Are You Bike-Friendly? CD 13 Candidate Alex De Ocampo Responds

February 21, 2013 at 6:17 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 13 candidate Alex De Ocampo.

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 my family didn’t have a lot of money, so on weekends my mom would take us to the park on our bikes. We didn’t have a car back then, so bikes were how we got around. They became a way of life for me, and I have loved them ever since.

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?

If the updated Mobility Element will truly be one for the future, it must account for multi-modal transit within Los Angeles and throughout the Greater Los Angeles region. The reality is that our city is becoming denser and will be developed further along transit corridors. The Metro system won’t work if the Los Angeles streetscape isn’t retrofitted to account for pedestrians, bicycles, and heavy transit use. Bikes will provide a vital link between rail and bus and peoples homes and works, which is why I would support additions to zoning codes that require bicycle parking, as well as the continued expansion of bicycle sharing programs and bike lanes.

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?

Absolutely, from an economic, social, and environmental perspective, any improvements in bike-friendliness in this city are huge positives. While our focus should be on making it easier and safer to use a bike to travel to work, the store, or for fun in this city, angling for distinctions such as those provided by the League of American Bicyclists will be a credit to us on the national stage and attract attention to the improvements underway in Los Angeles.

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 strongly support the Bicycle Plan and, if I had been in office, would have voted to support it.  If elected, I will closely monitor the progress of projects in my district and keep constituents updated on the status of things.  I will also bring together various interests if there are delays in implementation, so we can make sure these improvements do not get stalled.

One great candidate for additional work in District 13 is improving multi-modal connectivity where the freeways like the 101, 2, and 5 cut through neighborhoods. Too often freeways create blighted and forbidding environments for pedestrians and bikers. There is great room for improvement here, especially in dense neighborhoods like Hollywood and around the LA River in Atwater Village and Elysian Valley.

We also must capitalize on the upcoming introduction of bike share programs to Downtown LA and various neighborhoods on the Westside. As a City Councilmember I will aggressively solicit the implementation of a bike share programs in 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?

One of the priorities of my campaign is to provide support for job-creating small businesses in my district and at large. I believe an effective way to accomplish this is to improve the life of our streets and storefronts. Bicycle traffic is a common sense solution here–people on bikes pass by storefronts slower, and are more likely to notice individual businesses they may soon patronize.  We can promote this by making sure there is space to park bikes and working with small business owners to make their streets more accessible.

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 is a vitally important public safety issue. The recent revelations of the scale of this problem are staggering and a call to action. As a City Councilmember, I will ensure that we have an “all hands on deck” approach to solving this issue, mobilizing community groups to bring perpetrators to justice, educating residents about the perils of hitting and running, and making sure the LAPD is responsive to these kinds of cases.

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?

This cuts to the heart of one of my campaign priorities–improving city services in the wake of debilitating budget cuts. It is vitally important that we prioritize economic recovery in this city to stabilize our finances and bring back robust city services . All departments have had to navigate financial stress, but I will ensure that the LAPD and LAFD are the first ones to be relieved of that pressure. It is a solemn responsibility the city has to provide emergency services to its residents, and must be acted on quickly and decisively.

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?

Ideally we wouldn’t need to saddle our residents with more taxes in order to maintain our streets, but, because this bond measure represents a full reconstruction of the much of Los Angeles’s street system, I can see the benefits, especially in light of our budget challenges. I believe that it would be much wiser if this proposal included provisions for multi-modal transportation, cataloguing and repair of sidewalks, and ways to achieve the goals set forth in the Los Angeles Bike Plan passed in 2010.

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?

Absolutely, I have experience working with community groups from my time as a member of the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council.I believe that Neighborhood Councils have been underutilized by most City Councilmembers and I fully intend to work closely with them to identify problems in Council District 13 and find solutions that everyone can agree on. More broadly, I would make sure to meet with local groups as frequently as possible to ensure all stakeholders in the district have their voices heard.

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?

Yes and no.  Some parts of the city are very bike friendly and allow for smooth commutes.  Other parts, whether because of the lack of bike lanes, clear streetscapes, quality roads or congestion are not as bike friendly.  This problem has only gotten worse as we have faced severe budget cuts.  This is why it is important for City Hall to identify new sources of revenue and promote job creation, which will bring in new revenue and investment.

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