2017 Mayoral Candidate Report Card: Paul Amori

Primary Election day: Tuesday, March 7, 7am-8pm
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Vision for Livable Communities: B+
Prioritization of Safety: A-
Commitment to Equity: (not enough info to grade)
Commitment to Collaboration: (not enough info to grade)
Overall Bike The Vote LA Grade: B

Mayoral candidate Paul Amori’s “Vote 4 Love” campaign gives off the feel of a hipster immersed in character for an ironic performance art project, and so it came as a surprise to receive such a thoughtful response from him to Bike The Vote L.A.’s questionnaire. He offers heartfelt support for our vision of a layered system of mobility options and a robust network of bicycle infrastructure that helps us to meet L.A.’s sustainability goals; commitments that are lacking in the platform of L.A.’s current mayor. It’s hard to assess whether Amori has the political expertise or experience to lead Los Angeles, but his rational approach grounded in love and empathy – is certainly a welcome addition in today’s political climate.

(See below for Paul Amori’s response to Bike The Vote L.A.)

1. In 2015, Los Angeles approved Mobility Plan 2035, the first update to the Transportation Element of its General Plan since 1999. Mobility Plan 2035 puts “safety first” in transportation decisions, and provides a vision for a transportation system composed of safe and quality transit, bicycle, pedestrian, and automotive options. How would you like to see this Plan implemented, and how do you envision Los Angeles’ transportation system in 2022 at the end of the next Mayoral term?

I wholeheartedly support Mobility Plan 2035, it was a crucial update to an outdated and dysfunctional city plan that valued car traffic above foot and bicycle traffic in our city. Overhauling and exploring new paradigms for both our public transportation system and our traffic congested highways is a major part of our platform.

We need to reduce the numbers of automobiles on the road and to increase safety for bikers and pedestrians. My campaign will do this in a number of ways; first by creating incentives for drivers to adopt new transportation technologies like driverless cars that are safer and more efficient. Second we will support the infrastructure required to add the new bike lanes proposed by the plan that makes it easier and safer for bikers to get to their destinations on major streets and across green belts like the LA River. I would also like to expand the Metro Bike Share program to all parts of the city.

By 2022 I want to see Los Angeles be recognized as a biker and pedestrian friendly city with rapidly declining fatality rates from traffic collisions.

2. How can Los Angeles catch up to peer cities such as New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle in terms of quality of roadway infrastructure and bicycle-friendliness?

Our infrastructure in Los Angeles is in dire need of some love. With broken sidewalks and pothole strewn roads the streets are crumbling and unsafe. Revitalizing our infrastructure will require us to rethink how our city services are operating. We can look to other cities for ideas and inspiration, but we have to remember that Los Angeles occupies far more square miles than most cities and as such has unique needs that require innovative solutions that can be implemented quickly and efficiently. In order to truly raise the quality of our roads and create both bicycle and pedestrian friendly streets we need to enlist the city council and neighborhood councils to be active participants in helping the city to prioritize what areas need immediate assistance and taking action to service them.

3. On August 24, 2015, Mayor Garcetti signed Executive Directive 10, setting ‘Vision Zero’ as a policy for Los Angeles, with the goal of eliminating traffic-related deaths within 10 years. In order to meet this goal, LADOT identified a “High Injury Network” to prioritize safety improvements on L.A.’s most dangerous streets. However, after a year and a half, we have seen very little concrete action to reduce transportation-related deaths on City streets. What do you see as the critical hurdles for improving safety on Los Angeles streets, and how would you work to address these impediments in reducing speeding in order to save lives?

The biggest hurdle for improving safety is that we first have to catch up to current standards which the sheer size of our city and road system makes inherently challenging. We also have to reeducate drivers to think of cyclists as equal partners on the road, that means making high visibility bike lanes on streets that favor bike traffic over automobile traffic. We also need to look at the more heavily accident prone streets and corridors and assess where we can increase and establish safer crossing structures and bicycle lanes utilizing signage and if necessary speeding impediments.

4. In 2011 the City of Los Angeles adopted a Bicycle Master Plan identifying a network of bike lanes to make bicycle commuting a safe and comfortable commuting option. However, after most easy-to-install bike lanes were implemented, the City largely stopped pursuing reconfigurations of roads to accommodate bike lanes on streets where the number of travel lanes might be affected. Since Mayor Garcetti took office, implemented bike lane miles have plummeted from 251 in FY2013-14 and 120 in FY2014-15 to 38 in FY2014-15 and a mere 17 in FY2015-16. Do you see a network of bicycle infrastructure as an important component to making Los Angeles a bike-friendly city? If so, what will your administration do within the next Mayoral term to accelerate the development of a comprehensive network of bike lanes in Los Angeles?

To make bicycle commuting a viable option we absolutely need to build out a bicycle friendly infrastructure. A core part of our platform is traffic reduction and Green solutions. Adding more cyclists to the road makes for healthier citizens, reduces traffic and our carbon footprint. But before we can offer a solution to how we would accelerate the development of such a network we would need to understand why the city and Garcetti has opted to slow down the process in order to determine the best route to getting the plan back on track and up to speed.

5. Much emphasis in transportation engineering has been placed in recent years on protected bike lanes and protected intersections. New York City began installing modern parking-protected bicycle lanes in 2007. Los Angeles has started to follow suit, installing short stretches of protected bike lanes in the 2nd Street Tunnel, on Reseda Blvd, on westbound Venice Blvd, on Los Angeles Street, and on southbound Van Nuys Blvd. But with many of these installations limited to ½-mile segments, separated by many miles across a large city, and no protected intersections implemented in Los Angeles; they hardly represent a viable backbone to support bicycle commuting for all ages and skill levels. How do you plan to implement the protected bike lane network envisioned in Mobility Plan 2035, seeing as so far only about 1.1 lane miles of the 300 planned lane miles have been been built in the year and a half since the Plan was adopted? When can Angelenos expect to rely on a system of protected bike lanes to get them around Los Angeles, as commuters now do in New York and Chicago?

Without having first hand knowledge of how the plan is being carried out I cannot fairly comment on why it is coming up short. If I become mayor I pledge to do a thorough analysis to determine how to get Mobility Plan 2035 back on track and ensure that it lives up to its promises.

6. A 2014 report by the L.A. Times noted a rise in hit & run crimes against people on bikes in Los Angeles. What action will your administration take – both at the local level and in working with State legislators – to reduce hit & run crimes?

At all times, public safety for the citizens of Los Angeles has to be our number one concern. We need to work with legislators to create legislation that brings down the full power of the law upon perpetrators of hit and run’s. With that in mind, our first step will be to review the most current data on bike related accidents and fatalities in Los Angeles and determine the best course of action, including enforcing existing legislation that has either halted or slowed for political or budgetary reason.

7. Bike share systems have been implemented across Los Angeles, but as systems expand to different areas of Los Angeles and neighboring cities, experts foresee three major obstacles: stations that are discontinuous/too far apart, stations with unsafe walking conditions that limit access, and systems that are out of reach for low-income residents. What areas would you like to see bike share expanded to within Los Angeles, and what should the City be doing to make these systems more accessible, affordable, and useful to all Angelenos?

I believe in the bike share system and I believe it should be city-wide, but bike shares will not even be appealing in neighborhoods that don’t have bike lanes and safe streets for cyclists. First and foremost we need to implement the lanes laid out in the Bicycle Master Plan, then begin to place share systems along the paths that see the most traffic. From there we can begin to reach deeper into neighborhoods that are not currently benefitting from share systems. Pricing should be based on gross income of neighborhood and districts and should be lower in less affluent areas. Of course with more supply we can also reduce prices making share systems an affordable solution for all Angelenos.