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Richmond Mayoral Candidates Respond To RCF Questions

The Richmond Cycling Federation (RCF), which represents over 4,000 club and individual cyclists in the Richmond area, prepared a series of questions about cycling, urban planning, transportation, and livability for Richmond mayoral candidates.

A press release from RCF can be downloaded here.
(PDF)

Below are the responses, from candidates Paul Goldman (PG), Robert Grey (RG), Dwight Jones (DJ), Bill Pantele (BP), and Lawrence Williams (LW).

Paul Goldman

RCF: As a representative of over 4,000 active cycling club members within the city we would like to see Richmond become one of the greenest transportation friendly cities. As newly elected Mayor what steps would you take to make Richmond a model for alternative transportation (cycling in particular)?

PG: While the draft of the new city master plan is more cycling friendly, at least in theory, than the previous such plan, it doesn’t nearly go far enough for me. First, I think the Mayor needs to lead by example. Personally, I am a jogger for three decades and more, so I don’t want to claim to be something I am not, this is not my style. Therefore in that regard, as Mayor I would be reaching out to the cycling clubs and their members to help me put together, along with others so committed, a 5 year plan to make Richmond “one of the greenest transportation friendly cities”, which goes along with my pledge to make our town the greenest city in the State.

It is important for a leader to know what he doesn’t know and be willing to reach out to learn from others. Yet again, as indicated, a Mayor must lead by example, so if elected, I will ride a bike to work from my place in the West End to work at City Hall once-a month. I will also take the bus to work once a month to help promote the use of public transportation. We need to convert city busses and cars to run on natural gas as quickly as finances permit.

In terms of cycling, what I would ask of my advisory committee is this: Give me a 5 year plan that would show me how to create a truly cycling friendly transportation grid and also how to weave far great use of cycling in terms of it helping to enhance the greening of Richmond and attract tourism and sporting-type events.

In that regard, I would hope this advisory group would help me create financial and other incentives that businesses and others could use to increase cycling.

RCF: More specifically, how would cycling commuting and cycling livability with in the community be enhanced while taking steps to make Richmond one of the greenest transportation friendly cities?

PG: My first answer has some of this, so as they say when writing a legal brief, I incorporate it by reference. It is good that City Council is beginning to see the light, but to be brutally honest, it can not stop at cycling, or even improving bus service: the use of the gasoline-powered automobile has been one of the fundamental… …drivers in defining the transportation grid and all that is dependent upon it for modern America.

The time has now finally arrived, at least hopefully, for the old school politicians to realize that those of us who have working to make positive changes, to point out the need to expand the use of alternative transportation modalities, have been ahead of the curve: and the curve has now been caught up by reality.

This is why I am such a strong supporter of the River Front and of making Richmond into the greenest city in the state. This is why I am the only candidate who is willing to oppose Echo Harbor, as my opponents are unwilling to challenge the real estate and developments who think concrete and high-rise towers, and give $hundreds of thousands of dollars to control things.

While my opponents were comfortable with the old ways of doing business, I led the petition drive in 2003 to get you, the citizen, the right to elect your Mayor, the only one running for Mayor this year who had the courage of his convictions: to me, it is always been a “we” thing, and so I stood with the people, demanding that you get your right to elect your Mayor.

People forget how difficult a fight it was, how our opponents called us names, trying to make it a racial issue unfortunately.

This kind of old politics has to end: I want to bring a new, greener, more hopeful, politics of unity to our city, and to get rid of the old politics of division.

In many ways, raising the profile and the presence of cycling and other alternative transportation modalities is a metaphor for the new kind of politics, a politics I have been a leader in forging since my days doing poverty work in Chicago and taking the lead in expanding the rights of women and African-Americans here in Virginia and Richmond.

But I don’t claim to be an expert in the cycling area. But I will learn, I will listen, and we will develop the 5 year plan, one I hope we can make as ambitious as possible, consistent with what is going to be a very tough time budget wise here in Richmond and all local government.

RCF: City Council recently passed a resolution to allow for more bikeways, trails and greenways. Do you support this type of resolution and why? (You can find it by going to http://www.richmondgov.com/applications/clerksTracking/index.asp and searching for Paper Number 2008-R118-119)

PG: Yes, absolutely, I will not only support it, but I will pledge to take the lead in getting the regional cooperation in making it a reality, indeed it is going to take working with the state government and state agencies to make it come together as best as possible.

RCF: If yes, how would you help make this happen?

PG: I will make it a key priority in my budgets, which to be honest, as I have said, will face tough fiscal pressures due to all the problems at the national and state level, and also the fiscal mess created by the Wilder Administration and the Pantele-led City Council. Sadly, both the Mayor and the City Council President have failed to be totally candid and forthright about Richmond’s growing fiscal mess: as the only candidate in the race with a Masters in Public Administration, I fully expect to discover some real fiscal shocks when I get a chance to examine the books assuming I win the election this November.

It will, of course, also require a far better level of cooperation between all the jurisdictions going forward. There is no magic solution for that, and of course, it will also take the willingness of these jurisdictions to work with me on the project. In that connection, I can only speak for myself. But in my capacity as Mayor, it will be my policy to do everything possible to improve relations with the other jurisdictions and to show them that this is an area where it is a win-win for everyone.

RCF: Cyclists view Richmond as needing a North/South and East/West bike corridor that begins on the outskirts of the surrounding counties and goes through the city to meet at a central hub. Would you support this initiative for these corridors? If yes, how would you help make this happen? If no, why not?

PG: Yes. This again illustrates the importance of the master planning being moved into the neighborhoods where we can get community involved.

RCF: Professional cycling helps raise cycling awareness in the community. How could you help gather city support and business sponsorship of these large cycling oriented events such as the US Cycling Championship, the Cap Tech Classic and the National Duathlon road and off-road events?

PG: As indicated above, I will do my part in leading by example. But let me first say that what has been done in recent years to make Richmond a venue for some of
the most terrific and incredible sporting events has been nothing short of amazing, the people who have done it have my complete admiration, they are truly geniuses.

So I would have to be brain dead if I failed, as Mayor, to go out and see them – driving myself I might add, no big entourages for this Mayor – and ask them what I would need to do to get them to work their magic in more and more areas, to make Richmond the home for more and more events.

And I will do just that: and the role they need the City to play, the role they need the Mayor to play, will be done, and done on time.

RCF: The recently approved city master plan briefly discussed various options for making the city center more cycle accessible. Do you agree with these findings? Would you be willing to consider alternatives suggested by the cycling community?

PG: In my previous answers, I have already said Yes to both of these questions, indeed as indicated, I look forward, indeed I will absolutely need, all the help, all the ideas, from the cycling community. We may not agree on everything, but we will agree on more than enough to get things rolling downhill here in Richmond.

RCF: Many of our progressive peer cities have created positions in City Hall for a “Cycling Liaison”. If elected mayor, would you consider such a position a possibility?

PG: As indicated above, I will be setting up a panel to advise and work with me to bring the change we need and want in this area. Having studied public administration and earned a Masters in Public Administration – indeed, if elected, I would be the first Mayor actually qualified by education to be the chief administrative officer under the new City Charter – I do not believe appointing a single “Liaison” is the best management structure to make the changes needed.

This is an area that the Mayor has to take the lead within the government, or it will not happen, it will get lost in bureaucratic red tape.

In my professional judgment, a panel of advisors is the better approach, and then letting the Mayor carry the ball. Admittedly, the Mayor’s staff will be involved in the implementation stage. But I am pledged to drastically reduce the cost and size of the Mayor’s office in that regard.

A Mayor Goldman will be a hands-on leader, I like doing the 24/7 work of real change.

As they say, I can chew gum and cycle at the same time.

Robert Grey

Mr. Grey chose to respond to all of the questions below in paragraph form.

RCF: As a representative of over 4,000 active cycling club members with in the city we would like to see Richmond become one of the greenest transportation friendly cities. As newly elected Mayor what steps would you take to make Richmond a model for alternative transportation (cycling in particular)?

RCF: More specifically, how would cycling commuting and cycling livability with in the community be enhanced while taking steps to make Richmond one of the greenest transportation friendly cities?

RCF: City Council recently passed a resolution to allow for more bikeways, trails and greenways. Do you support this type of resolution and why? (You can find it by going to http://www.richmondgov.com/applications/clerksTracking/index.asp and searching for Paper Number 2008-R118-119)

RCF: Cyclists view Richmond as needing a North/South and East/West bike corridor that begins on the outskirts of the surrounding counties and goes through the city to meet at a central hub. Would you support this initiative for these corridors? If yes, how would you help make this happen? If no, why not?

RCF: Professional cycling helps raise cycling awareness in the community. How could you help gather city support and business sponsorship of these large cycling oriented events such as the US Cycling Championship, the Cap Tech Classic and the National Duathlon road and off-road events?

RCF: The recently approved city master plan briefly discussed various options for making the city center more cycle accessible. Do you agree with these findings? Would you be willing to consider alternatives suggested by the cycling community?

RCF: Many of our progressive peer cities have created positions in City Hall for a “Cycling Liaison”. If elected mayor, would you consider such a position a possibility?

RG: Richmond has the opportunity to be a great place to live, work and raise a family. In the past, we haven’t taken advantage of all of those opportunities to make Richmond better. As Mayor, I will work with all members of the community to make Richmond all that it can be.

Cities around the country such as Portland, Oregon are taking advantage of the benefits that a cycling-friendly culture can provide. Richmond should do the same. The economic impact of a cycling-friendly city for tourism and potential events is great, as is the benefit that it provides for people seeking to live and work here. I support resolutions encouraging more bikeways, trails and greenways, and I support corridors, however I feel that we also need to do more than just talk about it or pass resolutions – we need to actually act, work together, and follow through.

Because of our climate and the natural beauty of our city we have an advantage over other urban centers to become a leader in the way we think about not only recreation but also transportation. As gas prices continue to climb to record levels and as concerns about the environment resonate with more people, interest in cycling as a mode of transportation will only continue to grow. We must work now to make cycling a viable and safe alternative on our city streets.

As Mayor I would bring all stakeholders to the table for input. Not only do the people who make the decisions need to be involved, but the cycling community needs to be part of the discussion as well. By working with the surrounding counties and the cycling community in a collaborative fashion, I am convinced that the benefits of cycling for recreation, transportation and economic development will become more clear to those who are responsible for planning and implementing. If we make it a priority, it can happen.

Thank you for your interest in this year’s campaign. We do have challenges ahead of us, but I am convinced that we can work together to make Richmond and City Hall user-friendly for not only cyclists but for all citizens. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to get together to discuss the issue further. I would welcome an opportunity to meet with your group.

Dwight Jones

RCF: As a representative of over 4,000 active cycling club members with in the city we would like to see Richmond become one of the greenest transportation friendly cities. As newly elected Mayor what steps would you take to make Richmond a model for alternative transportation (cycling in particular)?

DJ: The cycling community in Richmond continues to grow and we need a city government that encourages its citizens to use alternative forms of transportation instead of driving. There are several ways we can encourage more cycling in the city, most of which are simple. To begin, I will look at providing more bike racks throughout the city at public buildings and various park and recreational facilities. Second, we should look at our transportation grid as a whole and work to provide cycling lanes on our major streets. Several other cities, such as Portland, Seattle and Chicago, have had success encouraging cycling as a needed alternative to driving and we should investigate what works in these cities.

RCF: More specifically, how would cycling commuting and cycling livability with in the community be enhanced while taking steps to make Richmond one of the greenest transportation friendly cities?

DJ: The city will need to work with the cycling community to develop a strategy to encourage cycling and to help make Richmond a greener city. For too long the only people with a seat at the table have been big corporations and big business. In my administration I will have an open door to any group interested in working to build a better Richmond.

RCF: City Council recently passed a resolution to allow for more bikeways, trails and greenways. Do you support this type of resolution and why? (You can find it by going to http://www.richmondgov.com/applications/clerksTracking/index.asp and searching for Paper Number 2008-R118-119)

DJ: Yes. Richmond has had a rise in its population, and specifically in its population of young people and young families. We need to do what we can to encourage families to stay in Richmond and I believe we can accomplish that by providing more green space and recreational activities for them to participate in.

RCF: Cyclists view Richmond as needing a North/South and East/West bike corridor that begins on the outskirts of the surrounding counties and goes through the city to meet at a central hub. Would you support this initiative for these corridors? If yes, how would you help make this happen? If no, why not?

DJ: I do support this initiative, but the honest truth is it is going to be very difficult in what are sure to be extremely difficult economic times to new investments like a central hub. However, I believe we can begin to take the initial steps needed to encourage alternative forms of transportation like providing more bike racks and bike lanes on our major streets.

RCF: Professional cycling helps raise cycling awareness in the community. How could you help gather city support and business sponsorship of these large cycling oriented events such as the US Cycling Championship, the Cap Tech Classic and the National Duathlon road and off-road events?

DJ: Richmond will need a point person to attract these types of National sporting events. Richmond used to host the NCAAA Div. I soccer championships and there is no reason we cannot host events like the US Cycling Championship. We have wonderful facilities here and should take aggressive marketing steps to secure these types of events. We must call upon groups like the Richmond Sports Backers to partner with the City to capture these events. We have to begin thinking outside the box.


RCF: The recently approved city master plan briefly discussed various options for making the city center more cycle accessible. Do you agree with these findings? Would you be willing to consider alternatives suggested by the cycling community?

DJ: Yes. I support the Master Plan and believe process has been a testament to the work that can be done in Richmond when we have an open and public process that involves all of our neighborhoods and citizens in the future of our City. I am absolutely open and willing to discuss with the cycling community ways in which we can encourage and embrace cycling in Richmond.

RCF: Many of our progressive peer cities have created positions in City Hall for a “Cycling Liaison”. If elected mayor, would you consider such a position a possibility?

DJ: The cycling community will have a seat at the table in the Jones administration. I believe cycling is crucial to reducing traffic and pollution in our city. I also believe it helps encourage healthy lifestyles and I will work with you to encourage cycling in Richmond.

Bill Pantele

RCF: As a representative of over 4,000 active cycling club members with in the city we would like to see Richmond become one of the greenest transportation friendly cities. As newly elected Mayor what steps would you take to make Richmond a model for alternative transportation (cycling in particular)?

BP: I will work for a complete re-routing of GRTC buses, built around a convenient and useful downtown streetcar system in order to attract greater bus ridership. A regional transportation authority can provide an effective mechanism to promote regional transit in high-density transit corridors radiating from our downtown core. As a member of City Council, I have been an advocate for more bike racks and a regional greenways program that will transform unused land into bicycle paths. I am a strong proponent of “New Urbanism” and a downtown Master Plan that promotes walk-ability and access to public spaces.

RCF: More specifically, how would cycling commuting and cycling livability with in the community be enhanced while taking steps to make Richmond one of the greenest transportation friendly cities?

BP: I have been a consistent advocate for greenways and bicycle paths and have pushed for the city to play a leading role in sustainable energy approaches. A regional mass transit system is a necessity so that we can get more cars off the road, while linking more closely together where people live and where they work. I am the leading advocate for a “downtown circulator” trolley that will encourage commuters to get out of their cars. We also need to make our commuting routes more “bicycle-friendly.”

RCF: City Council recently passed a resolution to allow for more bikeways, trails and greenways. Do you support this type of resolution and why? (You can find it by going to http://www.richmondgov.com/applications/clerksTracking/index.asp and searching for Paper Number 2008-R118-119)

BP: Yes, I voted for this resolution as a member of City Council.

RCF: Cyclists view Richmond as needing a North/South and East/West bike corridor that begins on the outskirts of the surrounding counties and goes through the city to meet at a central hub. Would you support this initiative for these corridors? If yes, how would you help make this happen? If no, why not?

BP: Yes. If we are to encourage mass transit, we need to make cycling an integral part of our overall plan. With so many people moving back into the city, it makes great sense to provide additional incentives for them to bike to work.

RCF: Professional cycling helps raise cycling awareness in the community. How could you help gather city support and business sponsorship of these large cycling oriented events such as the US Cycling Championship, the Cap Tech Classic and the National Duathlon road and off-road events?

BP: Richmond’s current efforts to attract tourism and major entertainment events need significant improvement. As Mayor, I would appoint a Director of Tourism within the Department of Economic Development to work solely on attracting more tourist visits and the types of events that you have described. We need to take advantage of our historic and scenic attractions, and cycling oriented events are ideal for showcasing these attractions.

RCF: The recently approved city master plan briefly discussed various options for making the city center more cycle accessible. Do you agree with these findings? Would you be willing to consider alternatives suggested by the cycling community?

BP:
Absolutely. The Master plan is an important first step, but we should not stop there. I would be glad to work with cycling representatives to consider additional alternatives.

RCF: Many of our progressive peer cities have created positions in City Hall for a “Cycling Liaison”. If elected mayor, would you consider such a position a possibility?

BP: Yes, and I would ask the cycling community for recommendations for this position.

Lawrence Williams

RCF: As a representative of over 4,000 active cycling club members with in the city we would like to see Richmond become one of the greenest transportation friendly cities. As newly elected Mayor what steps would you take to make Richmond a model for alternative transportation (cycling in particular)?

LW: Richmond has potential to become one of the most livable cities in America. As Mayor I want our ranking to be higher. One element to promoting this ranking is to show that our city is committed to what I would call greenway corridors. As mayor I would encourage these areas to be included in new neighborhood master plans. I would encourage your organization to work closer with the neighborhoods as we develop this master planning visioning process.

RCF: More specifically, how would cycling commuting and cycling livability with in the community be enhanced while taking steps to make Richmond one of the greenest transportation friendly cities?

LW: New media marketing, new signage, and new efforts to coordinate early project planning of both small and large projects already being considered. Pocket parks would be linked to bikeways through existing school properties, easements, donated land, swapped city land where the greater public good is achieved to create green way trails that, where possible are a more direct path of travel. We also need to find ways to allow such areas to increase adjacent property values. Such an approach would generate further interest in investing in bike trails.

RCF: City Council recently passed a resolution to allow for more bikeways, trails and greenways. Do you support this type of resolution and why? (You can find it by going to http://www.richmondgov.com/applications/clerksTracking/index.asp and searching for Paper Number 2008-R118-119)

LW: Yes, I have some proposals of my own that I would like to see added to the master plan. I will forward them to you. Topic: A Shockoe Bottom North Park with open space linking neighborhoods to downtown. Below Shockoe valley I64 bridges, similar to Byrd Park here in Richmond.

RCF: Cyclists view Richmond as needing a North/South and East/West bike corridor that begins on the outskirts of the surrounding counties and goes through the city to meet at a central hub. Would you support this initiative for these corridors? If yes, how would you help make this happen? If no, why not?

LW: Yes. This again illustrates the importance of the master planning being moved into the neighborhoods where we can get community involved.

RCF: Professional cycling helps raise cycling awareness in the community. How could you help gather city support and business sponsorship of these large cycling oriented events such as the US Cycling Championship, the Cap Tech Classic and the National Duathlon road and off-road events?

LW: This is about marketing the City as a whole. If we are laid out in such a manner that our trails are nationally recognized and reinforced by events then this will be a win win for all citizens. Corporate sponsorship for segments of trails advertised along the trail could be one way. Best areas get more sponsorship dollars. Trail upkeep paid by adjacent companies for tax relief. Employment of adjacent residents such as the youth and the elderly could be utilized. City school greenway classes.

RCF: The recently approved city master plan briefly discussed various options for making the city center more cycle accessible. Do you agree with these findings? Would you be willing to consider alternatives suggested by the cycling community?

LW: Yes.

RCF: Many of our progressive peer cities have created positions in City Hall for a “Cycling Liaison”. If elected mayor, would you consider such a position a possibility?

LW: This may better be a part of Recreation and Parks. We also have to find a way to mesh this discipline into other areas such as nature trails, park maintenance and conservation so it is not cut out of the budget in the future. A cultural component of several departments with an individual having access and input directly with three to five department heads.

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