Are You Bike-Friendly? Emanuel Pleitez Responds

February 6, 2013 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Bike News, Resources | 4 Comments
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Photo: Peter Thai, WYTe Studios

LACBC asked each of the candidates running for mayor 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 in the order they were received.

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).

Growing up in El Sereno, we didn’t have a car. In fact, we were too poor for Section 8 housing and barely had a roof over our heads. Riding my bike was for many years the only way I could get anywhere I wanted to go quickly and for free. My neighborhood was dangerous and there was a constant gang presence, but I always felt safe on my bike. It helped me travel, stay in shape, and feel free. In college, I rode a bike every day. Cycling has been an important part of my life.

2. Just a few months ago, Los Angeles was honored as 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?

I don’t just want to get to a Silver level, I want Gold and beyond. During my first term I will promote bike travel by increasing education about biking in schools, pursuing a bike-share program like those available in cities and college campuses across the country, and creating dedicated bike lanes on more of our streets. To accomplish this goal, I’ll create a Deputy Mayor for Urban Planning, who’ll be responsible for creating a long-term vision and plan for LA’s infrastructure, and making sure all investments we make fit within that plan. I will commit to doing this early in my first term.

3. The Mayor controls four votes on the Metro Board of Directors, which makes transportation funding decisions for the entire county. In LA County people walking and bicycling make up nearly 20% of all trips and 39% of roadway fatalities, yet these modes only receive 1% of transportation funding. What steps would you take to rectify this inequity?

Los Angeles needs to be more pedestrian friendly. It will improve mobility and health. We need to be more efficient with the money that’s currently allocated for walking infrastructure. People aren’t walking or biking because they have to travel so far for food, work, and school. We need to focus on high impact investment in communities, so people can live and work close to their homes if they choose. If people’s needs are met close to home, they will be able to walk. Part of that investment needs to be in the quality of our streets. Some places in South LA, East San Fernando Valley, and the Eastside of LA don’t even have sidewalks. That’s the legacy of neglect our current politicians have left behind and want to continue. As Mayor, I’ll change that – I’ll make LA a leader not just in pedestrian infrastructure, but in other areas too.

4. 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?

LA doesn’t have great or even good infrastructure. I will appoint a Deputy Mayor of Urban Planning to monitor and adjust, in real time, our transportation and mobility strategy for communities across our city. Bicycling plays a huge part in our city’s transportation and a transition to more bicycling and walking will help reduce congestion at a local level. We need more dedicated bike lanes and that will be a large part of my overall transportation strategy. It’s more practical and can happen much sooner than the rail project other candidates focus on.

5. 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 continues during your administration? How many miles of new bicycle facilities will you commit to implementing each year?

The number of miles I implement must be decided based on research and extensive urban planning. I will appoint a Deputy Mayor of Urban planning to expedite my plans for improving our transportation infrastructure.

6. Leading cities for bicycling, such as New York and Chicago, are implementing protected bicycle lanes (a.k.a. cycletracks) to encourage “interested but concerned” people to ride a bike. During your administration, will you direct LADOT to implement such innovative bicycle facilities to incentivize more Angelenos to take up bicycling?

Yes. Dedicated bicycle lanes are important not only for the safety of our cyclists, but also for the functionality of our transportation system.

7. 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?

The expansion of our protected bicycle lanes will help to protect or cyclists. Finding and prosecuting perpetrators, as well as solving efficiency and effectiveness problems in our police department as a whole, comes down to better data management and tracking. Making our police department more technologically equipped and proficient will lead to greater capabilities of our law enforcement. That will help bring those who commit hit-and-runs to justice.

8. 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?

Solving our pension system has to come first in any budget discussion because it’s forcing cuts to essential city services. Faster response and efficiency come down to the technological capabilities of our fire departments. I’ll make the technological development of our fire department a priority along with all of our public safety services. We need to also consider promoting cross training programs that enable police to perform paramedic actions and even going as far as to merge the police and fire departments into one public safety department. Cities in California and across the country have had success with these programs.

9. CicLAvia has transformed how Angelenos view bicycling and walking in their City. Will you commit to ensuring that CicLAvia continues to receive adequate City support to ensure its future as the largest open street event in the country?

Yes, and I don’t think it should just be one day, several throughout the year. As mayor, I’ll promote CicLAvia and similar programs.

10. 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 anychanges should be made to the proposal to serve all those who travel on city streets, including pedestrians, bicyclists, and transit users?

We need to pursue any and all financing options to repair our streets. I don’t think our repairs should fall exclusively on the backs of our tax payers. I will bring private capital and investment to our city and will make sure it goes to the communities that need it the most first, those that have been chronically neglected and underinvested. Places like South LA, the eastside, the East San Fernando Valley, and Pico Union.

11. Will you commit to meeting with bicyclists or their representatives on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?

Yes and Yes. Our bicycling community is important to me and I’ll support it.

12. 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?

Many of our streets and sidewalks are in ruins. We have far fewer bike lanes than we need. I’m confident in my cycling abilities, but cycling is not as safe as it should be in LA and there are times I feel uncomfortable behind the handlebars.

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