updating the City’s Mobility Element for the first time in decades.  What policies would you prioritize for inclusion in the Mobility Element?  What role do you see bicycling playing in the City’s transportation system, if any?

One important ideal of the Mobility Element is the concept that the streets must be made safe for everyone to share and utilize to get where they are going safely. In other words, more cycling infrastructure planning is a compliment to an overall multi-modal strategy that both brings our neighborhoods to life and maintains a safe and shared transportation for anyone, including motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. With the adoption of the backbone network, it is important that we carry out the implementation of bicycle-friendly options throughout the City to make commuting a viable alternative, and not just a recreational opportunity in selective areas.  In addition to bike lanes, paths, and many other dedicated space for safe cycling, there must also be increased rapid transit connecting the many parts of the City, and all such modes must include ample opportunities for travelling with a bicycle. The Mobility Element team is currently looking at several candidates for streets to look at peak-hour dedicated bus lanes and Reseda Blvd. running through Tarzana and Reseda is a top candidate, to my understanding.  I support this in principal and would insist that there was a premium put on assuring plenty of room for bicycle commuters to utilize the new lines.

3. Just a few months ago, Los Angeles was honored as a Bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. Do you believe the city should pursue a Silver-level designation, and if so, what steps would you take in the first year of your term to move LA up to the Silver level?

L.A. is a World Class City. There is absolutely no excuse to not aim for the highest designation when being ranked among the world’s Bicycle-Friendly cities.  This is an important key in the goal to getting more cars off the road and reducing traffic and emissions and increasing safety and accessibility. In addition to an everything-on-the-table strategy for bicycle infrastructure, in my first year I would get directly involved in the expansion of CicLAvia and aim to expand it to more areas of the City.  In the Los Angeles City Council, CicLAvia advocates can expect me to be a consistent champion for its expansion. With a City Council about to have many brand new members, it’s important that we can count on a new group who will carry forward what has quickly become one of this City’s best new traditions.  I would also help to inform more people of the existing bicycle co-ops around the City, namely the Valley Bikery, and assure that everyone knows about these important affordable resources and look to partner with cycling organizations to expand these co-ops to more areas.

With this distinction of a Bronze-level Bicycle-Friendly Community, it’s fair for L.A. to pat itself on the back and we have certainly made some impressive progress.  However, it is important to take note that we have further to go and we must implement much of what is being considered.

4. In 2011, the City Council unanimously adopted the Bicycle Plan proposing a comprehensive 1,600-mile bikeway network across the City.  What steps would you take to ensure implementation of Bicycle Plan projects in your district?  Are there any specific projects in the Plan you would prioritize?

I am a cyclist. I am proud to be endorsed by prominent cycling advocates in the City such as, Heidi Sickler – Former Mayor’s Office Transportation Deputy, Lead Point-person in launch of 1st CicLAvia, Alex Thompson – Co-founder of Bikerowave, and Hank Truxillo – my co-founder of Ride Reseda.  I will be a strong advocate for the implementation of the backbone network and will ensure that each proposed spine in my district gets prioritized and that our City departments are working together to put these in place as general improvements are made.  In addition to fitting into the normal infrastructure repair schedule, I will push for expediency on important streets in the plan and will direct my staff to prioritize the development. Right now in CD3 there are a couple of notable projects that I will keep actively involved in. The L.A. River Master Plan is making progress with bike paths connecting Reseda to Canoga Park and it will take a dedicated focus and insistence to complete the project connecting all the way to the Headwaters in Canoga Park from the beginning of the current project near Reseda Park.  I have partnered with the Trust for Public Land to move along a major open space project (the Los Angeles River / Aliso Creek Confluence Project) and cycling infrastructure is a key element in this project. TPL can count on my support to move this project forward. Another project is the Westfield Village development in Woodland Hills.  In the long process engaging the community, Westfield has agreed to connect to the backbone (next to Topanga Canyon) and has promised a number of components to encourage cycling to and from the facility, as well as a safe throughway for commuters.  I will insist on these promised components coming to fruition in the development of the property.

5. Studies have shown that people on bicycles spend more per month in local business districts than those arriving by other modes.  What steps would you take to ensure that local businesses in your district are able to benefit from better access by bicyclists?

This starts simply by acknowledging it.  Slowing people down in our business districts is a no-brainer to increase commerce and bring more customers to our businesses, who are often struggling and need every little jolt of assistance they can get.  Everything from safe routes to bicycle racks to dedicated events (akin to CicLAvia) will be on the list to connect more cyclists to our businesses.

6. The LA Weekly recently wrote a feature story documenting that almost half of traffic collisions in the City of LA are hit-and-runs, according to LAPD records.  Many victims of these traffic crimes are people walking and bicycling.  What steps would you take to reduce the rate of hit-and-run and ensure perpetrators are prosecuted?

This starts at a mindset, or as I previously stated, a simple acknowledgement. There has to be a greater conversation about understanding the rules and how to share the road with one another. These conversations really aren’t taking place in a real way and there is an ongoing adversarial relationship between motorists and cyclists because of it. Understanding one another and an agreement to better share the road is a great place to start. The LAPD Bicycle Advisory Committee is an important part of this conversation. I also know that it is often difficult for cyclists to ensure their rights are upheld in the same way that a predominantly motorist-based culture can count on.  I am proud to have signed onto the Cyclists’ Bill of Rights and will stand by the principles within it and instruct my staff to be a resource in the event of hit-and-runs and to work closely with West Valley and Topanga Divisions here in CD3 to follow through on prosecutions.

7. In the event of a collision, the survival of those injured could depend on a prompt emergency response, yet it’s recently been disclosed that response times for the Los Angeles Fire Department frequently exceed national standards. What would you do to address budget and staffing cutbacks affecting the LAFD to ensure a faster response for all those who need emergency assistance?

The bottom line is a need to cutback in other areas and it is critical that Fire/Public safety, and other core services, our number 1 priority.  To really enable us to increase staffing levels and resources for individual battalions, we must increase revenues and stop having to consistently cut and cut. The way to increase revenue comes down to improving the business climate and making L.A. less hostile to businesses. There are many very specific approaches to achieve this, and as a small business owner, I am in the best position to champion this mentality at City Hall.

8. A recent proposal has been floated to assess all property owners to bring streets into a state of good repair.  Do you support the proposed bond measure, and do you believe any changes should be made to the proposal to serve all those who travel on city streets, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users?

I am aware of the proposal and I am committed to a REAL plan to fix our streets. I am open to looking at this proposal and I am encouraged that some of our councilmembers are talking about a long term plan to repair our infrastructure in this way. I will look at this plan, as well as others and I will commit to the delivery of core services and a long term look at fixing our streets.  And, of course, any plan absolutely must include the right balance of components to serve all modes of transportation.  The cycling community can expect to be at the table to discuss these opportunities.

9. LACBC has formed Neighborhood Bike Ambassador groups in each part of the City to work with local businesses, neighborhood councils, homeowner associations and other stakeholders on bicycle issues. Will you commit to meeting with the local Ambassador group in your district on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?

I’m already doing this.  I am the co-founder of Ride Reseda, a weekly ride where all are welcome and the exploration of our local environs by bicycle is always mapped out to encourage riders of all levels and ages.  And, as the immediate past Chairman of the Reseda Neighborhood Council, I am quite committed to the value of the partnership of our NCs and other community groups and local businesses. I look forward to partnering with the Neighborhood Bike Ambassadors in CD3.

10. Would you presently feel safe riding a bike in Los Angeles, and if not, what would it take to make you feel comfortable on our city streets?

Sometimes I feel safer than other times.  It depends on the street and time of day.  If there are bike lanes or pathways, I feel more comfortable.  Simply stated, much of the aim of cyclists, and specifically active cycling advocates, comes down to a desire to make streets safer for everyone.  To the cycling community, who most likely would have read all the way through to this answer via the LACBC post, I say THANK YOU.  Thank you for fighting for cyclists’ rights and for safer streets and for the benefits this means to me and my family.

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