20 Questions with Mayoral Candidate Josh Wander
Josh Wander (R)
1. What role do you think Mayors play in making cities safe, accessible and friendly to biking and walking?
A mayor’s only job is to insure a safe and dynamic place that people want to live and grow. Being fit and healthy is a critical part of being an asset to a community. Therefore, it is incumbent upon a mayor to want to be sure that there are bike paths, well-maintained sidewalks and walking paths to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
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?
The Mayor has to develop a good working relationship with City Council to work as a team to first, hold community meetings and assess needs, then develop a long-range plan to address those needs consistent with funding availabilities and land-use requirements.
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.
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?
Luckily, our city has some significant, well maintained, bike paths, park bike paths and wonderful walking areas that can be shown as a commitment to encourage biking. And yes, I would probably try to attend myself as well as my Parks and Open Spaces Director.
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.
Yes…I would have my staff develop a PR program to promote the goals through on street innovative signage, usage of billboard space and efficient media employment. I do believe in the power of persuasion, but not in coercion.
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.
See question 2.
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 would work with my police chief to insure that accident investigation has a quantitative scale included in accident reports that is readily codable for data entry. Then I would appoint a task force to meet quarterly to review the data and make appropriate recommendations.
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.
See question 2.
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?
See question 2. All these questions REQUIRE a number of public meetings to assess specific needs and, after a serious data collection of issues and assets, a plan can be developed to increase bike safety and availability.
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.
Better police enforcement of existing traffic laws! I know the police are stretched thin, but we do have volunteer “emergency police” that could be used in problem areas to self-police and give them the authority to issue warnings to drivers that become part of their official driving record. Local Citizen’s Patrols like the successful Patrol in Sq Hill that has operated for almost 15 years, could be asked to help to create greater citizen awareness.
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?
This question is almost impossible to address. How can you keep people from driving if you don’t know that they have suspended licenses until you stop them for an infraction? A car is effectively a weapon. Criminals and others outside the law routinely get their hands on weapons and there is no way to stop them until they do something that reveals their background.
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?
See question 2. I see my Task Force submitting recommendations for implementation within the first two months of my first term.
13. When you appoint a new chief of police what direction or directive will you give them regarding bicycle and pedestrian safety?
I would explain to the Chief that bicycle and pedestrian safety is a priority of mine and I would ask him to apprise his officers of my priorities. I would have them look closely at jaywalking and gridlocking and to create awareness of potential problem areas and to alert motorists to requirements of giving bikers proper clearances.
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?
See question 2. This data would comprise a significant part of our community meeting data assessments.
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/.
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.
As I mentioned earlier, I would have my Parks and Open Spaces Director review the project, assess the funding and then make recommendations for implementation. I would rely on the experts in the area to insure the efficient implementation and completion of the project.
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?
See Question 2. My Engineering Department will take a look at each bridge to see what can be done to increase safety. One bridge which has been personally very dangerous to cross is the Highland Park Bridge and that has to be addressed as well since bikers routinely use it to get to the communities like Fox Chapel, Etna, and Aspenwall.
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?
See question 5. The City of Pittsburgh should act as a cheerleader in the implementation of a comprehensive education program that is pervasive in its ability to increase and maintain a constant positive awareness related to traffic safety, infrastructure, and wayfinding
19. What ideas do you have to advocate on a regional, state and national level for bicycle and pedestrian improvements within the City?
I would use the resources of those agencies that already advocate for the City, like Visit Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Economy League, and the Allegheny Conference to assist in this effort. I would also build strong relationships with the State Legislature and Governor to focus them on the bicycle and walking issues in Pittsburgh.
20. In conclusion, why do you think people who care about bicycling and walking issues should vote for you?
You WANT a mayor that has always been an advocate for common sense quality of life issues which certainly include bicycling and walking. Not only do I bike myself, I make it a point to walk my community quite a lot which has allowed me to actually see how our open spaces, bike trails and bike paths have been utilized. I have also personally seen the difference when a road does not have a bike lane and have come dangerously close to being hit by passing cars.
Not being a professional politician, I am just like everyone else in my city and understand the prioritization and seriousness of bicycle/walking related issues. You WILL see a comprehensive long-range plan which will build on current assets and will vigorously respond to new solutions as my public initiatives, undergoing constant review, are seamlessness initiated.