Ted Wheeler missed the Young Professionals in Transportation and Bike Walk Vote Forum April 4 at RonToms. But the hard questions he did not. Below, Ted answers the tough questions that came up during the forum. Check them out!
First question to candidates: “how would you allocate resources to meet our #visionzero goals?”
One death on our streets is too many. Already, 2016 traffic fatalities in the city of Portland total 11. This time last year we were at 6. It’s not about reinventing the wheel. I would continue the good work already being done by the Vision Zero Task force, especially around making equitable decisions and following the data.
The data is telling us we’ve got to focus our efforts in East Portland, and along these high crash corridors, like Foster, Sandy, Marine Dr, 82nd, and 122nd. A person living east of 82nd Ave is two and a half times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than someone who lives west of 82nd.
In high pedestrian traffic areas, we need more crosswalks. At intersections, where data shows cyclists are more likely to be involved in a crash, we need to look at separated bike lanes and right turn signals.
With a gas tax measure on the ballot, there’s a possibility that we’ll be seeing new revenue for street repair and traffic safety. As we maintain and repair our roads, we should be smart, data-driven, and strategic about how we prioritize safety measures like crosswalks, turn signals, and separated lanes.
Second question: “what are your ideas for improving parking policy in regards to how we manage our transportation system?”
There is no doubt that unlimited free parking encourages people to commute using their cars. Conversely, making parking more scarce or more expensive will discourage car trips. We must recognize that parking is the only way some can access education and employment, and has benefits for tourism and the local economy. Parking is just one factor in our transit strategy and it must be balanced with others. Rationing parking should be offset by greater investments in public transit and safe bicycle infrastructure. I would utilize data and modeling to help determine the right mix of parking by type, location, and price given both our overall transportation goals and the needs of our citizens.
Third question: do you support increasing the financial burden of driving on roadways to better incentivize alternate modes of transportation?
When it can be done in a way that’s equitable, absolutely. More and more people are chasing affordability to the East, but the jobs are still in the Western part of the region. That creates a couple challenges for people who are already struggling financially. The first is that they have longer commutes to work. The second is that there are fewer public transit options.
Am I in favor of incentivizing people to get out of their cars? Yes. Do I think a single mother with two children should be penalized for driving her kids to get groceries in an area that’s poorly served by transit? No.
That means we are going to have to do a lot better when it comes to creating accessible, affordable public transit options East of 82nd. I will continue to be a vocal champion for these investments.
Fourth question: would you remove a general vehicle travel lane on Powell/Division to make way for bus rapid transit?
Before making a commitment, I would like to review the data. I would like to know if there is sufficient demand projected for bus rapid transit, if there is enough capacity to support general vehicle travel once a lane is removed, how this change would affect related arterials like 162nd and 144th which have no bus lines, and what the costs and necessity of this project are relative to other important transportation priorities.