2016 mayoral candidates discuss transportation: A WeBikeEugene survey

WeBikeEugene distributed a questionnaire to all five of Eugene’s mayoral candidates. We asked eight questions about transportation issues, particularly active transportation.

Of the five candidates, all but City Councilor Mike Clark, responded.

The candidates’ answers are published below verbatim, without editing except to correct obvious typographical errors. We thank them for their time. (We also surveyed Ward 1 City Council candidates.)

Question 1

Please give us a brief assessment of what you see as the major strengths and deficiencies of Eugene’s transportation system (not so much air or rail, but the system most of use daily to get around town)?

Bob Cassidy

[Bob Cassidy responded to selected questions below, explaining …] I’m going to take a shortcut to this response. I don’t want to be flippant, it’s a time matter — and a basic responsibility matter. The policy decisions come from the councilors. The Mayor has an input only with a tie vote and maybe a little bit in the agenda-setting for the council meetings.

Mike Clark

[awaiting response]

Scott Landfield

EMX so far a plus. Having 5 bridges specific to bike/pedestrians a huge plus, as is established paths on both sides of the river. Car traffic worse all the time; insanely so on Coburg Road at times. We need smaller buses into outlying areas of town. Need to find a way to fill the buses.

Stefan Strek

The major strength of Eugene’s transportation system is the traditional LTD route system, because it is extremely efficient and adaptable. Routes can be added, re-routed, re-scheduled and otherwise modified easily and efficiently. This has created a wide coverage in Eugene and most of town has some reasonable access to the bus transportation system.

The major deficiency of Eugene’s transportation system is that current officials are bulldozing over local property rights in order to force through the EMX system which is publicly opposed by about 40+ local businesses who are having the opinions of those business owners, employees and customers ignored. That’s not right. Our traditional bus system needs to be valued more and not discredited for a trendy fad which will cost more in the long run.

The EMX is basically a system which runs from the end of Springfield to the Eugene Wal-Mart, it’s publicly opposed by the majority of businesses on its route and the only business who seeks to benefit from this is Wal-Mart, conveniently at the end of the EMX route. Wal-Mart’s pharmacy makes over $2 million each week, presuming the entire rest of the store makes half that, the store makes easily $3 million per week, that’s about $156 million per year that could be going into local businesses which are having their property rights violated instead of their business interests considered. The EMX will result in job loss, decreased property values and a lack of funding for our traditional bus system. Eugene’s traditional bus system has been proven one of the most successful models in the country long before the EMX. The EMX is essentially a lame duck. Eugene citizens aren’t lame ducks, we’re winners, and we’re strongly opposed to the EMX system, what we want is responsible attention to Eugene’s traditional bus system.

Lucy Vinis

Despite our growth and increasing traffic, Eugene is still basically a city in which you can get just about anywhere by car in about 20 minutes — with the exception of a few bottlenecks such as Belt Line and Coburg Road. Many neighborhoods are pleasant and easy to walk; the Ruth Bascom Riverfront Bicycle System is a community treasure; and the increasing number of bike lanes is encouraging. The EmX line along Franklin Boulevard has been a huge success, and I support the concept of improved corridor transit lined with denser development.

As for challenges, our one-way streets, discontinuous sidewalks, and poorly maintained neighborhood streets are all common complaints. For some without access to a car — youth, seniors, those with disabilities, and people of low-income—getting from place to place can be a huge burden, with some trips taking over an hour each way. The hub-and-spoke design of LTD routes makes it time consuming and difficult to travel east and west across town; and many of the busier corridors have infrequent pedestrian crossings. Bike lanes are often confusing and scary – both for the bicyclist and the driver. Finally, the lack of public transportation to the airport is challenging for travelers.

Question 2

If elected, what transportation-related improvements, if any, would you want to make a priority? How would you suggest they be funded?

Bob Cassidy

Personally, I’m a big fan of anything for bikers. All the way from Ruth Bascom to the present. The money allocated for bike transportation issue is inadequate, and that is a budget process that needs changing.

MIKE CLARK

[awaiting response]

Scott Landfield

I will have to look into this carefully, Certainly, filling the buses is a priority. More bicycle lanes on streets parallel to the busiest streets is ideal for me.

Stefan Strek

It’s a priority to fix the city’s bike lane system so that it’s safer for bikers. Currently, the bike paths have been senselessly re-routed through traffic and across traffic lanes, this is extremely dangerous for bikers. It’s an extremely irresponsible oversight that city management has made. Eugene’s bike fatality rate needs to be better addressed and these irresponsible bike lanes are neglectfully hazardous. Bike lanes should be dedicated to the side of the road, away from traffic. They should be wide enough to be safe, and accessible for all Eugene neighborhoods.

Lucy Vinis

While I’m canvassing, many residents have questions about the priorities for street repair, installation of street calming systems and crosswalks. For many residents, this is the key safety concern and a transparent, consistent and reliable process would help. That should not be a funding need, simply an improvement in access to priorities and accountability that would mean a lot to citizens.

Question 3

The city’s Transportation System Plan, intended to guide transportation policy through 2035, is now in draft form and is expected to go to council for adoption later in 2016 or early 2017. Goals of the plan include a focus on reducing “drive-alone” automobile trips and doubling trips made by transit, bicycling and walking. Do you support these goals; that is, do you see value in encouraging more use of “active modes”? Why or why not? If so, how do you see us achieving those goals?

Bob Cassidy

[did not address this particular question directly]

MIKE CLARK

[awaiting response]

Scott Landfield

Doubling trips by transit (bus) is a good starting point. Safe routes for bikes and walking needs a lot of work. Twenty-year goals may be needed in some policy; directional momentum important in the short term, which will affect longer term. The importance of people working near their jobs is presently understated.

Stefan Strek

I support these goals. We at the Strek campaign absolutely value transit, bicycling and walking trips as necessary, enjoyable activities that should be safe for Eugene citizens of all ages and backgrounds. We can achieve these goals through reasonable examination which create positive progress. Increasing accessibility is important, I believe we can provide free bus passes for Eugene citizens and pay for this by better managing the city’s current budget. The city’s current budget should be re-prioritized with the citizens’ interests at heart to reduce the money spent on wasteful projects. This will make us have the necessary funds to fix problems as necessary instead of letting them get out of control, such as the poor condition many of Eugene’s roads are in.

Lucy Vinis

I completely support the goal of reducing “drive alone” car trips. People will naturally reduce their car time when other alternatives are comparable or better – and that is contingent on where and how we build housing. The cities that succeed are densely populated with multiple alternatives – frequent buses or walkable distances. I see the value in encouraging active modes and enhancing safety for pedestrians and bicyclists to make it more appealing and feasible, and transitioning to more compact neighborhoods to bring people closer to the places they need to go. We are a community of suburban neighborhoods in which people are still going use their cars to go to the grocery store, but they might take the bus or walk to work, and that is a constructive and feasible goal for planning.

Question 4

What is your primary mode of transportation to and from work? Do you ever use other modes? If not, have you considered other modes, and what has kept you from trying them?

Bob Cassidy

My transportation is walking, a little biking, and cars. I’m 84.

MIKE CLARK

[awaiting response]

Scott Landfield

I bike, walk and drive on fairly equal level. I live six blocks from work.

Stefan Strek

My main mode of transportation is a cruiser bicycle, and my student fees have always provided me a free bus pass while living here, so I have a thorough knowledge of Eugene’s bus routes. I use the bus when it’s raining a lot and otherwise the beach cruiser bicycle is my main choice. I have a nice Jetta TDI that I use about once a week or less for heavier grocery trips that won’t fit in my bikes basket, or other larger purchases.

Lucy Vinis

I live at the top of Chambers where the closest bus service is mid-way down the hill. This means that I drive a car in order to conduct most of my work and personal errands. That said, we moved to this neighborhood so that our children could walk to the neighborhood school and easily visit their friends on foot and bike. I have never been confident about riding a bike up and down Chambers and cannot juggle the demands of my schedule without the efficiency of a car. This is regrettable, but I don’t see my hill as a transit priority for the city.

Question 5

Eugene’s 2012 pavement bond measure allocates about $8 million a year for five years to resurface and repair city streets. Of that $516,000 annually (about 6 percent) is allocated to support bicycle and pedestrian projects. Will you support a renewal of this bond measure when it expires? Do you think there should be any change in the allocation to bicycle/pedestrian focused projects?

BOB CASSIDY

[did not address this particular question directly]

MIKE CLARK

[awaiting response]

Scott Landfield

Am not sure what to think about this. Bond measures for many city supported activities could be cropping up soon. Better sidewalks and more bike access on streets where motor vehicles are not overwhelming.

Stefan Strek

I like bonds. We’re a huge fan of bonds at the Strek Campaign. Many of the city’s streets need to be resurfaced and repaved. Many of the city’s bike lanes need to be updated and re-routed. I think the allocation to bicycle/pedestrian projects needs to have more input from local citizens, many of the bicycle/pedestrian projects I see the city set up are wasteful, or even dangerous. One example is the corner of 13th & Willamette where the bike lane crosses through traffic lanes, it’s completely a death-risk to any biker — and an insurance liability for any driver. That’s one of the most trafficked streets in Eugene and should have been planned more responsibly. Coincidentally, there is a white bicycle on that corner as a memorial to Eugene’s bike traffic accident victims. Whoever was in charge of that should have had more consideration, and I’d prioritize bicycle route safety.

Lucy Vinis

I would support the renewal of the bond measure. As for the percentage dedicated to bicycle and pedestrian projects, I would love to see more funds dedicated to sidewalks which are key to many neighborhoods and their discontinuity forces people to step out into the roads. I would also like to see more investment in traffic calming and crossings. Those may be higher priorities for me than more bicycle lanes.

Question 6

In November 2015, the council passed a Vision Zero resolution, saying the city should strive to reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries on Eugene streets to zero. If you had been on the council at the time, would you have supported this resolution? If you were on the council then, tell us about your vote and your thinking on the resolution. How do you see the city accomplishing this goal? What role would you play?

Bob Cassidy

Vision Zero is a “no brainer”. Would we want a vision of maybe 5, and be satisfied if we only had 4? Obviously the goal should be zero, as is the goal of EWEB for accidents. And they spend enough money to make that happen.

MIKE CLARK

[awaiting response]

Scott Landfield

Tsunami Books [Landfield’s business] has played a major role in creating a real vision zero between 24th and 29th on Willamette. There has not been a single traffic death of any sort on this stretch in at least the past 18 years, despite 15,000+ vehicles per day on a narrow street. We have helped the street work well with what it is, and will continue doing so using many creative methods of positive engagement and action.

Stefan Strek

The Vision Zero resolution a good resolution. We shouldn’t have people dying in Eugene while they’re simply trying to go out for a bike ride. If I’d been on the council at the time I’d have supported that resolution and would have promoted more responsible planning of bike routes. As I’ve explained, routing bike routes across traffic lanes is an extreme health hazard, it’s death-risk to any Eugene bike commuter and needs to be addressed. Bike routes should be to the side of the road, wide enough to provide a safe buffer zone between bicycles and traffic. It’s a very simple concept to avoid the collision between cars and bicycles that needs to be implemented, whoever decided to route bike routes across traffic lanes needs to lose their job, and I’m giving them a bad job reference on the way out. I’d tell them, “You’re fired!” and hire someone who actually cares about Eugene’s people.

Lucy Vinis

I absolutely support Vision Zero and would have voted for it had I been on the council. As I wrote above, I would like to see us improve our sidewalks, street crossings and traffic calming in order to make it safer for people to walk. I would like to improve the transparency, accountability and process for prioritizing these repairs.

Question 7

Would you like to list any specific accomplishments in which you helped improve conditions for people who ride bikes, walk or take transit to get around town?

BOB CASSIDY

[did not address this particular question directly]

MIKE CLARK

[awaiting response]

Scott Landfield

Two years ago I personally took the lead in fixing a very serious bicycle access design flaw built at 24th and Amazon Parkway, this after I suffered a near-death injury on the city’s new, flawed access.

Stefan Strek

I regularly use transit and practice good etiquette. I give up my seat for the elderly, women with children, or disabled people every time. Think globally, act locally.

Lucy Vinis

I represented the interests of environmental organizations for 17 years as the Eugene campaign manager for EarthShare Oregon. Our members included Bicycle Transportation Alliance, 1000 Friends of Oregon and others who were focused on land use and livability. My role was to engage employers and employees in private and public workplaces to understand and support the work of the EarthShare member organizations. In my time with EarthShare, the Eugene campaign grew from two participating workplaces to 20, and included some of the highest dollar support for environmental work in our statewide annual campaign.

Question 8

Anything else you want to add on this general topic?

Scott Landfield

Soon after I first arrived in Eugene, I was told it was the #1 town for biking in America. It certainly is not now. I will work toward it being the very best it can be in the near-term and long term.

Stefan Strek

Eugene’s a great city to live in largely because of Eugene’s connections, between people, and these exist because of active transportation routes which are used by people who think positively about Eugene culture. Many cities do not have access to parks and public space as Eugene does. We’re at a crossroads between using incoming resources responsibly to reinforce Eugene’s progressive, free-thinking, independent, local-business loving culture — or we can let out of town influence continue to dominate Eugene politics and Eugene policy. I am the only candidate who has mentioned helping animals in addition to people, and I have always cared about the environment as something that’s alive the same as any animal. Together, we can do more than “Make Eugene Great Again.” I think we have access to, “A Better Eugene.” We can have a clean town that’s fun to live in.

Currently, the major detraction for Eugene’s culture is the prevalence of bike-theft and property crime. The “Kryptonite” lock company produces fine locks internationally, and their locks are uninsured for theft everywhere except two cities: New York City and Eugene, Oregon. True story, almost everyone who bikes in Eugene has had their bike stolen. Many residents have had several bikes worth over a thousand dollars stolen or stripped for parts without any investigation from the police, because it’s such an extreme problem that’s been ignored by local authorities and de-prioritized by the current administration.

Our police officers are hard-working people who need more help reorganizing administrative priorities so that local officers on the ground are able to respond and protect local citizens from crime. My plan to eliminate bike theft in Eugene is to introduce mandatory minimum community service sentences for all bike-related theft and strictly enforce them, to provide much needed maintenance for Eugene’s roads and parkland. Through community service, these people who otherwise would victimize the community will learn self-discipline, self-respect, and earn the sense of accomplishment that comes with helping the community — and the rest of us will lose less parts off our bikes, the parks will be cleaner, and the roads will be better maintained so we’ll all be able to live in a more positive Eugene.