Fresno’s Mayoral Candidates Face Off Over Livable Streets Tomorrow
Fresno’s mayoral candidates will be discussing their viewpoints at “Walk & Roll” on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. at Bitwise Industries Auditorium, 700 Van Ness Avenue in Fresno.
Fresno City Councilmember Lee Brand and Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea will answer questions about how to create more a liveable community, provide a buffet of transportation options, and make streets safer for all road users. The forum, sponsored by the Fresno County Bicycle Coalition, League of Women Voters of Fresno, and Streetsblog California, will be moderated by Mark Keppler, Executive Director of the Maddy Institute at Fresno State.
“We’ve been thinking of doing a forum for the past few election cycles, but this is the first time the organization had the bandwidth to put it on. Programming it at the same time as CenCalvia proved an extra challenge,” writes Anthony Molina with the Fresno Bicycle Coalition. “But the fact that we’re in a mayoral election year creates an exciting opportunity to do something new.”
Fresno was pronounced a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Focus City in 2015 by the Federal Highway Administration because of its high volume of pedestrian and bicycle fatalities. That gives the city access to technical assistance and training to help solve its safety issues. In addition, Fresno has launched a road safety campaign to highlight the problem.
– Will the city commit to its five-year goal to implement its Active Transportation Plan?
“The big thing right now is the new Active Transportation Plan,” said Molina. “The ATP is building off the city’s general plan, which calls for limiting sprawl, [creating] smart growth development, and [building] more bicycle and bus rapid transit facilities.”
The Active Transportation Plan is expected to be passed by the Council and signed into law before the new mayor is sworn in.
– If elected, how will they support future open streets events?
The bike coalition and its partners held the city’s first open streets event last weekend. However, it’s unlikely there will be more of them without more support from the City itself.
– How will the candidates address equity in transportation planning?
Fresno has great bike lanes in the north part of the city, but other parts of the community lack good infrastructure—especially connections between lower income communities of color and downtown. How does Fresno change this “tale of two cities”?
– How will Fresno integrate its Active Transportation plan with its new rapid transit system?
The city is planning to create a “low traffic stress network” for bicycles, away from transit corridors. Similar plans have proven controversial in other cities, as many cyclists feel that they are designed to remove bicycles from the most popular and useful routes.
– Fresno is one of three cities in the country to achieve a League of American Bicyclists “bronze level” for bicycle safety and advocacy without having at least one full-time city staff person for bicycling and pedestrian planning.
How can the city staff up so it can do even better planning? Molina was clear that existing city staff works hard to make the city a safer place for walking and bicycling, but “it would certainly help to have someone who could just deal with bicycling and walking.”