Candidates’ Survey – Amelia Buragas

WGLT’s Good to Go initiative partnered with Bike BloNo to create a Candidates’ Survey to inform voters on the candidates’ positions on bike policy. WGLT wrote the questions and Bike BloNo created a rubric to grade each of the candidates; that rubric will be made public once all surveys have been submitted. Neither organization endorses any individual candidate.


Based on her survey response, Bike BloNo gives Amelia Buragas an “A” on bike issues.


Question 1: U.S. Census figures show a 60% increase in bicycle commuting in the last decade. Research shows Millennials (those 16-34 years of age) are avoiding car ownership and choose the mode of transportation that makes the most sense for the trip. Do you, or do any members of your immediate family, routinely bicycle for any of the reasons below? (select all that apply)

Going to work ✗ I do ✗ Family member does
Running Errands ✗ I do ✗ Family member does
For recreation ✗ I do ✓ Family member does
Other ✗ I do ✗ Family member does

Comments:
My husband and I both commuted to work by bicycle while living in Seattle and Madison, but have not been in the position to do the same yet in Bloomington. Right now our cycling is limited to teaching our two young sons how to ride, but it is an activity we intend to enjoy as a family as our boys get more proficient. In fact, one reason we chose to live on White Place is because of its proximity to Constitution Trail and the cycling opportunities it offers. I believe it is important that we put into place programs and policies that are attractive to perspective residents, especially Millennials, because keeping and attracting the next generation of residents is critical to the future of Bloomington.


 

Question 2: The Bloomington City Council unanimously voted to approve a contract with the League of Illinois Bicyclists to create a Bicycle Master Plan in a shared-cost agreement with the Friends of the Constitution Trail. Would you have voted to create a bicycle master plan for the city?

✓ Yes
✗ No

Comments:
I believe the partnership between the City of Bloomington, Bike BloNo, Friends of Constitution Trail, and the League of Illinois Bicyclists to develop a Bicycle Master Plan is a model of policy making. Bringing together different stakeholders is key to developing successful policy while being responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars. I also believe that the Bicycle Master Plan is very important to the City’s overall infrastructure plan, and moves us toward a Complete Streets model of planning.


 

Question 3: What do you think are some important safety issues facing bicyclists on Bloomington streets? Choose as many as you think apply.

✓ Vehicle speed
✓ Driver attentiveness
✓ Access across Veterans Parkway
✓ Lack of infrastructure (bike lanes, buffered or protected bike lanes, etc.)
✓ Need for more motorist education regarding rules of the road
✓ Need for more bicyclist education regarding rules of the road
✓ Need for more enforcement of existing laws for all road users
✗ Bicyclists didn’t choose sidewalk as an option
✗ Cyclist in the middle of the road
✓ Car too close to bicyclist
✓ Bicyclist not visible enough during day or night
✗ Bicyclists choosing the wrong roads

Comments:
While having the proper infrastructure in place is essential to creating a safe, shared roadway it also is the responsibility of all users to know and follow the rules of the road. I fully support transportation safety programs that educate both drivers and cyclists.


Question 4: Bike BloNo is working with Bloomington leaders to establish a ticket diversion program. The diversion program would provide cyclists or motorists cited for a bicycling related infraction the option to take a Secretary of State approved test on bike rules of the road instead of paying the fine. The test also serves as an educational tool. Police officers would be encouraged to ticket cyclists and drivers for bike-related infractions at an increased rate certain times of year. Do you support such a diversion program?

✓ Yes
✗ No

Comments:
The purpose of the traffic code is to make streets safe for all permitted users of the roadway. The writing of a citation creates an excellent opportunity to educate cyclists and motorists on the rules of the road in order to increase overall safety.


Question 5: Do you think bicycle infrastructure, like bike lanes, boost existing businesses and attract new businesses and jobs to our community?

✓ Yes
✗ No

If yes, how would you tie together bikes and business? If no, why?
There are a number of studies that have found a positive correlation between bike lanes and business revenue. For example, in 2012 the New York City Department of Transportation reported that the construction of a protected bicycle lane on 9th Avenue in Manhattan resulted in a 49% increase in retail sales for local businesses. Businesses in comparable areas experienced an increase of just 3% over the same time period. Similar results have been observed in cities across the U.S. including Portland, San Francisco, Memphis, Austin, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, and Fort Worth. The common theme seems to be a move toward dedicated or protected bike lanes combined with increased bicycle parking. This brings cyclists into the retail areas and encourages them to visit the retailers.


Question 6: Do you support a “complete streets” policy applied to existing roads during reconstruction or resurfacing and for new road construction?

✓ Yes
✗ No

Comments:
The goal of the “complete streets” movement is to integrate people and places during the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of urban transportation networks. It recognizes that people choose to travel in a variety of manners and its goal is to make transportation accessible, pleasant, and safe for all users of city streets. Making sure that these policies are implemented during construction, reconstruction, and resurfacing is essential to ensure that Bloomington remains an attractive play to live, work, and play whether you travel by foot, car, bus, or bike.


Question 7: How do you plan to engage constituents, including those who may ride bikes, on issues involving local transportation and infrastructure?

I intend to engage constituents in four general ways: 1) informational website; 2) quarterly email newsletters; 3) email “alerts” on pressing issues; and 4) direct email and phone contact. These methods of communication will provide information on issues to be decided by the city council, including local transportation and infrastructure issues. In addition, I intend to reach out to area interest groups so that I can remain informed on the issues and topics related to their area of interest and also plan to attend, when appropriate, informational and planning meetings hosted by citizen groups.


A special note of disclosure from the candidate:
Michael Gorman serves as the treasurer of Friends of Amelia Buragas as well as treasurer of Bike BloNo. Mr. Gorman did not participate in the preparation of the responses to this survey, nor did he provide any advice on how to respond to the survey.