The Candidates Answer–Kobi Dennis
Kobi Dennis Providence Mayoral Candidate
RIBike: Active transportation, such as bicycling and walking and safe bike-pedestrian infrastructure, enhances quality of life and addresses issues such as affordability, equity, access, health, climate change and the safety of our streets. It also helps move our city toward a carbon neutral future. In your view, what can Providence do to actively encourage more people to bike and walk? What would you do to ensure residents have transportation options?
KD: Just like show and tell in kindergarten, we must promote the beautiful places to walk and bike throughout Rhode Island to our State residents and beyond. A diverse marketing plan should also include a designated bike to school/work day(s), additional bicycle safety educational signs for motorists and clever advertising via social media, traditional media and the city’s website.
RIBike: What will you do, as the Mayor of Providence, to participate fully in transportation decisions made at the state level to ensure the needs of all Providence residents are addressed?
KD: I am a true believer in collective leadership and my decisions and level of advocacy will depend on the suggestions of many, national best practices and feasibility. I plan to be an active participant in all city and quality of life matters.
RIBike: In light of the tragic death of a small child on the East Bay Bike Path, what measures would you propose to make it safer for children to bike to school and for recreation? What responsibility do you think the City Council / Mayor has to improve access and safety for all road users?
KD: We all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of our young residents. State and local officials should do their part by ensuring the right signage, educational training and law enforcement (including crime watch) is in place.
RIBike: 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? Give us some insight into your decision making process and how you plan to balance the opinions of residents and business owners.
KD: Finding the right balance for motorists, bicyclists and walkers isn’t easy, particularly on the streets that are already congested or have small widths. Parking is also at a premium in some parts, so we have to be thoughtful of these matters when making decisions like replacing on-street parking for bicycle facilities. Whatever the recommendations and conclusions are, proactive outreach and input from residents will occur.
RIBike: 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. Additionally, studies show people on bicycles spend more per month in local business districts than those arriving by other modes. What steps would you take to ensure that local businesses in your district benefit from better access by people who bike?
KD: In addition to marketing (with these figures and other ideas) that we are a bike-endorsing, bike-friendly city, my administration would try to partner with other cities and towns to buy communal bike racks in bulk for key business districts and popular city areas and parks.
RIBike: Providence 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? How would you codify and strengthen the city’s position on Complete Streets? Please share how you prioritize walking, transit, bicycling, driving, and parking in your decisions.
KD: Previous administrations have made some plans that aren’t followed and instead are collecting dust on a shelf in City Hall. Plans in my administration will be easy to access online and staff will be assigned to see to their implementation. An inclusive, diverse task force should also review and revisit the Complete Streets resolution to see if it needs to be strengthened. The most appropriate city department would be responsible for looking at all city proposals from a mode of transportation angle. There also should be active contract management with measurable goals tied to vendors’ payments with all projects that come from the resolution.
RIBike: Do you have a biking or walking related story you’d like to tell? Want to go for a ride sometime?
KD: Yes, I learned about the beauty of our city as a kid riding with my brother all over Providence. I have great memories from those trips!