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Minneapolis Ward 1 City Council Candidates’ Stances on Transit, Biking, Walking, and Rolling

From right to left: Calvin Carpenter, Elliot Payne, Kevin Reich

Move Minnesota and Our Streets Minneapolis have teamed up on a questionnaire for 2021 Minneapolis city council 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.

The Responses

Question 1:

What is your primary mode of transportation? How often do you ride transit?  

Calvin Carpenter: Did not specify

Elliot Payne: Marked the “sometimes” option and travels route 4, route 94 express, and the green line

Kevin Reich:

Three adult one-car household. (Pre covid) We rotate based on schedule
resulting in using the # 10 almost daily, carpooling and biking. I live by Central Ave businesses
for walking access and use nice e-bikes and my car about equally for all other needs. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 35, so I know firsthand the importance of quality infrastructure and transit options.

Question 2:

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?   

Calvin Carpenter:

We have to work together on these issues that are causing the problems from Electric Bus
hybrid to cut back on pollution fumes that are causing issues. We don’t have programs for
children that ride the bus to get to school or activities they’re attending. Our freeways should be open emergencies to access for hospitals etc. Our highways and roadways should be done
with construction within six months or less. Most of the time is spent on detours that lead to long routes and causing a lot of issues of going to point A into point B. More protection on these bus routes from metro transit police to help with the violence that’s happening on these buses. It doesn’t hurt to have meetings on this to help with the safety of the people and families that are depending on metro transit.

Elliot Payne:

I think our city has a major role to play in rethinking our transportation systems, including freeways. We should be in the business of creating spaces that are great for people, not cars. Rethinking our freeways presents the city with an opportunity to learn from our past as well as our neighbors, and we can use this process to increase connections, reduce emissions, and correct injustices. We need to ensure that the harms caused by past projects and policies are not repeated and city leaders should feel a sense of urgency in working to repair the legacy of injustices caused by the construction of I94. Part of building a more livable community also means addressing things like the spatial mismatch between where people work and where they live. Creating more opportunities for people to work, shop, eat, and drink where they live and ensuring they have easy access to quality transit can reduce the need for a car and improve our public health as well as the environment. In order to achieve this, we need to fight for dedicated transit lanes and against the addition of any new lanes, and now is the time to engage the community to envision how we repair what was ripped apart by I-94 through concepts like the Rondo land bridge. Most importantly, I will listen to what the community needs.

Kevin Reich:

I worked on the steering committees for both the 2040 and Transportation
Action Plan to combat environmental injustice and the existential threat of climate change. In the future, I want to ensure that all projects reflect the goals stated in these policies. In addition, regarding how we reconstruct this corridor, we need to push for factors that will reduce pollution, such as emphasizing public transportation.

Question 3:

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?

Calvin Carpenter:

Let the people decide on a transportation action plan. Minneapolis Mn is a tourist city and home to the taxpayers. We don’t need to track people’s vehicle miles traveled method it will create a lot of issues of taxing the citizens and stealing information travel. Give the people a choice on this. I do know Minnesota has some crazy weather patterns in the winter months. Minnesota summers are short in some seasons so many things to do. Transportation in the wintertime is never on time in some areas of the city in terms of keeping pedestrians warm during these times. Summertime does provide more bicycle routes for people to explore. We need more signs for bicycles etc. Also better safely methods for pedestrians on the streets.

Elliot Payne:

Minneapolis residents should be able to meet their daily needs via transit, walking, and biking no matter where they live in the city. So, we need a transit system that meets people where they are and gets them to where they want to go as quickly as possible. Long transit rides are a huge disincentive, and transit riders bear the burden of long commutes more than anybody else. If we’re going to achieve the mode split goals laid out in the Transportation Action Plan, then we have to begin by prioritizing people. Ensuring our transit systems serve communities along our existing housing, employment, and education patterns will be critical not only for meeting the mode split goals but also for addressing inequities in our city. We have common sense solutions available now that can make trips more accessible and convenient, like building out a high frequency network, dedicated bus lanes, and providing signal light priority for buses.

Kevin Reich:

We must stay on track to meet the goals outlined in these initiatives. Ultimately,
with regard to our mode split goals, we build or modify our physical right of way to advance
complete street modal priorities which means taming motor vehicle travel to be safer and not the single guiding accommodation in our right of way. In addition, we must work with our partners to invest more into transit (with new emphasis on east/west routes) and provide space for bike/scooter sharing options and make both work well in concert, especially for convenient movement between transit routes. Finally, these initiatives must happen so that living car-free or car-light is a viable and enjoyable alternative, which will help us meet our mode split goals.

Question 4:

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?

Calvin Carpenter:

The question we should be asking ourselves is why aren’t these projects aren’t finished. Why isn’t this a priority????. It seems that they are throwing money into infrastructure making it for important urban neighborhoods and not the Northside of Minneapolis. Think about it there are no health food stores over northside vs Urban neighborhood which has more health stores etc. Our health system is broken on many levels. We have to start making these a priority for everyone and start fixing the important things that make a community thrive.

Elliot Payne:

This particular transit investment follows years of disinvestment, which means the city owes it to the existing community to ensure their voices are part of any decisions made about the extension. Their interests should be prioritized, their concerns addressed, and their needs met. Northsiders are understandably concerned that they won’t be able to share in the benefits of this investment because of speculation resulting in them being priced out of the homes and communities they’ve made. There are a number of policies and programs that can help maintain a diverse and inclusive community and mitigate negative outcomes for existing residents.

Minneapolis needs a universal rent stabilization policy that caps annual rent increases for residential and commercial properties in order to protect tenants from displacement. The city can also increase access to financial products and technical assistance for community members interested in starting neighborhood businesses, and work to preserve existing affordable housing, not just along the LRT route, but throughout the city.

Kevin Reich:

When the first discussion regarding where the Bottineau/Blue Line Extension began, I was a proponent of alternative routes that went through the Northside community. My guiding principle has always been to have routes that will have the greatest impact on the community so that community members can utilize the investment. Additionally, I believe it’s necessary to have stations within these communities otherwise, the impact won’t be as strong. Most studies indicate that market effects are inevitable and will usually raise prices, which can have a displacement effect. One of the ways we can be ahead of these displacement effects is to be proactive in landing funding for future projects, where we can partner with our nonprofit housing producers to make sure that the homes that get produced are, in fact, affordable housing projects. The new era of transit-oriented development must not be to put a line in and watch the market accelerate around those areas. Rather, we strategically capture some of the choice properties nearby for affordable housing before the project is implemented.

Question 5:

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?

Calvin Carpenter:

We’re moving into a technology age in terms of keeping up with transportation and also improvements to make this easier for everyone. Lake Street and Franklin Avenue need a better system of parking zones and transit and roads to make sure the traffic flow is better for everyone to get to point A and point B.

Elliot Payne:

I think a sensible approach on streets with commercial activity and dense housing nearby would be to incentivise greater pedestrian activity and provide greater access to reliable transit. Making the space more inviting for people will increase pedestrian traffic and increasing access to transit will enable commuters to visit destinations along the corridor. In balancing long-term needs, the city will have to employ a participatory approach and empower residents to make informed decisions based on our shared values.

Kevin Reich:

I want to make sure our projects reflect our policies. One of the most important things for a route like this is all the pre-work we’ve done with piloting the express lanes for our buses. When we did our research for the Transportation Action Plan, the committee made it clear that transit is the primary priority. The success of our pilots with “Legacy Red” express lanes have shown this to be a viable option, which is why I want to ensure it becomes a permanent aspect when we reconstruct.

Question 6

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? 

Calvin Carpenter:

Our stoplights need improvements for reliability for Metro Transit centers to function better.
Better timing system to make sure buses show up on time. Here’s where technology comes into play with this. Better updates for the Metro Transit computer would improve the Transit line for Metro Transit Riders.

Elliot Payne:

Improving the speed and reliability of our transportation system is not just about being able to get around more efficiently, it’s really about racial justice. It’s about getting around more equitably. People of color in Minneapolis pay a staggering transit penalty. We know transit riders of color spend significantly more time in transit each year compared to white drivers. Right now, there are sections of the city that are essentially off-limits to folks unless they own a car. In some places, that’s because of limited transit options. In other parts of the city, unsafe conditions for pedestrians and cyclists force people into driving when they’d rather not. We need to make safe, fast, and reliable transit accessible throughout the city, not just in some neighborhoods. Advancing transportation justice requires deep and comprehensive investments in walking, bicycling, and transit infrastructure that puts human wellbeing first. Some easy fixes that can quickly improve speed and reliability include providing signal light priority for buses and converting more lanes to dedicated bus lanes. I’m looking forward to collaborating with my colleagues at the County and Metro Transit and if each of us is doing our part to engage and learn from our neighbors in these processes, then we will be able to take action and move forward collaboratively.

Kevin Reich:

The first Ward will be getting an arterial Bus Rapid Transit Line (aBRT) on Central Avenue in the near future. The Central aBRT will provide enhanced service in addition to the sturdy #10 route. This is scheduled to be followed by aBRT to serve Como Ave and Johnson St. This investment is all in a quadrant of the metro that has been glaringly underserved (in part due to the politics of our northern suburban counterparts). The City, Metro Transit will work to take advantage of the recently approved tripling of the aBRT funding category by the Transportation Advisory Board (TAB of which I serve on its executive cmt.) to achieve the Metro Transit’s Network Next initiatives which will vastly improve bus service across the City

Question 7

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?

Calvin Carpenter:

If it is not broken don’t fix it method. What if there’s a family emergency the ramps ran out of
parking. The city needs a layout of parking areas and stops giving hospital parking spots
contracts. It should be for everyone.

Elliot Payne:

I think the city was right to stop subsidizing the storage of personal cars, and we should remain steadfast in our commitment to reducing the need for parking in order to meet our mode-shift, climate, housing, and equity goals. Parking infrastructure aligns with none of those goals, whereas reducing parking can further them, especially when people are able to access fast, dependable transit and reside in complete neighborhoods. I will acknowledge that not all of our neighborhoods are there yet, and not all land can be used for residential purposes, but we are in a housing crisis. The city should be leveraging our resources to house people, not cars..

Kevin Reich:

Throughout my career, advocating for the environment has always been a central
issue. This is why reducing parking is vital toward meeting our mode shift goals for our
Transportation Action Plan. To address induced demand by over-investing in the high cost of
parking infrastructure, we need to construct an analysis that looks at place and use-based capping for parking. Once that has been completed, and we’ve had more input from our community members that we represent, we can develop a pragmatic initiative regarding capping to meet our mode shift goals by 2030 and our larger goals for 2050, outlined in the 2040 plan.

Question 8

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?

Calvin Carpenter:

Infractions aren’t a crime. Racial profiling needs to stop and we need to start holding our system accountable . What happened to us we’re all created equal. It shouldn’t be enforced with an attitude or speaking to cocky at the person. Remember no one is above the law. These are some of the things we all need to be looking into

Elliot Payne:

It has been MPD policy to use traffic stops to racially profile our neighbors throughout this city. If Minneapolis cares about public safety, then we have an obligation to change the way traffic violations are handled and how traffic laws are enforced. As a Black man, I know I am safer on a bike than in a car, but I’m still at greater risk. There are no safe options for people of color to get around in Minneapolis. By pursuing alternative traffic enforcement policies that don’t require armed police, we can improve public safety for all of us.

Kevin Reich:

The figures in the Star Tribune article illuminated a disparaging reality, that the
police disproportionately pull over people of color for minor traffic violations. This has serious
consequences for these communities, which is why I supported Chief Arradono’s announcement in August that police would stop pulling over motorists for minor violations. I believe this is how the City should change how minor violations are enforced and applied to bicyclists.

Question 9

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?

Calvin Carpenter:

Our city needs to do a better job at clearing ice and snow from Metro transit areas for riders. We go through this every year in terms of heavy snow and ice. Prepare and planning is the problem and not looking to solve these issues that can lead to injuries and lawsuits. We have to start this as a priority

Elliot Payne:

My thinking on this is simple. We use tax dollars for snow and ice removal from streets to
provide safe conditions for drivers. We should provide the same service and ensure the same
safe conditions for pedestrians by using city funds to remove snow and ice from sidewalks. We can provide good jobs by using public equipment and staff, and on the city council, I will
advocate for such a change.

Kevin Reich:

Ensuring that our sidewalks have snow removed is a very important issue for
me. So many community members need cleared sidewalks to get to school, work, and much
more. This issue is especially problematic for those with limited mobility and our senior citizens. This is why I supported Sidewalk Inspection Groups, which allows us to have inspectors check on snow removal within 24 hours of snowfall. Residents who don’t remove their snow will first receive a letter informing them to do so. If action is not taken, we send a crew to remove the snow and ice and bill the resident for the cost, and if the fee is not paid, we add it to the resident’s property tax. This is a program I want to expand during my next term, to ensure safe sidewalks for all residents of Minneapolis.

Question 10

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?

Calvin Carpenter:

Let us get work with the taxpayers’ ideas on what makes Minneapolis great biking, walking,
rolling. At the end of the day, people want to feel safe and have trust in the people that are going to work for them. We have started sharing ideas and start living better and starting making Minneapolis Mn a great city to live in. We have to start living in the future and start thinking positively for the next generations to come.

Elliot Payne:

I want everyone in Minneapolis to be able to live well without a car. I will take action throughout my term to prioritize walking, biking, and transit, and support infrastructure projects that put human wellbeing first. I will work throughout my term on policies that ensure everyone can access the entire city without a car and without jeopardizing their safety. I will work in partnership to improve sidewalk and bike lane infrastructure and maintenance through protected bike lanes and municipal snow removal. And I will use my position to advocate for fully funding Metro Transit, which to me means making fares free for everyone, improving frequency and reliability, creating new routes, and expanding existing ones.

Kevin Reich:

I want to continue to advance on the progress we’ve made to make Minneapolis more equitable for bikers, walkers, and rollers. To do so, there are several initiatives I will take. For example, I will continue to push for more resources to be allocated to more bike lanes and different types of lanes, such as physically separated lanes. I also will work to finish the Great Northern Greenway, which I believe would increase equity. By using an equity lens, it is apparent that connecting North and Northeast to our city’s western and eastern borders is crucial. Furthermore, I want to ensure that our infrastructure initiatives are completed within ACP 50 neighborhoods, and that system gaps in those areas are filled as well.

Thank you to the candidates for their responses to the questionnaire.

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