Mayoral Candidate Chris Young Responds to Questions about Biking and Walking in Providence
Chris Young (D)
1. How do you feel about the current conditions for biking and walking in the city of Providence? Should you become Mayor, what are your top three priorities to improve biking and walking in the city, including safety, enjoyment, and/or connections between the urban core and greater Providence?
The conditions for biking and walking in the city could use improvement. We have potholes everyplace, increasing crime and a mismanaged budget with a 2 billion dollar unfunded liability.
Together we will add 150 police onto the Providence police department by 2017. City planning will include development of the waterfront. Parks projects will offer a WALK program linking city parks. A new park will be created over interstate 95 to link the South side with the downtown area. Open land projects, like the interstate 195 land and also Allens Avenue land as planning develops, must include open space protections including waterfront access for walking and biking in front of hotel and business development.
2. According to the League of American Bicyclists, the U.S. bicycle industry contributes approximately $133 billion annually to the U.S. economy by supporting over 1 million jobs; generating nearly $18 billion in federal, state, and local taxes; and providing nearly $47 billion for meals, transportation, and lodging purchases during bike trips and tours. How can Providence take advantage of the increasing interest in bicycling?
Providence can offer it’s high school students training in bike design and manufacturing through focused vocational training intertwined with traditional course work. The skills acquired will be practical skills needed in the industry. Providence will also offer business incubators for manufacturing, design, distribution, sales and marketing funded by PEDP, Providence Economic Development Partnership monies. My wife Kara Russo Young, who is running for Lieutenant Governor, was the Director of Marketing at the Ryan Center and served on the South County tourism council and made millions for the Ryan Center facility. I understand the need for marketing and the involvement of the business community in the decision making process of marketing budget placement. Together we will push for the appropriate, most economical and least insider placement of advertising dollars that will benefit all businesses in Providence. I support open and viewable bids for a competitive bidding process for city marketing budget dollars. Local business owners will sit on a committee that will have input into advertising placement.
3. Many cities, businesses, and universities participate in the League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly America program. What steps would you take, if any, to earn the city a rating above Honorable Mention? What steps would you take to encourage businesses and universities within the city to participate and earn recognition?
We can offer tax incentives to businesses and the Universities to participate. The city will develop and adopt a comprehensive, long-term (at least ten years) fiscal program and vision for the city’s future so that its current and prospective residents, businesses, and institutions will have the confidence to invest in and grow within the city. This program must take into account expenses, revenues, capital and infrastructure needs, the benefits of regionalization and privatization, and future growth. The plan will also establish a strategy for bringing real estate and other taxes in line with comparable regional cities. A residential and commercial property tax reduction will occur.
Hospitals and Universities that offer job and business development opportunities for companies willing to locate to Providence with over 500 employees would get tax abatement opportunities.
4. Please comment on how you will carry out the recommendations made by the new Providence Bicycle Plan. What, if anything, would you suggest to improve the bicycle plan?
The city will allocate the funding to develop these recommendations in conjunction with new job training opportunities for students in the school system. I feel the need for hybrid bike manufacturing will increase public participation and business opportunities. Hybrid bikes are combinations of magnetic motor drives that add to the cyclist’s speed.
5. How do you feel about replacing on-street parking with bicycling facilities such as dedicated bike lanes, protected bike lanes, bike corrals, and so on? As Mayor, how would you work with local businesses to change their attitudes toward bike parking and bicycle infrastructure such as protected bike lanes?
I feel a combination of both modes of transportation can be made with proper city planning. I would develop new forms of cycle pathways linked with smart phones and advanced materials on sidewalks and roads that would bring the cyclists to the business’s front door. What business would not want a customer coming to their front door?
In addition, together we can bring the heart of Providence back and beating with life. We can further build a subway in the city with federal grant money that will connect all neighborhoods to the downtown area. We can stop insiders from rebuilding Kennedy plaza over and over to get the contracts for the work, and use the money for the whole community in Providence by helping to fund a city-wide garden project and make use of land that will be opened up with a tunnel project over interstate 95 much like the Boston Common.
With DPPC, the Downtown Improvement District (DID), the city, the state, and others, we will create the downtown Providence parks network to coordinate and promote all downtown parks. I support creating city WALK from India Point Park to new park areas to be created over I95 to Roger Williams Park connecting Providence neighborhoods.
- Together we must improve quality of transit service to help attract new riders by addressing operational constraints and increasing capacity
- Coordinate rail and bus service as part of an intermodal system with adequate parking
- Support regional economic development and sustainability
- Support the transformation of Kennedy Plaza into a world-class civic space with less emphasis on transportation, with a main subway stop located nearby.
- Leverage state funds to obtain special federal transportation grants, such as TIGER grants
- Spur more private development adjacent to the transportation center
6. A bicycle sharing program has been announced for launch in 2015, pending sponsorship. Do you support bike share in Providence, and what would you do as Mayor to aid the success of such a program?
I support bike share. The city would include bike share in it’s marketing campaigns. I also see a health initiative for school students who bike ride to get paid to do so. This would improve the students health and save money on the public transit program to get students back and forth to school. I also want more of a priority placed on athletic competition in the Providence school system for bike riding. I as Mayor will ride a bike to city hall once a week as a health initiative and to lose some weight for my own personal health. I am sure the media will love this.
7. With less available federal transportation funding for biking and walking projects, how do you propose the city of Providence acquire the necessary funds needed to make the city more bike/walk friendly?
I see the city manufacturing bikes in conjunction with business incubators that are in part owned by the city through stock ownership. The city will help form these corporations to develop new technologies in the biking industry. I will also push for increased state and federal aid.
8. What will you as mayor do to participate fully in transportation decisions made in the state so that the needs of Providence residents – not just commuters – are addressed?
I will speak for the needs of residents in Providence on a city, state and federal level. I have always been active in community issues and fought the Public Utilities Commission for the benefit of Rhode Islanders. I will do the same in other state legislature committees on the issues we both hold so dear.
9. City Council passed a Complete Streets resolution in 2012. How do you propose to ensure that Planning, DPW, and RIDOT fully utilize Complete Streets designs when working on city streets? Would you consider supporting a new ordinance to codify and strengthen the city’s position on Complete Streets?
Together we will make sure the City Council’s objectives are met through budget signing powers of the Mayor and also city ordinances and zoning enforcement.
You are welcome to add a comment about your personal interests and/or experiences with bicycling.
I was an avid cyclist when I was younger and know the feeling of reaching for your goals when cycling. I support you guys 100%.