General Candidate Statement: My name is Luz Escamilla, I believe that I am the best choice to be the next Mayor of Salt Lake City because I see the residents of Salt Lake City as individuals each with unique needs. One of the biggest issues Salt Lake City residents face is transportation. Ensuring equitable access to various forms of alternative transportation requires a leader that can successfully implement a Master Transit Plan. As the Mayor I will work so the city can thrive and its residents can have a better quality of life. I have the experience to convene all the stakeholders successfully and get results for Salt Lake City.
Mayoral Candidate Questions:
Salt Lake City has not had an update to the Transportation Master Plan since 1996. What is your vision for transportation in Salt Lake City, and what would you do to get a new transportation master plan in place?
The 2017 Transportation Master Plan is a great start and as Mayor I will continue to see the plan is fully implemented. Salt Lake City is the heart of the state, the county, and the Wasatch front we have to lead the way on transitioning the community towards alternative transportation. I am committed to working in partnership with UDOT, UTA, and other stakeholders as we move forward on this Master Plan.
What is your vision for cycling (both road and mountain biking, commuting and recreation) 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 that we have clearly marked, safe, and maintained pathways for our cyclists to use. Outdoor recreation across the Wasatch Front is a major contributor to our quality of life. I will continue to work for protection for cyclists and keeping them safe. As the Senate sponsor of HB 139 (Motor Vehicle Emissions Amendments, 2019 Legislative Session), fines have increased for those who let their cars emit over state standards. I am committed to providing safety to cyclists. I will also ensure that further development includes complete streets and encourages active transportation.
Climate change is endangering the planet. Car and Truck Transportation is responsible for approximately 23% of the US CO2 output according to the EPA. And, transportation accounts for approximately 50% of PM2.5 emissions according to UCAIR. Salt Lake City is moving towards carbon free electricity generation. What will you do to move towards a carbon free transportation system in Salt Lake City and consequently obtain better air quality? How do biking and walking fit in your plan?
A carbon free transportation system is the ultimate goal. Active transportation is a critical piece of a carbon free transportation system and is crucial to sustainably and responsibly growing our city. Electrifying our public transportation system would significantly clean the air of our most densely populated and visited areas (i.e. downtown) and will hopefully encourage more commuters to use bikes and walk as transportation alternatives since they will not face emitting vehicles.
Complete Streets are streets for people of all ages using all types of mobility. Salt Lake City has a Complete Streets Ordinance that was passed into law in 2011. Yet the ordinance is often ignored, or circumvented (for example on 100 S, 700 S, and 2100 S). Salt Lake City recently passed the Funding Our Future Bond and implemented a city and county sales tax that will go to fund transportation. What would you do to ensure that the ordinance is strengthened and followed, especially in regards to those streets reconstructed with the bond?
The Salt Lake City complete street ordinance should be enforced by the city. Complete street infrastructure goes beyond urban planning; it requires the cooperation of residents and commercial entities to be successful. I would do away with the overestimation of parking needs for both people living and working in Salt Lake City. Many people move to denser areas precisely to not need a car and streets like 300 S demonstrate that a lower amount of parking spots does not decrease business, but rather invigorates and strengthens the community as a walkable area.
UDOT Roads are important corridors for bikes as well as cars. What would you do to work with UDOT to ensure that UDOT and SLC implement bike facilities on these roads such as State Street (see Life on State)
As a sitting legislator for 11 years one of my strengths coming to this race is my strong relationship with UDOT,UTA, and state government. I was able to secure the construction of a sound wall in Glendale (I-215) which was a top priority for the community. This wall will help reduce exhaust and sound pollution coming into the area and makes outdoor activities like walking and biking friendlier for the community. I know what it takes to successfully work with these state agencies. I want to see state roads safe for bicycles. As Mayor I will work to get cooperation from UDOT and the rest of the state to ensure that state roads match the city’s Master Plan.
The 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan guides bicycle and pedestrian facilities in Salt Lake City. What will you do to ensure its rapid implementation? Are there improvements that you would like to make to the plan?
The 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan is a great start and I am ready to begin implementation on day one. An important component is not to simply build, but also to maintain infrastructure. Many bike lanes are not cleaned regularly and this discourages their use. A clear connection with the 2017 Transit Master Plan could help bridge the first-mile, last-mile issue and encourage commuters who may want to use their bikes as a solution to get to/from transit stations as well as the whole journey.
Salt Lake City currently does not have a formal Vision Zero program. What will you do to work towards Vision Zero (zero fatalities) for cyclists and pedestrians in Salt Lake City? Would you commit to establishing a formal Vision Zero program? What would you like to see in regards to speed limits in Salt Lake City?
Fatalities in our community as a result of insufficient safety regulations for our bicyclists and pedestrians are unacceptable. A Vision Zero plan would absolutely be a priority in my administration. I will follow best practices and work in collaboration with Salt Lake City’s Transportation Advisory Board, Cycling Utah, and other stakeholders to understand how we can address and reduce incidents.
What do you think of the new shared electric scooters in Salt Lake City?
The shared electric scooters are an extra tool in our toolbox for promoting active transportation; unfortunately they have been fairly dangerous for users and others. These scooters can reach high speeds resulting in serious injuries. We have a high increase of Emergency Room visits in the Salt Lake City area due to scooters. In this 2019 legislative session the legislature passed a law defining operation requirements and local regulatory power regarding scooters and the relationship between the providers and municipalities. I think that to keep these scooters welcome in Salt Lake City the companies need to provide maintenance besides charging them. Safety for users and others around the community is my priority. One community impacted by a lack of regulation is people with disabilities when scooters are left discarded across sidewalks.
What is the biggest issue for cyclists currently in Salt Lake City and what will you do to address it?
Safety and access are the biggest issues for cyclists. The challenge Salt Lake City faces is bringing more active transportation and sharing the roads with motor vehicles. I will continue working with and developing synergy Master Transit Plan and Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan to create stronger partnerships with the State so their roads fit the more active transportation plan.
Do you ride a bicycle? Tell us more about how and where you ride.
I ride recreationally with my family at the nearby park.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
As a mother, a significant concern I have is the safety of children riding bicycles. Although there are no specific helmet laws in Utah, I want to encourage children and adults to wear helmets for their safety. I am also very happy to see how e-bikes are taking off in popularity. Many people who would not be able to ride conventional bikes to work (journey is too long, steep, or incompatible with clothing) can now use a bike and take one more car off the road.