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?
Biking and walking make the community welcoming because it affords residents a connection to the world around them. Also, biking and walking allow for an awareness of your community that you don’t necessarily get from driving in a vehicle, which can lead to isolation and lack of engagement in the community. As an individual who walks to work, I realize the value in securing a strong walkable, bikeable community for all Newark residents.
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?
I do not believe we are in a place right now to consider Newark truly walkable. I believe the city has taken steps to make us more bikeable, but we aren’t fully there. On both counts, I believe we have the potential to be the most walkable and bikeable city in the state by first educating Council and residents on where we are and where we need to go and why we need to go there to make biking and walking more viable transportation options for everyone.
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?
Bicycling in Newark has already made a positive impact by creating safer routes for students bicycling to school. Also, through the Newark Bike Project, we’ve made more bikes available at a cheaper price to the general public. A great opportunity would be if we could do an education seminar for incoming English as a Sec ond Language students to inform them of the rules of our biking culture in Newark.
One big issue is cyclists often aren’t visible enough, particularly at night. Also, I’ve seen a specific issue on Main Street with cyclists cycling against the traffic, which is a danger for all. The biggest problem, however, is that our roads are aging and they weren’t designed for cyclists. I give the City credit for acknowledging this and embracing the need for more cyclist lanes and I believe we need to continue advocating for road improvements to accommodate cyclists.
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.)
Occasional Cyclists – For this group of cyclists, I believe we need to make easy access to online cycling maps so they know where they can bike. It would also be great to have a bike share program where people who don’t bike often can get a bike when they need one. Also, it would probably be valuable for the City to produce some online rules or refresher videos to make sure the occasional cyclists are comfortable heading out to bike.
Commuter Cyclists – For this group, I would recommend the City compiling and publishing maps of the safest routes on major and secondary roads.
Recreational Cyclists – Particularly for families with younger children, I would recommended partnering with Parks and Recreation to set up age-appropriate biking activities to promote biking education and safety among city residents. Also, I believe recreational cyclists could benefit from a bike share program.
Avid Cyclists – For avid cyclists, I’d like to see the City hold a forum where these cyclists can provide ideas on what THEY would like to see on this topic. Groups like Bike Newark provide a great advocacy arm and should be a part of that conversation. We need the seek the consultation of avid cyclists when the city is planning either new parks or improvements to parks.
5. If elected, what criteria will you apply in order to decide whether to support a major road project (like the Main St. rehabilitation or the Cleveland Ave. improvements)? What about for small road projects (e.g., addition of bike lanes, low-stress bike-route signage, or crosswalks)?
In order to support a major road project, I would need to have an understanding of future traffic flows, density of traffic, area of traffic and where the project is being done (ie. Near a school). I would also need to make sure we are taking into account the need for cyclists and pedestrians.
For small road projects, I would have some of the same concerns. What are the needs of the community and how can we plan these projects with an eye towards sustainability and increasing the potential for cyclists and pedestrians to take advantage of any small road projects?
6. Are you familiar with the 2014 Newark Bicycle Plan? If so, what do you think are its most important recommendations?
Yes, I am familiar with the 2014 Newark Bicycle Plan. The most important recommendations, I believe, include improving existing routes and advocating safe cycling behavior. Both of these recommendations are key to crafting a safe and vibrant biking culture in Newark.
7. Briefly describe your experience as a bicyclist (if any) over your lifetime and specifically in Newark.
I do not own or ride a bicycle due to some nerve issues in my leg. Instead, I have attended City Council meetings for over a decade and advocated heavily to make our city and its planning more accessible to cyclists and their needs.