Are You Bike-Friendly? CD 13 Candidate John Choi RespondsMay 13, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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 13 candidate John Choi. The May 21st run-off election is between John Choi and Mitch O’Farrell.
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).
It was a recent experience where I was actually driving, but pulled up next to a young family on their bicycles at the very busy intersection of Silver Lake Blvd, Temple, Virgil, and Beverly (in the 13th district!). It was a beautiful Saturday morning, and the young mother had her young child strapped into a baby seat on the back of her bicycle. The adult couple was talking and joking together, while the young boy in the baby seat was animated and clearly having fun being outside. As the light turned from red to green, the couple calmly began pedaling through the intersection, with my only view being of the rear of the baby seat with the child’s arms and legs bouncing happily along. I chose this memory because it was a snapshot into the life of young families who are shedding old notions of mobility in our great city – who are leading by example and who are quite frankly, pioneers. There in front of my eyes was the future pedaling down our streets in the midst of heavy car traffic. It was a brief glimpse into a vision that I’m committed to carrying through as a Councilmember.
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?
I’m highly focused on improving our bike infrastructure to ensure that bicycles can truly fulfill the vision of a first mile-last mile connected and useable transit system. Metro projects need to include these elements, and as Councilmember, I hope to be appointed to ensure that the City receives its share of funding to increase connectivity. This also means that a focus on strategically improving the City’s bike infrastructure (prioritizing completing bike lanes around new and existing public transit routes, implementing physical barriers in these same locations) around transit hubs.
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?
Given the hard work of cyclist groups, green activists and eco-minded city officials, I believe Los Angeles can reach silver relatively quickly. I think the most effective step a Councilmember can take is to bring the experts on the issue into the room to discuss what is immediately doable. In the first quarter of my first term I will bring prominent local cycling advocates to the table on these issues, so we Angelenos can ride with ease and peace of mind. One area we can make up the additional level is by increasing “encouragement” of ridership by continuing to promote more events like Ciclavia. I myself will be a leader by publically riding my bike to events in the district.
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?
When I am a City Councilmember I will put my experience as a Commissioner on the Department of Public Works to good use in executing the Bicycle Plan in our Council District. My background experience executing street design and the relationships I’ve built during my career will lend to ease in implementing the Plan and I’d bet we’ll see faster and better application of the Bicycle Plan here in CD13 than in any other part district.
I think the City’s Bicycle Plan as a great blueprint for a more bicycle friendly city. We must implement and meet the goals set by the Bicycle Plan by ensuring that a portion of our budget is dedicated to seeing this through completion. We need to make sure that bike lanes are properly designated throughout the city, so that no cyclist feels unsafe while traversing our neighborhoods.
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?
We need to focus implementation of bike infrastructure in our localized small business centers to further encourage that type of continued growth. Rather than take a shotgun approach that spreads limited resources, I’d like to focus in on targeted neighborhoods where we can build the support with the business and residential communities to push progressive bike policy and infrastructure development. Silver Lake, Echo Park, and Atwater Village could be great fits for encouraging this type of approach. I’d like to show leadership on issues like removing metered parking to provide bike corrals and replacing street grates. Where possible, I’d like to see the development of physical barriers between bike and car lanes to create more permanency and to begin to change the mobility culture in our city. Using the bully pulpit, I’d like to help lead a conversation about small businesses playing a role in reducing car trips by incentivizing bicycle users to bike to their shops.
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?
With the expansion of bike lanes across the city, we need to increase the number of police officers patrolling our neighborhoods on bikes. In collaboration with the LAPD, the city needs to raise awareness and educate both drivers and bicyclists alike about sharing the road.
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?
Our sluggish response times are not acceptable. Although our city is in a financial bind, cutting back on police and firefighters should be avoided at all costs, and once we are fiscally sound, replenishing their ranks should become a priority. I think it’s important that we ensure that internal departmental policy prioritize bike accidents as much as car accidents. As a city councilmember I will work to make sure that the LAFD has the resources it needs to efficiently and effectively carry out its duties to our citizens.
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 support creating a dedicated source of revenue for infrastructure development, but believe that any measure should include sidewalks and considerations for bicycle infrastructure improvements. We’ll likely only have one shot at this, and I want to fight to make sure we do it right.
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?
Yes, I am committed to ensuring our streets are bicycle and pedestrian friendly. I think the Ambassador group will play an important part in raising awareness and carrying out dialogue with our civic leaders and community members. I think that riding bicycles with my constituents will be a great way for me to lead by example.
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?
Certainly, there are portions of our city and my district where I feel safe riding a bike. Just the other day I took ride through my local neighborhood Echo Park and felt safe in the neighborhoods as well as on Sunset Blvd, which has a bike lane installed. But safe bike riding should not be exclusive to certain parts of the city. Anyone in this city should be able to get on a bike at home and ride down to their local shops or parks without feeling that they’re risking their life. There is a lot of work to be done to create a new culture where both riders and drivers are comfortable with each other on the roads.