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Councilmember Terry O’Day has been a stalwart supporter of Santa Monica’s transformation into a more bicycle- and transit-oriented community. According to comments he made to Santa Monica Next, he’s also a regular walker and transit user and frequently bikes around Santa Monica. O’Day also has an excellent track record of supporting Santa Monica’s Bike Action Plan, low cost Big Blue Bus service, Metro’s Measure R-funded expansion of light rail, and Santa Monica’s Vision Zero policy. He’s also opposed to the harmful anti-growth Measure LV.

O’Day’s response to our questionnaire is as cohesive as it is thoughtful, calling for a complete rethinking of the city’s street infrastructure to prioritize the safety of people on foot and on bikes over convenience for other modes. From recognition of the need to close gaps in a bicycle network to stressing the need to prioritize implementation in order to achieve Vision Zero, it’s clear that O’Day is the kind of leader on mobility that Santa Monica residents and workers deserve.

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?

I’m very pleased with two of my first accomplishments in City Council that improved our mobility options.  First was adopting a Bike Action Plan and moving over $7 million of funding to our capital budget for bike infrastructure improvements.  Second was bucking our staff, which proposed a Big Blue Bus fare increase, to keep BBB fares lowest in the region.  Because of my leadership on this issue, have seen our mobility options flourish.  The Expo Light Rail has arrived, but the work that brought us to that point should not be taken for granted.  In 2007, I cofounded Move LA and proposed Measure R, which was adopted by a 67.9% vote and is raising $40 billion for transit, including Expo Line to Santa Monica.  The accompanying Expo Bike Path has given us a phenomenal dedicated bike path to downtown LA.

All this progress improves on decades of car-centric planning, but it does not erase it.  We need to move ahead in a couple key actions.  First, revise the Bike Action Plan considering the experience of the investment in these last few years.  Too many critical linkages are missing between our existing pathways and there are still easy opportunities to improve our network.  Second, we must more deeply embed our Vision Zero objective by further investing if enhancement to our pedestrian and bike safety.  Third, we must turn our mobility infrastructure on its head by creating a loading order of priorities for use of our public space – pedestrians, then bikes, then transit, then shared cars, than private cars.  When I started this work, I used to hear “Why should we have a bike lane on XX street, when YY street is just a couple blocks away.”  By honing our priorities as I described, we would ask why would cars get two parallel streets, if bikes do not.

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?

First and foremost, we need to increase segregated and buffered bike lanes.  Additionally, increasing green-painted lanes and prioritized signaling for bikes.

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 take transit between one’s residence and the stations – can be improved?

There are some important segments of road that we need to improve for pedestrian and bike safety, with lighting, painting, signaling, such as 26th Street between Cloverfield and Olympic.  Importantly though, we need to develop complete travel routes.  Many of our connections are broken at key places, for example the Cloverfield bridge is quite dangerous.  These connections would finish the complete routes necessary to be an actual “mile” in the first/last mile discussion.

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?

Reducing the impact of cars in our community has been my most consistent theme in my public service over more than a decade.  I introduced decoupling the rental of parking spaces from the rental of apartments in the city, by introducing environmental planning experts to the Planning Commission and proposing this on project after project until it was adopted in our zoning update.  I also fought for parking maximums instead of minimums and achieved it, though not to the scale I continue to seek.  I have also called for revision of our parking preference zones, which work very poorly and encourage car ownership (as perhaps noted in your question below).  I have also advocated trading parking for affordable housing and other benefits in new development agreements.

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 if it meant being able to create a protected cycletrack along the route?

I live on the Greenway and use it daily.  I strongly favor a cycletrack, removing parking, adding parklets, and improving safety.  I am concerned that the project in its current incomplete state, has not adequately improved bike safety on Michigan Ave.

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?

I am strongly in favor of increasing the number of bikes and hubs.  Because it is a network, the Breeze system gets better with more nodes and more users.  Its success suggests that we can and should increase it further.