*Update May 8, 2012 – added late response from candidate James King.
In years past, I’ve asked questions about biking to city council candidates, so we can see where the politicians stand. This year, I’ve narrowed the questions down to two, and I bring up a question about Denton’s walking infrastructure, because currently there is no dialogue or organized advocacy for better sidewalks and crossings. It’s long overdue.
Early voting starts today. The city site lists the times and locations, and this League of Women Voters guide is a nice, succinct summary of candidate stances.
Zoltner, Durrance, and Sutton responded to my questions. Woodfork, Burroughs, Kamp, King, and Frederick didn’t respond.
1. After years of constant citizen support and input, Denton’s city
council unanimously approved a new Bike Plan with detailed plans to
make Denton’s streets safer and more conducive to bicycling for folks
of all ages. How will you help ensure that the city builds out the
plan and doesn’t let it collect dust?
2. Denton’s sidewalks are notoriously broken, disconnected, and
blocked by dumpsters. How would you address this basic accessibility
From the day I filed (to unseat Pete Kamp as Job 1) one of my stated issues has been “Back to basics” which means that streets and crumbling infrastructure should be high priority items. As I’m sure you’re aware, bike lane development will be tied to CIP street projects where we have been notoriously neglectful in Denton. Even at our current spending levels we’re falling further behind. And that includes the sidewalks as well. All any single council memeber can do is “remind” city manager staff of our commitment to safe bike lanes every year at budget time. I live on Planet Reality and realize that whether or not one is “bike friendly” is far less important that whether one is “Staff-friendly” when they present “alternatives” and higher priorities at budget time. (Your question actually reminds me of how long firefighters have been promised a training facility with no results? 25yrs+ if I recall? So it becomes a matter for citizens as well as council to keep the issue front-and-center. On the practical side, the Sterling Fry development on Hickory will mean another 600+ residents very soon (with cars) living near campus and creating even more need for safe bike lanes. The Campus to Downtown/Atrain corridor should be maintained/enforced as more and more folks rely on bikes for primary transportation and not just recreation.
BTW, on the “bike-friendly” point, I’ve been an avid mtn biker for 30 years. I have over 4,200 miles on my cyclometer exclusively on single track at Erwin Park and RCP Preserve, I’ve been a DORBA member off/on for years and raced in DORBA Fall series as 50+ rider in Clydesdale class @ Erwin and Bar H in Muenster. No big deal but “I get it” when bike people talk.
1. This is an issue of trust and accountability for public officials. When I was on counsel the first time we passed the first by claims in Denton by which a by cyclist could ride from Eagle drive all the way to Loop 288 on the north side of Denton. However, the leadership of Denton must have a commitment to expanding bike facilities, making traffic signals and other traffic warnings compatible with bicycle traffic, and coordinate bicycle traffic in the master transportation plans the city. The inclusion in the Comprehensive Plan of bicycling transportation is another method by which we can insure a transportation plan which includes and make safe bicycling for our citizens of all ages.
Lastly, the Mayor and City Council must remain accountable in the funding through the bonds and obligations to the city for fulfilling the promise of the new Bike Plan. I will do so.
2. Once again, this is an issue of accountability and planning in the mass transportation plan for Denton. However, this is also matter of common sense. Many developments and developers refuse to install sidewalks as part of development. The city must require this. Also in planning for waste disposal, areas must be designated as part of plats and planning to insure that dumpsters do not block traffic of any kind. I have previously attempted on several occasions to include sidewalks in plans for developers. I was outvoted on many occasions. However, with a commitment that I have for making a livable, walkable city, this can be accomplished. But it must be done up front.
In addition, I would recommend that we acquire bond money for retrofitting of certain parts of our city who have not installed sidewalks or other methods of transportation. This must be done with citizen involvement and through the neighborhoods and their associations.
1. Too often our current City Council has made promises of improvements to our local infrastructure, but then diverted the necessary funding to other projects or to fill holes in the general budget. In an election year for districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 the candidates all supported expanded bike lanes and enhanced bicycle safety regulations for the city. When elected to the district 6 seat I will ensure that bike lanes are constructed as promised and will push for further development of cycling infrastructure in the city. Ultimately, Denton should be moving toward a system of bike lanes which are interconnected rather than constructing a few disparate lanes which do not necessarily form a continuous path. Since opening my business I have consistently supported our local cycling community. I have installed a bicycle rack for patrons and visitors to the Fry Street area and actively sponsor a local cycling team. I fully believe that alternative transportation is a critical measure for reducing our community’s dependence on ever more expensive fossil fuel driven vehicles.
2. I believe that sidewalks, streets and bike lanes can all be addressed in a single effort to improve the transportation infrastructure of Denton. I would fully support the construction of a continuous system of sidewalks and the improvement of our existing pathways. Our city has a tendency to put off maintenance sidewalks and residential streets in favor of using those funds for more “visible” projects or to provide a veneer of fiscal responsibility. I favor using the general fund to the benefit of our citizens and would pledge support for repair of sidewalks and streets with our tax revenue.
1. I would keep the accountability and excitement up by continuing the work the specific staff who put togetherthe bike proposal. I personally have a great working relationship with the staff members most responsible for implementation. I think it is a great thing that we have partnership of City and County funding this initiative. I think we are starting correctly by biting of small pieces at first. I think we should prove our success and build on it. I see the concept of paths for bikes as not just good for bikers, but as a way of adding a positive rnore citizen friendly quality to our community. I believe when people choose between cities when relocating, they will find this a trait adding high points in the plus column for Denton. This last fact is a way to get additional support from business in Denton.
2. There is no one perfect answer for this one. Here are a few of the things that are in the works: Complete streets- room for cars, bike, pedestrians in the downtown and going toward UNT. Increased street repair budget and bond program (voting and hopefully passing in November) that will have input from a new 21 member volunteer group. This will prioritize and allow work all over town including sidewalks. New developments now have to put dumpsters in more out of the way locations and allow access for the city trucks.