Chris Wharton’s Answers to Salt Lake City 2017 City Council Election Candidate Questionnaire on Bicycling in Salt Lake City for Cycling Utah
Background: Cycling is a healthy and fun form of transportation and recreation that improves livability, health, and economy in Salt Lake City. We ask these questions to provide information to Salt Lake City’s citizens regarding your outlook on cycling. We will publish the answers on CyclingUtah.com as we receive them.
Candidate Information: Please provide your name, contact info for your campaign, council district (describe too) and if you like, a brief statement regarding your candidacy.
Candidate for Salt Lake City Council, District 3
I am a dedicated community activist, small business owner, and leading family and civil rights attorney. I operate my own downtown law firm offering affordable legal services to clients who could not otherwise afford an attorney. I served two terms on the Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission, where I helped develop the state’s first non-discrimination ordinances.
I’m running because I’m passionate about Salt Lake City! It’s been my family’s home for generations. I love the unique character of our neighborhoods and the beauty of our natural surroundings. I want to preserve what makes our city different while working to ensure our future growth and success. I’ve served this community for years. I have the experience and the energy to be an effective advocate for District 3, and I know how to bring people together to address complex issues and build consensus.
I live in the lower Avenues with my husband (also named Chris), our dog, and two cats. Find out more about my campaign at http://votechriswharton.com or give me a call at 801-910-6795.
Council Candidate Questions:
- What is your vision for cycling (both road and mountain biking) in Salt Lake City? What would you do to make that vision happen (planning, budget, infrastructure, education, safety, economy, etc.)?
My vision for cycling in Salt Lake City is to have vibrant areas in every neighborhood where residents and visitors can bike from work or home to local shops, restaurants, bars, and other attractions with safety and convenience. I also envision our city as a world-class destination for cycling in our unbeatable parks, foothills, and canyons just minutes from downtown.
To make this vision a reality, we need to commit time and resources to creating a more walkable and bikeable culture. Planning and zoning will play a key part in this process and, as a council member, I would prioritize affordable housing developments that are designed around bikes and pedestrians as opposed to cars and parking lots. This will require more parking variances, designated bike lanes, and expanded public transportation options. I would expand the city’s Green Bike program to reach underserved areas of the city and would look at investing in an electric assisted bike (or e-bike) program similar to the one in Park City. These initiatives will require a significant commitment to public safety through signage, protected lanes, and driver education regarding “complete streets.”
- What is the biggest issue for cyclists currently in Salt Lake City and what will you do to address it?
The biggest issue facing cyclists is stagnation. We have made some great progress with bike lanes and, Green Bikes, and more walkable and bikeable zoning and we need to keep moving forward. Another major issue facing cyclists is the total bike lane moratorium on 2100 South. While not in my district, the lack of bike lanes on 2100 South and the decision to change course so abruptly is very concerning and needs to be revisited. Introducing more methods for active, green transportation in the city should always be incentivized and I’m concerned that the decree against them is not in the long-term interests of the neighborhood. Bike lanes would add to the safety of the 2100 South area, which many commuters use daily to travel to and from work, restaurants, and local attractions.
- What would you like to see in your district in regards to bicycling?
As a city councilmember, I would push for more bike lanes and more signage for bikes throughout the district. Increasing signage is important for bike safety and we need to ensure that future bike lanes and well signed. I would also advocate for more Green Bikes locations throughout the district and look at implementing an e-bike program to help with our steep hills in the upper Avenues and Capitol Hill.
- In your district, the following is an issue for cyclists: The Marmalade, Fairpark, and Rose Park area have some great spots for cycling, but the crossing of I-15 and other areas need vast improvement. What are your thoughts on our Proposal for Better Bicycling in the area: http://www.cyclingutah.com/advocacy/road-advocacy/proposal-better-bicycling-marmalade-rose-park-fair-park-area-salt-lake-city/
What are your thoughts on this and what would you do on the Council to address it?
I support the 600 North Safety Plan and would advocate for its implementation on the city council. Reducing traffic speed, making the overpass safe for active transportation for bikers and pedestrians should be priorities not just for this specific neighborhood but for the entire city. This means introducing more protected bike lanes, like this plan suggests.
- What cycling initiatives would you bring to the Council?
I want to expand the amount of Green Bike stations throughout the city and District 3. I really want to explore bringing a Park City-style e-bikes system to Salt Lake City. Providing solar powered electric bikes throughout the city would increase the number of regular cyclists.
- Would you favor strengthening the Complete Streets Ordinance? If so, how? (http://www.bikeslc.com/GetInvolved/MasterPlansandPolicies/PDF/CompleteStreetsOrdinance.pdf)
Yes, I would. I would start by limiting the instances where the exemptions are enforced.
- Regarding the proposal 10,000 Wheels for Affordable Transportation, what are your thoughts and would you commit to working to implement this if you are elected? (http://www.cyclingutah.com/advocacy/cycling-utah-calls-for-10000-wheels-initiative-for-affordable-transportation-in-utah/)
I am very supportive of the proposal. While it is important to provide the infrastructure for cyclists and other types of transportation other than just cars, we have to ensure that the infrastructure is coupled with education and mass transits options so we can reach our full potential. I support expanding Green Bikes so it can be affordable for law income residents and expanding the free fare zone of UTA. The thing with safe, efficient, and green transportation is not only do we have to build it we have to also give residents every incentive to use it. Educational partnerships and lowering the costs of mass transit are both key to building a more green city.
- Regarding the proposal for a comprehensive recreational cycling plan for Salt Lake City, what are your thoughts and would you commit to working to implement this proposal if you are elected? (http://www.cyclingutah.com/advocacy/a-proposal-for-a-salt-lake-city-recreational-cycling-plan/)
I support this proposal and would advocate for it on the city council. I particularly support consolidating our open space in the foothills, ensuring the west side has access to recreational soft trails, more bike parks, creating a “kids traffic area,” and finishing the JRT and PRATT.
- The 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan was passed by the Council in 2015. What will you do to ensure its implementation?
The Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan was an important step in creating more a more bike friendly culture across the city. If elected to the council, I will work to ensure that the funding and implementing the plan remains a major priority for the city.
- Do you ride a bicycle? Tell us more about how and where you ride.
I work just two blocks outside District 3 so I mostly walk to work or drive when I have court appearances outside the downtown area. I would love to be able to bike to work more but no one trusts a sweaty lawyer. Also, to be totally honest, I’m not a particularly coordinated person when it comes to athletics, so I prefer hiking and camping to mountain biking.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
While I would not consider myself an avid cyclist, I know I am still the best choice for bike enthusiasts because I know how important it is to provide recreation and alternative transit options for all residents. I have the policy background and experience to be an effective advocate for a more walkable, bikeable, and sustainable city.