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Mayor Pro Tem Ted Winterer has been a strong proponent of Santa Monica’s shift towards a more bike-friendly city with a keen understanding of what components are necessary to make commuting by bike safe and enjoyable. In his response to us, he outlines many of those components: a network of bicycle infrastructure, implementation of protected bike lanes, safety in numbers, and convenient bike parking.

But beyond that, it’s abundantly clear that Winterer  has a cohesive understanding of what it takes to make a more livable, sustainable, and connected community. In his experience as a Councilmember, he has a long track record of votes, stances, and advocacy to improve options for transit, biking, and quality pedestrian infrastructure. Santa Monica residents will do well to return Mayor Pro Tem Ted Winterer to office, where we are confident he will continue the push towards a city with quality mobility options across the board.

Bike The Vote L.A. 2016 Grade: A

(See below for full candidate questionnaire response)

1. What is your opinion on the state of the mobility options available in Santa Monica? Is the City doing enough to enable safe and convenient travel for those of your constituents who walk, bike, or take public transit?

We’ve made great progress in recent years with the implementation of the first phase of our Bicycle Action Plan which added many new miles of bike lanes and other safety features; the rollout of the Breeze Bike Share system; the integration of the Big Blue Bus routes with the Expo line, new discounted “Any line, any time” bus passes for SMMUSD students, and amenities like $3 can rides from the 17th Street Expo stop when the BBB stops running at night; and the adoption of the Pedestrian Action Plan and improvements like the ped scrambles downtown. Since I’ve shared a car with my wife since 2002 I frequently opt for carbon light or carbon free travel modes so I know from experiences these options have become more convenient and safe. Are we where we want to be yet? No. But we’re working hard at it.

2. With so many residents and workers riding bikes in the city, what additional efforts should Santa Monica undertake to improve safety and convenience of bicycling?

My family of four has four personal bikes and one two-person cargo bike so we ride a lot. Road safety has improved considerably in recent years with new bike lanes and sharrows and enough bike ridership to have made auto drivers more accustomed to sharing the road. The next step on safety is to add more dedicated Class IV bike lanes – we’ll soon be doing so on 17th Street and need to roll out more. As for convenience, I often can’t find bike parking at places like Main Street because all the racks are occupied, so we need to add more corrals at major cycling destinations.

3. With the arrival of Expo light rail to Santa Monica, there has been much discussion about the best way to provide access for residents and visitors to the stations. How do you think first mile/last mile connections – the ability to walk, bike, or take transit between one’s residence and the stations – can be improved?

My hope is that we’ll begin to see an increase in BBB ridership in the next few years which will allow us to augment bus service to and from the Expo stops. For biking Class IV lanes will encourage easier and safer access to Expo, hence our efforts on 17th Street. For walking we need to continue the capital improvements envisioned by the PAP and change our traffic signals so that a “Walk” signal comes on automatically instead of when requested by a pedestrian via a push button. We also need to eliminate the option for autos to make a right turn when peds have the right-of-way at scrambles.

4. Santa Monica has championed multimodal transportation with initiatives like GoSaMo, policies like “no net new car trips” within the Land Use and Circulation Element of the General Plan, and comprehensive policy documents like the Bike and Pedestrian Action Plans. However, the city’s zoning requirements maintain high off-street parking requirements for new construction, even near high-quality transit. Researchers have repeatedly demonstrated that parking requirements encourage more people to drive. How can the city reconcile these contradictory positions? Will you champion reduced parking requirements or even parking maximums for new development projects?

One of the great challenges during our hearings on our zoning update was to get people to understand that unbundled parking, reduced parking requirements and parking maximums are the wave of the future and that investing capital in parking that increases the cost of new housing is folly when all indicators are that car ownership and use will continue to decline in the future. However, we did reduce our parking requirements near transit; we did allow for the unbundling of parking; and we will significantly reduce parking requirements in our new downtown plan. And where we left the old parking codes in place we did so to discourage displacement of existing housing and residents and to encourage housing providers to focus on commercial zones and downtown.

5. The Michigan Avenue Neighborhood Greenway was one of the city’s first major multimodal routes, but it remains incomplete. Have you ridden or walked the Greenway? What still needs to be done, in your opinion, to make walking and bicycling on Michigan safer and more pleasant? Would you consider removing or relocating on-street parking in some places to create a protected cycletrack along the route?

Honestly, MANGo has failed to live up to our expectations. To make walking safer we have to relocate crosswalk further away from the traffic islands so motorists aren’t diverted into the pedestrian realm. And I’d be willing to look at some limited changes to on-street parking if we studied the demand for it, although I’d first prefer to see if with a road diet we can put a cycle track between the car parking and the sidewalk. But yes, we need to have our planners look at the greenway to see what need to be done to increase utilization by pedestrians and cyclists.  Completion of the eastern sections such as The Wiggle should also help; sadly, little progress has been made with the school district on extending the greenway west through the Samohi campus so we may have to look at other options to eventually connect the Expo bike path to the beaches.

6. Santa Monica launched L.A. County’s first public bike share system, Breeze, last November. Since then, it has seen steady growth and recently hit the milestone of having 30,000 active users. How can the system be improved? Would you be willing to commit to increasing the number of bikes in the system by 50 percent over the next year? And would you be willing to commit to increasing the number of hubs or relocating underperforming hubs to serve high-use areas of the city?

Honestly, I can’t commit to a 50% increase in the number of bikes in the next year, although I wish I could. The initial capital outlay for the bikes came primarily from a Metro grant and given that we have a finite CIP budget with which to fund other mobility projects, a new fire station, park expansions, etc. a promise to spend millions more on new Social bikes in the next 12 months would be an empty one. That said, I very much support increasing the number of bikes in smaller increments and once the system starts running in the black we can allocate those funds to expanding the number of hubs and bicycles. As for relocating underperforming hubs that’s already part of the plan – the genius of the system we chose is that the stations are very easy to move since they’re just racks bolted into pavement.