Response from Tempe Mayoral Candidate Mark Mitchell – Tempe Election 2012

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 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:

Response from Mayoral Candidate Mark Mitchell:

1. Do you ride a bicycle on the valley area roads/trails and why?

Absolutely.  My wife and girls often ride our bicycles along the Western Canal in South Tempe and to locate restaurants and shops on the weekend.  Biking is great exercise and an excellent way to reconnect as a family after the work week.

2. Do you think cycling in Tempe is safe for you, your family members and friends? What would do to improve the safety of the cycling environment?

On the whole, I do think that Tempe is safe for cyclists, including me and my family.  The new bike paths Tempe has constructed have made biking through most of the city quite safe for our residents.  I do have concerns that some of our major streets could be made safer for those on their bikes, and I’ll work with city planners to see how we can designate lanes and paths to make Tempe even more bicycle friendly.

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 helped the City obtain federal grants to construct and finish the Western Canal Multi-Use Path Project and the Crosscut Multi-Use Path Phase II.  These were wonderful improvements to Tempe and allow our residents to safely bike from Arizona Mills all the way to Price Road.  The city also provides traffic and cycling classes, and provides residents with safety pamphlets and maps.

Specific improvements in Tempe:

4. Where do you think cycling fits in Tempe or any city’s transportation infrastructure and planning?

Three percent of Tempe residents bike to work, one of the highest percentages of bike commuters in the country.  This doesn’t include all of the students living around ASU who use their bikes to get back and forth to school.  In order to meet the needs of our residents, Tempe has to put a high priority on cycling.  Our urban design plan already embraces bicycling, but as Mayor, I’ll work with the bicycle community to make sure that we are meeting the needs of the bicycling 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)?

As I have said, Tempe is a bicycle-friendly city and I am proud of that fact. But there is clearly room for improvement. I will work closely with the bicycle community to identify needed improvements, and will work with my fellow council members to incorporate these improvements into Tempe’s short and long-range street improvement plans where feasible.

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…

I will take a leadership role on regional planning boards like MAG, which handles the long-range planning for our freeway system. There I can advocate for new bicycle crossings and pedestrian facilities for Tempe.

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?

I am open to improving and creating bike paths along the Salt River basin which would end near the new Lightrail Transit Stop next to the people mover.  We could work with Phoenix to create an area where bicycles can travel safely.

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?

Tempe is continually recognized as a bicycle friendly community and I’m proud that the League of American Bicyclists has designated Tempe a silver-level award winner every application cycle since 2003, but there is always room for improvement.  Our urban design plan already embraces bicycling, but I would like to make Tempe one of the leading bicycle communities in the entire country.  This will include a combination of more bike paths, safety programs for our youth, traffic calming measures that make biking safer and consistent enforcement of Tempe’s traffic laws. We can also do more to promote and embrace bicycle-themed events like the annual Tour de Fat, which celebrates our bicycle culture in a fun and unique way.

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