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.
George Chapman for SLC Council District 5
PO Box 520653, Salt Lake City, Utah 84152
Home: 1186 S 1100 E, SLC, 84105
801 867 7071
I WANT TO:
STOP SECRET MEETINGS & DECISIONS (SHELTERS, STREETCARS, ETC)
STOP TAX INCREASES (SALES TAXES, PARKS, STREETCARS, STREETS, SEWER, WATER)
STOP EXPENSIVE TRANSIT PROJECTS
STOP DRUG DEALING AND HOMELESS CAMPING
STOP ROAD DIETS THAT INCREASE CONGESTION AND POLLUTION
STOP WASTING MILLIONS ON ALLEY TRAILS
REQUIRE SL COUNTY TO LOCK UP AND PROSECUTE DRUG DEALERS
PROTECT WATERSHED AND BUILD CANYON RESTROOMS
RESTORE BETTER NEIGHBORHOOD BUS SERVICE
SOLVE PROBLEMS NOW INSTEAD OF WAITING UNTIL ELECTION TIME
RETIRED ENGINEER, VETERAN, OPED WRITER, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST
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 SLC is based on my former life as an avid bicyclist, riding 10 miles a day, including to work for the first few years. I grew up in Utah and I enjoy hiking, running and biking in the foothills. I want to see a safer bicycling City. I do not support the SLC Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan since it assumes that we will have over a hundred million dollars to spend on it. A financially constrained and realistic plan would include narrower center turn lanes (if at all) and wider bicycle lanes. I do not support cycle tracks (separated bike paths on roads) since they are not maintained well. I remember walking past one that wasn't cleaned of broken ceramics for over a week! And I also remember the 300 South cycle track that was flooded. Bicyclists have shown me pictures of trucks with their ramps crossing the cycle track!! There are some streets in SLC without driveways (like on Richmond, 700 East – in spots) that would be amenable to an effective cycle track but the cost is so much higher that I believe that the cycle tracks should be considered after a better bicycling path system is provided (wider bike lanes instead of wasteful center turn lanes). If you want to see nonsensical and useless center turn lanes that take away from potential wider and safer bike lanes, check out Foothill, 700 East, 900 East (south of 3300 South but there are some spots on 900 East that do not need center turn lanes). There is also an argument that streets with a 30 MPH speed limit may benefit more from a super wide bike lane instead of a little used center turn lane except at cross streets.
- What is the biggest issue for cyclists currently in Salt Lake City and what will you do to address it?
I also believe that the lack of road maintenance affects bicyclists more than vehicles. A safe bicycling community should be providing safe streets, especially near curbs for safe bicycle riding. SLC Council took away $8.4 million several years ago from street maintenance and used it for a salary increase. I consider that unconscionable. Bicyclists deserve more respect.
- What would you like to see in your district in regards to bicycling?
I want to encourage bicycling in the canyons with year round bus service focusing on hiking and biking. We have been fighting for several years to get UTA to provide this obvious tourist and mountain biking amenity/draw but UTA is holding back due to money issues. We are fighting for the money from the Legislature and from other sources.
I do not like the law against riding a bicycle on the sidewalks downtown. I want it rescinded.
I also would like to complete the Parleys Trail (although I am very upset about the narrow path next to the (big rig noise) I80 freeway. I want to have SLCounty provide funding to complete the trail through South Salt Lake City to the Jordan River. I also want to have a wide bike path for the 9 line bike trail (without losing road lanes). I believe that Senator Weiler's law to give bicyclists a 3 foot passing is sufficient for safety in many cases.
I am also upset about spending a million dollars on the McClelland Trail that could have been better spent on road improvements in the area. And of course, maintenance is still a problem since the plantings in the trail weren't watered and they died and now goatheads are in the trail!!! Maintenance is a big issue with bike trails. There is also seems to be a priority to focus and spend money on bicycling in parks when bicyclists use streets more. I think that streets should receive more priority. I am against streetcars and the push by some in SLC to spend hundreds of millions on streetcars. Bicyclists should be fighting this plan since they hurt/cause bicyclists to crash. In one study, over 50% of Portland bicyclists have crashed on Portland's streetcar rails!
When I came back to Utah after I retired, I biked several times a week (from 13th South) up Millcreek Canyon (to Log Haven) and I loved the quiet back roads. I still think the quiet side streets are better than the main streets for recreational biking. I want Salt Lake County to provide canyon shoulder paving for bicyclists that are well out of the lane of traffic. That is where a cycle track (with some cutouts for parking) would be appropriate. There should be a priority to provide safe biking (and running and walking) in the canyons!! The shoulder paving doesn't have to be as expensive since it is for bicycles (if a cycle track is provided to keep vehicles out of the way. The path also has to be wide enough for 2 bicycles.
The biggest issue for cyclists in SLC is the lack of street maintenance funding tha allows potholes to proliferate near the curb and in the path of bicyclists. It is especially bad near bus stops. SLC streets needs $40 million per year to maintain streets. SLC gives it less than $10 million (plus they took away the $8.4million extra for the salary increase a few years ago). This is basic infrastructure! I want to restore the $8.4 million to streets and add another $10 million. I would like to have the taxpayers vote by mail on a tax increase to add $12 million to the $18 million and have it locked up to $30 million that could not be taken away for anything else.
But another important issue is the bicycle theft issue. I hope to get SLC Police and Senator Weiler to work together on a Utah law that requires registration of bicycles for a nominal cost ($5?) when sold new or used. SLCO also needs to provide funding for the DA to prosecute bicycle theft. Bike thieves get off almost always with less than a day of jail time.
I want to see wider and safer bike paths along major roadways. I do not like parking indentations and parking strips on 2100 South. Bike paths should be available but it requires a long term discussion not a rushed push like the 2100 South proposal that recently caused a big rucus. 1300 East is still not a safe bicycling route and I am not sure that the curb and gutter project will help. I want money spent, not on alleyway trails but on street improvements for bicycles. I do not appreciate the efforts so far to put in bike paths along with 45 degree parking (500 South and east of the State Capitol). I also want to see some way of providing water for bicyclists and runners and pets on bicycling routes (to Tooele, Parleys another potential cycle track or adjacent bikeway, etc).
- In your district, the following is an issue for cyclists: State Street is well used by cyclists, yet has no bike lanes. The Life on State Study is looking at ways to remake State Street. In one of the open houses, most people wanted to see better walking and cycling on State Street.
What are your thoughts on this and what would you do on the Council to address it?
I am against the Life on State Envision Utah study with its roundabouts and reduction in speed. I do not believe that the community would allow it and it would result in a fight like the recent 2100 South debacle. State Street has a wasteful unused center strip that should be removed, keeping the lanes of traffic, and adding a wide bicycle lane on each side. I am also making it part of my campaign to increase the safety of State Street. One of the reasons that UTA removed the State Street 1300 South bus stop is that there were attempted thefts of bicycles from the bus when they stopped there. That is still a problem. I want to keep and protect the wide sidewalks along State Street and hope to use the new RDA area on State Street to provide better Complete Streets planning with form based zoning that encourages mixed use, mixed income buildings. The Life on State plan is very costly and, based on past experience, costly plans tend to drop bicycles and pedestrian amenities (although expensive and bicycle barrier bulbouts are being considered – I am against bulbouts since they are a hazard for bicyclists.) when implemented.
- What cycling initiatives would you bring to the Council?
I think that it would make sense to carve out a permanent appropriation for bicycling amenities from the budget so that it is clear what can be spent for bicycling every year instead of trying to scrape up “some” funding for a project.
- Would you favor strengthening the Complete Streets Ordinance? If so, how? (http://www.bikeslc.com/GetInvolved/MasterPlansandPolicies/PDF/CompleteStreetsOrdinance.pdf)
I am against strengthening the Complete Streets Ordinance. SLC has never really implemented it and a good example is the Sugar House Circulation and Amenities Plan (SHCAP) and the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan (PBP). The first draft of the SHCAP recommended 12 foot wide sidewalks. Unfortunately, we couldn't convince the City to put in wider sidewalks and the result is McClelland with their 4 foot sidewalks and a wasteful parking strip. We are working to convert half the street to a bicycle and pedestrian path. The PBP focused on bicycles and I feel that it gave almost no attention to pedestrians. I still think wider sidewalks support safe bicycling on sidewalks but SLC has a tendency to put in bike unfriendly hazards like posts, planters, etc.
- 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? (https://www.cyclingutah.com/advocacy/cycling-utah-calls-for-10000-wheels-initiative-for-affordable-transportation-in-utah/) I am not familiar with 10,000 Wheels and would look at the effect on individual streets. I do not support road diets that increase pollution. I want to decrease pollution. I want more trees planted to provide shade on bike paths and trails. I should also note that I support more funding to sustain and grow our urban forest since it also decreases pollution. SLC cuts 3000 trees a year and does not replace them in a sustainable manner. I am against more plantings in the medians since the medians would be better used as space for bike lanes on the side of the roads. Also SLC does not have the money to effectively water many of the medians and roundabouts. I want a Countywide plan that is realistic. I do not like what we have and it does not have a schedule and cost for implementation of a comfortable County bicycle plan. Note that WFRC is drafting a plan that includes active transportation but it appears to focus on expensive projects instead of quickly implementing safe bicycling streets. An expensive (an not well maintained) cycle track takes away from 10 times more wide and safer bicycle lanes.
- 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? (https://www.cyclingutah.com/advocacy/a-proposal-for-a-salt-lake-city-recreational-cycling-plan/)
- The 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan was passed by the Council in 2015. What will you do to ensure its implementation?
I do not believe that the 2015 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan will ever be implemented due to its cost. It should have been priced out and a realistic plan developed. Wider bike lanes first and then, once all roads in the City have them, and if maintenance is available, then consider building cycle tracks. Removing lanes of traffic on congested roads or providing more crossings is going to increase pollution and I am against that. Bicyclists do care about pollution.
- Do you ride a bicycle? Tell us more about how and where you ride.
I did ride a bicycle. I still have one. Unfortunately, I cannot really ride it due to a medical issue. I do try but I can only go a block or two. I try. I miss it. I wish that more people would realize that bicycling can be made so much safer so easily and quickly except for people who want to build expensive projects that take away from the potential for many more times the routes that this area deserves. I especially want to encourage more use of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (We also desperately need restrooms along the Trails.) And I also would like an educational effort to encourage dogs to be on leashes since I keep hearing of issues/conflicts with bicyclists and dogs. I look forward to seeing an explosion of bicycling in Salt Lake City.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?