During the campaign, the Bike Anchorage Advocacy Committee sent out 5 questions to all candidates in order to directly communicate their positions and plans regarding key bikeability and urban space issues that Anchorage is facing. Our next mayor will be tasked with critical decisions and with setting the tone that shapes the safety, attractiveness, and economic robustness of our city. Biking and walkability have proven time and time again to be a pillar of a modern city's ability to thrive and be a pleasant place to live.
Bike Anchorage is Anchorage's largest bike advocacy group and our committee works to bring greater representation to the rolling community. After several inquiries we obtained the following results:
Forrest Dunbar - Responded
Dave Bronson - Did not Respond
Runoff ballots have been sent out by mail and are due MAY 11th, so get out and Bike the Vote!
Here are our 5 questions and candidate's responses:
1. What is your vision for making Anchorage a safer, more livable city when it comes to multi-modal transportation, including for pedestrians, people on bikes, buses, and cars?
Dunbar: Anchorage can be a vibrant city that attracts and retains a trained and talented workforce with world-class outdoor recreation opportunities and walkable, bikeable neighborhoods where our cultural diversity is on full display, where child care is accessible and high-quality, and housing is affordable. Our transportation system is very much at the center of that vision, and we need to continue making investments that support multi-modal transport. During my time on the board of the Anchorage Park Foundation, I have supported their vision of improved trail connectivity, as well as creating a sense of Indigenous Place on our trails and promoting Inclusive Play in our parks. These aren’t just the morally right calls—they are the economically smart decisions too, as they both attract more visitors and improve a quality of life that makes our Municipality competitive in a world where people can increasingly work from anywhere. In addition, I have supported funding for our public transportation system while on the Assembly and will continue to do so as mayor. I will always look for opportunities, working with groups like Bike Anchorage, to build our city around people, not just the cars that they drive.
2. More specifically, how would you enhance the safety and convenience of biking within our urban cores and residential spaces while taking steps to make Anchorage transportation meet its goal of zero roadway deaths?
Dunbar: We need a connected, well-marked trail system so pedestrians and cyclists aren’t forced into roadways—but insofar as that overlap is inevitable, we need to slow the speeds on certain streets (by working with the State), improve lighting and traffic calming measures, and install protected bike lanes where possible. In downtown, my Administration will partner with adjoining businesses to close certain streets and create pedestrian promenades and will work with the State DOT to find alternatives routes for the highway/truck route that currently runs through the heart of downtown. Slowing traffic not only saves lives, but it is better for the environment and the economy. In residential spaces, there are creative ways to slow drivers down the use of different paving stones, well-marked and raised crossings, miniature roundabouts like those installed in the Russian Jack area, “lane diets,” and additional trees adds an atmosphere that slows people down in ways that also improve our neighborhood character and liveability.
3. The Anchorage Non-Motorized Plan is near adoption and highlights areas most needing walking and biking improvements. Should Anchorage adopt this plan, and if so, how will you ensure that the plan’s guidance and vision are incorporated into transportation projects
Dunbar: Yes, I support the adoption of the Anchorage Non-Motorized plan and am grateful to the Community Advisory Committee, constituents, and others who have made its final public comment period accessible and meaningful even as we have moved operations online. To incorporate its vision and ensure community time is used wisely, I will work with AMATS to make sure each new project that is brought forward is evaluated and built using the plan as a guide. If we analyze each project at Step 1 with these guidelines and continue those reflections over the long life of implementation we can maximize the Non-Motorized Plan’s impact.
4. Cities across the nation have shifted their transportation policies to follow guidance from The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). What are your thoughts on Anchorage becoming a NACTO Member City and incorporating their street design guides into our urban spaces?
Dunbar: Anchorage is eligible to be an Affiliate City with NACTO, and I plan to work with AMATS to make that happen. Anchorage benefits from our other knowledge-sharing partnerships, like the National League of Cities, and it’s one way that we’ve been able to bring new, innovative ideas to our Municipality, gain access to grant funds to support community projects, and discuss the challenges of cities our size. A partnership with NACTO would allow us access to further resources and new city partners to give us tools to adapt our transportation system to make it safer and more accessible through design
5. Besides providing safety and accommodation for people on bikes, in your opinion what are three other benefits that Anchorage might see if we made our city less car-dependent?
Dunbar: First, an increase in shopping and economic activity: shifting people from cars to bikes and other methods of transportation helps get them into restaurants and stores, which will be even more important as we work to recover from the pandemic. By investing in mixed-use development, we also ensure a base for businesses as clientele live immediately above or in the area, and can frequent their establishment without the use of a car. This goes hand in hand with my second reason: the Visitor Industry. Right now, visitors often need to rent a car or have a local friend with a car to reach much of our Municipality. If we make our public transportation, city centers, and trails more accessible, it opens our city up to additional travelers who prefer bikes and other non-car means of travel. It will also encourage people to see Anchorage as a destination, worthy of staying that crucial extra night, rather than simply a jumping-off point to other parts of Alaska. Finally, reducing our reliance on cars improves our quality of life and public health. Our trail system has proven to be a terrific, low-cost way for residents to exercise and gain peace of mind, especially during last year’s pandemic-dominated summer. We need to ensure trails and another bike/pedestrian facilities are accessible to all our neighborhoods and recognize the public health benefit of getting people out of their cars, from air quality to climate change to physical fitness.
Bike Anchorage would once again like to thank the responding candidates for sharing their positions and plans. We look forward to working with Anchorage's next mayor to ensure a strong relationship and representation of our members who share in the vision of a much more healthy, vibrant, and bikeable Anchorage.
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