Laura Cushman’s Answers to Salt Lake City 2017 City Council Election Candidate Questionnaire on Bicycling
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.
Campaign Contact Information:
Social Media: @Cushman4Council
District 3 Map: http://www.slccouncil.com/districts/district-3/
Survey Answers: Laura Cushman, City Council Candidate for District 3
1. 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.)?
It is my vision that Salt Lake City become a city where anyone who wants to commute or recreate on their bicycle could do so, and do so with minimal concern for safety. In regards to road cycling, I would like to see the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan implemented on an accelerated timeline that begins immediately to improve the road surfaces and safety of all cyclists. While the city has been adding bike lanes, there are still many gaps between routes that need to be addressed, especially those closest to major mass transit stops, and in the western portion of our city. Additionally, long distance bike commuters and those who recreate on the Jordan River Parkway Trail would benefit greatly from a major east-west bike pathway to act as a connector for residents who live closer to the foothills. Regular maintenance to road surfaces traveled on by cyclists to repair potholes needs to be a priority. Additionally, regular street sweeping of bike lanes in order to clear debris that can also cause accidents, as well as flat-tires, should be scheduled. I would like to see the city take an active role in cycling outreach towards individuals, as well as businesses, to promote the benefits of a comprehensive city plan that embraces and incorporates cycling. These include, but are not limited to, improved health, zero emissions and economic growth.
The trail access in Salt Lake City is one of our greatest assets and should be fiercely protected. As a hiker, runner and occasional mountain biker, I have experienced some frustrations with the current system of trails. I think we need to look at shared-trail options, as well as directional trail plans that limit congestion and promote safety for all trail-users on and off bikes. Kiosks and maps at trail heads with information are helpful and can serve as a reminder of trail etiquette including rights of way and limited headphone use.
These improvements cost money, and therefore it is important that we have a voice in the city that will advocate for appropriating funds for the master plan and other related initiatives sooner rather than later.
2. What is the biggest issue for cyclists currently in Salt Lake City and what will you do to address it?
Recent studies, as well as conversations I have had with residents, indicate that safety on bikes is the primary concern. UTA recently reported that 60% of individuals questioned have an interest in riding bikes, but they are concerned with their safety while riding. Well-identified and continuous bikes lanes are where we should start. At a minimum, striping that creates a visual boundary for cyclists and drivers should be added or enhanced. When possible, physical barriers add to a rider’s perceived level of safety and should also be considered. Clean and level road surfaces also make rider’s feel safer. Citywide outreach that advocates for the rights of cyclists and identifies how to be a more mindful driver, will also make riders feel better in their decision to ride.
Another issue that I commonly hear is that the hilly terrain in SLC is intimidating. Investing in signage that indicates different route options can help direct individuals to routes with an appropriate level of difficulty. Also, I would like to see an app developed specifically for SLC that would assist riders in finding direct routes with the least severe inclines.
3. What would you like to see in your district in regards to bicycling?
More bike lanes! On a grand, fantastical level, I imagine a magic carpet that would assist cyclists with some of the steep grades we face in District 3. I don’t see this as a realistic option, but hey, I can dream! On a more feasible level, I would like to bring Green Bike Share further into District 3. Specifically, I would like to see kiosks placed that allow for connectivity between the lower western to eastern avenues. By doing so, a larger number of district 3 residents would have another option for commuting downtown, outside of their cars. Possible locations include nearby the Smith’s gas station on South Temple or near Publik Coffeehouse at 3rd and G. Let’s not forget about Marmalade! A bike share at or near the new library would be huge in connecting these D3 residents to downtown. Also, one near West High School may create additional commuting options for students. These options are within (or very close to) the requisite distance between kiosks, and would be a great branching off point for future placement.
4. 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 think this is a wonderful plan, and would be a great addition to the district! These are areas of the district and the city that have shoddy access to mass transit AND are seeing a lot of growth. Implementing projects that increase walk and bike-ability within these neighborhoods, as well as connecting them to other areas of the city is crucial. Having ridden over 600 N, I’m not sure there is any sketch within its current existence that would make me feel more comfortable…! The proposed bridge at 300 N will be a good alternative option for some riders. Ideally, I would like to see a protected 2-way bike path that allows bikers to cross on the existing structure while providing a barrier to cars. In order to do this, there would also need to be updates made on either side, in order to properly merge bike traffic onto these safer, protected bike lanes. We are seeing a lot of residential growth in these areas and any cycling infrastructure we can begin now, will assist current residents, and could even be a draw for new people looking to live somewhere with a well-laid out and FLAT bike route to and from work. As a city council member, I will fight hard for initiatives like this one so they are a priority, as they reflect our city’s commitment to sustainability and clean air.
5. What cycling initiatives would you bring to the Council?
As mentioned above, I want to work with Green Bike Share to extend access to more SLC residents. I also want to work closely with UTA in order to identify active zones nearby stops and platforms where the city can improve connectivity for commuters. I love the idea of the Hive Pass, and will work hard to develop similar programs that promote UTA ridership and active transportation. I also want to see a commitment to cycling outreach and promotion. Specifically, I’d like to see the city become more vocal in discussing the benefits of cycling and partnering with large businesses within the city to discuss methods/proposals that incentivize employees to opt out of their cars. Seasonally, I would propose a partnership with Cycling Utah that selects areas of the city one day each month during the summer where selected streets are blocked off so individuals and their families could enjoy riding on streets with other Utahns and share the joy of riding.
6. Would you favor strengthening the Complete Streets Ordinance? If so, how? (http://www.bikeslc.com/GetInvolved/MasterPlansandPolicies/PDF/CompleteStreetsOrdinance.pdf)
As a resident who has spent the majority of her adult life without a car, I am extremely committed to the complete street ordinance. Personally, I have experienced firsthand the health benefits of active transportation, as well as the positive feelings that come with knowing I have made a good decision for our environment. Additionally, increasing walk and bike-ability in neighborhoods has been shown to have a positive impact on businesses. As a long-time cyclist and active transportation advocate, I will be the on-the-ground voice that fights to ensure street projects are in line with CSO, and speak to how this commitment can have a positive effect on our city. For example, the impact costs associated with projects and the jobs created are a boost to our economy.
7. 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/)
Absolutely! I love this proposal for the reason that it encompasses so many of the active, environmental and social values that are most important to me. For this reason, I will fight tirelessly to see the items within this initiative become a reality.
8. 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/)
Recreation is one of the biggest reasons people come to SLC and an even bigger reason for why they decide to stay. Having well-connected roads/pathways/trails, detailed maps, consistent signage and info kiosk are hugely important to those who recreate on bikes and/or by foot. It is not only important for those who live here, but also for those who visit. Recreation cannot be overlooked as it relates to tourism in SLC. For that reason, comprehensive trail plans with the items listed in this proposal are sure to elevate the trail experience and further distinguish our city as a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts.
9. The 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan was passed by the Council in 2015. What will you do to ensure its implementation?
I will advocate tirelessly for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, and my initial focus will be on accelerating the timeline and increasing the budget for its successful implementation. There is a strong connection between active transportation and air quality, and therefore, if we are going to commit to cleaner air, then we need to commit to infrastructure improvements that can have a direct impact on its status.
10. Do you ride a bicycle? Tell us more about how and where you ride.
Yes- all the time! I am an avid cyclist who both commutes and recreates on a bike. I will admit, having children makes it challenging, but whenever possible, I commute by foot or on my bike. Most of my commuting routes revolve around the Avenues, the Jewish Community Center/University and downtown, though I’ll ride my bike anywhere. Cycling is one of my favorite forms of exercise and you will often see me riding up City Creek Canyon, Little Mountain or Big Mountain. I grew up in the Midwest, and I pinch myself every day that the Wasatch is my backyard.
11. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Biking is a huge part of my life, and my husband (who I met on a bike ride) and I work hard to instill in our children that driving is not the only option. We are a family of five committed to cycling, with our bikes outnumbering our car 14 to 1.