2020 Council Candidates
August Paul Johnson
Ron Boozell (Rondo)
Michael R. Hughes
Anon (Bubba) Walters
We recently expressed our support for the local 9-135 GoBend Bond with the caveat that it will be essential to have the voices of people who bike on the oversight committee if it passes. In summary: some improvements are better than none.
In order for our community to understand the views of each candidate running for City Council and how they will keep our city moving towards better and safer bike rides and cycling infrastructure, we compiled a list of questions and sent them out to every Council candidate. We gave them ample time to respond and below we have included their answers to these questions.
- What are the specific challenges you see for people who bike in Bend? What actions would you take as City Councilor to improve conditions?
- If the Transportation Bond passes, what will you do to ensure that voices of people who bike are a part of the oversight committee? What is your metric for success in ensuring that the Transportation Bond will meet the needs of people who bike?
- Which state law(s) would you change to make walking or bicycling around Bend safer? (Some examples: prohibiting right turns for autos at red lights, allowing all neighborhood streets to be lowered to 20 mph regardless of car travel volume, or creating front grill height limits on retail motor vehicles sold in the state.)
As a non-profit we cannot advocate for a specific candidate but we can and are engaging our elected officials and candidates on our vision and mission. Here we share their answers with you to assist in the democratic process.
Safety and connectivity are the biggest challenges I see for people who bike in Bend. I often get in my car with my daughter because there is not a connected route to my destination that feels safe to ride with her on the back of our bike. As City Councilor, I would push for and prioritize projects to upgrade bike infrastructure in Bend in the following ways:
- protect bike lanes we already have with barriers or other infrastructure to make people who bike safer from cars
- add bike lanes where they are absent and needed (sharrows are ineffective)
- create separated multiuse and bike paths wherever possible and make these paths connect north/south and east/west in the City, in partnership with Bend Park and Rec District and other government entities
- design new or upgraded intersections with safety of those who bike and walk as a priority
- design new or upgraded roundabouts differently to provide more safety for people who bike and walk
- I believe at least one position on the oversight committee (depending on the size of the committee, it could be more) should be designated for someone who bikes as a main mode of transportation and I will advocate for that on Council. My metric of success for the Bond meeting the needs of people who bike is that we meet or exceed the goals already set in our Transportation System Plan regarding mode share for bikes and the number of traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries in Bend. I also want to ensure that the 12 Key Routes are completed by 2030 and I want to push for a Council goal of zero traffic-related fatalities or serious injuries, as I feel both of these goals should have been in our TSP. I want to note that I appreciate Bend Bikes' thoughtful article on why you support the bond and some of your trepidation in doing so. I share the same concerns. I will work in my capacity as City Councilor to address those concerns and I will make it a priority to improve safety for people who bike in Bend.
- I think Bend City Council could do more to lobby for state law changes to make walking and biking around Bend safer. Cities should be able to set their own speed limits down to 20 on neighborhood streets without a traffic study. We need the state to revise or eliminate the 85th percentile rule that causes speed limits to be set dangerously high on our city streets. I would definitely want to explore no right on red and move away from slip lanes in our intersection designs locally. I think the state needs to look at grill heights, "bull bars," and other unsafe designs/modifications that I see daily on vehicles in Bend that make people who walk and bike less safe and increase the severity of crashes when they occur. I would love to see state funding directed towards subsidizing e-bike use and e-bike purchase, in the way we want to motivate people to get into electric vehicles instead of gas-powered ones. Finally, I would love to see changes at ODOT that move it towards being an agency that prioritizes climate change and ends the practice of road widening as a band aid to traffic problems.
- Safety and connectivity. From the saddle, Bend is still a city with exceptional potential. But it is short of where it can be. I believe Bend can be the most bikeable, walkable, busable, driveable city. To accomplish this, we need to ensure that we have true low-stress networks connecting all of Bend. Even if people are safer while riding, they will not choose to ride instead of drive if they do not feel safe.
- I look at every transportation decision through the lens of whether we are advancing the community mandate under the TSP to reduce Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) per capita by at least 4.5% compared to the 2040 Baseline Scenario conditions and reduce community fossil fuel use by 40% by 2030 and by 70% by 2050. The oversight committee must reflect these mandates. We must eliminate the dozens of “hotspots” BLP Schools have identified where it is not safe for kids to get to school. We must adopt and implement Vision Zero, the mandate to prevent traffic deaths and injuries, and ensure that everything the City does—not just the GO Bond—reflects our obligation to keep Bendites safe when they use whatever means of transportation they choose. The baseline metric I use is whether every single child in Bend can bike, walk, or roll to her or his school and parks.
- [Changes to state law(s) would you change to make walking or bicycling around Bend safer]
- Allow for lower speed limits
- Yield requirements on particular bike- and pedestrian-focused streets
- Ease ability to use automated traffic enforcement
- Strengthen safe passing laws
- Enhance Vulnerable Roadway User laws
- Criminalize buzzing
- Enhance "coal-rolling" enforcement and criminalization
- Requiring certain pedestrian and bicycle safety features on new cars
- I think the number one challenge for people who bike, including myself, is safety. There are too many missing or incomplete bike paths and there isn't a safe way for a biker to get across town. I don't feel safe with my children in a painted lane and I know that I'm not the only one. I think the number one thing I could do as a City Councilor is ensure that biking, pedestrian, and transit are priority projects should the Transportation Bond pass.
- The reason why such a broad coalition supports the Bond was because a broad coalition came together to put it together (through the Transportation System Plan). That means that all voices need to be a part of this oversight committee. It's not an either/or thing. We don't either have car people or bike/pedestrian people. We have both/and people on this committee. My metric for success is ensuring we have a Council that understands that people want options to cars for commuting and for recreation, when all kids can bike or walk to school safely, when people can cross town on bikes on key routes, improved and increased transit options for our City, and that everyone feels comfortable choosing whatever method they want for transportation in our City. It's a pretty high bar!
- I am not a state legislative expert but I am in favor of the rolling stop legislation for sure. I would like to focus on local solutions such as educating people driving cars on how to share the road with bikes. Portland does a cool Friendly Driver class that might be a good model for Bend and I'd like the City to do a series of PSA's about that topic. Identifying neighborhood streets locally that are the most dangerous routes for bikers and lowering speed limits would be another focus. And continuing to back the NSSP program and make sure it is coming up with robust solutions for our neighborhoods.
Ron Boozell (Rondo)
- The specific challenges I see for the people who bike in Bend is the lack of safety in our bike lanes. The bike lanes are unprotected, non-existent, or not connected. The connection between the east side of Bend and west side of Bend is often dangerous for people riding their bikes. The city is still car centered and makes it quite difficult for people riding their bikes to navigate and this is compounded by lack of bike paths. When individuals do bike to work or school they often don’t have bike lanes that are maintained to support their commute.
The actions I would take as a city councilor would be to support the transportation bond and continue to bring people riding bikes when we are talking about infrastructure, roads, road repair/maintenance. When we are interviewing humans for the oversight committee make sure to have humans that bike in the committee. Also bringing diversity to the committee and working on how to make the committee accessible for many different humans.
- When the committee is being formed, we could designate at least one seat for someone who regularly uses active transportation and/or works in the bike/ped field. In order to measure success, we need to choose meaningful metrics to the active transportation community and create a baseline of our current system. We could use metrics such as Bicycle Level of Service that takes into account cyclist’s comfort level, road conditions, and traffic conditions. We can also encourage community members to speak up. Let Sally and City Council know how important it is to have the voices of people who bike on the oversight committee (from all parts of town).
I think it would be important for the metrics for success to be developed by the oversight committee, with all of their different expertise & perspectives. City Council needs to be held accountable to the transportation systems plan. This includes making sure the city has an action plan for safety, walking, biking and transit improvements.
- I am not not sure at this point. I would definitely look to experts on how to support changing codes and policies in Bend to support individuals that bike. This would be instrumental to the application of the transportation systems plan. Safety is the number one priority when looking at people who bike on the roads so being in support of lowering traffic speeds in residential areas. Humans that bike often use those roads to avoid high traffic roads so lowering the speeds would seem intuitive to support them.
Michael R. Hughes
- There are numerous challenges. First and foremost, not all of our city streets have adequate bike lanes. That is necessary in all streets going forward, and I will look for opportunities to improve bike infrastructure throughout the city. An additional challenge is the antipathy that exists between drivers and cyclists. I support recent changes to protect cyclists from drivers in Oregon intersections. I believe cyclists, like drivers, have a right to use public infrastructure, and I strongly support the City of Bend enforcing that right.
- It is essential that the voice of people who bike is represented on the oversight committee. I will vote against any committee appointment motion that does not include the voice of people who bike. My metric for the success of the bond, if it passes, will be if it makes it easier and safer for Bend residents to get around town, whether it be by bike, foot, bus or car.
- As referenced above, I support the right of cyclists to use, safely, taxpayer funded infrastructure. I am open to further discussion about all of the examples provided above. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly for a Bend City Council candidate, I believe building bike infrastructure and providing a legal framework to protect cyclists is very important for our active community. I support lowering the speed limit in areas that have heavy bike and pedestrian traffic.
Anon (Bubba) Walters
A special note of thanks and welcome to Jason Walsh, our newest at large board member, who penned the introduction to our City Council candidate questionnaire! Jason joined us in the midst of the pandemic in July and we are excited about the new energy he brings to Bend Bikes. Jason spent his professional career dealing with sticky land use, land planning, and land management issues in Alaska, every day he wasn’t in the bush, he rode his bike through the mean streets of Anchorage looking for a smoother route. Moving to Bend, he has found the people friendlier towards cyclists but the access still has hurdles. He has bike commuted in many cities around the country and even tried the roads internationally. Jason joins Bend Bikes to help support safe and meaningful pedestrian and cyclist access for every resident of Bend.