Tempe Bicycle Action Group

Berdetta Hodge: 2022 Tempe Council Candidate Questions

1. How do you normally commute around Tempe? What kind of vehicles do you utilize? Are you satisfied with your commuting experience?

I typically drive and use public transportation, specifically the Orbit, to commute around Tempe. I also use my bicycle to travel short distances.

Though I am satisfied with my commuting experience, I want everyone to have a better commuting experience. I want more protected bike lanes along major roads to ensure that bicycling and other alternate vehicle use can become more prominent ways to travel throughout Tempe.

2. Do you think it is possible to function in our current city without the use of an automobile? What is your vision for transportation and mobility around Tempe and the region?

In certain parts of Tempe, specifically Downtown Tempe and neighborhoods around Arizona State University’s campus it is possible to function without the use of an automobile. In other areas of Tempe, where neighborhoods are more spread out and where roads do not have adequate and safe bike lanes running adjacent to them, an automobile may be more necessary. I envision a Tempe where residents do not have to be so automobile dependent. I want our residents to be able to commute and travel safely when they bike or use scooters for mobility.

3. How familiar are you with Tempe’s Vision Zero goal? Do you support the City of Tempe’s 2019 Action Plan to achieve these goals? If so, what is your plan to update and expand Vision Zero to improve transportation safety for all members of the community?

I am very familiar with Tempe’s Vision Zero goal. As a Governing Board Member of the Tempe Union High School District, I have attempted numerous Vision Zero workshops. I am keenly aware of the problems raised by our city’s youngest drivers, who are often distracted by their phones when operating their vehicles.

I would love to see a Tempe where traffic fatalities are reduced to zero and where bicyclists, motorcyclists, scooter operators, and automobile drivers can all co-exist. I agree with Vision Zero proponents who advocate that it will take a combination of education, engineering, and enforcement to get to zero fatalities. Let’s teach all drivers that they must respect one another and put away distractions like their phones. Let’s re-engineer our roads and invest in more traffic calming measures. Finally, let’s re-install traffic cameras that have been removed and conduct research to find out where we can install more traffic cameras and speed radar detectors to deter speeding. The City of Scottsdale relies on this strategy along Thomas Road and McDowell Road. At every major intersection along those roads, the City of Scottsdale has installed traffic cameras and signs that alert drivers when they are traveling above the speed limit. Let’s use these strategies in Tempe to curb negligent driving.

On Tempe City Council, I will host and attend more Vision Zero workshops. I will work closely with the city’s Transportation Department to identify more hot spots where vehicular accidents are taking place. I will propose installing more speed cameras on our major thoroughfares and will advocate for more police to monitor and curtail drag racing that takes place late in the night. I will advocate for all of these because a safer Tempe is a better Tempe to call home.

4. How do you plan to adequately fund roadway improvements, especially the backlog of existing and requested transportation safety projects? What role should community organizations play in cycling safety and planning?

To adequately undertake more roadway safety improvement projects, I will push for more state and federal grants so that we can invest in these infrastructural needs. I have strong relationships with our elected officials at the state and federal levels. These same officials have endorsed my candidacy for Tempe City Council and they know me as someone who can get things done for my constituents.

In my discussion with these individuals, I can highlight Tempe’s rapid growth and subsequent need for funds to build traffic calming measures, to build protected bicycle lanes, and to install more traffic cameras to deter speeding.

Community organizations like TBAG play a critical role. They should organize community meetings and education drives about our city’s shortcomings in safe transportation. Specifically, I want TBAG to hold more community rides like its annual Summer Solstice one to introduce more community members to the possibilities of bicycling as a means of transport.

I want to work with, and hear from TBAG, as well as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, to learn more about what can be done at a municipal level to make Tempe a safer and better place for all.

5. Common concerns of bicyclists in Tempe include police knowledge of State and Local bicycle laws, bicycle theft, and drivers parking in bicycle lanes. What would you do to address these concerns when elected? What training and education would you implement for the police department to ensure they understand cycling laws?

When elected, I would push the Tempe Police Department to institute a mandatory bicycle education course and training program for its young officers so that they can be more aware of issues bicyclists face and of existing cycling laws at the municipal, county, and state levels. I would also work closely with our Police Chief to have continuing education seminars for our veteran officers to remain aware of the latest laws and updates regarding safely cycling in our city.

6. Do you have any other thoughts to share about cycling, safety, and multi-modal transportation you think our membership would benefit from hearing?

I want to thank the Tempe Bicycle Action Group for giving me an opportunity to answer these questions regarding this critical mode of transportation in our city.

Multi-modal transportation is the way of the future and I am a proponent of it. We see it all over Tempe as more bicycle-centric and less car-centered communities are being built. Additionally, recreational cycling has always been part of this community’s lifeblood. Cycling is one of the most popular pastimes in North Tempe and the cycling portion of the annual Ironman triathlon even begins in Tempe!

We need more protected bike lanes, more bike racks at city-owned buildings, and more bicycle theft prevention tools in Tempe. I want to cultivate a Tempe where residents can move around freely and safely, regardless of their choice of vehicle. I want to build a Tempe where we can be less dependent on cars and more dependent on alternative methods of transit. I want a Tempe where automobile drivers and bicyclists co-exist safely.

This will take a lot of time, planning, and funding. That being said, it is doable and it is worth the effort. On City Council, I vow to work with all stakeholders to ensure that their needs are met and their voices are heard.