Karin Uhlich Survey Response

1. What roles do you think the city council can play in making cities safe, accessible and friendly for biking and walking? “Complete streets” that invest in the construction and maintenance of sidewalks, crossings and bike lanes along with the auto lanes, as well as shading of those pathways (and transit stops). Those investments encourage people to walk/bike and keep them safe.

2. In what ways can enhanced bicycling and walking facilities and opportunities benefit your ward and the city as a whole? Are there any specific projects that you’d like to see accomplished? Increased biking/walking/transit benefits the entire community through promotion of better health and air quality. These investments also improve overall quality of life for people living and working in the city, so property values improve and employers can better attract/retain workers; economic development improves. The specific project I have focused on over the past year has been potential for enhancing the downtown transit hub into a multi-modal hub (which could include zip car/taxi/bike share interface and attractive open space).

3. 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 ideas do you have to calm traffic and make our neighborhoods safer and more comfortable in which to walk and bike? Feel free to talk about particular problem spots in your district. We have invested in a range of calming options, including circles and chicanes. I believe those are made more effective with landscaping and public art (some cities have found art at intersections slows traffic considerably while beautifying neighborhoods; painted bike lanes enhance safety as well). With previous funding through Back to Basics (CDBG) now gone, we need to work together to find new resources for street improvements, particularly around schools and apartment complexes and areas of higher and more dangerous traffic patterns.

4. Given that the average person in Arizona age 16 to 34 drove fewer miles in 2009 than in 2001 and that people in that age group rode 40% more miles on public transit and took 20% more bike trips in that same time, what specific ideas do you have to make active transportation options like biking, walking and public transit more efficient, convenient and appealing? Infrastructure is key, which is why I have devoted funds when available for Ward 3 to shade and provide seating at more transit stops. Designated bike routes (like our work to transform Fontana/4th and Treat and Blacklidge) have been effective as well. Integrating modes must be a focus too, like adequate bike racks on buses and tying together “hubs” with multimodal amenities (bikes racks, lockers, bike share etc.).

5. What do you think is the number one risk to walkers and bicyclists both in your ward and the city as a whole? What have you done/will you do as an elected official to remedy it? Both distracted driving and red light running have been major threats. I led the passage of the ban on texting while driving (suggested by leaders on the Bicycle Advisory Committee and the Platinum status committee) and also have been supportive of red light cameras at key intersections (proven to reduce injury- and fatality-accidents). While controversial I am persuaded by the safety benefits of both measures.

6. Why do you think people who care about bicycling and walking issues and are interested in improving Tucson’s quality of life should vote for you and how can we help you reach those people with your message? I consistently champion transit and measures to encourage/safeguard bicyclists and pedestrians even in the face of considerable controversy and opposition. I do so because I share the belief that the future health and vibrancy of our city (including quality of life/neighborhoods and economic development) will be tied to our investments in multiple modes of transportation.

7. Cities across the U.S. are in similar positions as Tucson with regard to budget shortfalls and public transit systems. Raising fares are often the first tools cities use to correct their budgets, but some communities are turning their public transit systems into revenue generating assets with creative public/private partnerships. What specific ideas do you have to increase ridership on Sun Tran? Raising fares too much also reduces ridership, so it’s most often not a responsible approach to trying to balance the system/city budget. Increasing ridership is no doubt the key. I’m advocating partnerships with school districts (significant mutual benefit having high schoolers utilize public buses) and UofA/PCC (cost sharing because they realize savings when fewer cars come to their campuses; we need to expand that thinking to include their employees).  Also getting more employers (like TEP) to recognize employer-funded transit passes as an attractive employee benefit could be successful (including for city/county employees). Businesses could also be partners by providing passes to loyal customers. We will continue to look at viable advertising opportunities and the potential for maximizing a new revenue streams for transit via any joint development agreement proposed for Ronstadt Transit Center.

8. Given the success the Modern Streetcar has already achieved in economic development and smart growth goals, are you supportive of efforts to extend the route to other areas of the city to spur similar positive results? Do you support the idea of a local improvement district, spearheaded by local businesses, as a funding source for expansion and ongoing operations? Please elaborate. Yes I have been advocating for pursuit of SunLink extensions immediately (and advocated that if Broadway Boulevard does not require $42M from RTA for original 8-lane vision, those funds be available for extension on the downtown to Campbell leg of that corridor). A facilities district approach could be workable (I have broached the idea with property owners along N Campbell) and would need to be supported by owners along any stretch involving a CFD. I believe CFD’s focus on infrastructure vs operational revenues, however overall business and government revenues do increase as economic activity increases along routes. I am eager to learn more about these and other options for swift pursuit of streetcar extensions because that will be key to paying for streetcar operations (ie, expanding ridership on the line). Long-term, the Regional Transportation Plan will be most successful by including more substantial investments in “alternative” modes such as transit, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

9. Do you use a bicycle (or walk) in the city? If so, for what purposes (commuting, recreation, errands) and how often? I mainly walk and bike for recreation with my two small kids (walks to the neighborhood park or to Campbell Avenue for weekend store runs or to the local restaurant nearest us) on the weekends and sometimes in the evening.