Minneapolis Ward 3 City Council Candidate’s Stances on Transit, Biking, Walking, and Rolling
Pictured: Steve Fletcher
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.
Only one candidate from ward 3 has responded to our questionnaire.
What is your primary mode of transportation? How often do you ride transit?
I’m lucky to live in a very walkable and bikeable community along the river, and I
alternate walking, biking, busing and driving to destinations around the city. My
most-used routes are the 7 to get to City Hall, the 11 to get to Sheridan/Bottineau,
the 10 to get to Beltrami, and the 3 to get to the U/Dinkytown. I’m especially proud
of having played a small role in advocating for the re-routing to straighten out the
3 through the Mill District and North Loop to make it the “Washington Ave” line – I
love the simplicity and predictability of this new route.
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?
We need to use every tool in our toolbox to reshape our transportation system to
put people first by prioritizing walking, biking, and transit — to reduce air pollution,
mitigate our contribution to climate change, allow more people to live without a
car, and improve public health. Withholding our municipal consent for highway
projects is an important tool because it gives us leverage. We should use that
leverage to ensure that I-94 reconstruction includes dedicated transit (bus) lanes
and does not expand overall vehicle capacity
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?
We need to accelerate our transportation infrastructure investments for multiple
reasons, and this is one of them. The experience of Paris over the last decade
shows that rapid mode shift can happen with bold goals and the follow-through to
implement them. Reconstruction projects across Minneapolis have reprioritized
our right-of-way towards walking, biking, and transit, but they need to happen on
more corridors, more quickly, to reach critical mass. We also can’t do this alone.
We need greater investment in transit at the federal, state, and county levels to
achieve our vision
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 have a great deal of respect and appreciation for the leadership that Hennepin
County has shown in continuing to pursue this project after acknowledging the
need for a course-correction and making that correction. I am confident that we
can build a successful transit line through North Minneapolis to better serve those
residents and better connect those neighborhoods to downtown and to the
northwest suburbs. Both Hennepin County and Minneapolis leaders, myself
included, know that this must include strong anti-displacement policies and
programs, not only for the construction period but for the redevelopment that
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?
First, we should follow existing policy that we’ve already approved, which
prioritizes pedestrian safety, bicycle/mobility lanes, and public transportation.
Those are all goals we’ve already articulated, and shouldn’t have to fight to get
included on each project moving forward. It doesn’t make sense to articulate a
goal of reducing vehicle miles traveled, but build new streets that assume growing
car traffic. I’m a believer that cars don’t shop at local businesses, people shop at
local businesses, and we need to build our streets and public realm for people,
above all else.
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?
Our primary priority for improving bus service, and the one we have the most
control over, as noted in the question, is our city streets and our stoplights. On
city-owned streets with bus routes — especially BRT and other high-frequency
lines — we should be prioritizing the installation of bus-only lanes and signal
priority wherever feasible. Both of those require capital investment, and that
should be a top priority given the importance of transit to our mode shift goals, as
noted above. We also need to pursue bus-only lanes on County-owned roads with
bus routes. One additional way the City could seek to improve transit reliability,
given current labor shortages, would be to make Metro Transit a priority employer
for our job training and development programs.
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?
There is a lot we have done and a lot we can continue to do. Eliminating parking
minimums was a key piece of the Minneapolis 2040 plan that goes beyond just the
car parking requirement — it also encourages developers to think about mode shift
through the new transportation demand management rubric. We also now require
parking garages to be built with flat floors so that they can be converted to other
uses as demand falls. In the last few years, we have adjusted our prices for
on-street parking (i.e. parking meters) to better match public demand and ensure
we are not subsidizing driving as a mode. We need to follow suit with our
city-owned parking garages more assertively. I also successfully opposed the
proposed Federal Reserve ramp along the river, and am thrilled to see the Fire
Station block downtown eliminate the interior ramp and a curb cut.
And, yes, the City should seek to reduce parking where we have direct ownership,
in a site-specific manner. Earlier this year, the City opened a new Public Service
Building downtown as the in-person workplace for hundreds of city employees,
and it includes zero car parking; it is also extremely well-served by transit and by
pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure. There are places we’re getting it right, and
places we need to improve and continue to adapt.
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?
I called for a moratorium on equipment stops in 2019 so that we could do a qualitative
study on our enforcement practices to reach a more comprehensive policy on pre-text
stops. The Mayor declined to do either the moratorium or the study, but eventually
passed a much narrower policy change around a few traffic stop categories. Given
what we have seen from MPD after other policy changes this term, I’m not too hopeful
that this is going to move the needle, and the numbers show that we effectively no
longer do traffic enforcement for traffic safety’s sake; the overwhelming majority of
our stops are pretext stops for other purposes.
State law only allows licensed peace officers to pull over moving vehicles, so our
options to change how we do traffic enforcement for traffic safety’s sake are limited,
but our Vision Zero work makes it critical that we find a solution. Building safer
streets should be our primary strategy, but it cannot get us all the way there. Whether
it’s allowing unarmed staff to perform certain kinds of traffic stops or allowing for
automated enforcement while guarding against privacy invasion and unwarranted
surveillance, I’m committed to pursuing the legal changes we need to make a better
system possible and protect drivers of color from the harm of harassment, profiling,
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?
This is a critical function that the city needs to prioritize, improve, and expand. It
is one that I have invested in through budget amendments, and one where I am
frustrated at the slow, halting nature of our incremental improvements. I’m in favor
of the city clearing slow and ice from sidewalks along key corridors as the first
step in expanding our current role. It’s going to take significant investment, but we
have to figure it out.
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?
I have advocated for, and will continue to advocate for the effective
implementation of our Transportation Action Plan and our Vision Zero goals.
That’s resulted in new bollard-and-paint medians to test traffic control strategies,
some of which we’re beginning to make permanent with concrete. I’ll support
improved pedestrian-scale lighting as both a comfort and safety improvement,
and I’ll continue to walk and ride myself to maintain a first-hand understanding of
the experience of each transit mode. Next term will be at least as busy as this term
has been; the upcoming County collaborations on Hennepin/1st NE, on Lowry,
and on Marshall are exciting opportunities to put our values into action, as are the
MNDOT projects on Central and University, all of which can improve walkability,
bike safety, and traffic flow. I’m also looking forward to seeing the implementation
of new obstruction permit rules and fees, which incentivize contractors to
minimize the time new construction projects obstruct bike lanes, sidewalks, and
Thank you to the candidate for their responses to the questionnaire.
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