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 his survey response, Bike BloNo gives Jeremy Kelley a “B” 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|
My entire family enjoys riding and cycling. I have a Cannondale Silkroad road bike, my wife has a Specialized hybrid, and my son has a standard child BMX style bike and a Razor scooter. The ways and reasons we choose to bike is varied. Personally, I have participated in long rides, the Tuesday night time trial, tri-sharks triathalon (loooong ago), and various rides both on the trails and out in the country. I typically enjoy cycling more for exercise, sport, and then occasionally as a way to hang out with friends. I have also mountain biked in the past, though I do not anymore as I do not enjoy it as much. I have never looked at racing (as my size is a definite disadvantage there for anything other than leading out teammates and blocking wind), but I have many friends on the fringes of this community and I enjoy attending events in this arena such as the B/N criterium. My wife rides more for exercise and social enjoyment. She rides in the Spokeswomen ride, and rides with her girlfriends often. From time to time, she and I go out for an enjoyable weekend type of ride or we go as a family with my son cruising the trails or around the neighborhood. Occasionally we will ride down to Coffeehound, ride to eat somewhere like Medici or Reality Bites, bike over to eat at a food truck and then ride back, etc. While we do not usually ride to run ‘errands,’ and neither of us have ever chosen to ride to work, we have many friends who choose to do both.
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?
I would have. I count myself among the vast majority of those in the community that believe that the Constitution Trail is one of the great features/assets of our community; it was a great decision to create the trail, and we should continue to look for ways to expand and enhance the trail. However, I also believe that the trail cannot and should not be the only avenue for bicyclists to use and enjoy. Although the trail is great for the basic and recreational rider, it is still lacking in providing an outlet for other riders (such as heavy mile or race cyclists, those who chose to ride to work, etc.). With the increasing support for cycling (both within and beyond Bike BloNo), I feel the most responsible way to plan for the future in this arena is to encourage a discussion with major stakeholders, put together a plan and direction, and then take community input. While there are certainly some who have complaints with the plan (and I understand some of those complaints), I believe that the Master Plan is certainly the best way to create a stake in the ground in which everyone can react from. Further, I am happy that the plan involved funding and buy in from some of the major non-governmental stakeholders (Friends of the Trail and League of Illinois Bicyclists), as both groups showed their commitment to fund and participate in the implementation of the plan and now have a stake in the ground to ensure it can succeed. In order to succeed, the plan will take private or community stakeholder action and cannot and should not be done by government alone.
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
While I could have certainly clicked every one of these issues, I think that most of these apply in one way or another. A few of them do not stand out as major issues. For example, I think that most cyclists on streets are usually adequately visible, but the real safety issue is that much like with motorcyclists, drivers may not be used to looking out for cyclists.
So, in my mind, I think the biggest safety issues around cyclists on streets fall into a few categories:
- are there safe paths for cyclists to be on (both on and off the streets)?
- when the street is the option, is there a clear way to create the necessary safe space between car and rider?
- Are those who are sharing a street (both rider and driver) aware and conscious of the rules in regards to riding and safety and
- Are there cases in which there are ways for riders to get around town without having to choose unsafe or busy roads where they should not be riding?
In my mind, these are the main issues that need/needed to be addressed in a bike plan in the past and going forward. While ideas that address the other issues (such as the Bike BloNo proposal of ticket diversion) are interesting ideas that should be discussed, I would tend to favor focusing initial efforts on discussing
- how to expand the trails system (like along Sugar Creek for example) in a way to keep riders safer,
- how to construct bike friendly roads where they are appropriate so that a ‘redesign’ that is bike friendly can be made in a cost efficient way as we rebuild/reconstruct existing roads that already need repair/infrastructure work (for example considering reconstructing Bunn street out to Hamilton in this way when we are finally able to afford the road work that is greatly needed there), and
- how to address bike needs while working on needed existing sidewalk repair work where appropriate (for example, trying to tie the trail into the downtown by creating a path with a bike friendly 6 foot sidewalk vs. putting the route on a busy road like Washington Street or even Front Street where it goes now).
My fear would be that if we try to address everything on the list at once, we may fall shorter than we would if we focused on a handful of the most important issues first.
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?
I am not 100% familiar with all the details of the program so I must give a slightly reserved ‘probably, yes’. As said above, I believe this is a program that should be looked at. My concerns are fairly limited in that I would want to understand the administrative burden and costs that this program may impose, I would want to understand the extent of a burden this may place on officers time in writing the tickets, and I would want to understand what the public users experience in the program would look like (ie, is it a nuisance or is it welcomed and educational). Past these issues and barring any other game changers that would emerge through exploring the program, I am interested in the concept and would look for ways to support the program if these concerns were addressed. I especially like the fact that the program is one created by those within the biking community for those in the biking community.
Question 5: Do you think bicycle infrastructure, like bike lanes, boost existing businesses and attract new businesses and jobs to our community?
If yes, how would you tie together bikes and business? If no, why?
I think they can, yes. I am slightly skeptical of some of the claims that I have seen that give large numbers (for example: bike lanes help create XX, XXX jobs in a community!) but I certainly think that a bike friendly community can boost existing businesses and attract new businesses in a few ways. For starters, I have personally seen and experienced cases in which friends are either attracted to our community or become more connected to the community because of their love of cycling and the opportunities the trails, Comlara dirt bike paths, the Tuesday night time trials, etc. affords in this arena. This can help local business in recruiting or retaining talent that may otherwise choose to live elsewhere. At the same time, I have seen personally how events such as Ragbrai can create a massive economic boost through bike tourism to other areas. I know that can happen here and I hope that the BN Criterium (of which I was personally involved in the initial implementation steps with Brandon Beehner and others) can take off and result in an increase in tourism dollars to our town. While I do not think that the single key to revitalizing the downtown is to connect it to bike paths, I do think that bike paths could be a piece of the pie and add to downtown revitalization by allowing people to bike into the area or allowing downtown residents greater access out of the area. I think that efforts to link the downtown so far are nice, but I do not think they are complete or adequate enough to make a dramatic impact. I would look for ways to better link the trail portion that runs parallel to Clinton avenue to the downtown, likely somewhere along the intersections near Oakland, the warehouse district by the bridges, and the trail portion that runs out to the Westside. I also think that programs such as the walk in, bike out, program on the west side of Bloomington can serve to help meet some needs of residents who may not have viable transportation and thus provide a slight boost to both the individual and those businesses they may patronize. I would look for opportunities, in a cost effective manner as discussed in question 3, to meet these needs to help the community as a whole.
Question 6: Do you support a “complete streets” policy applied to existing roads during reconstruction or resurfacing and for new road construction?
As discussed in question 3, I would look for opportunities that make sense for this policy when doing reconstruction, resurfacing, and new roads. My two areas of hesitation (and the reason I did not just mark yes) are
- I believe that there are some streets (major arterials, narrow streets, streets in which parking is needed on both sides of the street and there may not be a safe way to create a bike lane given the traffic flow) that we should stay away from adding bike lanes to, and
- I believe that there may be cases in which there are cost constraints (either short term ‘we don’t have that extra money now’ or longer term ‘this would cause us to have to spend an additional million dollars due to the fact we would also have to rebuilt the bridge this road crosses’) that would cause us to in certain cases have to choose to not do the complete street path.
That being said, as alderman, I would encourage city staff to look at those cases in which this would make sense and try to focus on those as much as we can first. For example, I would encourage city staff when dealing with the redesign or repair of bridges (say on Sugar Creek) to think to the future and design bridges so they could someday be supportive of potential bike paths (like the one on Veterans just north of GE Road) instead of choosing bridge designs with slanted support walls that would not allow future bike paths to be built. I believe that the best time to make these changes is when we are already there doing existing work and I would look for opportunities to make this happen and put us in a better spot to be able to say yes in the future even if today’s answer to a bike path request is ‘we can’t right now’. I am supportive of this approach.
Question 7: How do you plan to engage constituents, including those who may ride bikes, on issues involving local transportation and infrastructure?
For starters, I would always have an open door to anyone to speak on these issues. Proactively, I plan on systematically checking in with different stakeholders within the town (Bike BloNo, Friends of the Trail, Bloomington Cycle, Wilson Cycle, etc.) to gather their opinions on these issues as I have from time to time over the years already. I will continue to speak to my various friends within the biking community to gather their insights. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I will continue to personally get a first-hand view of the issue myself as I ride the trails, attend the Criterium, go to a BikeBlo No meeting, stop into Bloomington Cycle, etc. If elected, I am guessing that I would already likely be the alderman most personally tied into this community….so I would serve the council as a fresh voice with personal perspective on these issues.