Election candidates respond to PedNet survey

Each year PedNet Coalition sends a survey to the City Council and School Board candidates and then we share the responses with our Members.

*We sent the survey on Monday, March 27, and we did not receive responses from Andrew Hutchinson or Paul Cushing for our Friday, March 31 posting.

Here are the responses to this year’s survey:

2017 City Council Candidate PedNet Survey

1. Columbia is considered a leading city in the Midwest for active forms of transportation, at least in part due to PedNet’s many years of advocacy for walking, biking, and using public transit. How do you use these forms of transportation?

Clyde Ruffin

  • I have not been able to engage these options due to the complexities of my daily responsibilities. As the pastor of a relatively large congregation I am always on call; therefore, I tend to drive as my primary mode of transportation. I consistently walk several miles each week as my preferred form of exercise.

Pat Kelley

  • I do not own a car and walk 1.8 miles to work five days a week so I see first-hand the transportation challenges of the population that the census identified as 10% of households in Columbia that do not have a car. I own two beautiful vintage Raleigh three-speed bicycles which I used almost exclusively for the first 10 years that I live in Columbia. I rode the bus for many years but the new ComoConnect systems does not work as well for me as the old system.

Matt Pitzer

  • My family and I are frequent users of Columbia’s biking and walking trails. With two growing boys and a dog, we recognize the importance in getting outdoors and being active. The networks of trails and parks we have are frequently cited as a quality of life measure that attracts people to Columbia and makes them want to stay.

Art Jago

  • I am not in a positon to ride, bus, or walk to work, but I enjoy walking and biking, with my trusty Trek 700 Multitrack, on Columbia’s trails.

2. What do you believe are the biggest barriers in Columbia to more people walking, biking, and using public transit for transportation?

Clyde Ruffin

  • The major issues with our public transit system are availability, accessibility and predictability. Many neighborhoods are without sidewalks, which forces pedestrians to use the street. Many areas in the central city do not have safe bike and/or pedestrian pathways to stores, health care facilities and restaurants, etc.

Pat Kelley

  • The biggest barriers to pedestrians are lack of sidewalks and crosswalks. I would also like to add that streets in Columbia are not built, designed or maintained with pedestrians in mind. For example the absence of trees along many streets makes it walking on summer afternoons almost impossible.

Matt Pitzer

  • In public transportation, the biggest barrier is what is perceived as an ineffective bus system. The city has committed to finding solutions, and I support current efforts to design the system more effectively to serve more people. The current network does not seem to be accomplishing this purpose. It should focus on the areas of highest need and deliver frequent, reliable transportation to those areas.

Art Jago

  • Public transportation is an absolute necessity for a city of Columbia’s size. However, the hours of operation, routes and transfer points are key for an effective, efficient, and user-friendly system. Sidewalks must be maintained, wheelchair accessible, and uninterrupted. Sidewalks that simply disappear (e.g., Nifong between Forum and Bethel) are pointless. Drivers and bikers need to share space and respect the rights and privileges of the other.

3. What specific actions would you take on City Council to encourage walking, biking, and using public transit?

Clyde Ruffin

  • Connecting streets and sidewalks informs many City Council decisions regarding new development and redesign of streets and sidewalks. I believe that we have the authority to make the options of walking, biking an public transit more desirable through creative engineering, innovative design and education; however, this will require maintaining and enhancing collaborative partnerships with other interested parties.

Pat Kelley

  • I would push both Parks & Recreation and Public Works to finish connecting the bike paths through Columbia and develop a program of regular bike rides along the MKT and along the bike paths. I would ask Parks & Rec to teach lessons in bicycle repair at the ARC and foster a Columbia Community Cycling Program.. We used to have a yellow bike project at the armory but the city closed it down when they took control. I would also look at building a bicycle trail through the city for commuters.

Matt Pitzer

  • Columbia needs to continue moving forward to develop infrastructure to support growth that has already occurred. But we need to be mindful of the future too. I have seen many older Columbia neighborhoods where sidewalks were not required when built, and the area today suffers from a lack of walkability. We should have similar foresight in building bike lanes and trails when it’s possible at a reasonable additional cost to accompany further development that is bound to occur.

Art Jago

  • I believe a cooperative agreement between the City and the University with respect to public transportation is an absolute necessity if we are ever to achieve a economically sustainable public transportation system.

4. The City of Columbia recently adopted a Vision Zero policy, with a goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries on Columbia’s city streets by 2030. What do you believe your role will be as a member of City Council in helping the City achieve the goal of Vision Zero?

Clyde Ruffin

  • The implied message of the Vision Zero policy is supports the city’s social equity agenda by insisting that the most vulnerable in our community: children, elderly, disabled and the poor are able to navigate easily and safely. I would be vigilant to keep this issue in the forefront of our decision making, to watch for cost effective measures to implement the policy and opportunities to build on existing programs and projects.

Pat Kelley

  • Columbia has an extremely poor system of sidewalks. Sidewalks to retrofit old neighborhoods will improve pedestrian safety. I would encourage the completion of the bicycle paths and the development of cycling programs. We have corridors where cars travel at relatively high speeds through areas where pedestrians need to cross frequently, students getting to Hickman High School or people who want to go to the mall who need to get across Stadium.

Matt Pitzer

  • The Council already has is using the Vision Zero in a variety of ways, and the most impactful of which is during consideration of new and improved intersection and roadways. For example, roundabouts that are reasonably engineered have been shown to be safer than other intersections. I also support more connectivity in and between neighborhoods to improve mobility. Finally, whenever deliberating between alternatives, City Council should lean on Vision Zero to help make that final decision.

Art Jago

  • Unfortunately, the responsibility for achieving a Vision Zero goal cannot be undertaken by the City in the absence of texting and driving and texting and walking prohibitions.

 

2017 School Board Candidate PedNet Survey

1. Why do you think it is important for kids to be able to walk or bike to school?

Jonathan Sessions

  • A combination of instilling a healthy lifestyle at an early age and building a sense of independence.

Helen Wade

  • It promotes physical fitness, attentiveness in the classroom, and can promote a sense of community.

Robin Dianics

  • It creates a better sense of community when parents and students can meet & communicate in person while enjoying the journey to school. It’s also proven that the exercise of walking/biking to and from school helps with greater concentration and brain function by increasing the child’s exercise. With the fractured CPS transportation budget, now more than ever, we need to refocus on keeping students close to their schools.

2. What do you believe are the biggest barriers to kids walking and biking to school?

Jonathan Sessions

  • A lack of infrastructure providing safe ways for students to get to schools independently.

Helen Wade

  • Safety, distances to schools, and the general culture of selecting motorized transportation over walking/biking.

Robin Dianics

  • Redistricting. This has so many negatives. One is concentration and another their internal GPS. Students lose the ‘lay of the land’ and get lost more easily as they rely on someone else to get them from point A to point B.

3. What specific actions would you take on the School Board to encourage kids to walk or bike to school?

Jonathan Sessions

  • I loved the gamification used with the Smithton bike club of earning colored zipties based on weather, etc. Making walking and biking fun with little incentives can build healthy habits in our kids.

Helen Wade

  • Ensure walkability is considered when adjusting boundary areas and considering new school locations.

Robin Dianics

  • I believe in community, our schools could set up a club/gathering place for parents & children to meet one another & engage in real conversation and meet more of their neighbors. Parents need each other and their tribe. The more connected our parents are the closer and more engaged our parental involvement will be.

4. The City of Columbia recently adopted a Vision Zero policy, with a goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries on Columbia’s city streets by 2030. How can CPS partner with the City to work towards the goal of Vision Zero?

Jonathan Sessions

  • When building new schools we need to work with the city on making sure the surrounding streets are “complete streets.”

Helen Wade

  • Seek assistance in educating drivers regarding safety near schools, seek input based upon collected data when planning new schools’ transportation & possible road design.

Robin Dianics

  • By increasing our officers, I believe we could see a police presence at each school looking for traffic offenders. Once the word gets out that we have a zero tolerance in school zones, and they will be issued citations, the offenders WILL slow down.
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