In 2016, Bike The Vote L.A. awarded Daniel Lee an “A” grade, and he nearly succeeded in his City Council bid, missing out on the third and final seat by fewer than 250 votes. Judging by Lee’s response to our 2018 questionnaire, his understanding of what it takes to build a safe and sustainable transportation system has clearly improved over the last two years. We were particularly impressed with his enthusiastic support for Vision Zero, a bicycle network anchored by protected bike lanes, and Safe Routes to School programs.

Lee says he mainly gets around Culver City on foot, and we welcome his refreshing perspective on how to help people walk safely and with dignity. It’s rare to find a candidate with Lee’s knowledge of the technical details of building livable communities. Culver City will be well-served by his leadership and Bike The Vote L.A. is excited to endorse Daniel Lee for City Council.

Daniel Lee 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?

Culver City would benefit from installing a network of dedicated protected lanes large enough for adult tricycles and pedicabs, to augment and connect to the Ballona Bike Path and Expo Bike Path; bike lanes on north-south arterial streets are lacking and special attention should be given to Sawtelle, Sepulveda and Overland in the tri-school area. A bike share with smart bike systems and trams – perhaps driverless – would serve to close the gap between work and off- site parking areas and/or between the train stations and bus lines.  Dedicated lanes for buses during peak commuting hours would improve the bus riding experience. Walking in many parts of Culver City has improved, especially in the Downtown and Sepulveda business districts. Safe Routes to Schools curb build outs and enhanced crosswalks have made walking safer and more pleasant near Linwood Howe Elementary School, especially for school-aged children and their families, but also wheelchair and mobility scooter users. We can look forward to more Safe Routes to School upgrades around La Ballona Elementary in the near future and more opportunities like these should be seized as they become available.

2. Culver City is currently considering adopting a “Vision Zero” policy to work towards preventing traffic related deaths through roadway design. Do you support Vision Zero? How do you think Culver City should engage with its community of residents and businesses in order to eliminate roadway deaths?

The concept of Vision Zero was recently approved by the Culver City Council, which sets in motion the process for creating specific benchmarks to achieve Vision Zero goals. I fully support Vision Zero and will promote strong policies and regulations that will help us reach zero serious and fatal accidents within the next 10 years. I have seen people in public meetings become more receptive to the idea of reducing traffic speed, when the link between speed reduction and fewer serious accidents is made.  Public meetings in various parts of Culver City should include brief Vision Zero presentations or updates, as this would educate the public and help to create a large contingent of Vision Zero advocates. In addition to public meetings there should be an educational campaign that could consists of a short video that explains what Vision Zero is, pamphlets that can be handed out at meetings and mailed and robust use of the city’s social media to familiarize the uninitiated with the concept.

3. Culver City’s Bicycle & Pedestrian Action Plan is well under way as a means of updating the city’s vision and implementation plan for livable streets. What do you hope to see from this plan?

The outcome should include all the elements of a strong Complete Streets policy. For pedestrians, this would include built-out corners; intersection and crossing enhancements (e.g. crossing refuge islands); trees, landscaping, parklets, and public seating. For bicyclists, we should aim for contiguous protected and standard bike lanes; shared bus/bike lanes; increased bike parking, a smart bike share system, bike sensors at intersections and overall, an alternative transportation system that closes the last mile between public transportation and home or work.

4. In November, the final Culver City Transit Oriented Development Visioning Study and Recommendations were released, including recommendations to improve pedestrian and bicycle access to and from transit. What components of this plan do you support, and why?

I support the recommendations for improved walkability, especially making Washington Blvd. the walkable spine of the TOD. Because walking is my primary mode of transportation, I have first hand experience and understand the importance of “pedestrian first” intersections, bulb-outs at corners, and increasing the number of safe crossings, especially on longer street sections. I would object to increasing access points for pedestrians on Ballona Creek Bike Path, as suggested in the report, unless the path were widened, or until the south side of the creek path was built, in order to safely accommodate both walkers and riders. I am fully supportive of the Downtown Connector, the protected bike lane connecting Downtown to the Culver City Expo Line station. This important piece of infrastructure is long overdue and I would advocate to make it one of the first recommendations to be implemented.  Improvement of the Venice/National and Venice/Robertson intersections will require coordination with the City of LA and the Metro Authority, as stated in the report, and will be critical for safe walking and biking connections to the train station and bus hubs. I support the neighborhood improvements sited, that would slow traffic and increase safety for walkers and bikers: corner build-outs, raised intersections, and neighborhood traffic circles. Finally, micro-transit that encourages folks to leave their cars outside the city center, is a concept I would support.

5. Since the configuration of most of Culver City public roads was set at a time when the primary concern was moving motor vehicles, improving roadway safety will require some tough trade-offs, including reducing speed limits, and reallocating parking and/or travel lanes to make room for safe biking facilities. How will you prioritize public safety, knowing that some stakeholders may complain about reduced vehicle speeds?

As mentioned above, I have seen the positive response to the concept of traffic slowing measures when people are made aware of the necessity of slowing traffic in order to eliminate serious and fatal accidents. Data that is already available pinpoints specific areas where these accidents cluster, and creates a case that’s difficult to refute. Reducing speeds will make streets safer overall for bicyclists and pedestrians as well as those who choose automobiles as their primary means of transportation. There will be those who are resistant to the changes necessary to reach Vision Zero, so I would work to build consensus among my colleagues on the Council in order to move our community forward. I would work with City staff to ensure that education is provided to the public in multiple formats, such as round tables, world cafés and presentations in multiple locations, easily accessed online resources, social media, pamphlets with infographics, etc.

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?

I currently bike in Culver City though I primarily walk. My experience has been highly mixed. In some areas the distance between the car lane and the edge of the bike lane (if such a lane exists) is broad enough for me to feel safe as long as I am cautious. In other areas there is no bike lane, the bike lane disappears suddenly or the shape of the curves and construction of intersections makes me avoid certain streets as I bike. To feel absolutely comfortable I would prefer to bike in a protected lane, one that is not isolated but connected to an infrastructure of protected bike lanes. Ideally major intersections would be controlled by separate signals for bicycle traffic and car traffic.