Pasadena Mayor Candidate: Terry Tornek
Over the past six years as Mayor and as a City Councilmember before that, Terry Tornek supported the development of a stronger Bicycle Master Plan that included the City’s first physically-separated bike/rollways, the implementation of the Union Avenue protected bike/rollway, the completion of Class II lanes on Cordova Avenue, and the Playhouse District’s long-proposed pedestrian makeover of Colorado Blvd. More recently, however, Tornek has made efforts to eliminate bus-only lanes within Pasadena for Metro’s Pasadena-NoHo BRT project.
Bike The Vote L.A. endorsed then-candidate Terry Tornek during his first campaign for mayor in 2015, after he provided a well-informed and encouraging response to the Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition’s 2015 candidate questionnaire. His response to Bike The Vote for the 2020 campaign shows that Tornek still understands the value of protected bike lanes, how transportation is a primary factor in greenhouse gas emissions, and the role that vehicle speed plays in roadway safety. Unfortunately, Tornek’s commitment to take bold action on these issues appears to have waned and Tornek declined to communicate support in his response for a Pasadena Vision Zero policy. Of protected bike lanes, he says, “I don’t believe that we can many built in the near term.” Should Tornek be reelected, Bike The Vote L.A. is hopeful that he will use his position and knowledge on safe streets to convene more productive community conversations that are rooted in goals for livability and equity, rather than a fear of change.
Bike The Vote L.A. 2020 Primary Grade: B-
(See below for full candidate questionnaire response)
1. Spending by the oil and gas industry on local races casts doubt on whether voters can trust their elected leaders to protect them from the impacts of pollution and climate change. Will you pledge to refuse any donations from the fossil fuel industry?
I won’t commit to symbolic categorical rejections like this. because they are too fraught (e.g. individuals who work for energy-related companies,etc.). I try to vet my contributions and have never been offered one from fossil fuel companies; would be unlikely to accept any.
2. According to the most recent data from the California Office of Traffic Safety, in 2017 Pasadena had the second-highest number of senior pedestrians killed or injured in traffic collisions, and the fourth-highest number of people on bikes killed or injured, among 58 similarly sized cities across California. What can the City do to make our streets safer for everyone, especially older adults and children? Do you support a Vision Zero policy for Pasadena?
I am very concerned about our accident history and attribute it, in part, to the fact that we do have lots of pedestrians and bicyclists and we also have increased traffic and distracted drivers (texting). We must continue to slow vehicular speeds, increase enforcement for all modes and be more selective in the streets we promote as bicycle-friendly.
3. Pasadena streets around schools are frequently unsafe. This discourages parents from allowing their children to walk or bike to school, and makes the health benefits of active transportation inaccessible for many Pasadena youth. If elected, how would you prioritize student safety and mobility around schools?
I have participated in walk to school safely activities every year, the City has expanded its crossing guard program and its focus on safe travel to schools.
4. Pasadena Transit service is currently limited in many Pasadena neighborhoods, with service stopping at 7pm and not even provided to some neighborhoods on Sundays. In addition, many bus stops in Pasadena lack basic amenities like shade and seating. With so many older adults and other residents who cannot drive a vehicle, how can the City improve the comfort and convenience of its local bus service?
During the past year we have enhanced service on several routes, restored Sunday service on some routes and purchased new equipment. We continue to work with the PUSD to adjust service to meet student needs. We are now working with METRO on a BRT project.
Pasadena continues to be committed to improving transit services.
5. According to Pasadena’s Climate Action Plan, transportation is the number one source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the City of Pasadena, responsible for an estimated 52% of emissions. Gas-powered mobility is also the largest source of greenhouse gases in California, with GHGs increasing in recent years as more Californians purchase larger and less fuel-efficient SUVs and trucks (almost 60% of new car sales in California were SUVs in 2018), and drive more miles. Despite the growing popularity of electric vehicles statewide, these developments are now threatening to derail the state’s 2030 climate goals. What can the City do to support greater use of sustainable transportation and reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions?
Pasadena is committed to reducing GHGs by incentivizing EVs. We have embarked on a significant expansion of charging stations at public facilities and offer financial incentives for home charger installation. As we develop our new rate structure and billing system, we will able to do more to offer additional incentives for off-peak charging.
6. Pasadena lacks a safe network of separated lanes for bicycling, scooting, and other modes of micro-mobility. The few existing routes too often consist of narrow, unprotected striped lanes placed directly adjacent to fast-moving cars or shared use lanes marked with ‘sharrows’ in which people on bikes are put in direct conflict with drivers. The lack of safe space for these users often results in sidewalk riding, where conflicts with pedestrians are more likely to take place. Do you support building out a robust and connected bike/roll network with protected lanes to enable residents of all ages and abilities to get around safely, and if so, how will you work to make this a reality?
I love the idea of protected bike lanes, but the roll-out of the Union St. project has demonstrated how expensive, time consuming and controversial they can be. This is the gold standard, but I don’t believe that we can many built in the near term. I don’t believe that the “sharrow” designation is a great solution, in fact I worry that we are may be creating an unsafe condition by offering a false sense of security to bicyclists. So I have concluded that we should do a better job promoting the “Greenway” program on safer, lower volume streets as the best short term alternative. I also believe that we need to invest more in both motorist and bicyclist safety education.