Candidate campaign page:

A physician with a focus on universal healthcare, Ron Birnbaum has worked to educate himself on the intersectional aspect of transportation policy. In his response to Bike The Vote L.A., he expresses his vision for healthier, more walkable and bikeable communities connected by public transportation. Bike The Vote L.A. appreciates Birnbaum’s commitment towards bike share and an ‘Idaho Stop’ law, and sees promise in his evolving support for Vision Zero.

Bike The Vote L.A. 2017 Primary Grade: B

(See below for full candidate questionnaire response)

1. What future do you see for active mobility, and public transit in the daily lives of Angelenos, particularly those who lack access to cars and rely on these other modes as their primary way of getting around?

I would like to see Los Angeles (and all America) move in the direction of thoughtfully generated increased urban density that meets the human need for housing and that comes with walkability, bikeability, easily accessible and safe greenspace, and a robust system of public transportation.  I would love this to be complemented by a joyful and vibrant street life.

2. Do you support Vision Zero, an approach to street safety that treats each fatality as preventable and seeks to eliminate traffic deaths on public roads?

I support it.  It fits a model of harm reduction and data driven governance that I respect.  However, as we discussed, I would stress that it needs to be implemented with really robust community consultation and buy-in.  Traffic and commute times are real problems for real people.  We should not hold up progress because it comes with “side-effects” but we should always more to minimize them and also realize that residents who are bought-in and well-informed will be willing to make sacrifices of some things for the achievement of shared goals that speak to them. Implementation failures can kill the very best ideas and policies.

3. In Los Angeles, low-income communities of color are disproportionately burdened by the impacts of streets designed primarily for cars, without receiving proportional funding for their mobility modes like walking, biking, and quality mass transit. Would you support legislation to add a ‘complete streets’ policy to SB 1, California’s newly augmented gas tax, to direct revenues to projects and programs that benefit pedestrians, bicyclists and transit-dependent communities?

I would.  However, to fully answer a question like this one has to assess what else is not being funded and how important that is.  But it is a mistake to just build more highways, induce more demand, not improve commute times anyhow, and still fail to support underserved communities as your question mentions.

4. In 2017, Assembly Members Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) and Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia) introduced AB1103, a bill to enact an “Idaho Stop” adjustment to traffic code that allows cyclists to safely yield right of way at stop signs. This bill would help to reduce subjective traffic stops by law enforcement for a practice that is common by people on bikes and was endorsed by the L.A. Times Editorial Board. Will you commit to support an “Idaho Stop” bill that allows people on bikes to safely yield at stop signs as it comes up in the 2018 legislative session?

I would.

5. Would you support expanding state funding for bike share, and providing incentives for low-income individuals to afford high quality, family-friendly bikes that empower more economical mobility such as electric bikes and cargo bikes?

I would.  I myself have benefited from public  subsidies for my plug-in hybrid car (a 2012 Chevy Volt) and for solar panels and a Level 2 charger at my home. Although in so doing government has encouraged me as an early adopter of these important technologies, it does seem wrong that essentially these subsidies go to higher income individuals.  So I like both the goal of this program idea to encourage bike use (and special types) and that it is targeted to lower income individuals.  I also like bike share, which is a great example of innovative cooperative economics, as we discussed.