Candidate survey responses 2020 – Lawhorn

1. In countless published lists of the best places to live, a common characteristic is a vibrant walking and biking culture. Why do you think that is?

A community that incorporates walking and biking into their culture prioritizes healthy lifestyles, environmental vitality and family unity. I frequently hear from neighbors about how important it is for them to have walkable, bikeable access to the grocery store, schools, our vibrant downtown and our trail system, which underscores the importance of the efforts our city has taken to ensure residents are able to navigate Newark by whatever means they choose.

The importance is – by providing residents with access to trails and pathways that allow them to easily navigate their community, while making healthy choices for themselves and the environment, we’ll continue to be a place where families and businesses thrive.

2. Do you consider Newark a walkable, bikeable community? Why or why not? If yes, how do you plan to sustain this? If not, what can be done to make our city more walkable and bikeable?

Yes, I consider our city walkable and bikeable, highlighted by our impressive trail system and our designation by The League of American Bicyclist as a bicycle friendly community since [2010].

The addition of the Pomeroy connector trail is a testament to the city’s ongoing efforts to increase access to trails and pathways in Newark. I am committed to making Newark more accessible by supporting biking enhancements to Delaware Avenue, working with staff and neighbors to improve access along South College Avenue to the train station and STAR campus, while continuing to find creative ways to enhance our already impressive trail system.

3. What do you see as the opportunities for bicycling to make a positive impact in Newark? What do you see as the problems associated with bicycling in Newark?

As with many cities, the primary issue with bicycling is pathways that riders do not feel safe traveling. A measure I have come to find valuable is whether or not I would allow my two teenage sons to travel a route by bike. I think this is a good litmus test for how safe a pathway is. While there are many routes I do let my boys travel, there are some I would not.

I have supported changes to South College Avenue that have improved connection to the train station and STAR campus, but there is more work to be done there. I have supported changes to Casho Mill road that will reduce speeding and make it safer for children to bike to Downes Elementary. The off-road mountain biking trail system is one of the most impressive in our region; I would like to improve access to these trails from our neighborhoods. These are all challenges that with the support of organizations like Bike Newark and our city staff we can implement long-term solutions.

4. What are your ideas (if any) for how to improve the bicycling experience in Newark for occasional cyclists, bicycle commuters, recreational cyclists, and avid (very experienced) cyclists? (Please be as specific as you can for each group mentioned.)

As previously discussed, rider safety is the most important criteria for all of these groups. If cyclists feel safe, they are more likely to ride. Identifying safe routes and communicating those to the community is a smart way to encourage occasional and recreational cyclists. The recently posted Newark [Central Loop Bikeway] is a great example.

To improve the experience for avid bikers, we need to open up a dialogue with them to better understand what they feel is needed in our town.

Local bike shops, including Wooden Wheels, are a hub for attracting riders to experience our off-road trails while the terrain in Newark and surrounding areas can create challenging rides for advanced cyclists.

The running community has exploded in popularity with 5K’s and similar runs that attract both experienced and novice athletes. I would support efforts to create a similar model for biking.

5. If elected, what criteria will you apply in order to decide whether to support a major road project (like improvements to South College Avenue)? What about for small road projects (e.g., addition of bike lanes, low-stress bike-route signage, or crosswalks)?

Safety is the most important criteria. I will continue to listen to our experts and understand the impact of a project on all travelers.

Frequently, improvements to bikeable roads involve sacrifices to parking revenue and incur construction expenses. Whether a project is small or large, I will evaluate the benefit to our mission as a bikeable, walkable community versus the expense to us as taxpayers.

6. Are you familiar with the Newark Bicycle Plan? If so, what do you think are its most important recommendations?

I am familiar with the Newark Bicycle Plan. The lack of safe passage continues to be the most important recommendation in the plan. Many of the recommendations in the plan have come to fruition, but we should continue to find more ways to improve safe passage for out cyclists.

7. Briefly describe your experience as a bicyclist (if any) over your lifetime and specifically in Newark.

Like many of us, I spent my childhood on a bike. While in the military, I started mountain biking, which continued when I returned home to Newark. I enjoyed our trails for many years until my children and my career redirected my activity.

I returned to biking a few years later when my colleagues and I started training for, and completing, charity rides like Bike to the Bay and Habitat for Humanity rides.

More recently, I have been back to riding paved trails and Newark neighborhoods on my road bike and have been considering a return to the off road trails.