Ann Arbor City Election Candidate Survey 2022 Responses: Ward 4
The WBWC's mission is to make Washtenaw County a national leader in bicycling & walking by improving facilities, policies, and community support through advocacy and education. Each Ann Arbor city election, we send a survey to council and mayoral candidates in an effort to illuminate their perspectives on walking, biking, and overall mobility issues. The responses to the survey are published on our website in advance of Election Day. We do not editorialize on the responses. The survey is for informational purposes only.
What proportion of your weekly trips, on average, are done by single-occupancy vehicle, carpooling/ridesharing, transit, walking, or bicycle? Explain
80% e-bike; 10% carpooling; 10% walking. As a young adult, I lived without a car out of economic necessity and became habituated to getting around via foot, bike, and bus. Now, I live in a 1-car household (my husband needs a car to commute to work) primarily by choice to reduce my environmental and traffic impact; because it’s almost always more convenient for me to get where I need to go in town by bike; and more active transit gives me increased mental and physical well-being.
These proportions are different by season. Year- round, I walk to work. Twice a week this past year, I drove my son to WCC for class because he has not gotten his drivers license. In good weather (and daytime), I bike everywhere in city limits. I don't typically ride the bus but my son takes it to school every day, our family keeps a bowl of tokens on the counter. During the winter/bad weather, I probably drive two or three times a week depending on my commitments but I always walk to work.
The candidate did not respond to the survey despite repeated requests.
What are your thoughts on the current bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Ann Arbor?
We’ve seen impressive developments in this infrastructure in recent years, primarily downtown, including a small network of protected bike lanes. However, we still have a long way to go to make it sufficiently safe and accessible to entice more people to choose this as a viable mode of transit. Crumbling roads, bike lanes that offer no protection between cyclists and 35mph+ auto traffic, unsafe driver behaviors, and sidewalk gaps that force pedestrians into the street need our attention.
I wish we invested more in infrastructure that separates cyclists from the roadway. The amount of money spent on multimodal paths is tiny relative to other investments. Talking to people, there is clearly a range of opinions even among cyclists re: what is preferred and I wish we had more thoughtful conversations about where different kinds of infrastructure are helpful in different locations. E.g. In some places, there are alternative/safer routes, other connectors are more crucial/necessary.
What is your impression of the current traffic calming tools the City is using? Current traffic calming efforts are budgeted for $30,000 per year. Is this adequate? Would you propose to adjust this budget item?
Achieving Vision Zero requires investment, and residents still experience too many unsafe driving behaviors. We should focus on education about new configurations; and implement traffic calming designs as we make capital improvements to our roads. We should also deploy more quick-build improvements that use low-cost materials that are easy to install, adjust, and remove. If that can’t be accomplished within the current budget, we should increase it.
Some tools are very popular and others less so. I would be curious if the resident-request program for traffic calming is receiving many more petitions than we are granting. It's worth noting that the line item almost certainly does not reflect the whole of traffic calming efforts since every resurfacing project includes an opportunity to implement it (i.e. not as a separate line item).
Other communities factor cut-through traffic into their rubric for Traffic Calming qualification. Would you support addressing cut-through traffic by adding diverters and bicycle boulevard treatments to problem locations?
Moving a traffic safety problem from one area to another is a bad outcome so, yes, I would support this.
We definitely don't talk about cut-through traffic enough, but my support for strategies like those is going to depend on feedback we get from residents about what they see out their own window. We get unintended consequences when we don't make space to hear from residents who know their neighborhoods and see how the traffic happens every day.
Do you support reducing vehicle lanes for a low-stress bicycle and pedestrian network, assuming it increases vehicle travel time?
Yes, I think we can achieve a balance that creates a low-stress bicycle and pedestrian network, while also reducing dangerous driving behavior and decreasing driver-related accidents and injuries. Getting as many people who are able to travel by bike, foot, and public transit will also alleviate traffic for those who need to continue to travel by car.
I don't have any problem slowing down cars and increasing vehicle travel time, but the challenge of spillover traffic onto side streets is real. Every conversation about slowing down traffic on main roads has to also consider if the cars are likely to shift to a different (less trafficked) route. As a cyclist, I choose those less trafficked side streets when I can, so it does not make me safer when cars are diverted onto them.
What are your thoughts on eliminating or reducing current parking minimums for new developments in Ann Arbor?
Parking minimums are an expensive and wasteful practice that forces developments to build more parking than is needed. I strongly support eliminating them, keeping in mind that this does not prohibit the development of parking spaces; rather it leaves it to the market to determine what is needed.
Accessibility varies in different parts of the City, so my answer to this depends. In more central/accessible locations, I have fully supported reduced parking minimums even when near-residents had anxiety about what might happen. E.g. There were fears that the redevelopment at Henry street had inadequate parking, but that location is central/accessible and I was supportive. On the Zoning Board of Appeals, I've made many case-specific judgements like that one, approving reduced parking.
What are your thoughts on Vision Zero (striving towards zero fatalities or serious injuries)?
I fully support the aim of Vision Zero and will push for policies and infrastructure design that ensure we achieve it. It is not enough to say we are committed to Vision Zero; we must invest in and make data-backed decisions that actually get us to zero fatalities or serious injuries. When a parent says the only reason they drive their kid to school is because they’re afraid of them getting hit by a car if they walk or bike, we are failing them.
Is there any range of different thoughts about this? I believe that everyone is supportive of doing whatever we can do to achieve zero fatalities or serious injuries.
Should a portion of road millage money be allocated towards crosswalks, pedestrian infrastructure, and a bicycle network? Why or why not?
Yes. Roads, crosswalks, pedestrian infrastructure, and a bicycle network are all transportation infrastructure, and we should treat them and fund them as a holistic network that provides a range of safe, equitable transit options for all.
Is this question asking if we should have a specific portion set aside or if any portion should be allocated toward those purposes? I think a lot of the infrastructure described actually goes hand-in-hand with road repairs we already have planned. Our capital improvement priorities are already a huge disappointment to residents insofar as we aren't fixing enough streets soon enough. To the extent that we can fix roads faster, we are also improving our bike network.
Should Ann Arbor have a specialist staff member devoted to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure?
Ann Arbor should have expertise on its staff for implementing safe, effective multi-modal transit infrastructure. I don’t necessarily think this needs to be one staff member devoted solely to this.
I appreciate the work what our current staff is doing and I believe they are committed to improving our bike/pedestrian infrastructure. I would not support additional staff because in an area that is already underfunded, this would essentially take money away from direct investment in needed infrastructure.
Please share your short- and long-term vision for transportation and mobility in Ann Arbor.
Short-term: Address dangerous driving behaviors through engineering design, policy, and education.
Long-term: Build out a complete, safe, comfortable network of bike and pedestrian routes for people of all ages and abilities so that they can traverse the city safely and are not driving because it is the only safe, convenient, reasonable option.
Short-term, I would like more thoughtful consideration of preferred biking routes and safe crosswalk infrastructure on main roads. Improved accommodations for the disabled are needed whenever we promote non-motorized transit. Long-term, I'd like more serious conversation about matching strategies/goals in terms of making our city more accessible without a car. E.g. We can't get people out of cars if we continue to displace all the walkable retail in neighborhoods.
What makes you a strong candidate in regards to walking and bicycling in our community?
My primary mode of transit is biking and walking, and I have daily firsthand experience of what is working well and what could be improved. Furthermore, I understand that transit is an environmental, equity, well-being, and safety issue, and I am committed to ensuring that Ann Arbor deploys best practices and makes data-informed decisions to make biking and walking a safer, more viable way to get around our city.
I am committed to understanding the choices we make to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians. I don't take these decisions lightly and I regularly visit different parts of town on my bike to see them in context. I do the work of researching what our options are, what hazards and risks residents see in their own neighborhoods.