Bike Walk Savannah Candidate Questionnaire

October 16, 2019

Responses to the Candidate Questionnaire issued by Bike Walk Savannah:

 

We believe our Mayoral and aldermanic candidates should work to make Savannah’s streets and communities safe for people of all ages and abilities — no matter their mode of transportation.

In September we distributed a survey to our members and supporters and asked them to rank areas related to mobility issues, specifically issues facing people who bike and walk. Their responses were used to craft the questions that are being asked of you today. Their responses were also used to develop the candidate handbook you should have received by email on Oct. 3, 2019. If you did not receive a candidate handbook, please email caila@bikewalksavannah.org before taking this questionnaire.

Please answer each question thoroughly and honestly. These answers will be publicly posted on our website and be sent to our members and supporters for voter education purposes.

Savannah Bicycle Campaign dba Bike Walk Savannah is a 501(c) nonprofit organization, and we are prohibited from endorsing any candidate for public office. Any information collected and presented is intended solely for voter education. No endorsement of or opposition to any candidate is implied.

First Name *

Bill

 

Last Name *

Durrence

 

Please share your vision for the future of transportation in Savannah, specifically related to biking, walking and public transit. *

 

Move away from a car-centric emphasis on transportation planning, enhance Complete Streets modeling, create buffered bike lanes, work to develop regional trail system (Tide to Town), find funding model to substantially expand routes and frequency of public transit, implement a variety of traffic calming options to reduce speeds

 

How would you approach the decision-making process on a project like protected bikelanes, connected sidewalks, or crosswalks that requires tradeoffs, and how you would balance the opinions of residents and/or community leaders who may be at odds? *

 

We have developed a process of gathering stakeholders on any particular issue and having a staff person convene them in multiple meetings for them to work out compromises. I believe this is working well and would use the same model for this planning. In a case where no solution is forthcoming from the group, I think elected officials should decide the safest plan for the most vulnerable user, and to consider the likely future of the city's needs, i.e. the likelihood of reduced individual auto usage in the next 10 years or so.

 

If elected, will you encourage City staff to adopt proven street design measures to reduce vehicle speeds, especially on high-speed one-way roads? *

 

Please explain your decision.

 

I am an elected official and I have been doing that, with limited success. I believe some of my colleagues and some staff are starting to be slowly converted to safer street thinking and am optimistic we can do better in the future.

 

Please share any work that you’ve done to make your community friendlier for people biking and walking. *

 

Pressing for more and better designated bike lanes, trying to convert two-lane one-way streets to safer configurations such as one auto lane, a bike lane, and parallel parking, or converting back to two way traffic. So far I've had limited results, but at least there is starting to be some concern about speeding and some small incremental changes happening. SPLOST 7 should give us about $5 million to do more structural changes, whether converting, using speed tables, more signaling, etc. There is also a SPLOST 7 line for about $20 million for street repairs. With enough public support we could demand that better street design be made part of the repair plan instead of just a resurfacing approach.

 

In your view, what can the City of Savannah and your role as an elected official, do to actively encourage more people to bike and walk? *

 

As you know, bicycling/walking and safe bike/pedestrian infrastructure enhances quality of life and addresses issues such as affordability, equity, access, health, and the safety of our streets.

 

Make it safer and easier (more bike parking/corrals for instance), make it harder and more expensive to use motor vehicles, limit traffic on some streets.

 

Savannah has many inequities when it comes to transportation. Low wealth neighborhoods and communities of color often lack access to good transit, safe walking and biking, or to green space. On the other hand, these are often the neighborhoods where people are least able to afford a motor vehicle. How are you going to address these inequities in transportation access? *

 

A more comprehensive Transportation Master Plan that emphasizes non-motor vehicles could help, but it needs to be coordinated with a public education campaign to let people know about it. Better focus on this sort of thing at MPO.

 

Do you think that the city’s capital budget allocation for sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes and multi-use paths is too little, just right, or too much? *

 

Please explain your decision.

 

It's not nearly enough, but the City has growing budget issues and finding more funding is going to be difficult. Everybody wants more services; no one wants to pay more.

 

People bike and walk when it’s safe, comfortable, and connects to the places they need to go. Savannah’s infrastructure, while it’s come a long way, is still disjointed. In your opinion, what steps do we need to take to close these gaps, especially for those with mobility- or vision-related disabilities? *

 

The aforementioned Transportation Master plan, which really should just be a part of a broader city wide master plan could show us where things are in reasonably good shape and where the gaps are. That would also identify gaps that are small enough that closing them would be cheaper and simpler and offer some low-hanging fruit to begin incremental improvements. New developments could be required to create better bike and sidewalk infrastructure before being accepted by the city for public right-of-ways.

 

What is (at least) one project that you would like to see completed in your district related to biking and walking? *

 

Include as many projects that you think are relevant.

 

Two-lane one-way streets changed to one lane, parking and buffered bike lane.

 

Why do you think people who care about street safety and/or biking and walking issues should vote for you? *

 

Because I've been working on this issue since taking office almost 4 years ago.

 

Is there anything else you would like voters to know?

 

There's a lot I'd like to do about bike and pedestrian safety improvements and incentives to non-vehicular travel, but there is a strong suburban resistance to restricting speeds and travel downtown and that needs to be countered by a strong grassroots organization that provides the support elected officials need to make these changes, especially since most of City Council represents those non-urban residents. There will also need to be some patience, understanding that government processes take time, and that there are limits to funding availability.

 

I understand that my answers to this questionnaire will be posted publicly for voter education purposes, and consent to its distribution. *

·       [X] Yes

 

 

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