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As a Board Member of CicLAvia, Mark Vargas has a impressive record of working to bring visibility to safe streets. His understanding or transportation issues shines through clearly in his thoughtful and detailed response to Bike The Vote L.A., which shows his commitment to improving safety and expanding mobility options for Angelenos equitably.

Bike The Vote L.A. 2017 Primary Grade: A-

(See below for full candidate questionnaire response)

1. What future do you see for active mobility, and public transit in the daily lives of Angelenos, particularly those who lack access to cars and rely on these other modes as their primary way of getting around?

There are a large number of Angelenos who rely on public transit and other alternatives on a daily basis. As our city continues to grow public transit and other alternatives will become primary modes of transportation for the majority of Angelenos. This is a future we must prepare and plan for now.

With the passage of Measure M, Los Angeles has an unprecedented investment in transportation happening right now. The future of mobility is already partially defined by a large investment in regional rail with additional support coming for bus operations as well. As this investment rolls out it is going to be key to make sure that we are providing strong connections to access the service through first and last mile solutions. However, public transit is just one piece of the pie. Considering that many of our trips that we take are under 3 miles we have an opportunity to build out infrastructure that allows for these trips to be made via bike, which are 1) good for the environment (and the wallet), and 2) can lead to freeing up our road network for other uses, such as goods delivery, important long commute trips, or even reprogramming it for open space. In order to get our bike infrastructure right I think that as a region we still need to continue to build out strong network examples. One case in point is looking at Downtown LA and the surrounding neighborhoods to show that strong example. This is why I’m looking forward to the recent BIG JUMP! Project that LADOT is going to be undertaking in DTLA with funding for People for Bikes to build out the bike network in DTLA. This project can help demonstrate what is possible locally.

In addition to supporting transit and improving our infrastructure for walking and biking I think that we need to continue to invest in providing access to new mobility solutions like bike sharing and car sharing. I see our mobility future as a menu of options that will include all of the above.

As a board member of Ciclavia, I have been involved in expanding the reach of Ciclavia across the County of Los Angeles. Since 2010 to now we have hosted several events, with another several planned for 2017-2018. Ciclavia has been a laboratory to help people reimagine our city streets. From partnering w/ AARP to fund pedicabs for seniors, to working with cities to create large linear parks to provide recreational opportunities to low-income communities, Ciclavia has been engaged in the politics of mobility and change. I am very proud to serve on that Board and to continue to push for increased events and to continue to use the platform to educate, collaborate, and experiment with the way we view and experience mobility and our streets.

2. Do you support Vision Zero, an approach to street safety that treats each fatality as preventable and seeks to eliminate traffic deaths on public roads?

I strongly support Vision Zero LA and its data driven approach to eliminating traffic fatalities; eliminating deaths caused by traffic is imperative and absolutely attainable. This is also an important goal we must achieve as we continue to the push towards growing our active streets and building a transit infrastructure that fosters the use of biking and walking. Vision Zero is also critically important for immigrant and working class communities as well as seniors and children. These are communities that are much more likely to depending on walking and biking to get around, however, lack safe options in their communities.

3. In Los Angeles, low-income communities of color are disproportionately burdened by the impacts of streets designed primarily for cars, without receiving proportional funding for their mobility modes like walking, biking, and quality mass transit. Would you support legislation to add a ‘complete streets’ policy to SB 1, California’s newly augmented gas tax, to direct revenues to projects and programs that benefit pedestrians, bicyclists and transit-dependent communities?

Yes. As I have stated previously, I believe that investment in building a holistic and comprehensive transit infrastructure network is critical to not only meeting the needs of Angelenos today, but also the future needs of our rapidly growing region. Infrastructure investments that encourage and improve the pedestrian as well as biking experience are essential. Our policies and spending need to reflect the interests of every community. Millions of residents across the LA region utilize public transit, walking, and biking as their primary mode of transportation. We must invest in that and address their needs.

4. In 2017, Assembly Members Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) introduced AB1103, a bill to enact an “Idaho Stop” adjustment to traffic code that allows cyclists to safely yield right of way at stop signs. This bill would help to reduce subjective traffic stops by law enforcement for a practice that is common by people on bikes and was endorsed by the L.A. Times Editorial Board. Will you commit to support an “Idaho Stop” bill that allows people on bikes to safely yield at stop signs as it comes up in the 2018 legislative session?

I support adjustments to the traffic code that will improve the flow of traffic, encourage cycling, and reduce the burden on our courts created by minor traffic offenses. I believe that this change in the law can improve safety by allowing bicyclists to maintain momentum and better control, putting them in a better position to avoid accidents and protect themselves. However, I think it is important that we work to address the safety concerns raised by many stakeholders such as law enforcement. In the end, I believe that this is an improvement to our bicycle and traffic safety measures and look forward to working with Assemblymember Ting and Obernolte to improve upon their existing legislation during the second half of the current legislative cycle.

5. Would you support expanding state funding for bike share, and providing incentives for low-income individuals to afford high quality, family-friendly bikes that empower more economical mobility such as electric bikes and cargo bikes?

Yes! As a board member of CicLAvia, I have worked diligently to promote bicycling, walking, and other alternative forms of transportation. Biking and walking not only activate our neighborhood streets, but also make them safer, healthier, and promote community. Access to transit and mobility are directly linked to socio-economic status. Our low-income neighbors often lead the way in having low carbon footprints and they are the most likely to rely on public transit, walking, and biking. Successfully expanding bike sharing to low-income communities has been a national challenge, but I believe there are some good examples out there that the State could help fund that address creating access to the unbanked and that can support thoughtful partnerships with community based organizations to support roll-out of successful systems in low-income communities. Furthermore, I support funding for programs that can also put E-bikes and cargo bikes in the hands of low-income individuals and families.