The board of Tempe Bicycle Action Group recently sent questions to all of the candidates for Tempe Mayor and City Council prior to the upcoming Tempe Mayoral and City Council election, so that the voters of Tempe can hear the candidate’s positions on cycling and cycling related issues.
Responses from all of the candidates can be found here: http://www.biketempe.org/tempe-election-bicycle-qa-candidates-responses/
Response from City Council Candidate GC Saarup
1. Do you ride a bicycle on the valley area roads/trails and why?
Although I own a mountain type bicycle, I have not recently had the chance to ride on a regular basis within the valley or on our local roads. I used to be an avid motorcycle rider and we still have problems with drivers of automobiles not seeing motorcycles. Tempe has made great improvements to our bicycle transit system, but I still do not feel safe riding a bicycle for the trips that I take on a regular basis for the same reasons I did not feel 100% safe riding a motorcycle.
2. Do you think cycling in Tempe is safe for you, your family members and friends? What would do do to improve the safety of the cycling environment?
I do not think bicycling is safe in the metro Phoenix area or Tempe. Safety may have been the priority behind the recent addition of stop lights at canal crossings along certain streets in Tempe for runners, walkers, and bicyclists, but I believe that they were not implemented in the best or most efficient way. I think I have seen more incidents since their installation than without them. We need to search for or create technologies that help all motorists and modes of transportation share the road safely and efficiently.
3. What have you done or worked on in the past that shows your record of being involved in bicycle safety or road/trail improvement campaigns? Please elaborate.
I have not had the opportunity in recent months to actively work with groups such as yours, but I would definitely welcome the opportunity to do so after seeing various and numerous accidents in my immediate community. My neighbor was hit by a vehicle a few months ago while crossing a canal, and he has to be one of the safest people I know as a bicyclist.
Specific improvements in Tempe
4. Where do you think cycling fits in Tempe or any city’s transportation infrastructure and planning?
Our great city has made great strides in fitting cycling into the current transportation infrastructure, but we have to do more than just fit it in to the current infrastructure. We need to plan efficiently and think outside the normal status quo and be a leader in a truly bicycle friendly community.
5. Many streets in Tempe do not have bike lanes (Broadway Road, Rural Road, McClintock Drive, Southern Avenue) and are not comfortable for any users other than automobile drivers. What measures would you support to improve the state of bike lane frequency in Tempe (i.e. road diets, shared spaces for bikes/buses, increased bike lanes)?
Transportation is one of main tenets of my platform. We all have to get somewhere each and every day. Bicycles were here before the automobile and even with technological advances will probably be here after what we see today as the automobile. We need to aggressively seek logical ways to improve traffic flow with all forms of transportation and this definitely means to include bicycles. The thought of removing a vehicle lane to add or make room for a bicycle lane or other form of transportation should not be considered foolish. There are many technologies available or soon to be available to help improve the efficiency of traffic flow that can work harmoniously with bicycles and other modes of transportation. I would welcome the opportunity to work with groups like T.B.A.G. and other members in the community to ensure that we find the best possible solution.
6. How will you work with ADOT to obtain more bicycle and pedestrian facilities adjacent to and over the local freeway system like Country Club Way and Alameda Drive? Bicyclists have requested freeway crossings at Alameda and the I-10 and the Western Canal and I-10 and Balboa and 101 etc…
Former Mayor Neil Giuliano had a great influence on projects related to the freeway system passing through the Tempe city limits, so I know we can and should have a great influence for the needs of our community and make certain that ADOT hears the needs of our community.
A pedestrian and bicycle friendly bridge at Alameda and I-10 could be a great idea for Anaheim Angel spring training baseball games or those commuting to the numerous businesses on both sides of the I-10. We need to not only think of our own citizens, but those in the neighboring areas. We also need to remember our fellow Tempeans living on the opposite sides of the main city area that are split by our local freeway system. I’m certain that there are many people that would love to bicycle from the South Phoenix area to work in the West Tempe area. We need to not only think of the tangible benefits, but those we can create by a bridge such as that idea. We also need to communicate with our community to ensure that is what is needed or desired. I have heard from local residents close to the Country Club Way bridge that it was something that was needed or desired.
7. The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is surrounded by roadway devoid of bike lanes. How would you make the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport accessible by bike?
At first thought I wonder how or why anyone would ride a bike with luggage to either pick someone up or to take off to a nice destination themselves, but it’s that kind of thinking that traps us in our current situation. If we can educate our community on the rights and wrongs of the road, the benefits to our environment and our bodies, overall safety, and sharing the road both ways with other modes of transportation, then we as a community would do everything possible to make Sky Harbor accessible by bicycle. We have seen that cargo type bikes are being created and bicycles with simple trailers as well, so we need to think for the long term as we see how our transportation needs will change and make certain that everything within our community are accessible by all means of transportation
Tempe’s cycling image in the US
8. How would you increase Tempe’s standing in the broader bicycle community? For example, how would you help Tempe grow from its “silver” status with the League of American Bicyclists to a “platinum” status?
I respect the views set forth by the League of American Bicyclists and their different metallic status levels, but we should not have a goal of moving Tempe higher from silver status to platinum status. We should as a city government and a community set the standard that the League of American Bicyclists look to and admire as one of the top bicycle friendly cities in America and the world.
We can start with education of safe rules of the road for all modes of transportation. We could also work with local business to help promote more bicycle friendly locations. I know an establishment off of Broadway and Roosevelt in Tempe that allows its patrons to park their bicycles inside. There are many ideas we can implement such as safer parking areas or special deals offered to those that ride a bicycle or other special mode of transportation. If we work as a community, then we will make this community the example to truly be bicycle friendly. I thank you for the opportunity to answer these questions and hope to work with your group more closely in the future.