2016 Election: Ray Ellis on Issues that Matter to BikeSD Supporters in District 1

Our board sent questionaires to candidates running for city council and we will be posting their responses here. Ray Ellis is running to replace termed out Councilmember Sherri Lightner who currently represents District 1.

Ray Ellis. Image via Ellis’ website.

1) How do you envision the growth of cycling in San Diego – be it for transportation, recreation, or otherwise?

Cycling is a big part of the culture in San Diego.  There are numerous cycling clubs and associations dedicated to promoting all aspects of the sport.  All trends indicate this interest and growth will continue.  Beyond the recreational aspects, cycling is part of our transportation options, quality of life, economic vitality and key to reaching our environmental objectives through the Climate Action Plan recently adopted.

2) What steps must be taken to ensure the success of San Diego’s “Vision Zero” goals?

It is important to pursue the ambitious goals of the “Vision Zero” to ensure the City can effectively reduce pedestrian, bicycle and other traffic fatalities.  City streets must be safe for all modes of transportation.  To effectively implement “Vision Zero” I will recommend the following.

1) Focus on investing in the priority corridors with the most traffic accidents as studied by Circulate San Diego.  Create a dashboard to track traffic data in these priority areas.

2) Provide an equal focus on all three components critical to an effective Vision Zero strategy: education, enforcement and engineering.  The City needs to collaborate with schools, non-profits, community planning groups and other members of the community to invest in public safety messaging to ensure the broader community understands how to safely share the road and learn how to appropriately use and interact with new multi-modal infrastructure.  The Department of Transportation and Storm Water needs to work closely with the San Diego Police Department to share and monitor traffic fatality and accident data to target enforcement in high-accident corridors.  There needs to be continued investment in engineering improvements as identified in the bike master plan and pedestrian master plan.

3) Train staff on “Complete Street” planning and design.

4) Develop a Transportation Master Plan, which will incorporate Vision Zero components and provide transportation priorities citywide.

5) Update the City’s Street Design Manual to incorporate new Vision Zero principles in striping roadways to provide for improved bike facilities.

6) Incorporate guidelines and practices from the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) in the planning and design of projects.

3) Given the myriad of competing interests in D1 neighborhoods, how will you handle individuals and groups, alike, whose interests and actions run counter to the City’s transportation and street design goals as laid out in the Climate Action Plan, and Vision Zero initiative?

The two key components are education and collaboration.  I am an independent problem solver with a proven track record of volunteer, community and civic leadership.  As the volunteer Board Chair for Equinox Center, I spoke out in support of the Climate Action Plan and was very pleased to see the collaborative effort during the process.  As a volunteer member for the Del Mar Mesa Community Planning Board, we often see the conflict between the environmental community and mountain bike groups regarding accessibility especially within the Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve.  My centrist approach and a willingness to work with others will ensure we get positive outcomes in District 1 and the City.

4) Multiple studies have shown that increased bicycle accessibility, is good for local businesses – and that this even holds true when on-street parking is reduced. How can the information gap between advocates and businesses be bridged to advance our common interests of safe, thriving neighborhoods? Further, at which point do you say to those who refuse to engage as responsible and reasonable partners in the community’s progress, that the cycle of arguments must end so we may act for the common good?

I have a successful and proven record of leading businesses, non-profit organizations and civic organizations.  In those leadership roles, I have been able to get individuals and groups to focus on positive outcomes by working together.  As San Diego continues to grow organically we need to be innovative and creative.  We have a great opportunity to improve our neighborhoods and small businesses by creating more walkable and bikeable communities.  We have successful models we can adopt in San Diego.  This coupled with activating currently underutilized spaces creates vibrant communities.  While volunteering at the Balboa Park Conservancy, we did this for the Plaza de Panama space in collaboration with the City, Southwest Airlines and Project for Public Spaces.  I am a big believer that we can do more of these public-private partnerships throughout the City.  I have been endorsed by every business organization that has done an endorsement.  I am supported by countless non-profit leaders who I have worked with over the last 2-decades.  I want to use this experience to bridge the gaps you are referencing.

5) What (if any) plans and decisions, with respect to increasing cycling accessibility, have been made in the past by government agencies and elected officials that you disagree with? Did you make public that disagreement? And do you see an opportunity, if elected, to reverse it?

My primary focus over the last decade has been volunteering in leadership roles with non-profits addressing many of the unmet needs of members of our community.  I am interested in learning more about cycling policies that are working and those that need to improved.

6) Will you support the implementation of the 2011 San  Diego Bicycle Master Plan Update, including    budgetary requirements for its completion and success?

I agree with the Bike Advisory Committee’s strategy to create and implement a plan that prioritizes projects in Vision Zero communities as well as historically underserved communities as defined by the Cal Enviro Screen.  As outlined, there are six high priority projects that meet both these criteria.  I am committed to ensuring the implementation of these six priority projects during my term.  I also support efforts to implement the Downtown Mobility Plan.

7) If you have one, share a favorite cycling memory – and let us know how it shapes your desire to see safe streets in San Diego for all residents, across generations?

When my fourteen year-old was about three, we were living in the Pacific Beach area.  Jake and I would spend hours almost daily riding throughout the beach area, stopping at parks like the one in south Mission and then a snack on the way home.  I was consulting and volunteering at the time and fortunately had the time for this morning ritual.

8) Finally – If elected, will you commit to meeting with BikeSD representatives on a regular basis to continue the dialog around improving all D1 neighborhoods, and making San Diego the world’s greatest city for cycling?

Yes, of course.  I value all points of view on issues and am interested in BikeSD’s perspective and expertise.  We have many great opportunities to protect and improve the quality of life in San Diego.  This is not only true in District 1, but throughout the City.

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your Questionnaire.  I hope to have the opportunity to meet in person to discuss these and other issues.  Please contact me with any questions or thoughts.