Ralph Becker – Answers to Cycling Utah's Salt Lake City 2015 Mayoral Election Candidate Questionnaire
Working together we’ve created walkable communities, I am proud of the many options Salt Lake City residents and visitors now have to get around. We’ve expanded bikeways and I’m proud that we’ve made Salt Lake City a national leader in cleaning our air, reducing our dependence on coal, and addressing climate change. It will take vision and leadership to keep up our momentum and address our most pressing environmental challenges. I have the vision and experience to achieve my promise of working together to create a Great American City.
Mayoral 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.)?
Salt Lake City should be a world-class city for both commuter and recreational bicycling, offering a safe, functional, connected and appealing network of bicycling facilities for all ages and abilities. There are numerous improvements I have made over the last seven years, and there are more improvements I would like to make. Since 2007 the budget for walking and bicycling has grown from $50,000 to over $4 million dollars. Much of this has been devoted to improving safety for both walking and bicycling, including the doubling of miles of bike lanes, the City’s first protected bike lanes, and numerous improvements to crossings. There is more that I would like to do in the coming years, including expanding our network of safe cycling routes throughout the City that lead to inviting destinations, as well as connecting and expanding more recreational opportunities for bicycling. I have recently proposed an expansion of our recreational trails, including extra miles of trails in our foothills, as well as the development of an urban trail network to connect the City’s parks and open spaces.
- What is the biggest issue for cyclists currently in Salt Lake City and what will you do to address it?
The biggest issue right now for cyclists is safety. Salt Lake City has been a car culture for so long, and cyclist numbers are growing. We all share the space on the roadway, and our data shows that crashes between bicyclists are cars remain higher than what is acceptable. I will continue to address this safety issue by investing in better bicycling facilities, through education of drivers and bicyclists who share the road, and by continuing to enforce laws that apply to both drivers and bicyclists.
- What will you do to grow the cycling economy of Salt Lake City (i.e. bicycle based business and industry, as well as communities that benefit from bike improvements)?
Numerous studies have shown the positive relationship between bicycling and business. More than just cycling, Salt Lake City is a community known for incredible access to recreational opportunities. I would continue to enhance this reputation by incorporating bicycling into economic development strategies that originate in City Hall, as well as supporting the regional marketing of Salt Lake City as a destination for bicycling. In addition, national data shows that bicyclists spend more money in the local economy than the average shopper, and I would continue my efforts to expand the bicycling network and partnerships such as the Bicycle Friendly Business program.
- UDOT Roads are important corridors for bikes as well as cars. What would you do to ensure that UDOT and SLC implement bike facilities on these roads?
Last year UDOT and Salt Lake City worked together to build bike lanes on Redwood Road, which was the first project to be built using UDOT’s new Policy on Active Transportation. We were able to do this without reducing any of the auto travel lanes and by working within the right of way UDOT currently owns. I would continue to aggressively work with UDOT to implement their new policy on State Street and on other UDOT roads. I would improve crossings at UDOT streets, which will improve safety and comfort for bicyclists who ride city streets, and frequently cross wide and busy arterials. I would also continue to expand UDOT, Salt Lake County, and Salt Lake City’s efforts to add more bicycle detection at intersections across the valley.
- Regarding the attached proposal 10,000 Wheels for Affordable Transportation, what are your thoughts and would you commit to working to implement this if you are elected?
10,000 Wheels for Affordable Transportation is a lofty goal we should absolutely work towards. The proposal would improve access to clean, affordable, and convenient transportation for our residents. Most importantly, this proposal recognizes that to be successful, public agencies, the business community, and advocates must work together to expand bicycling as a tool to access jobs, healthcare, childcare, grocery, and so many other needs of our residents. I would commit to working in partnership with numerous agencies and groups to advance this effort.
- Regarding the attached 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?
I have always relied on public input to prepare plans and make decisions about our future investments. I fully support the expansion of recreational opportunities, and will continue to seek additional public input on recreational bicycling in the City as we work to expand those opportunities.
- The 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan is in draft format and is with the SLC City Council. What will you do to ensure its implementation? Are there improvements that you would like to make to the plan?
The Draft Plan is a great path forward and I am hopeful for its adoption soon. The Plan is laid out in a logical way that capitalizes on our existing maintenance schedules, which will help streamline its implementation, and will also reduce the overall cost of implementation. I would continue to devote staff and resources to the implementation of the Plan. If it were to make one improvement, it would be to better call out an urban trails component because we have heard very recently how important that is to our residents.
- What will you do to work towards Zero Fatalities (i.e. Vision Zero) for cyclists and pedestrians in Salt Lake City?
In addition to continuing to fund safer infrastructure for walking and bicycling, I would expand our efforts to collect and analyze data in a more detailed way so we could troubleshoot more effectively our biggest safety issues. I would also expand our education and enforcement efforts. I am interested in the Vision Zero approach, which clearly states that even one crash is too many.
- Do you ride a bicycle? Tell us more about how and where you ride.
I ride a bicycle to commute to work. I also ride road and mountain bikes for recreation.
10. Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have devoted considerable resources in my mayoral time to improve cycling in Salt Lake City. We should be the most bike-friendly city in the country, and we’re on the way. Working with our increasing number of local and state partners, we can achieve a great cycling environment for Salt Lake City.