In 2013, Living Streets Alliance rolled out the first ever Candidate Questionnaire on active transportation issues. Since then, LSA has led the charge in advocating for a thriving Tucson by creating great streets for everyone, cultivating, educating and championing leaders and decision-makers in the process.
Big changes are on the horizon for Tucson City Council and City Hall with the Fall 2019 elections. Tucsonans will be voting on three Ward seats and a new Mayor. Below are the responses to LSA’s five question survey from the candidates for Ward 4. Nikki Lee, Democratic candidate, was the only candidate to return responses. Michael Hicks, Republican candidate, did not return responses to the questionnaire. Spanish translation provided by a professional Spanish translator.
#1. What is your transportation and mobility vision for Tucson? If elected, what steps would you take to make that vision a reality, and how would you fund it? Please be specific.
Response returned July 16, 2019
As a former City of Tucson Transportation Engineering Signal Engineer and an avid transit and bicycle rider, I understand that Tucson residents are embracing more sustainable forms of transportation. My vision features the right mix of land and road use, with transportation policies that promote infrastructure investments that will significantly increase our ability to share our roads with automobiles and non-automobile (road/off-road bicycles and pedestrians), along with supporting a viable transit system in the City.
I want to make sure that we improve our sidewalk connections with safe and continuous connections; create better bicycle connections along and separate from roadways; maintenance of bicycle lanes (cleaning); create better transit connections to the sidewalk, businesses, and life-line services (medical, social, etc.).
Improve our maintenance of our road network and signals (ITS) to include replacement.
1) I will work with local transportation coalitions for ideas on Transportation options.
2) I will work with State and Regional partners to oppose any reduction in HURF funding that should come to Tucson.
3) I will work with City Staff on Transportation infrastructure maintenance funding needs.
4) I will explore expansion of Transit services (pedestrian, bus and trains)
5) I will support the Complete Streets Policy and Guidelines
6) I will insist the enforcement of existing policies.
7) I will request and pursue a review of our existing Transportation and Development Services policies that might contradict each regarding programs as barricading, parking and transit, and make any and all necessary changes that are needed
I am open to support the notion of creating a permanent funding source for Tucson’s Transportation system though a collective process.
My vision for transportation and mobility in Tucson is one in which we offer safe, accessible, environmentally-friendly, and efficient options for all people and for all modes of transportation. I would like to see a hub and spoke model in which we better connect people to all parts of the city, making it easier for people to access different areas and bringing more people to areas of our city other than downtown. With regard to Ward 4 in particular, we need to continue making it easier for Ward 4 residents to enjoy the benefits of downtown and other sections of our city. And vice versa, we also need to make it easier for people to access Ward 4. I want all Tucsonans to be able to experience all of the different parts of our city and to be able to do so economically, safely, and in a manner that doesn’t exponentially increase our carbon footprint from single car use. I would like to see a model in which we have central hubs for transportation, with accessible connections to all parts of our city. We can expand the street car to other sections of our city and utilize new technology to upgrade our other public transportation options. There are many federal grant programs that we could secure to help fund these projects, similar to the funding that was used for the street car. I would also help to build relationships between the city and other stakeholder groups to foster private-public-philanthropic partnerships to support these projects. Continuing to grow and build a robust economy will help to increase revenue and support investment in these infrastructure projects.
#2. There are neighborhoods in Tucson where as many as 65% of residents don’t have access to a car and rely on walking, biking and taking transit. People driving cars, walking and using bicycles to get around are dying on our streets in increasing numbers, and this disproportionately affects the elderly and young people, poor people and people of color. What actions can City Council take to make Tucson safe and accessible for residents who currently walk, bike and take transit as well as accelerate behavior change so that we dramatically reduce the number of single-occupant car trips made everyday?
Response returned July 16, 2019
When I’m elected as I stated in question 1, my vision would alleviate many of the problems that was brought forward.
There are a number of actions that the City Council can do and promote:
1) Enforcement, engage TPD’s Community officers in enforcing bad behavers [sic]
2) Incentivize businesses to provide public transit to their employees
3) Creating mobility hubs
4) Continuing complete corridors
5) Flexible Fleets, East-West rail, rideshare, transit
Traffic related fatalities and injuries are a major problem that we need to address. We have a responsibility to protect our residents and make sure that they can safely move about our city. It’s important that we encourage less single-occupant car trips where possible, but in doing that, we also have to incentivize walking, biking, and taking other forms of public transit by making sure that it is safe, effective, and accessible. I will work hard to support the city’s Complete Streets program so that we can continue building a safe, connected, and equitable transportation network for all people and all modes of transportation.
I recognize that this is a situation that will require different solutions for different parts of the city, not a one size fits all policy. Not every section of our city has the same needs and not every solution will fit the realities of every street. We need to be innovative and creative about finding solutions, utilizing new technology as much as possible. In Ward 4, we are much more vehicle dependent because of our geographic location. Living in Ward 4, it can be challenging to use other forms of transportation. Unlike living downtown, you can’t walk down the street to go to the grocery store or a restaurant or to work. My goal is to continue working to make Ward 4 more walkable and accessible with other forms of transportation, but that will be a long term process as we continue to develop and grow in Ward 4. We need to continue expanding and improving public transportation options in Ward 4 and encouraging things like carpooling for commuting to work to reduce single-occupant car use. Throughout the city, on busy roads, we need to ensure that we have complete sidewalks, more lighting, crosswalks that are effective, and protected bike routes. There are many ways that we can make crosswalks more effective and eye-catching for drivers to make sure that they slow down, especially in school zones and other busy areas. In addition to using a variety of brighter colors, we can work with children and the art community on creative solutions like 3D-painted crosswalks. We can plant more shade trees in less highly trafficked areas and residential neighborhoods that will have the dual benefit of reducing traffic noise and being environmentally friendly for water conservation and heat reduction. Especially in Tucson, we need to make sure that we provide adequate shading at bus stops and other public transit areas. All of these ideas need to be integrated to meet the needs of all of our residents and ensure that they can travel safely throughout our city.
#3. When people move about Tucson they cross Wards and often other jurisdictions, without realizing it. How are you going to work across Wards and within the region to ensure that limited resources are distributed equitably, timely and where they will make the most impact? How will you advocate at a regional, state and national level for Tucson’s transportation priorities, especially if they might be different from other jurisdictions?
Response returned July 16, 2019
As the former Traffic Signal Engineer and ITS Manager, my job depended on my ability to work amongst:
1) Wards of Tucson
2) Neighboring municipalities; Marana, Oro Valley, South Tucson,
3) Pima Associations of Governments
4) Arizona Department of Transportation
5) Federal Highway Administration, National Transit Safety Administration
Work involved discussion, planning and agreement with regards to traffic signal coordination, pedestrian and bicycle safety strategies.
Collaboration is essential for our success. I will work hard to build relationships with other City Councilmembers, county officials, state legislators, federal representatives, and all community stakeholders to ensure that our limited resources are distributed equitably and effectively. We have to work together to find solutions that benefit everyone. Ward equity is very important. I will be a strong advocate for the needs of Ward 4. We have made great strides over the past two decades, but there remains a need for more parks, public transportation, and other services in Ward 4. I am committed to building relationships, working collaboratively, and advocating for Ward 4 to make sure that limited resources are shared and that Tucson’s transportation priorities are achieved.
#4. How do you plan to ensure that the Ward Office/Mayor’s Office engages directly with constituents in addressing transportation? What are your ideas for how to get community members involved in transportation decisions that affect their community?
Response returned July 16, 2019
Currently Ward 4 and Ward 2 have a Citizens Transportation Advisory Committee group that is comprised of Neighborhood Association Leaders for the Houghton Road Projects. I would continue the work of this group and I would use their collaboration as a basis for forming other working groups.
Tucson Department of Transportation’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, have upcoming gatherings to encourage insightful discussions of bicycle boulevards and other transportation needs, these gatherings that include events as Ice Cream socials in the park, bicycle repair and movies in the park.
Community engagement with the Mayor & Council is very important to me. I plan to hold regular town halls in order to disseminate information to my constituents and to listen to their critical feedback. Newsletters can also be sent to provide regular updates, as well as leveraging social media to share information. Our community members are the ones who are directly impacted and it’s critical that they have a voice and input on the decisions that are made. I will actively seek feedback from community members on all projects and am committed to being accessible to my constituents.
#5. As Tucson continues to develop, access to plentiful parking is a common concern. Yet, research shows parking induces people to drive and leads to congestion. What can City Council do to manage parking resources and policies so they achieve our Plan Tucson vision for a vibrant, thriving, walkable community?
Response returned July 16, 2019
Direct Staff to review and change the City of Tucson’s Parking Policy requirements “not one size fits all”:
1) Removing the minimum parking requirements
2) Encourage businesses to create shared parking
3) Encourage developing buildings closer to the street where parking for bicycles and pedestrian access doesn’t have go through sea of parking lots to access the building. Vehicles will park on the side or rear of the building
4) Encourage development/redevelopment along business corridors where transit already exists and/or planned
These steps will save business owners money for:
1) Unused real-estate (parking lots are designed for maximum density and not always used)
2) Enhances profitability with nice clean streetscapes and inviting business close to bike and pedestrian access
We need to find a balance for these competing interests and ensure that we have a variety of effective transportation available for our residents. Having a vibrant and walkable community will help to reduce some of the demand for parking. If we can ensure that our community is walkable, bikeable, has good public transportation options, and is accessible to all mobility devices, that will help to change our culture of driving and reduce demand for parking. We can also do more to incentivize carpooling and other options for reducing single-occupant car use as much as possible. Long term, we can work towards a hub and spoke model where we have an Eastside station where Ward 2 and Ward 4 residents can park and then carpool, use public transit, or eventually a light rail / street car to commute to work in other parts of the city. As Tucson continues to grow, we will have to ensure that parking is available, but we can also balance that by continuing to develop our transportation network and Complete Streets vision.