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City Council Endorsements

for the May 2005 election

(see endorsements for the June 2005 runoff for Place 3)

We would never suggest that citizens base their decisions on who to vote for on just one issue, like transportation. But we do believe that citizens should consider a candidate's position on specific issues in forming their overall picture of the candidate. It is in that spirit that we offer the following endorsements.

Place 1: Steve Adams

Let's start with the bad news: Adams won't support simple things like getting cars out of bike lanes, increasing the Bike Program budget, or allowing City employees to "cash in" their parking spaces by getting to work by some method other than driving. But he opposes the CAMPO road bonds, which is important because more mindless road-building simply increases sprawl, congestion, and pollution without aiding local transportation in any meaningful way -- not to mention that if the energy crisis many are predicting actually materializes then citizens will be left holding the bag of debt for a bunch of worthless roads. Adams would also move to repeal the helmet law for kids, believing (as we do) that it's the job of parents to make sure that kids wear helmets, not the police. This is a brave position considering how eagerly the citizenry supports legislation to protect us from ourselves, especially when children are involved. We wish Adams would support some of the other items we asked about, but we'll take what we can get.

Place 3: Margot Clarke

Clarke was the only Place 3 candidate to respond to our survey. Apparently the other Place 3 candidates aren't that concerned about transportation issues, or at least communicating their transportation positions to the people who will decide whether to vote for them. Anyway, Clarke took six of the nine positions we hoped she would take, including supporting a ban of car parking in bike lanes, an increase in the Bike Program budget, reform of CAMPO, opposing CAMPO's road bonds, and allowing City employees to cash in their parking spaces. We're disappointed that Clarke wouldn't repeal the helmet law but that's a difficult proposition for mainstream candidates to support in today's political climate.

As for her opponents, Mandy Dealey's website makes little mention of transportation issues beyond opposing the effort to toll existing roads. Jennifer Kim's website goes a little further, supporting carpool lanes and updating the City's zoning policies to allow for higher-density, mixed-use development, but we would have had to see more from her to endorse her, especially since she didn't answer our survey. Gregg Knaupe talks a good talk about writing a bold plan to address transportation issues, but is short on any specifics in the here and now.

Place 4: Jennifer Gale

While Gale's answers to our questions were admittedly a little incoherent, her heart is obviously in the right place. She's the only candidate in any race who took all ten of the positions we asked about. If elected, Gale could easily be the strongest advocate for non-car transportation to ever sit on the dais. Certainly Gale's main opponent, incumbent Betty Dunkerly, has done squat for transportation in general, and bicyclists specifically, in her tenure on the council (besides the transit-oriented-development proposal, which was easy to support). Dunkerly has had her chance and didn't deliver. We believe Gale would do better.

 


Candidates' Answers to our Questions

 

Place 1

Helmet Ordinance
Vote for Repeal / Sponsor Repeal

Ban parking in bike lanes
Vote for ban / Sponsor the ban

Supports increase in Bike Program budget

Will ride in the Political Pedal ride

Likes what happened to Shoal Creek

Supports car-free bike lanes on Shoal Creek

Would give financial incentives to City employees to bike, bus, or carpool to work

Support reform of CAMPO

CAMPO's road bonds

Steve Adams

Yes / Yes
(no answer)
Uncertain
Yes
No
(no answer)
No
Yes
Oppose

Andrew Bucknall

No / No
No / No
Uncertain
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Oppose*
*See comments below

Scott Williams

Yes / Yes
Yes / No
Uncertain
Yes
No
Yes
No
Yes
Support

Lee Leffingwell

( Did not respond. )

James Paine

( Did not respond. )

Casey Walker

( Did not respond. )
 

Steve Adams

Andrew Bucknall

Scott Williams

The helmet ordinance

The helmet ordinance is an unfair law that the police should not be tasked to enforce. The police have better things to do and it is the responsibility of the parent if they wish their child to wear a helmet.

I was in a bicycle wreck when I was sixteen years old. I was not wearing a helmet but probably would have been if an ordinance would have been present. I was in coma for three days and initially was not expected to live. I do not want to do anything to prevent children from wearing helmets on bicycles. Disparity in enforcement of the law is a violation of the IVX amendment of the constitution. Are we equipping the officers with helmet programs to get them to children who can not afford them? This disproportionate enforcement bothers me but throwing out laws does not address the root problems. Our goal with enforcement should be compliance not giving tickets and fines.

I am a proponent of personal and parental responsibility. It is the parent's responsibility to ensure the safety of their children not the government's. I rode my bicycle without a helmet as a child as did all of my friends. To be consistant I believe people should wear seat belts and wear helmets, but the government should not require them.

How to deal with cars parking in bike lanes?

I would like to see all the information on this subject before I would make "a law" to prohibbit someone from parking in front of their own house. I don't have all the facts and it would not be wise to make a decision with out the facts. However, from what I know, I do think that bike lanes should be clear for bike to ride in.

Parking in Bike lanes does not render them useless unless lanes are filled with many cars. In those circumstances I would support limiting parking on certain streets to allow bicycle access. This would be achieved by placing signs for no parking. The problem with enforcement is that it is done between 9am to 5 pm. The police typically do not utilize resources on neighborhood parking issues because of call demands. I have been an avid bike rider for years and have accepted that in the city there will be cars parked on the side of the streets even in biking lanes and we must share the road. I would be open to exploring this issue in more detail but would not support a blanket ban on parking in bike lanes.

How to enforce the no-parking rule in those few bike lanes where parking is already prohibited?

It's far time we brought back some common sense to the city and from what I've read on your site, the city is doing anything but showing common sense. Our jails are over filled right now. Putting someone in jail for not wearing a helmet or biking is nuts.

I would like to see increased cooperation between the police department and citizens. I would encourage participation in Chief and Commander Forums. I would like to help facilitate discussion groups between cyclists, neighborhoods and police to find solutions to these issues.

Speak with the chief of police and work to educate the officers and request increased enforcement on these vehicles.

If you think the current setup on Shoal Creek Blvd. is preferable to what we had before, why is that?

I would like to hear from both sides to get the needed information to find out what the best fix for both bikers and residents concerning this matter. I do know that what the city did (spending over 300 Thousand dollars to make the problem worse) was not the right way to deal with the problem.

I think it has served to slow traffic. and access to bicyclists. I also think the new design discourages on street parking. It is important to have open accessible and inclusive government which brings all people to the table. It is my impression that the Shoal Creek project was a long process of compromise which in the end was supported by most of the neighbored and cyclists that participated in the process. Often being a city council-member means reaching a compromise in which no one gets 100% of what they want included. There also is a trial and error process involved. I would like to learn more about this proposal and try presenting it to some of the future traffic calming pans that come forward.

What else, if anything, would you do to improve conditions for cycling on Shoal Creek?

As I stated above, I would like to talk with bikers and the people who live in the area to see what would work best to allow bikers and others a safe way to get back and forth. Spending over 300 thousand dollars to put flower beds in the bike lane is NOT the way to help the bikers. Where is the common sense in that stupid plan?

I do think the planters should have been smaller or have the line curve in around planters to grant more room. I also think if there were some other device like raised reflectors on those borders would help keep cars away from bikes.

Get rid of the flower pots.

How can the bus system best be improved? What role would you take in that?

There are many areas I'd like to work on concerning our bus system. For one thing, instead of paying for the items they need we allow them to collect an out of control sales tax. I'd like to reduce the taxing ability of CapMetro and have better accountability on their budget and spending. There are many other areas I'd like to cover, but we can do that at a later time.

I believe we can have more reliable, efficient transportation. I would like to see some of our stops have better lighting or other amenities which increase usage. I would work with capitol metro and seek a position working with the board to increase relaibility, frequency and safety.

Other comments

We need to bring Austin back to an affordable (not subsidized), friendly, common sense place to live again. I've lived here all my life and as a forth generation Austinite I don't like what our city has become in the past 10 to 15 years. We have gone to a wonderful place to live to the highest cost of living in the entire state of Texas and have lost our common sense in our city leaders. Let's bring people who want to serve and help the people of Austin back into office and let's get ride of the ones who are raising our taxes and putting us into bad deals like these toll road deals. I'm the Man that Austin needs for the positive change.

The question about road bonds is really not a simple yes or no answer, really requires mush more explination and would deserve many forums on that one question. On another note, I would like to see increased fuding for expansion of hike and bike trails to provide alternative routes of travel for bicycles. I would also like to see expansion of bike lanes in Austin. I support children saftey programs and public private partnerships to bring helmets and courses to youth through our schools and recreation centers. I love to Bike and appreciate the opportunity allowed for me to participate in this part of your forum. I know that many times some people resort to seeing this as a bike vs. cars issue when it should be about a bicycle and car issue, because we do share the roads and should be able to find common goals and common solutions.

Candidate's campaign website

website

website

 

Place 3

Helmet Ordinance
Vote for Repeal / Sponsor Repeal

Ban parking in bike lanes
Vote for ban / Sponsor the ban

Supports increase in Bike Program budget

Will ride in the Political Pedal ride

Likes what happened to Shoal Creek

Supports car-free bike lanes on Shoal Creek

Would give financial incentives to City employees to bike, bus, or carpool to work

Support reform of CAMPO

CAMPO's road bonds

Margot Clarke

No / No
Yes / Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Oppose

Mandy Dealey

( Did not respond. )

Jennifer Kim

( Did not respond. )

Gregg Knape

( Did not respond. )
 

Margot Clarke

The helmet ordinance

I would say that this situation reflects an enforcement problem rather than a problem with the helmet ordinance. I believe the ordinance has value , especially as a public education tool, and warnings should be the major enforcement means to encourage protection of children.

How to deal with cars parking in bike lanes?

I do think that we should have a city-wide review of the bike lanes to be sure that they are appropriate and useful on streets where we will be forbidding parking.

How to enforce the no-parking rule in those few bike lanes where parking is already prohibited?

Once again, this is an enforcement situation that needs to be improved. We must work with the police to be sure that our priorities in this area are clear.

If you think the current setup on Shoal Creek Blvd. is preferable to what we had before, why is that?

The driving lanes on Shoal Crk. previously were wider than those on an interstate freeway. The bicyclists and neighbors worked on a plan for this road for a long time, and, although I think the parking on only one side would have been preferable, the residents were unwilling to accept that option. The compromise that was reached, though not a plan that necessarily entirely pleases anyone, will slow traffic on the street, and the planters will prevent motorists from using the wide bike/park lanes as an extra lane to drive in. I think we should give the new arrangement time to assess its impact on cycling, driving, and neighborhood safety.

What else, if anything, would you do to improve conditions for cycling on Shoal Creek?

(no answer)

How can the bus system best be improved? What role would you take in that?

I hope to serve on the Capital Metro board as a city council member, and in that capacity to improve communications and cooperation between the council and Cap Metro. I want the bus system to become more effective offering Austinites transportation alternatives, especially in relation to the coming commuter rail system, so that we can reduce congestion on our roads.

Other comments

I am very interested in improving our transportation planning and system in Austin, including expanding options for bicycles and pedestrians.

Candidate's campaign website

website

 

Place 4

Helmet Ordinance
Vote for Repeal / Sponsor Repeal

Ban parking in bike lanes
Vote for ban / Sponsor the ban

Supports increase in Bike Program budget

Will ride in the Political Pedal ride

Likes what happened to Shoal Creek

Supports car-free bike lanes on Shoal Creek

Would give financial incentives to City employees to bike, bus, or carpool to work

Support reform of CAMPO

CAMPO's road bonds

Jennifer Gale

Yes / Yes
Yes / Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Oppose

Wes Benedict

( Did not respond. )

Betty Dunkerly

( Did not respond. )

Philip Byron Miller

( Did not respond. )

John Wickham

( Did not respond. )
 

Jennifer Gale

The helmet ordinance

Bicycle helmets are for those people that have been hit by a vehicle or are out of control or are under the age of twenty-one. Those wishing to commit suicide should be able to ride without a helmet as long as they have insurance in case of death or dismemberment and brain damage as in the Shiavo case. Any person receiving a ticket should not be jailed. Any person struck while on their bike should get legal guidance from the City of Austin in preparing a lawsuit.

How to deal with cars parking in bike lanes?

It is criminal that laws against lane violations don't exist now. Jennifer Gale will sponsor an ordinance giving towing companies the right to tow all vehicles from bike lanes and move that person's car around the corner for a small $ 25.00 fee.

How to enforce the no-parking rule in those few bike lanes where parking is already prohibited?

By giving cyclists the right to report the car violating the law and the officer failing to acknowledge its unlawful parking with a reprimand.

If you think the current setup on Shoal Creek Blvd. is preferable to what we had before, why is that?

This is the location people think of when describing how beautiful Austin is. This is a place where pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles should come together safely.

What else, if anything, would you do to improve conditions for cycling on Shoal Creek?

Remove cars and trucks to a side street and fine them. Require our law enforcement to enjoy teaching people our state and local laws in Austin more as a warning rather than ticket them.

How can the bus system best be improved? What role would you take in that?

We need more routes and buses with greater frequency for people that work for a living. Austin should create more routes that connect routes in a circular fashion that also move through Downtown on a 24 hour basis.

Other comments

I created the Idea of having a "Bike Avenue". The Lance Armstrong Bikeway was supposed to be an attempt at this. It hasn't been built. My Idea is to take an existing road that no vehicle may ride on or cross through. This would make it possible for a young girl or an elderly gentleman or anbody else to ride safely Downtown or out to the Texas countryside totally unencumbered. This would reduce the need for more roads because people would be riding their bike comfortably to play or to work. There also should be enforcement of laws giving a cyclist the entire lane, requiring vehicles to move one lane over or so many seconds behind where it is not safe to come up next to a person on a bike as to not endanger those approaching intersections or making turns.

Candidate's campaign website

(none)


Here's what we sent to the candidates

Below is the survey that we sent to the City Council candidates.

 

1. Many people have reservations about the helmet ordinance because the last time anyone checked, over 90% of the no-helmet tickets given to kids were given to black and Hispanic kids, and because many believe that getting kids to wear helmets should be the responsibility of parents, not the police.

Yes   No

Would you vote for a repeal of the helmet ordinance?

Yes   No

Would you sponsor such a resolution?

 

 Comments (optional):


2. It is perfectly legal for cars to park in most bike lanes in Austin, rendering them useless for their intended purpose. One supposes that in the rest of the civilized world outside of Austin, people understand that bike lanes are actually supposed to be for bikes, not cars.

Yes   No

Would you vote for legislation prohibiting cars from parking in bike lanes?

Yes   No

Would you sponsor such legislation?

If you would not vote for such a resolution, do you have an alternative plan for dealing with the problem of cars parking in bike lanes? Please elaborate.

 


3. In those few bike lanes where it's illegal for cars to park, enforcement is spotty at best. Many times we've seen a police cruiser pass one or more cars parked in a bike lane, paying no notice. By contrast we know cyclists who have been arrested and gone to jail for minor traffic infractions such as bicycling on the sidewalk, running a red light, or biking without a helmet. How would you improve enforcement of the no-parking in bike lanes rule where it exists?

 


4. For years Shoal Creek had narrow bike lanes where it was legal for cars to park. Cyclists pushed for a restriping of the road which would have had parking on just one side of the street, so there would be room for car-free bike lanes. But instead the City came in and widened the bike lanes, put in obstructions (planters) up and down the roadway, and continued to allow car parking. So, what we had before: Bike lanes with cars parked in them. What we have now: Bike lanes with cars parked in them, plus more obstructions. This mess is detailed on our Shoal Creek page.

Yes   No

Do you believe that the current setup for Shoal Creek is preferable to what we had before?

Yes   No

Would you support a plan for Shoal Creek to have parking on one side of the road and car-free bike lanes in both directions?

If you think the current setup on Shoal Creek is preferable to what we had before, why is that?

 

What else, if anything, would you do to improve conditions for cycling on Shoal Creek?

 


5. Do you think the budget for the City's Bicycle Program should be increased, decreased, or remain the same?

Increased
Decreased
Remain the same
Uncertain


6. How can the bus system best be improved? What role would you take in that?


7. Would you support financial incentives to City employees who bike, walk, bus, train, or carpool to work?

Yes   No


8. Are you willing to publicly oppose the current representation of the federally-sanctioned CAMPO body, with its overwhelming share of officials representing areas and districts lying outside Austin, even though Austin has most of the area's population?

Yes   No


9. The CAMPO 2030 plan proposes to hold a series of $400 million bond elections to pay for expanding road capacity in accord with the growth trends in the plan. Would you support or oppose such bonds?

Support   Oppose


10. Would you participate in the annual Political Pedal ride?

Yes   No


Any other comments?




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