Minneapolis Mayoral Candidates’ Stances on Transit, Biking, Walking, and Rolling
Right to left: AJ Awed, Bob “Again” Carney Jr., Jacob Frey, Paul E. Johnson, Sheila Nezhad, Katie Knuth
Move Minnesota and Our Streets Minneapolis have teamed up on a questionnaire for 2021 Minneapolis mayoral candidates to learn about their ideas and vision for the future of transportation in Minneapolis.
Access to quality transit, biking, walking, and rolling play an essential role in tackling climate change and ensuring equitable access to the opportunities and services the people of Minneapolis need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.
This questionnaire is for candidate and voter information only. Participating organizations will not be making endorsements in any Minneapolis city elections in 2021. This questionnaire was sent to all candidates, but those not listed have chosen not to respond.
All candidate responses are listed in alphabetical order last name basis.
What is your primary mode of transportation? How often do you ride transit?
Selected the “Often–3 to 4 times a week” option.
I really enjoy walking as much as I can, and absolutely love to use the scooter-share programs
around the city. I do have young children so we do use a car to get around but I really enjoy
using public transportation, walking from my residence in and around the city with my family
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. :
Daily, I’m a school bus driver and consider that to be transit. As of Friday, September 24th I’m temporarily medically unable to drive a school bus (until Feb 2022). Before that I was driving two morning routes – one was mainly in North Minneapolis, roughly in an area bounded by 26th Street North, Lyndale Ave North, Penn Avenue North, and 11th Street North. I finished with two stops near Bloomington (38th & 41st Streets) and ended at Hiawatha Academy, near 46th street South and Bloomington Ave South. The other was in South Minneapolis, starting at Portland & 28th, circling the Chicago Avenue and 38th Street South George Floyd area, then heading North down Cedar, with one stop at 25th Street, another on Riverside about 21st, and then to Venture Academy, near the Green Line Stadium Village station.
Walking is my primary mode of transportation. Prior to being mayor I was a daily transit
Paul E. Johnson:
Selected the “once or twice a year A.K.A state fair or event rider” option.
I usually bike on park/portland and the greenway!
I do not consider myself to have a primary or single mode of transportation. I use a mix
of walking, biking (both my own bike and NiceRide), car, carpooling, and transit (though transit
much more often pre-pandemic).
The pandemic has changed my transit riding habits significantly. Pre-pandemic I rode
transit at least once or twice a week, most often taking the 9 bus from home and connecting to lightrail. Or taking lightrail or a bus between meetings. Because the 9 does not come very often, I would also take a NiceRide bike or my own bike downtown to catch light rail quite regularly.
A regular bike route for my family is from our house to my daughter’s daycare at the
edge of downtown, a route we use our cargo bike on. I am glad for the new two-way bike lane
on Dunwoody that makes this route much easier for us. Because my family owns just one car, I often bike to events (1-3 times a week) for my campaign when my spouse and daughter need a car. And when I was a more regular commuter, I’d bike downtown to my co-working space or to the UMN St. Paul campus where I used to work.
Rethinking I-94 & Environmental Justice: Climate change and pollution disproportionately affect Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Children in North Minneapolis—particularly those closest to I-94 in the 55411 & 55412 zip codes are hospitalized at rates as high as 4x compared to children in other parts of Minneapolis. During the last Minneapolis freeway reconstruction project, the city withdrew municipal consent for the I-35W reconstruction until the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Metropolitan Council redesigned I-35W with highway Bus Rapid Transit, resulting in the Orange Line I-35W. Currently, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is exploring reconstruction efforts for I-94 going North out of the city; what role, if any, do you see the city playing in rethinking our freeways and addressing environmental injustice and pollution from freeways? Are there specific transportation or transit efforts you would pursue to achieve this?
I want to create connection again, recapture the land, and make more green space that
provides a break in the grueling city landscape and a place to once again spend time in.
Through bike lanes, walkways, and public transportation amenities that encourage people to get out and once again being involved in their city.
Every part of the city should be walkable, especially those that have been polluted and
disregarded in the early infrastructure that designed the city. Using a racial equity lens to ensure we don’t create public health or harm to historically disenfranchised communities. I want to reconnect neighborhoods, create more neighborhood engagement, and put neighborhoods back in the center of city policy and planning.
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. :
This is the point where I’m going to start taking issue with the whole framework of thought and analysis that you are presenting. My jumping off point here is what has more traditionally been thought of as economic justice. As I’ll explain later, the solution to air pollution, and the higher incidence of asthma in the 55411 & 55412 zip codes, is to switch all vehicles to electric or hydrogen gas ICE, and to capture hydrocarbon emissions and recycle them – I have a book length plan that shows how we can do this, and can make Minneapolis a zero emission city for transportation purposes by 2030. More immediately, our public bus system really comprises three de facto primary systems: 1) the one that has evolved from the original street car system, 2) an essentially newer and separate system designed primarily to bring in commuters from the suburbs to downtown Minneapolis, and 3) Metro Mobility. Throughout these answers I’ll be referencing a document on my campaign website, www.votebobagain.com – the document is titled “Three Centuries Perspective, 14 pages.” Of course I recommend reading it all.
Page 7 of that document highlights the separation of the elements 1) and 2) – the “ghost” of the streetcar system, and the suburban commuter system. Before COVID hit, about 750 daily commuter buses were bringing in people to downtown Minneapolis from the ‘burbs – about 60% of the downtown workforce was commuting. However, my study of this system showed that only about 100 of the routes were scheduled for a reverse commute trip. I worked with a Republican House member (Bob Loonan, Shakopee, he was defeated) to draft legislation to study setting up a reverse commuter system – to use these buses to bring people from Downtown Minneapolis to job sites all over the Twin Cities. The basic idea is to design reverse commuter routes from downtown, via the freeway grid, with only a few stops for each at major employment sites and commercial nodes – the buses would then go to the origin point for the next commuter trip in to downtown. Durin the PM this process would be reversed. This can be done at a very low cost – we’re just replacing “dead head” runs with passenger-carrying commuter runs. Can you think of a better way to open up the entire Twin Cities job market to BIPOC folks, who can access downtown using our existing city street system? Of course, this approach would make more LRT unnecessary. In general, I prefer to use our existing grid of roads and freeways to any project that is built exclusively around transit vehicles – that includes both LRT and BRT. However, I’m glad the Orange Line is coming in, and am willing to consider some additional BRT projects. Now back to the issue of air pollution. Here’s what I wrote for the Star Tribune Voter Guide on this… with elaborations in bracets : “Like Nixon with his Vietnam War Plan, I have a secret plan for Minneapolis to reach ZERO CARBON EMISSIONS from transportation by the year 2030. It’s in the form of a book – I have physical review copies available for journalists to review (the Star Editorial Board?) but am working on completing a patent application before making it public. But I can tell you this – the plan is based on a way of delivering and removing JIT (Just-In-Time) “energy modules” for vehicles. Each “energy module” has either a battery charge, which can recharge an EV while it’s driving, or enough gaseous hydrogen to run a vehicle for a few miles. Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles can run on hydrogen and emit only water. [Elaboration: This is a big part of the solution – however, we must acknowledge the conversion will be a challenge – it will take time. Another part of the solution, more relevant to the 94 corridor, is to require all diesel vehicles driving on all Twin Cities freeways to use the same or equivalent technology as that currently being produced and marketed by a company called HyTech (I have no financial interest in the company.) They have a system uses port injection to add a very small amount of hydrogen gas just before the combustion stroke for each piston. Their claimed result is that existing diesel engines can have both a significant improvement in mileage, and a dramatic reduction in dangerous emissions – so dramatic that they can actually meet California’s standard for low-emission vehicles. Here’s the real kicker – HyTech claims due to the savings in fuel their technology can pay for itself in as little as a few months.] The JIT “energy modules” can also capture Carbon Dioxide exhaust and re-process it into liquid hydro-carbon fuel that can fill up conventional gas tanks and run conventional ICE vehicles. The process uses heat and solar electricity, so it’s 100% green. We’re heading for a huge lithium bottleneck (China’s grabbing for control) – we need a hydrogen alternative. I’ll be carrying a review copy of my book around – happy to show it to you – but again… the patent needs to get done. After I lose this election (Republican? Yeah… right…) I’ll finish up the patent (if not before,) publish the book, and this will be my major project going forward. I’m convinced Republicans need new and practical ideas for solving the Climate Crisis – let’s do this together.”
The way that I-94 cuts in between our Northside neighborhoods and the Mississippi
riverfront is detrimental for several reasons. There are real health impacts from the
emissions, tire and brake residue, and noise of thousands of vehicles passing through your
neighborhood every day. Additionally, the freeway is a physical barrier between the
neighborhood and the riverfront, separating these communities from miles of nature and
I will support reconstruction efforts of I-94 that reconnect North Minneapolis and help
reduce emissions leading to disproportionate health impacts. There are a number of ways
to accomplish these goals from capping the freeway to bus only lanes to returning a
highway through the Northside to more of a street setting. As with any decision, it’s
important that we first conduct robust engagement in the communities most impacted by
these decisions. Overall, reconstruction is an opportunity to improve both transit and
equity outcomes, and reverse some of the decisions that have adversely impacted our
Paul E. Johnson
I believe that LRT transit throughout the City, especially on highways, is critical to increasing ridership of transit in a way similar to what happened with the I-35W construction. For people who work downtown, the reason I hear most from the community about why they don’t use transit is the lack of convenient routes, especially during the work day. LRT transit runs more frequently, and while people may have to drive to a park and ride, they are willing to do so if they have access to easily get home should an emergency arise. Reducing bus traffic within the City and focusing on LRT transit will reduce bus pollution and harm to City residents.
Freeways have disproportionate impacts on the neighborhoods they go through in our
community, and the city government should plan an active role in addressing the pollution
freeways bring into neighborhoods. As mayor, I will make sure my team and I are engaged in the Rethinking 94 efforts, and I will be a champion for moving more toward transit and electrifying transit as well as city vehicles in order to reduce these sources of pollution. To truly take on climate change and reduce pollution in neighborhoods caused by freeways, we need to take bold action. I am prepared to do so as mayor.
The residents of Minneapolis, especially BIPOC and working class residents, are deeply impacted by the construction of freeways. believe that the city should absolutely be at the table when rethinking our freeways and the harmful consequences of pollution and displacement they may bring. I have been involved with environmental justice initiatives throughout the city including Community Members for Environmental Justice, focusing on Northern Metals and the Upper Harbor Terminal Project, and the East Phillips Indoor Urban Farm. As mayor, I will support the plans of resident, BIPOC-led organizing as we design new land use and transit/transportation efforts, including supporting anti-gentrification and anti-displacement policies for the Blue Line development. Please visit www.SheilaforthePeople.com to read my full policy plan and access to 15 additional organizational questionnaires.
Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan: State and city studies show that we will need to reduce how much people drive (“vehicle miles traveled”) to reach established emissions-reduction goals. Transportation is the #1 source of climate change pollution in Minnesota. The Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan has highlighted changing “mode split” (the shifting of car trips to transit, biking, or walking) as a critical strategy in reaching and measuring VMT reduction and in achieving overall emission reduction goals. The city now has an ambitious “mode split goal” to shift 60% of car trips to biking, walking, and transit by 2030. Despite an increase in bike and pedestrian infrastructure investments, data from the previous decade shows that VMT numbers dropped only 2% between 2007-2016. What specific transit, biking, and walking policies and investments should the city make, if any, to achieve Transportation Action Plan mode split goals? What new or accelerated interventions, if any, do you see as appropriate for reaching VMT goals by 2050?
I agree with the goals set forth in TAP to help us create more equitable travel options. We should be continuing the reduction in the dependency on single-occupancy vehicles. I want to continue to create more environmentally friendly options such as reducing the dependency on single-occupancy vehicles, promoting the goal of 3 of every 5 trips are taken by walking, rolling, bicycling, or transit, improving existing walk pedestrian routes, making for more attractive transit options, and providing infrastructure improvements in lower-income neighborhoods and communities.
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. :
I reject the premises this query is founded on, and I reject the Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan – especially as regards the “ambitious mode split goal.” This is my most extensive and foundational answer to your query. I’m also going to construct this answer with some material “left over” from my Star Tribune Voter Guide answers:
“I was walking around Lake Harriet recently, when a group of two bikers and a motorized scooter descended over the bike path and on to the walking path. I yelled out: “It’s the BIKE SUPREMACISTS!” Ok… a little tongue-in-cheek hyperbole… but really… look what’s happening to our whole street system. The current plan for Bryant Avenue is to make it one way… northbound from 50th to 46th and southbound from Lake Street to 46th. If there is construction on Lyndale (where ISN’T there construction these days!?) there is no north-south route from Lake Street to 50th between Nicollet and Penn. This is insane. Things have gotten so bad I’m calling for annual municipal elections. We need a one year warranty on anyone elected to anything in Minneapolis.”
I personally am not “anti-bike” – in fact, from about 2013 until 2020 I personally did not drive a car — relying exclusively on public transit, biking, walking and Lyft (I now drive a car again.) But more and more, the term “BIKE SUPREMACIST” is sounding to me like an apt description of what’s going. In my view, the entire street system of Minneapolis is being deliberately, systematically destroyed. From the point of view of the Minneapolis Transportation Action Plan this really seems to be along the line of the Vietnam-era idea: “We had to destroy the village to save it.” If Minneapolis is to actually “achieve” — in the words of your query, with your underline: an “ambitious mode split goal to shift 60% of car trips to biking, walking, and transit by 2030”… then in my view it really will be necessary to destroy our current road and street infrastructure. And… quite frankly… we’re doing it.
Let’s look at this from an historical context – again I refer you to my “Three Centuries Perspective, 14 pages” document. Pages 2 and 3 examine the period from what I call “Peak Poop” – that’s from when we had a horse-and-mule powered transit system with its own unique environmental challenges, to our first electric transit revolution. Our streetcar system entirely replaced the earlier horse-and-mule system in an amazingly short period of time… from 1889 to 1893. We reached “peak transit” about 1920 – at that time we had about 238 million trolley riders a year… that’s an average of about 380 transit trips a year per person. Skip to page 5 and compare this to all-of-Twin-Cities results of about 91 million transit rides a year and 28 average transit trips a year per person. We can and have made dramatic “mode split” shifts before, and we can do it again. But I’m convinced that both our transit option categories, and the current plan, are woefully inadequate as we strive to consider and choose our possible alternative future.
To this purpose, in my most recent 2013 campaign for Mayor, I wrote and published an e-book titled Demand Transit Revolution – it’s also available as a .pdf download from my campaign website, votebobagain.com. I invite you to take a look at it.
We need to do some serious re-thinking about what possible transit and transportation solutions are available to is. In the short run, my first priority is literally to stop the on-going destruction of our system of city streets and roads. We should strive for simple, wide right of ways – with a minimum of two lanes in each direction, and dedicated left turn lanes whenever possible. When and where necessary, I favor simply tearing out the obstructions we’ve been building in recent years with crews of jackhammer-equipped infantry, supplemented with various kinds of shovel-bearing rigs and dump trucks. Rip out the obstacles, and repave. If it only lasts five years – do it again. Also provide for bays that can be used for transit and transport vehicles of all kinds to drop off and pick up people.
As I proposed in my recent Star Tribune article laying out an action agenda for the School Bus driver crisis – we should be looking to get up to 1,000 fifteen-passenger vans – and recruiting people to drive them. Please check out the article – I anticipate expanding it to book length shortly – it will be available by Amazon – Kindle Direct Publishing – in both e-book and printed book formats.
I’m all in favor of better transit.
But of course… what about bikes and biking? We already have one of the best system of urban bike trails in the country. I think that’s great… I love it and use it. Again, in considering what to do here, we should return to consider our history.
Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and the larger metro region, are unique in this regard: we are one of the largest urbanized areas in the world that has been designed and built from the ground up to enable and rely on transit – and more particularly public transit – as our primary way of getting around. I refer you to p. 25 of Demand Transit Revolution – showing Minneapolis and Saint Paul, with the street car route system and the roadway grid as of 1914. In addition to the routes themselves, we must bear in mind another crucial design feature – excepting the inevitable geographic displacements caused by lakes and terrain, the uniform design character of both major cities is a rectangular grid of blocks and streets. This pattern is repeated in some of the inner suburbs, but then gives way to a structure of higher traffic volume and higher speed roads, together with a scheme of superblocks and cul-de-sacs. And of course, our system of freeway and “freeway-wanna-be” routes overlays this.
Let’s focus now on the largely rectangular system of city streets in Minneapolis (and Saint Paul/some inner suburbs.) There is a kind of interwoven fabric of arterial through routes and residential access streets. Using part of south-of-downtown (and omitting some arterial and semi-arterial streets each way) as an example: Lake Street, 38th Street, 46th Street, 54th Street, crossed by Xerxes, Penn, Lyndale, Nicollet, Chicago, Bloomington, and Cedar, each separated by up to a few blocks in either direction of a grid of roadways that are in half or more cases more or less residential access routes. These residential access routes are ideal for a system bike and 20 MPH speed limited cars – however there is a big problem, because when they intersect with the busier grid, they typically face a stop sign, meaning through travel on these “capillary streets” is not practical. That’s good for limiting car and vehicle traffic, but bad from the point of view of providing bikes and other “people rollers” (scooters, etc…. maybe segways) with the opportunity to travel longer distances on what amounts to a continuous roll. I don’t know about you, but as a biker that’s sure my preference.
There’s a psychological or perceptual element to keep in mind here – how we experience time, and how we experience disruption in our rate of speed. There’s a big difference between how we experience going at a steady rate of 20 or (heresy!) 25 MPH – and going at a disrupted rate of 30, 35 or 40 MPH, while being regularly brought to a stop by a traffic light… and in some cases an occasional stop sign. Part of the goal of designing a system that includes a substantial portion of streets where 20-25 MPH is the reality is ensuring that people – especially bikers — can proceed on these right of ways at a more or less continuous rate of speed… without experiencing either a high volume of traffic or a frequent-to-constant need to stop. Note, these tunnels will have an inside height of not more than eight feet – they are specifically not intended to accommodate any kind of larger vehicle – including current bus designs.
This can be accomplished by redesigning and rebuilding a lot of our intersections, to provide for two levels – a slightly to moderately elevated right of way for the busier street, with a below-grade tunnel passing beneath it. By designing and building a network of residential-character streets that are a block away from the grid of busier through-streets, we can provide a way for bikers and people-rollers to travel uninterrupted for significant distances in a low-traffic, low-speed environment. I’ve been working on some designs for this, and anticipate filing at least one patent. These one-block-off streets can also be designed to handle a higher value of car traffic during “surge” hours (AM and PM rush hours) if and when necessary. But my main point is that we can develop a system that is more bike-friendly, safer for bikes, pedestrians and “people rollers” and also more vehicle friendly. Looking forward again – with the advent of automated driving, and who knows what other technology, we should concentrate on two fundamental ideas. First – ensure that our system of streets can handle the highest possible volume of traffic possible without congestion. Second, ensure that bikes and “people rollers” can travel pleasantly and safely anywhere in Minneapolis – using the “one block off” system I’ve described. By the way, I’m also in favor of allowing bikes and people rollers to use side walks to go back and forth between the “one block off” system and all locations on busier streets – which of course will tend to include all the on-street businesses. The key to making this work really amounts to simple courtesy on everyone’s part – especially bikers. Is it too much to ask to ride at 5 MPH, or even walk a bike, for a block? Let’s all be reasonable.
Public transportation is essential for the environment and sustainability, racial justice and
equity, and economic inclusion and fairness. We have made great progress with initiatives
to move forward with Bus Rapid Transit like Minneapolis’ D Line, to expand the light rail,
and to make public transportation more affordable, accessible, and efficient. Our
administration has also launched the city’s mobility hub pilot program to increase
residents’ access to convenient low- or no-carbon transportation. These include transit and
shared bicycles and scooters, especially at the first and last miles. In addition, we have
adopted our city’s nation-leading 2040 Comprehensive Plan to accelerate investment and
use of renewable energy in transportation by establishing more sustainable transportation
patterns that discourage single-occupancy vehicle use and promote pedestrian, bicycle,
transit, and other no- or low-carbon mobility options.
We have also completed the city’s 10 Year Transportation Action Plan that sets forth over
350 strategies and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve street use and
safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, and advance transportation equity.
I would like to see a significant expansion in Bus Rapid Transit routes in the next 5 years to
make safe, quick, and sustainable transit possible for more residents. There is still quite a
bit of work to do, but we will continue to improve Minneapolis’ public transportation and
transit system with help from our partners.
Paul E. Johnson:
Unfortunately, living in Minnesota makes walking and biking difficult for half the year. For that reason, I believe the best way to reach this goal is to increase bus and LRT transit, while continuing to make investments in bike lanes and sidewalks, and offering incentives in coordination with the County and Metro Transit to increase ridership. Ideally, transit would be free and always accessible from downtown to meet the mode split goal.
As part of my Minneapolis Green New Deal plan, I have proposed updating the City’s VMT reduction goals to align with more ambitious emissions reduction targets. We also need strategies to make these VMT reductions a reality. As mayor, I will work with regional partners to expand and enhance bus-rapid-transit to serve Minneapolis and the region more effectively. I will use pilots and temporary interventions for transit-, bike-, and people-centered infrastructure. Doing these kinds of all-in pilots will help facilitate more effective system-wide rollout because both users and designers will be able to experience the benefits of a more effective transit/bike/walk system. I will also use city resources for small business and storefront revitalization to make the pedestrian experiences better in neighborhood nodes and commercial corridors.
As mayor, I will partner with groups who have been working on increasing mode splits for years so the city will follow the lead of the people and we can put more resources into what people on the ground really want. I know that many people, including myself at times, avoid using buses, light rail, or bike lanes because of street harassment. Therefore, part of my work to make sure that everyone can use transit is supporting community programming that teaches healthy masculinity, and working with the school board to include it in high school curriculum, as well as working with Driver’s Ed to make sure that when young people learn how to drive, they learn how to drive in a way that keeps bikers, pedestrians, and transit users safe in all ways.
For some folks who have driven their whole life, that first bus ride can be a little intimidating, but we know that pretty much any activity is more fun with friends! When the city is contracting with outside groups, I will advocate that those contracts include funds for bus passes for employees and program participants, and give those agencies communications/graphics to help motivate people to hop on that first ride!
Finally, I am the only candidate to have municipal shoveling as a part of their platform. Municipal shoveling will make our sidewalks more accessible and reduce barriers to wintertime transit use (I am among the many to struggle mounting those piles of ice and snow between the curb and bus in the wintertime). Please visit www.SheilaforthePeople.com to read my full policy plan and access to 15 additional organizational questionnaires.
Bottineau/Blue Line Extension: This LRT project was deemed unworkable on its currently planned route on BNSF right-of-way. However, there is still substantial interest in a Bottineau project because transportation connects people to social activity, economic opportunity, educational institutions, healthy food, and critical health services. North Minneapolis has been historically underserved by transit compared to other parts of the city; however, there are also community concerns from North Minneapolis residents of displacement and gentrification surrounding the Blue Line extension project and transit-oriented development.
What policies or programs, if any, should the city implement to ensure the success of major transit investments for both current and future communities along the line?
I want to lead the charge in gaining neighborhood and community sign-off on current and future projects that live along these developments, creating engagement with people of color and low-income residents especially that are along with these transit projects, before, during, and after implementation. Once they are opened, entourage greater engagement with residents with financial assistance programs and public safety initiatives such as peace officers at stops to provide both assistance and a safer environment. I also want to open up public transit options to a younger demographic to encourage their participation starting at a younger age and allow them to grow and have a voice in the continued implementation of public services.
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. :
Light Rail for the Twin Cities is 19th century technology at 22nd century prices. We should not build the Bottineau line. At a news conference held by Martin Sabo I came to the conclusion he thought the whole “equity argument” for Bottineau was basically a scam – that’s how I view it. I’m in favor of designing and building radically better transportation and transit systems for everyone.
Residents on the Northside have repeatedly been excluded from accessing some
of our city’s greatest assets. Racial covenants and redlining blocked these
communities from the opportunity and prosperity afforded to those in other parts
of the city. Whether it ends up being West Broadway or Lowry North, we need to
invest in the infrastructure to make this project accessible to the communities
through which it will travel.
Further, the anti-displacement work is central to the success of this project. It will
be critical to preserve and create affordable housing options, and provide
Northside business owners with resources necessary to not only own their own
business but to own the land on which the business operates. This way, when
economic gains take place they are the ones benefiting. We created our first of its
kind Commercial Property Development Fund to do exactly this, with a focus on
providing black and brown communities the avenues to ownership.
I will work with Hennepin County and the Metropolitan Council to continue to
move this project forward to benefit current and future Northside residents.
Paul E. Johnson:
Should the Bottineau/Blue Line Extension project go through, there should be a team of City staff to work with residents to ensure they are a) stay in North Minneapolis should they choose to, b) be fairly compensated for relocating, including renters who are displaced, and c) priority for any businesses that move to the area as a result of the extension should be given to Black and Indigenous people, including supports in the form of grants and licensing policies to ensure this happens.
Ensuring the success of major transit investments – like lightrail or bus rapid transit – includes making sure these investments serve existing community residents and help to welcome new residents into the city. Striking this balance is especially important in North Minneapolis because we do not want to displace people in this historically underinvested community. We need to work with community organizations to make sure the concerns of current residents are heard and reflected when planning major transit investment. I am committed to this work as mayor and appointing department leadership and staff in my office to make it happen. We also need to use anti-displacement measures and compensation for directly-impacted people to make sure big transit investments make communities stronger and don’t tear them apart.
Talking about the Blue Line is one of the first conversations I had when I started my campaign. We must protect the residents and small businesses in North Minneapolis from the harms of gentrification and displacement. As mayor, I will work with residents and community organizers to craft a suite of anti-displacement and anti-gentrification policies that are crafted from the ground-up, not top-down. That means engaging in a genuine community co-governance process and advocating for the needs of BIPOC and working class residents as we pursue regional transit development. I would also support reduced fares for people living along the transit corridor, including Northside residents, to encourage ridership and not exclude potential transit users. I have been in touch with CURA and will continue to work closely with their research team to make sure we are developing in an equitable way. If you are a North Minneapolis resident, please contact me at email@example.com , I would love to hear your ideas! Please visit www.SheilaforthePeople.com to read my full policy plan and access to 15 additional organizational questionnaires
Hennepin Avenue: The City of Minneapolis is currently considering several design options for the stretch of Hennepin Avenue that runs between Lake Street and Franklin Avenue. The currently proposed design options for Hennepin Avenue include bus lanes, two-way traffic, and loading and parking zones; one option includes bike infrastructure, and the other design includes street greening.
On streets like Hennepin Avenue—which are key commercial corridors, have dense housing nearby, and have limited space to work with—what approach, if any, should the city take in balancing current and long-term needs for our transportation networks?
Commercial corridors need more multi-use transportation methods such as walkways,
bikeways, with an emphasis on bus-accessible stops that encourage more foot traffic. We need to find a balance between the downtown commercial dependencies on a car that fills up the major arteries and clogs bus service.
I want to be promoting less car dependant services that can encourage them to leave their cars and spend more time in these downtowns areas. By implementing dedicated Park and Rides for folks going specifically “Downtown” on the outer transportation nodes, we could emphasize these transportation options which can take people into areas like Hennepin Ave, the Ballpark, and theater districts
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. :
Building on my “great declamation” answer, my basic approach for Hennepin Avenue would be to pave it, paint it, and ensure there are plenty of stopping bays for vehicles to drop off and pick up people. Mobilize the jack hammer army — with supporting shovel-equipped whatevers and dump trucks. March from about Grant Street to 36th street, level everything, shovel it up and put it in dump trucks, pave it, and paint it. Should take about a week. No separate bike lanes – but ensure “one block off” right of ways for bikers along the length – including running one block east of Hennepin from 28th to 31st street – with whatever modifications are required for that. Let people bike and “people roll” on sidewalks, at 5 MPH, and showing courtesy. Provide five minute transit service along the whole corridor, using supplemental vans as needed.
The success of the Hennepin reconstruction specifically rests on the fairness of
its process, and we will continue to listen to the voices of experts, residents and
businesses as we progress through the iterations of this plan. Any version of the plan
that I support will have a bus lane within it. I welcome input from, and look forward to
working with, MoveMN and OurStreets as we work together to improve this major
Paul E. Johnson:
I am in favor of Option 2. While I support bike lanes, given the climate of Minneapolis, I believe we need to focus our investment on transit options that are usable year round, especially in highly trafficked areas.
When we are making decisions about street design, we need to be taking our city’s transportation action plan and climate goals very seriously in the decision-making process. I am committed to using the bully pulpit of the mayor’s office to make sure we center our city’s climate justice goals, including shifting to less use of cars to get around the city. This focus is especially important on key commercial corridors that already have significant density.
With parking requirements no longer in effect, we need to make sure that public transit is going to be more viable than having a personal vehicle. I would support adding dedicated bus and bike lanes on major corridors such as Hennepin Avenue and Lake Street to pair with higher density housing. I would also like to see Metro Transit expand its hours of service so that people who are working or going out late at night can rely on public transit to get around, especially on weekends when service times are reduced. I think there is also a need for city leadership to push for lower cost transit, ideally free transit. As Mayor I would work with our state legislators to put this in the state’s budget for Metro Transit. Please visit www.SheilaforthePeople.com to read my full policy plan and access to 15 additional organizational questionnaires.
Bus Priority: Transit operations cross multiple jurisdictions of government. Metro Transit manages bus operations and service schedules. The city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County have authority over most of the streets Metro Transit Buses run through; and, the city also has control of the stoplights within city limits.
What improvements, if any, should the city be pursuing to improve speed and reliability for Minneapolis transit riders? How do you see the city, Metro Transit, and Hennepin County collaborating to improve bus service?
I hope to work with the city to expand existing bus route services, create more dedicated bus lanes, as well as provide and encourage more student-accessible bus opportunities. More bus route wayfinding and route signage, technological advancement that provides on-time updates, bus rider memberships, and financial assistance programs for students, lower-income, and city government employees. Expanding limited-stop services that run during key hours, including more express services.
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. :
Forget “collaborating.” Give Minneapolis total authority over the operation of Metro Transit busses in Minneapolis – and hold annual municipal elections to hold electeds accountable. If that doesn’t work, give some other level of elected government total authority and accountability… county or state… put some level in charge and hold them accountable. The Metropolitan Council should have no say in the scheduling or operation of buses in Minneapolis… they can make suggestions. Allow both the accountable unit of government, and possibly private entities, to supplement transit service on existing city bus routes by running vans – the goal should be five minute or better service wherever and whenever possible.
A robust public transportation is essential for the environment and sustainability, racial
justice and equity, and economic inclusion and fairness. We’ve made great progress over
the last several years, moving forward with Bus Rapid Transit like our D Line, expanding
light rail, and providing bus-only lanes to make public transportation more affordable,
accessible, and efficient.
As stated earlier, we need to expand access to Bus Rapid Transit down major corridors.
These trips should not only be possible, they should be safe, affordable, and competitive (in
terms of travel time) with car transportation. It’s not enough to simply provide these
services, they should be naturally incentivized due to their speed and quality. Further,
providing more convenient options for public transit close to residents’ homes will improve
accessibility and increase usage. Finally, public transit needs to be simple and easy to
navigate. Getting around the city should be straightforward regardless of your age, ADA or
Paul E. Johnson:
The City, as well as suburban communities, need to be at the table in discussions regarding transit planning. I support dedicated bus lanes on city streets to increase speed of bus transit.
Minneapolis has an important role to play in our collaboration with Metro Transit and Hennepin County to improve bus service in the city. We as a city need to dedicate city street space to bus lanes in the city and give priority to transit vehicles in stoplight timing in the city. These actions
are part of the Minneapolis Green New Deal plan I have put forward and would contribute to
better transit-rider experience in the city.
We need a mayor who can effectively organize across jurisdictions to achieve our transit goals, and we need to make it easier for residents to get involved in decisionmaking. I have been a coalition-builder my entire career, starting in LGBTQ rights and transitioning to public safety and policing, and as mayor will use my skills to work with Metro Transit and Hennepin County to improve speed and reliability for Minneapolis transit riders. One of my priorities in increasing the budget of the city’s communications department so residents have more access to information on how decisions about transit are made, who they can contact across city, county, and Metro Transit, and to be able to hold decisionmakers accountable. Please visit www.SheilaforthePeople.com to read my full policy plan and access to 15 additional organizational questionnaires.
Parking Policy: The City of Minneapolis recently eliminated parking minimums; however, the city approved both a multi-thousand Allina parking ramp and proposed a parking plan for the Roof Depot site with spots for nearly every employee or visitor to travel by car, which is not in alignment with the city’s mode shift goals as cited in the TAP.
What role do you think the city should play, if any, in reducing parking to meet mode shift goals?
We should be looking to create neighborhood car-share services as well as shuttle service
options for park and ride with apartment complexes that can better meet the needs of city
residents, thereby creating more creative avenues for parking and driving alternatives that go
beyond just the bus options. There is still the need for cars for some people, and creating more systems that encourage drivers to use their car less can help give them options beyond
expecting them to necessarily give up their car.
I would want to encourage developers to include car-share services with apartment complexes
thereby reducing the total number of needed parking spaces and therefore cars. These options are not often considered but the means are there. We have these services ready-made, we just need to promote the usage of these kinds of shareable services. Providing accessible shareable transportation services that can alleviate the dependency on driving, parking, and spending the additional costs to have a car is something our city must do.
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. :
As already stated, I simply reject the idea of trying to achieve any particular “mode shift goal.” I want to enable people as much as possible to make their own decisions about what mode of transit or transportation they choose. If we have a five-minute service standard for transit, and greatly reduced congestion on city streets, transit will naturally tend to be chosen by a lot of people – because it will be a good way for them to get around.
I supported the effort to reduce parking requirements within the city. This change
increases the flexibility we have when considering new housing in our city, and allows for a
greater degree of affordability given the exorbitant cost of each parking space. Moreover,
when construction of a new parking ramp is inevitable, I have pushed for construction of
flat platforms (as opposed to sloped) because that structure allows the building to be easily
repurposed when the parking structure is no longer necessary.
Paul E. Johnson:
I believe that the City’s role is to promote and support alternative transit but not necessarily to reduce parking spaces at private businesses at least until the transit infrastructure is in place so that everyone can easily use transit at all times instead of just during rush hour.
Research is clear that access to parking is strongly connected with people making the choice to drive. I am glad the city has eliminated parking minimums. Every time the City of Minneapolis is discussing whether or how to expand parking, we need to center the mode shift goals in the city’s Transportation Action Plan as well as the need to reduce VMTs as part of our overall climate goals. I have been very clear about being an unabashed climate champion in the mayor’s office, and that includes leading on challenging public conversations around parking.
If we are going to meet our climate goals, we must reduce reliance on cars, and parking reduction is a part of that. In order to do that, we need more walkable neighborhoods, affordable housing, and more rapid transit in and out of the city for places like Allina where many employees and visitors are coming from outside of Minneapolis. Please visit www.SheilaforthePeople.com to read my full policy plan and access to 15 additional organizational questionnaires.
Traffic Enforcement: A recent article in the Star Tribune found that 78% of police searches that started as stops for moving or equipment violations from June 2019 through May 2020 were of Black or East African drivers. Also, in 2016, Our Streets Minneapolis published a report that suggests black bicyclists face greater threats of police violence than white bicyclists, especially for small infractions like failure to use a light or riding on the sidewalk.
What role should the city play, if any, in changing or maintaining how minor traffic violations are enforced? or maintaining how minor traffic violations are enforced?
Those kinds of violations should not be enforced by armed officers and instead, be dealt with by a group of unarmed officers if any. As mayor, I would strongly encourage the creation of a bureau within the traffic enforcement department that would handle these sorts of violations in a safer and more positive manner. They would take the time to educate “violators” on why they shouldn’t ride on the sidewalks or why not using a helmet is dangerous – instead of just ticketing them. This type of education would be monitored and deployed through a contract by a bike enforcement group partnered with the traffic service department. Another form of giving back to the community by providing even mored city jobs.
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. :
If Charter Amendment 2 passes, I’m not sure what legal role there would be for a Department of Public Safety to enforce minor traffic violations. How exactly would this be a health issue? Currently, it’s a law enforcement issue, and the Police Department is a law enforcement agency. But if Charter Amendment 2 passes, would there be any law enforcement agency in Minneapolis that would be accountable to the City government? Quite frankly, I’m not sure.
In general, I’m opposed to Charter Amendment 2, in favor of having more police officers, and in favor of enforcing the law, including traffic violations. As for riding on sidewalks, I’ve already addressed in the context of my “one block off” plan for biking and “people rollers.” To me, all of these questions are generally in the area police reform, which I’m in favor of. But I don’t know enough detail to say more.
As stated in the question, low-level stops disproportionately affect our communities of color
in Minneapolis. In August this year, we announced that the police department would
discontinue minor traffic violations as a primary reason for a stop. This is the right move
and I stand by it.
Paul E. Johnson:
The City should not be spending resources on minor traffic and equipment violations. As stated, the data show that Black people are targeted in these stops and that this leads to an increase of force used against Black (and presumably Indigenous) people. Minor traffic and equipment violations should not result in tickets and fines, as those also impact Black and Indigenous people at higher rates as well.
The enforcement of minor traffic violations is not racially just in our city, and as mayor I am committed to transparency in the racial injustice in how policing works in our city. I have been vocally supportive of stopping pretextual stops in Minneapolis, or minor stops for non-moving violations that do not contribute to safety and potentially cause harm by creating situations that can escalate into police violence. Under current city law, the mayor has full authority over MPD, and I am ready to use this authority to improve how traffic enforcement happens in our city.
I stand with Our Streets Minneapolis in opposition to traffic enforcement because of the reasons they detailed: https://www.ourstreetsmpls.org/why_we_don_t_support_traffic_enforcement. We do not need police to respond to traffic stops, it has been well-documented that these stops are racially biased and are often harmful to Black, Indigenous and POC residents who are stopped. I am a proud to support Question 2, in fact I helped craft the ballot language with Yes4Minneapolis that allows us to reconfigure our entire safety system to have city staff provide safety services rooted in public health and racial justice. I also support decriminalization of drugs and sex work, which are often used by police as an excuse to search a person of color’s car after stopping them for a traffic violation. Please visit www.SheilaforthePeople.com to read my full policy plan and access to 15 additional organizational questionnaires.
Snow Removal: Sidewalks that are inadequately shoveled create both risks and barriers for pedestrians and transit riders. We also know that the risks and barriers aren’t experienced equally– with Minneapolis senior citizens and community members with disabilities being the most impacted by neglected sidewalks in the wintertime.
What changes, if any, would you advocate for in how our city addresses snow and ice removal from sidewalks during winter?
As mayor, I will explore creative options and open up meetings with residents to discuss the best ways for this to be addressed. Programs I would like to do include encouraging neighborhood association groups to take it upon themselves collectively and find ways to delegate it equally, have the DID program that can employ the use of city contracts and city residents to apply to work these kinds of jobs, creating incentive programs for homeowners to provide snow removal for themselves and their neighbors by way of tax back programs, and overall simply making it a government service; put it out to bid for neighbrhoods to choose what kind of service they want and encourage city contractors to come out and take it on.
Snow removal can be a city-wide effort, we just need to find the right option that fits with the location and residents’ needs accordingly.
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. :
This question isn’t fraught with a lot of the divisive “choose a side” politics that seems to dominate so much of the discussion about transit and transportation – it’s welcome for that reason alone. For sidewalks, I’m in favor of a program to have one household per city block provided with a fairly large riding snowblower, and paying one household unit to take responsibility, circle the block and do all the sidewalks whenever it snows. We should consider expanding this to provide for the same household unit, with the same equipment, to clear driveways, and possibly alleys. I just think it’s silly for large numbers of people to own and operate their own snow blowers.
Minneapolis experiences an average of 54” of snow per year, in addition to freeze and thaw
cycles, and the system in place to ensure the sidewalks are kept clear and passable involves
many people and institutions throughout the city. We’ve implemented a City-led corner
clearing program that works to clear corners after large storms, post-plowing of the streets,
until all corners are cleared citywide. The 2018 Minneapolis Pedestrian and Bicycling
Winter Maintenance Study provides options to enhance the quality and consistency of
clearing snow and ice from sidewalks and bikeways; many of those ideas are reflected in
the Transportation Action Plan.
We have added funding for winter maintenance and improved the first and last mile of
commutes. This work includes improved clearance of intersections/sidewalks so that people
are not required to hurdle large piles of snow to catch a bus.
We must go further: increased intersection/sidewalk snow clearance (included in my
budget), improved drop off nodes, and enhanced transportation hubs, which we have
Paul E. Johnson:
Snow removal is clearly challenging, particularly with large storms, and removal from sidewalks is important but cannot take priority over streets. To resolve this, I propose engaging the neighborhood associations and encouraging them to assist in removal of snow on sidewalks for residents who are unable to remove snow themselves and/or engaging youth to remove snow as a paid job.
In order for Minneapolis to be a place where people can move around easily without a car
throughout the year, we need to make sure our sidewalks, access to transit, and bikeways are kept accessible through the winter. I am supportive of building up municipal shoveling as part of the services in our city, starting with areas in which transit/walking access are most needed and focused on intersections and bike lanes. As we do this work, we need to make sure we continue to work together as a community to keep our city safe for people with different levels of ability getting around.
I am proud to be the only candidate with municipal shoveling included on their platform! In addition to maintaining and equitably expanding safe bike infrastructure, sidewalk and walkway accessibility is a top priority for me. Poorly maintained sidewalks and ice make walking in Minneapolis hard or impossible for many of our residents. I would fight for a municipal shoveling program for sidewalks and bus stops, which will also create green jobs, which could be converted into boulevard bee lawn and stormwater care jobs in the summertime. Please visit www.SheilaforthePeople.com to read my full policy plan and access to 15 additional organizational questionnaires.
Bike, Walk, Roll: What actions, if any, will you take to make Minneapolis better for biking, walking, and rolling by the end of your term, if you are elected?
If elected, I would continue the narrowing of multi-lane municipal roads down to one lane for
cars and use the space to make them more bike accessible. Encouraging more bike lanes,
bikeable areas, and pedestrian walkways, including providing green energy incentives to
residents such as using a bike and public transportation, and creating a bike-share program for lower income residents. I would use my office to explore multi-mode ways to get downtown, encourage biking, walking, and car share service. Minneapolis is best enjoyed without a vehicle and we need to take the opportunities being given to us to encourage a safer, greener atmosphere that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Bob “Again” Carney Jr. :
I think I’ve pretty much covered this already. But this is an opportunity for some concluding thoughts.
Obviously, I’m going to be an outlier among your respondents. However, please let me emphasize that I intend to be constructive, and to offer specific, practical ideas. I think it’s important to step back and consider why a kind of “unified mindset” has developed regarding transportation, transit, and related issues. In my view, the challenging and dismantling of this mindset are both important and entirely practical.
Again, looking at this historically, I’ve recently been spending quite a bit of time examining the writing and thinking of Upton Sinclair, and the time of his primary activity as a writer and political activist. Of course, this is centered around the Progressive Era. Although he was a self-described Socialist, some saw his socialism as a kind of outer layer of an onion, the core of which was essentially religious and Christian. That’s one area of overlap between us – another, I hope, is that Sinclair was involved in discussions and dialogues with all kinds of people, including Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, who, while reported to be highly critical of Sinclair, had positive things to say about his book The Jungle, and had a continuing dialogue with him including while he was President. Many Republicans were involved in the Progressive movement – Roosevelt himself became a Progressive candidate for President after his hand-picked successor, President Taft, disappointed him – the result was Democrat Woodrow Wilson’s election as President in 1912… with Taft finishing third. Roosevelt returned to support the Republican candidate during Wilson’s 1916 re-election campaign – when a swing of only a few thousand votes in California would have resulted in a new Republican President Charles Evans Hughes instead of a re-elected President Wilson. Although he came to regret it, Sinclair supported America’s participation in World War I. A big part of the “rap sheet” against Sinclair was that he was too willing to do what he thought could be done to improve and reform a system that he saw as fundamentally, structurally, an inevitably harmful oppressor and suppressor of most Americans. In a number of cases during my own career I’ve kind of tracked Sinclair’s own practice, involving myself in work situations that would educate me about political and public policy topics I’m interested in – my work as a School Bus driver is the most recent instance of that.
A significant series of books written by Sinclair has been called the “Dead Hand Series” – a critique of a number of major American institutions of his era, including the press and journalism (The Brass Check,) higher education (The Goose-Step,) public education, (The Goslings, sometimes not included in this category) art (Mammonart,) and organized religion (The Profits of Religion.) A common thread through these books is the idea that all of our major institutions are controlled by a capitalist system that, on a de facto basis, molds and shapes individuals to be able to behave and think only in certain definite ways, resulting in many horrible circumstances, and rendering a world that is far less than would be possible if… and here I hesitate to try to finish this sentence. On the one hand, Sinclair presents all kinds of ways in which things could be done better. But on the other hand… well… in my view we should recognize first that a lot of what he was talking about has come to pass, although in slow and halting ways. But here’s what really strikes me: I see the whole “regime” that Sinclair described – the whole apparatus – as simply continuing – under “new management” of a kind of Progressive Institutional Authoritarian something-or-other that has its own biases and blinders, and that controls people on a de facto basis the same way as the “system” Sinclair deduced appeared to him to control people in his own day. There have of course been changes – but one of them is that a more highly perfected system of psychological and behavioral conditioning has emerged. So… am I just paranoid? Was Sinclair just paranoid? I claim the answer to both questions is “no” – but I also acknowledge that what is going is both challenging to explain, and it is difficult to think through how remedies can be achieved.
My own approach to this is first to strive to be willing to consider and respond to all kinds of different points of view and ideas. Another big element of my approach is to try to propose specific improvements that I believe are achievable, but that are by and large to be carried out by means of organizing groups of like-minded people to carry them out with minimal government involvement whenever possible.
Finally I constantly consider how to present and seek to implement my ideas and plans in a way that doesn’t present any immediate threat to any specific, organized interest. It is far more practical to proceed along this line.
As suggested, I look at this query as a challenge, and plan to soon elaborate my work on this into something that will be at book length, and that I plan to both sell, and make available as a free e-book download – both can be done through Jeff Bezos’ amazing Kindle Direct Publishing system.
We have consistently advocated for and achieved positive steps towards an improved
multimodal transportation system. Transportation options that emit less carbon and use
less energy are better for our city and our world.
In my second term, I will double down on our efforts to increase residents’ access to
convenient low- or no-carbon transportation. These include transit and shared bicycles,
especially at the first and last miles of commutes, improved accessibility for people with a
disability, and several initiatives listed in answers to questions above. This work is
absolutely essential as our city grows, and I look forward to continuing to create a more
walkable, bikeable, and sustainable city in my second term.
Paul E. Johnson:
I continue to support improvements that are currently underway, but believe the focus should be on improving LRT and bus transit.
As Mayor, I will be an unabashed climate champion. Minneapolis is ready for this kind of
leadership. I developed and released the Minneapolis Green New Deal to make our path forward on climate more clear. Pushing hard on reducing transportation emissions is a key part of this plan, and making the needed progress on transportation emissions will require people driving less in the city. Making Minneapolis better for biking, walking, and rolling is a central part of this work. I will use the full power of the mayor’s office to make progress here, including in budget proposals and in department leadership appointments. I will also use the bully pulpit of the mayor’s office to put climate justice at the center of our transportation investments.
As mayor, I will support expansion of bike and bus infrastructure, municipal sidewalk shoveling, increased incentives to use transit, and expansion of bike, walk and roll-centered neighborhoods by opening pharmacies and grocery stores within 10 minutes walking distance. Please visit www.SheilaforthePeople.com to read my full policy plan and access to 15 additional organizational questionnaires.
Thank you to the candidates for their responses to the questionnaire.
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