District 2 Elections Candidate Questionnaire: Sarah Boot

For San Diego to compete in the global economy and provide the safety and quality of life that San Diegans deserve, our leaders must embrace a 21st Century vision for our streets that puts well-being of people first. BikeSD supports candidates for public office who will champion safe, complete and livable streets.

As our new mayor was the councilmember for District 2, this council seat is now vacant (and temporarily occupied by Ed Harris). Four candidates are running for the District 2 council seat: Sarah Boot, Jim Morrison, Mark Schwartz, and current Councilmember in District 6, Lorie Zapf (now residing in the newly re-districted District 2).

Below is the responses received from Sarah Boot in response to the BikeSD questionnaire.

Sarah Boot (on left, on bike with basket)
Sarah Boot (on left, on bike with basket)

Do you ride a bicycle in San Diego for any purpose?
I believe that bicycling is a fantastic way to enjoy San Diego’s natural beauty, stay fit and be kind to our environment. I enjoy bicycling in District 2 particularly in the beach communities and around the Bay. I recently participated in CiclosDias in Pacific Beach and enjoyed riding among so many community members of all ages. When the rigors of campaigning conclude, I look forward to further integrating cycling into my regular routine.

Please share your impressions and experiences of bicycling in San Diego.
Recently, I was able to go on a ride-along with BikeSD ambassadors throughout District 2. When you ride, it is immediately clear that bicycling can be a frightening and dangerous experience. It is jarring to ride along streets that are riddled with potholes and bordered with craggy rough edges. As a rider you are forced to choose between navigating the roughest and worst worn edges of the street, or brave riding in the center of the road in the middle of traffic. Busy intersections do not integrate even basic bicycle infrastructure making many areas extremely dangerous to navigate. This mirrors my experiences cycling in other parts of the city. Our communities lack even basic structural accommodations for cyclists. Our bicycle infrastructure has historically been an afterthought in urban planning, and our streets reflect this. This must change. I plan to take the lead on these issues if elected and will be a strong advocate for bicycle related issues.
What will it take for you to ride to work at City Hall at least once a week?

Consider it done.

Residents of San Diego should have the opportunity to commute via bicycle safely. I am happy to commit to riding to City Hall once a week or more. I have
long been a proponent of greener ways to get to work, and, for that reason, I rode the trolley to work every day. Our elected officials need to lead by example, and also experience firsthand the challenges that cyclists currently face. We need to change the culture of the road, making drivers more aware of bicyclists and more used to accommodating them as they drive. I look forward to using my platform as a City Councilmember to help raise that awareness.

What are the bottlenecks that you foresee you can help eliminate to make it safe for you to ride to work?
My route to City Hall would involve a ride along Hancock Street – a corridor with no current bicycle infrastructure and where cars travel at high speeds. Hancock merges into Kettner Blvd, at an intersection dangerous for cyclists. The remains of the commute would be through downtown, where, given the density of car traffic, foot traffic and the chaos inherent to any urban core, challenges are rampant. There are many opportunities to alleviate some of these problem areas using best practices implemented in other cities.
Adding a dedicated green bike line or even a protected bike lane along Hancock street would go a long way to making the route safer. Additionally, looking at the downtown grid for areas to add bike lanes would be beneficial, slowing traffic on certain streets and encouraging drivers to pursue alternate routes, and allowing bicyclists a better protected throughway.
Do you support a wide, continuous, physically separated green bikeway the full length of Nimitz Blvd?
Absolutely. Nimitz Blvd is a critical cycling artery connecting downtown and the beach communities. It is a high speed corridor where bicycling remains
challenging due to the lack of a dedicated lane. Implementing this solution is a no-brainer. Our city needs to recognize that implementing bicycle infrastructure
is integral to public safety and make solutions like this one a priority.

Implementing Protected Bike Lanes (cycletracks) on Nimitz Boulevard has been on our priority list since 2012. The city has been promising to put in green bike lanes (without any protected facilities) in conjunction with the resurfacing effort which has been delayed at least four times. What will you do to ensure this doesn’t happen any more in District 2? 
A need for bicycle infrastructure should elevate the priority of road repair. It is clear that this has not been the case on Nimitz. Using the resources that we have
effectively is one of the reasons that I am running for City Council. We need to pursue smart solutions to our infrastructure backlog, and this is a great example
of how that has not been done in the past.

The City has not established a goal to increase the percentage of trips made by bicycle in the city’s newly adopted Bicycle Master Plan. What will you do when elected to establish that goal within the plan’s implementation strategy?
Setting goals and measuring progress toward them is an essential part of any strategy. Our city’s Bicycle Master Plan is no different. Successful master plansin other cities are characterized by the inclusion of goals and provisions to measure success in reaching them. Portland’s first Bicycle Master Plan is a great example. By setting goals and measuring progress, they quadrupled the number commuting cyclists from 1996-2010. Now, their Bicycle Plan for 2030 continues raises the bar, aiming to improve the integration of bicycle transportation even further. As a Councilmember I would be a fierce advocate for the integration of measureable goals into our Bike Master Plan, as this is the best way to ensure accountability and progress.

One of the San Diego’s biggest challenges to safer bicycling is the freeway merges that are under the purview of Caltrans. What will you do in your term as councilmember to ensure the redesign and construction of at least one freeway ramp for the safety of all road users, including drivers?
I would work hard to develop relationships with leaders (of all political stripes) across the county to work together to set appropriate transportation priorities
like this one. I would also seek to be appointed to SANDAG so that I could serve as a voice for cyclists as regional decisions are made about transportation. In
that role, and by working cooperatively with agencies like Caltrans, the police department and the city, I would strive to establish the redesign and
construction of a selected freeway ramp as a “pilot”. The likely increase in public safety as a result would incentivize the redesign and construction of other
freeway ramps in the future.
Encouraging interagency cooperation and crafting long term solutions are the marks of successful leadership. During my time as a federal prosecutor, I was
well versed in working with various government agencies to address serious and intractable problems. I plan to use these same skills to advocate for a long term
expansion of bicycle infrastructure and use.

If you could wave a magic wand, what does your vision of a more bicycle friendly San Diego look like?
I would like to have the ability to safely travel via bicycle from any point in the city to any point in the city. It’s a simple and achievable goal – but one that will
require strong leadership.
San Diego has passed a Bicycle Master Plan – which is a great start – but there is much that is left to do. We must ensure that within the plan we set measureable goals and make the serious investment required to achieve them.  It will also take working with allied groups on these issues. For example, taking
concrete steps to build out bicycle infrastructure and encourage cycling is acritical element of the Climate Action Plan. Ensuring that the plan moves forward
and is implemented will take a strong advocate on the council. I have already demonstrated this leadership by working with community leaders in Pacific Beach to draft the initial plans for the first eco-district in District 2.
Eco-districts present another opportunity to bring stakeholders together to encourage cycling access at the neighborhood level. Ultimately, I would like to see a change in the culture of transportation in our city and region. The concept of “if you build it they will come” has been borne out statistically in cities that have prioritized and implemented bicycle infrastructure. If you provide for safe bicycling, people cycle. This doesn’t require a magic wand, but it does require steadfast commitment. I look forward to bringing that commitment to City Hall.

Below is a map of District 2. If you live in the shaded area, you should be paying attention and getting ready to vote.

To learn more about Sarah Boot, visit the campaign website or follow her on twitter. The BikeSD endorsement policy is available here.