20 Questions with Mayoral Candidate Jack Wagner
Jack Wagner (D)
1. What role do you think Mayors play in making cities safe, accessible and friendly to biking and walking?
The Mayor must promote all transit options, especially ‘green’ ones like biking and walking, and the Mayor must work to ensure the safety of citizens. I will take both of these responsibilities very seriously. I am a safety engineer by education and a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. I will authorize my staff in the Mayors office to coordinate with all relevant city departments including planning, public works, public safety and the urban redevelopment authority. I will instruct them to work with all bicycle and walking organizations to develop and implement plans that will promote safety and trail improvements.
2. It is important that everyone has access to safe streets for biking and walking. What will you do as Mayor to ensure that everyone who lives in the City is within a half mile of interconnected bicycle facilities that can take them from where they live to work, to shop, and to green space without fearing for their safety? There are many gaps in the pedestrian network as well. How will you address this as Mayor?
As, Mayor I will ensure Public Works and Planning make better signage and information for drivers, riders, and walkers more visible and readily available. I also want to find ways to use technology, as they have in Downtown Pittsburgh, to better analyze the quality of our sidewalks and trails to ensure safety and proper maintenance.
I also want to work to expand the Bike Share initiative started at Bakery Square. Not only does this help keep citizens healthy and provide a new transit option for many people, Bike Share can help our economy by opening up more areas for citizens to go and buy goods and use services.
3. Last month, a new bike sharing program was announced that will add 500 bikes in 2014, similar to programs in other US cities. Do you support bike share in Pittsburgh? The City has been allocated about $2M in the Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP) for start up costs through the federal Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) program.
I strongly support the new bike share program in Pittsburgh I will authorize the city planning department to study programs in other cities (such as Paris where 20,000 bicycles are shared ) to determine how we might grow our program. Not only does this help keep citizens healthy and provide a new transit option for many people, Bike Share can help our economy by opening up more areas for citizens to go and buy goods and use services. I will aggressively work through my administration and my connections in Harrisburg and Washington to gain additional funding for this program.
4. Pittsburgh was chosen to host the 2014 Pro Walk/Pro Bike Conference, which is expected to draw 1,000 biking and walking planners, engineers, government officials, and advocates from around the country, the largest gathering of it’s kind. Their focus is on biking and walking as means of getting around with less focus on recreation. What type of projects would you like in place to “show off” Pittsburgh? Will you direct your staff to attend the conference to further their professional development?
I would show off our trails, our corrals, the new BikeShare program, and the new corrals going in across the City. I will also work with organizations like BikePGH to get their input on what to showcase and what to work with Conference attendees to learn more about to grow the biking and walking communities in our city. My staff will certainly attend the conference.
5. PennDOT has set a goal of 5-10% of trips in Pittsburgh’s CBD, and 5% of all trips less than 3 miles be made by bicycle. The City’s draft primary mode share goals out of MOVEPGH are similar – 4% bicycling and 16% walking by 2020. Do you endorse these goals? What will you do as Mayor to realize or surpass these goals? This goal is located in the City of Pittsburgh Bicycle Plan.
I endorse the goals of MOVEPGH. My administration will work with the bicycle and walking groups in Pittsburgh to achieve those goals. I want to make Pittsburgh a more safe and friendly city for biking through increased safety and better infrastructure to help achieve these goals.
6. In 2010, the League of American Bicyclists acknowledged Pittsburgh as a “Bronze” Bicycle Friendly Community. What directive will you give to your directors in order for Pittsburgh to move from Bronze to Silver and beyond? More info at bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/communities.
As Mayor, my Public Safety Director, Director of Planning and Public Works Director will be empowered to do everything possible to make the streets safer. That directive will specifically include the bikeways and walkways of the city. I would also personally work with the boards and leaders of business, property owners, and, especially, publicly financed buildings to make facilitating more bike-friendly equipment and infrastructure.
7. Very poor data exists in the City regarding crashes that involve pedestrians and bicyclists. The numbers are generally underrepresented, and don’t allow City staff to plan accordingly for improvements. What opportunities do you see to better use data to make our streets safer for everyone?
I think there is significant technological upgrades that can be made to improve safety across the board. I want to see 311 reports integrated into a system so public works and planning can know where problem areas are and get them fixed right away. I also want better data kept on bicycle accidents and the safety and quality of infrastructure, including trails, sidewalks, and bike paths.
8. Leading cities for bicycling are implementing innovative bicycle infrastructure (a.k.a. cycle tracks, green lanes, intersection enhancements, bicycle boulevards, etc.) to encourage people who are “interested but concerned” to ride a bike. During your administration, will you implement these types of innovative bicycle facilities to attract even more Pittsburghers to ride bicycles? A number of recent plans have emerged in Pittsburgh that promote these types of bikeways including Oakland 2025, Allegheny River Green Blvd, Downtown Retail Strategy, and we expect MOVEPGH will as well. NACTO.org’s Urban Bikeway Design Guide also gives guidance on this.
Yes. I will direct Mayor’s office and appropriate department heads to work with these organizations to begin building a plan on how to begin the process of increasing the number of these facilities. .
9. Our University district in Oakland is perceived to be the most dangerous areas to ride a bike, yet contains some of the largest numbers of people who ride them. What ideas do you have to make Oakland safe and attractive for bicycling, and what will you do to implement your ideas?
I will ask my city planning director to work with the Universities, bicycle and walkway groups to develop a plan to make Oakland safer for bicycle and pedestrian use. I will work to increase signage on Forbes and Fifth, along with Centre and Baum in North Oakland. I will work with Pitt, CMU, and the Carnegie system to increase bike corrals. I would like to work with groups like Bike PGH to see what infrastructure changes could be made to make bicycling and walking safer. This is also an area where we should be more aggressively targeting grants and other funding sources from Harrisburg and Washington.
10. In just about every neighborhood throughout the city, one of the top concerns is drivers driving too fast, aggressively, and not yielding to pedestrians. What is your plan to calm traffic and make our neighborhoods safer and more comfortable in which to walk and bike? For example, on Penn Ave, Liberty Ave, Fifth Ave, Forbes Ave, Baum Blvd, as well as on more residential neighborhood streets.
I will require the Public Safety Director and Chief of Police to become attuned to and fully knowledgeable as to the safety problem being experienced by bikers and pedestrians throughout the city. The best way to calm traffic is to work to expand alternative transit options and reduce congestion.
11. Last summer, Penn Ave saw two fatal bicycle crashes involving unlicensed or suspended drivers. In May of 2012, our intern was nearly killed by a man driving with a suspended license for previous DUIs. There are too many hit-and-run stories against bicyclists and pedestrians to even recount. What actions would you take to keep people from driving who have no business being behind the wheel of a car?
My administration will work with Penn DOT and the Department of Motor Vehicles to increase police ID and enforcement to take drivers off the streets who should not be driving. I will enforce the law and do a full assessment of the most unsafe areas for riders and wakers.
12. What specifically would you like to announce or accomplish in your first 100 days as Mayor to address street safety, biking, and walking issues?
I would like to gather biking, pedestrian, and community development groups at a Roundtable Discussion on these issues in my first 10 days to begin drafting a game-plan on how to best move forward. I would also like to fully implement the BikeShare program and begin making signage and infrastructure improvements to first improve safety and then to expand options for biking and walking.
13. When you appoint a new chief of police what direction or directive will you give them regarding bicycle and pedestrian safety?
This must be a priority for the next Chief. I want to first develop a system for maintaining data on accidents and reported issues. Then we can work to better educate officers and commanders on how to better report and prevent biker and pedestrian accidents.
14. What specific policy recommendations will you implement as mayor to bring the number of pedestrian and bike fatalities to zero over your four years?
I will work with bikeway and walkway organizations committed to reducing the number of encounters between cars, pedestrians and bicycles. I will also work to put more police officers on bicycles to augment my commitment to more beat policing in the city.
15. Open Streets are enormously popular events in nearly 80 cities and communities throughout the U.S. Open Streets temporarily restrict motor vehicle traffic on one or more streets so that people can use them for physical activity—walking, biking, running, playing, or dancing. As mayor will you work with us and community stakeholders to make Open Streets Pittsburgh a reality? More info at openstreetsproject.org.
Yes. This is a good framework to build on and bring to Pittsburgh.
16. What specific steps will you take as Mayor to implement the bike portion of the Allegheny River Green Boulevard plan recently conducted by the URA with $1.5M of funding from federal sources? For more information please visit greenboulevardpgh.com. We can also send you the official executive summary and information about the public outreach component of the plan.
I intend to appoint a bikeway,walkway and greenway coordinator in my administration with responsibility for projects such as the Allegheny River Green Blvd plan. I want to find more funding for this plan to be fully implemented. That’s why I intend to create a position in city government solely focused on grant writing and targeting to get more funding for initiatives like this plan.
17. PennDOT and the County own many roads and bridges inside the Pittsburgh city limits such as parts of Penn Ave, and the Three Sisters Bridges. What will you do to ensure that these streets and bridges are designed in a way that are safe for bicyclists and pedestrians?
We need an inter-governmental cooperation agreement to ensure the standards are consistent and to be able to utilize more resources to purchase equipment and do infrastructure upgrades in a cooperative way. If we’re upgrading or replacing infrastructure, biking and walking should be part of the plan.
One of my major issues of concern has been for the infrastructure in Pennsylvania. 27% of the bridges and over 20% of the roads in Pennsylvania are deficient! City of Pittsburgh numbers are similar and much work needs to be done through state funding of over $2 b per year now being considered in the House after passage in the Senate. Considerable funding is being provided in that legislation for bikeways and walkways. My administration will make sure that any dollars spent will include safety measures for bikeways and walkways.
18. What role do you think the City of Pittsburgh should play in educating its citizens about issues related to traffic safety, infrastructure, and wayfinding?
The city should play a leadership role with full input, support and consensus building from bicycle and walkway groups. I intend to utilize all aspects of the media including social media to educate the public, as well as improving signage and working with schools to educate at an early age.
19. What ideas do you have to advocate on a regional, state and national level for bicycle and pedestrian improvements within the City?
As mayor, I will build on the success of the Pittsburgh to Washington , DC , Great Allegheny Passage Trail. I am also vitally interested in the construction of safe and secure arterial ways such as the Montour trail that lead into the Great Allegheny Passage Trail.
20. In conclusion, why do you think people who care about bicycling and walking issues should vote for you?
As a state senator I led in the passage of legislation for the funding of $33 m for Point State Park. It is the largest funding of a park in state history and it provides the bikeway and walkway linkage between the north side of the city with the central and south sections. I also supported strongly the funding for the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. As a bicycle rider myself, safe bikeway and walkway systems have been a longstanding interest of mine throughout my career.