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Austin City Council Cycling Forum - Place 1 rough transcript

Posted Mar 24 2009 4:23pm

Candidates present: Chris Riley, Perla Cavazos

Opening statements:

Cavazos - I’m a triathlete. Hope to do the MS150 someday. Very supportive of multimodal transportation options and cycling. We need to do a better job of improving our city streets and adding bicycle lanes. Would also like to see better signage and education about sharing the road but also public education. Need to incorporate showers into public facilities.

Riley - I’m Chris Riley and I’m here to recruit you. I’ve been in the cycling community for a long time. Took 3rd place in 1973 bike rodeo. Worked as a lawyer for 17 years. I don’t own a car, helped to start Austin CarShare. Our city was built around cars since WWII and this has affected us badly.

1) you may serve on Cap Metro or CAMPO boards. How would you encourage them to increase cycling as a priority?

Riley – increase the 15% or at least maintain it. We need a regional vision about cycling. Need routes across the region.

Cavazos – we need to encourage CAMPO and Cap Metro to prioritize cycling with any transit opportunity. Integrate shower facilities, parking, other infrastructure. I considered biking to work but it was dangerous and we didn’t have showers – I tried to get them but was not successful.

2) We want to see more people on bicycles in Austin. For commuters, what would you suggest?

Cavazos - we have a great opportunity with the comprehensive plan to incorporate multimodal options citywide. Need to educate the public about cycling as a transport option, signage, outreach. Perfect opportunity to raise awareness.

Riley - don’t wait for the comprehensive plan. 1998 bike plan called for4%, we haven’t made it and are nowhere near the goals we had. New bike plan will help us get serious. SSTF recs went into our new plan. We need to move forward on multiple fronts, education, facilities, and more. See my website bicycle position paper. We need to make serious progress toward the goals we missed in the passed and get ourselves on track for 8%.

3) How should we encourage cycling in new developments and hold developers accountable?

Riley – we still see new developments going up with no bike facilities, like the Long Center, the Blanton. This is crazy, we have to get serious. City needs to set the standard. We need to have great infrastructure in city projects to invite cycling from day 1. For private development, no certificates of occupancy until they meet the requirements for bike infrastructure. Work with county and state too.

Cavazos – offer incentives to developers just like with affordable housing and open space. Encourage showers, etc. Not enough bike racks downtown. Find funding to complete Pfluger bridge, Nueces bike boulevard, Lance Armstrong bikeway.

AUDIENCE questions:

1) I’ve lived in Austin for 30 years. We’ve seen Shoal Creek be redeveloped so many times, takes too long to get things right.

I missed Perla Cavazos’ answer here. Someone from the campaign can fill me in, if they want.

Riley: Shoal Creek was a disaster. We have lots of bike lane projects that have been done poorly. In June 2010, CAMPO 2035 long range plan, we can address arterials like Shoal Creek and have better standards. We could have done this better but just didn’t. It got off track. Get it fixed as soon as possible.

2) I ride as much as possible because I love it, doing my part for air quality. Getting across Lady Bird Lake – how can we get funding to finish Pfluger Bridge?

Riley – project just has to happen. Was disappointing we didn’t apply to stimulus funds for this project. Still expects Capital Metro to provide the funding, or get it another way. This project will lead to more cyclists and pedestrians. Building facilities increases usage.

Cavazos – absolutely important to finish this project. Even when ACL was in town this was horrible. Could get funding from fuel savings. There is potential legislation to increase fuel tax, for example. We can find ways to get more tax dollars for these projects.

3) Stanton Truxillo of ACA - Austin is silver ranked bicycle friendly community. Getting outside of Austin is really tough. Suburbs are a barrier. How can we improve connectivity?

Cavazos – we need to think regionally. Austin has a history of functioning as a silo. Need to talk to outside counties and address environmental issues like driving and coal plants. Commuter rail is very important. Disappointed to see the delay. Need more accountability of Capital Metro.

Riley – work more with regional partners and communities, develop a route network and make sure they are good. Better signage, education, sharrows, some kind of markings that show bikes belong on the road. Maps, publicity. Find funding where we can.

4) Lane Wimberley – I was on SSTF, which said we should be working with regional partners. Should we establish a new commission or board for this, or how else can we accomplish this?

Riley – you did a good job. I voted for this recommendation. Rob Spillar, transportation director, thought that commission would be a mistake, should be in Urban Transportation Commission instead. I’ve talked to others and this may be working. Need to maintain good BAC members and UTC members like Allen Demling and Sara Krause.

Cavazos – UTC could have a subcommitee on cycling (they do already). Need to ensure implementation of the bike plan.

Closing statements:

Cavazos – I’m not just a big proponent of cycling as a transportation option, but very committed to working on rail issues and economic solutions, helping the economy in our downturn. Cyclists are entrepreneurs much of the time too as delivery and other uses. Cycling helps keep Austin affordable. Very important to include cycling in comprehensive plan.

Riley – what we’re doing now is not enough. Our infrastructure is languishing. We’re way too low on percentage of cyclists. We need a cycling advocate on the council, which we have never had before. I’ll make it a priority. Until we get a serious bicycle advocate, we’ll be stuck with a mediocre biking city. We know every route has gaps and haphazard areas. Our infrastructure needs to accommodate all kinds of cyclists. Make it appealing, safe and inviting for all types. I need your help.

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