City Council Candidate Question 1: The role of bicycling and walking in civic life

1. What do you see as the role of bicycling and walking in our civic life?

[Sheri Spellwoman] I am a huge bicycling and walking enthusiast! My family and I walk and bike many places for transportation, for exercise and to spend time outdoors. One of the things I love most about Albany is its walkability. There are many days I can go without driving my car at all, which makes me very happy. As a City Council candidate, my vision is for Albany to be a model for an ecologically healthy city. Safe and accessible pedestrian and bicycle routes are critical to this model and will be a priority of mine if I am elected. Safe biking and walking in civic life benefits personal health, planetary health and community building. It also adds to the charm and vitality of our city and encourages people to stay local, which stimulates our local economy. Walkability has also been linked to higher property values which also increases city revenue.

[Pete Maass] I believe it was Lewis Mumford who said in effect that one could choose between cities that were designed well for cars or cities that were well designed, but you couldn’t have both. If we are to have a functional and positive urban experience here in Albany, we need to turn away from the auto centric urban design that governed much of the last century. Walking, bicycling and public transit are the key components to this alternative urban design. The term I like, which I got from Christopher Leinberger’s book, The Promise of Urbanism, is “walkable urban”.

[Peggy Thomsen] The role of bicycling and walking is an important part of our transportation and environmental systems; walking and cycling promote healthy lifestyles for people of all ages and physical abilities. The transportation system needs to include safe access for those with disabilities.

[Nick Pilch] As co-founder of Albany Strollers & Rollers, I believe they are important modes of transportation. Both are forms of active transportation which promote exercise, getting outdoors, and therefore health and personal well-being. Their impact on the populace is to foster people-to-people interactions, and community. Their impact on our infrastructure is much lower than other forms of transportation, and so they should be promoted as much as possible for cost savings as well. We owe it to ourselves to make walking and bicycling around town as pleasant and as easy as possible for all of these reasons.

[Michael Barnes] I don’t see biking as having much to do with civic life. It is an effective mode of transportation and recreation, but almost any recreational ride takes you outside of our small city. Walking, on the other hand, is intimately tied to our civic life. Sidewalks are where we see our neighbors and fellow citizens.
I have been reading Jane Jacob’s classic “The Death and Life of Great American Cities.” She devotes the first three chapters of the book to the uses of sidewalks. I love her perspective on sidewalks. So I am a big fan of a complex network of dedicated pedestrian-only walking paths. Err, sidewalks.
For trips under half a mile, I think kids should walk. It can be a much more relaxing social activity for them than riding a bike. Some kids have longer school commutes than that, for example, high school kids who live in the Pierce St. condos. Bike riding is a good option for them.
I am an avid bike commuter and a hard-riding recreational cyclist and occasional racer. I still maintain my USA cycling racing license (#57955), and I am a member of the Santa Rosa Cycling Club. So far this year I have put well over 1,000 miles each on three different bicycles—my commute bike, and two different road bikes.
In the 6.5 years I have been working at UC Berkeley, I have driven my car only once, and that was a sunny day when I had to deliver some art supplies to my office. I am an assertive but legal rider. I have never been doored, although my pannier was once, years ago. I don’t have opinions about dedicated bike/pedestrian trails, because I almost never use them. I find them to be very dangerous. I guess that’s an opinion.
I tend to ride on quiet streets, including those that are designated for biking. I commute to UC Berkeley via Milvia St. I like the Hillegass/Shafter/Webster bike route to Oakland and other routes than I have found using the bike option on Google Maps.

[Tod Abbott] I think these active modes of transport are crucial to a healthy community in many different ways, the health and environmental benefits being only the most obvious. I have always chosen to live in a walkable community. I believe being outdoors and interacting with the community — even if it is just smiling as you ride by — roots one in the community while strengthening that community.
Specifically for Albany, increased biking and walking will be crucial to achieving our Climate Action Plan goals. Reviewing the CAP suggests to me that reducing emissions from transportation will have to make up a big part of our efforts. Albany is already a very walkable city — with its small size, it’s a natural. So it’s a matter of enhancing what we already have.

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