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While we appreciated that former Culver City Detective Jay Garacochea responded to our questionnaire, we were disappointed with the positions he articulated. In the most recent 2013 Governor’s Office of Traffic Safety study, Culver City ranked 11th worst in California of 92 peer cities for pedestrian injuries & fatalities and 17th worst for bike-related injuries & fatalities. When Mr. Garacochea explains, “I feel as though our current public transit system is the best the city has to offer,” he displays no urgency or resolve to address the important challenges that Culver City faces to improve safety for its most vulnerable road users. In his answers to Bike The Vote L.A, Mr. Garacochea notes he supports inconveniencing residents’ access on foot in order to prioritize car traffic through Culver City. Mr. Garacochea is hesitant to support a needed safe bike connection between the Expo Line and Downtown Culver City or even to support bringing bike share to Culver City. We are encouraged that he expresses an interest in seeing an increase in bike lanes throughout the City, but considering his reluctance to put safety first in roadway design, Mr. Garacochea makes it clear that he does not currently hold positions that would make him a bike-friendly candidate.

Bike The Vote L.A. 2016 Grade: C-

(See below for full candidate questionnaire response)

1. What would an ideal transportation system for Culver City consist of? What mode options, considerations for people of different ages and abilities, and innovative features would that transportation system include?

Garacochea: I feel as though our current public transit system is the best the city has to offer.  I feel as though we should take a look on how the system is ran and ask the users for input on how they would improve it.  The city needs to look into innovative ways to save money and still offer quality service.

2. With so many people on foot and on bike killed each year while commuting in Los Angeles County, the City of Los Angeles recently adopted a “Vision Zero” policy to work towards eliminating traffic deaths in the City of L.A. by 2025. Would you support adopting Vision Zero for Culver City?

Garacochea: I would be in support of Vision Zero.  Public safety should always be a priority to any city, I should know, I worked as a traffic officer for Culver City Police Department for years.  However, I believe that if you have to begin with the police department.  The police need to be fully staffed and trained, selective enforcement of problem intersections, and enforcing speed laws.  I would like to know who much the plan would cost the city and if there would be any grant funds available through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

3. Culver City is considering implementing protected bike lanes – bike lanes separated from vehicles by a physical barrier – in two key locations: 1) on National Blvd to close the gap between the two halves of the Expo Bike Path that extend to USC/Expo Park to the East and Santa Monica to the West, and 2) on Washington Blvd connecting the Expo Line Culver City station to Downtown Culver City. Do you support these projects, which may require a dedication of developer land and/or a reduction of on-street car parking spaces?

Garacochea: I more than likely would not support these projects based on this question alone. I would have to evaluate the impact on traffic and consider how many individuals ride their bicycles between the metro and downtown Culer City.  Another consideration is the overall cost of the project.  What other cities have done this and what types of results did they have?

4. Would you support bringing a bike share system to Culver City, and if so, what will you do to expedite its installation?

Garacochea: Before supporting the bike share program, I would have to speak to city employees and council members in Santa Monica, Fullerton, or other cities that have the program.  I would like to know what results, positive and negative, they have experienced.  What problems have other cities experienced during the roll out of the program?  I would also like to hear from individuals that use the bike share program and their thoughts.

5. The City Council recently voted to prioritize vehicular travel through Culver City over providing pedestrian access for local residents to businesses and Culver City Park. Do you support the removal of crosswalks at Duquesne & Jefferson and Summertime Lane/Jordan Way & Jefferson?

Garacochea: I do support the removal of the crosswalk.  Again, as a former motor officer, I have seen the issues that drivers face on a daily basis.  The removal of those particular crosswalks do not inconvenience the pedestrian as much as it does increase the flow of traffic.  This city is going to become worse to drive, walk, and bike in before it becomes better.  Therefore the city needs to be aggressive and make changes like this.

6. Do you presently bike in Culver City? What are your experiences, or if not, what would it take to make you feel comfortable biking on city streets?

Garacochea: I do bicycle in Culver City and enjoy riding down to Venice Beach.  I recently purchased a tandem bicycle for my wife and I. When I worked for Culver City, I would ride my bicycle to work every day.  I was one of two employees at the police department that took advantage of the city’s incentive program.  I had mostly good experiences with riding my bike to work.  However, I would avoid eastbound Washington Bl adjacent to Sony Studios because of the narrow lanes.  I would like to see an increase in bike lanes throughout the city.  I do enjoy the new bike lane on Washington Place and the safety it provides as we ride to and from the beach.