1998 Congressional Candidate Surveys
In early October, GAC sent surveys on bicycling issues to Washington State candidates for the US Senate and to US Representative candidates in the 1st, 2nd, 7th, 8th and 9th Districts. Sad to report, despite follow-up calls, we received only FIVE responses to our questionnaires. The questions and responses from those five candidates appear below. We hope that the responses prove informative to you in making your decision on whom to vote for on November 3rd.
1. How will your leadership and philosophy support Cascade Bicycle Club's mission, "Creating Better Community through Bicycling?"
- US Rep. Jack Metcalf (R-2nd Congressional District): I served as a member of the House-Senate Conference on the final version of the landmark Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21). This legislation contained record levels of funding for alternative transportation methods, including bicycles.
- US Rep. Jim McDermott (D-7th Congressional District): I have in the past and will continue to support non-motorized transportation alternatives. This includes funding for these alternatives as well as changes in policy and social attitudes to remove barriers to implementation of these alternatives.
- Stanley Lippmann, Candidate (Reform-7th Congressional District): Last year when I was a 3L at UW, I bike commuted every single day, except I had to leave my bike at school that one night we had the few inches of snow. Before moving to Seattle, I spent most of my adult life as a physicist in the national magnetic fusion program. I was motivated by the knowledge that a fossil fuel based economy is economically unsustainable and environmentally catastrophic. We should build the necessary infrastructure to include the bicycle as a integral component of the replacement for the automobile culture.
- Heidi Behrens-Benedict, Candidate (D-8th Congressional District): In the two decades that I have lived in the 8th district, I have seen the population grow more than I ever imagined. This growth has brought with it a frustrating increase in automobile traffic - not just on our freeways (I-90, I-405, SR-167, SR-202, SR-410, and others) but also on our local roads. The solutions to this problem are extremely complex; what works in Seattle, Everett, or Tacoma may not work in Renton, Auburn, or Puyallup. There are some success stories for bicycling in the 8th district. You can bicycle to work from Bellevue or Mercer Island to downtown Seattle, along I-90. Redmond is renowned as a bicycle-friendly city and was voted the best city for cycling in America a few years ago. But this is not enough. Even city centers such as downtown Bellevue and Issaquah lack bicycle lanes in many cases. Often this is because the transportation funding system has not prioritized bicycle access as highly as it ought to. The 8th district has incredibly beautiful scenery, and the cycling community knows it - just ask the enthusiasts who flock here from all over the Northwest for the "RAMROD" (Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day) ultramarathon. Our quality of life depends on a clean and healthy environment, with manageable traffic loads. Bicycling is an essential part of that story, and I will support programs that encourage and promote cycling both recreationally and as
a transportation alternative.
- US Rep. Adam Smith (D-9th Congressional District): I strongly support alternative modes of transportation. Bicycling to work is great for public health and the environment and I vote to encourage it as a way of commuting.
2. Are you aware of the Federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21)? How will you use this law to support non-motorized enhancements?
- Metcalf: I helped write this legislation. TEA-21 includes additional funding to foster the use of bicycles and non-motorized means of transportation.
- McDermott: I am very much aware of TEA-21. I actively worked to ensure the legislation that addressed transportation alternatives, including non-motorized transportation. I actively opposed attempts to cut funding to these alternatives and channel tax dollars into more road construction for automobiles. In July of this year I hosted a forum to provide information to local agencies and community leaders on the implementation of TEA-21.
- Lippmann: TEA-21 is the new $216 billion, 6 year transportation authorization bill. about a third of this money is in the flexible category, and I would work to move as much of this money away from highways to maglev trains and local monorails with bike access. For the price of TEA-21, we could build a 10,000 mile interstate maglev. I would work to create a successor bill which eliminate all of the federal highway programs.
- Behrens-Benedict: TEA-21 was passed this summer with broad bipartisan support, and continues the path set by its predecessor, the groundbreaking Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) of 1991. Like ISTEA, it is imperfect, but provides tremendous opportunity for states and communities to enhance their existing transportation grids with transit, bicycle and pedestrian projects, instead of always building new highways. TEA-21 continues ISTEA's policy innovations and increases funding for the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality and Transportation Enhancements programs, which fund most bicycle and pedestrian projects. ISTEA was fairly successful in funding the kinds of projects that make our communities safe and pleasant: bike lanes and paths, clean, wide shoulders, sidewalks, curb cuts, and so on. Part of what made ISTEA successful was local community involvement on the ground. TEA-21 should have the same kinds of process and citizen participation that made our state an example to the nation under ISTEA. I strongly encourage the state and local organizations responsible for deciding how Washington's TEA-21 dollars are spent will place a high priority on bicycle and pedestrian enhancements.
- Smith: I am aware of TEA-21 and would support even greater funding for non-motorized enhancements than it already includes.
3. Knowing that every bicycle commuter is one less car on the road, what will you do to mitigate impediments to bicycle commuting?
- Metcalf: The Transportation Enhancement program in TEA-21 is substantially increased to mitigate impediments to bicycle commuting.
- McDermott: I believe that we need to make transportation corridors more hospitable to bicycle traffic with improved lanes, better signage, and increased training and awareness programs for both bicycle riders and operators of motorized vehicles. In addition, we must modify/design the corridors to facilitate and encourage more non-motorized transportation.
- Lippmann: More overpasses over major roads. More trails. Provision in monorail plan for enough bike carrying capacity.
- Behrens-Benedict: There are two major impediments to bicycle commuting: inadequate support on the roads themselves, and inadequate support for the bicyclist when she arrives at her destination. First, the roads. There are several success stories in the 8th district for bicycle commuting. Much of Redmond has clearly marked bicycle lanes. The I-90 floating bridge (unlike its cousin to the north, SR-520) has a bicycle/pedestrian lane. In many cases, however, bicycle commuting is simply not practical. I-405, for instance, is generally not suitable for bicycle commuting. This problem also extends to many local streets in urban and suburban areas of the district. The solutions to the road engineering problems are not insurmountable. They do not require miracles - just prioritization, funding, engineering, and political will. TEA-21 should provide much of the impetus to implement these projects. The second type of problem relates to what happens when the cyclist arrives. It's hard for a working person to bicycle to work if there is no place to lock her bike, or to shower and change from her bicycle clothing into her work clothing. The state of Washington has some incredibly effective state law to encourage employers to provide these facilities for bicycle commuting. We should see these priorities reflected in our federal transportation policy, and consider implementing commute reduction laws like Washington's at the national level.
- Smith: The first thing we can do is make roads more bicycle-friendly, which I believe is best achieved through increased funding for non-motorized enhancements, ie bike lanes.
4. What is your position on the Federal Rail Banking Act, which provides for temporary non-motorized use of rail right of ways while preserving them as transportation corridors? Will you support ongoing and future rail banking projects in the State such as along East Lake Samamrnish and on the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle?
- Metcalf: I am a supporter of trails that are supported by local governments and private land owners. As a conferee on TEA-21, I worked to secure an increase in the Recreational Trail programs to a total of $270 million.
- McDermott: I support the Rail Banking Act and will continue to support use of existing rail rights-of-way for non-motorized transportation corridors.
- Lippmann: I support rail banking projects.
- Behrens-Benedict: Rail banking, when implemented wisely, is a wonderful win-win solution that allows pedestrian, bicycle, skating, and other users to enjoy scenic rail right-of-way corridors. I support ongoing and future rail banking projects in the 8th Congressional district, and will support additional funding for such projects nationwide.
- Smith: I am very supportive of the Federal Rail Banking Act. On the House Resources Committee, I have worked to preserve the Act and its provisions that encourage non-motorized use of right-of-ways. I opposed Rep. Jim Ryunís bill that would have limited access to much-needed right-of-ways. As a law student at the University of Washington, I used the Burke-Gilman trail regularly and I would like others to have the same opportunity.
5. What do you see as the responsibility of the Regional Transportation Authority (Sound Transit) in promotion of bicycling as transportation and how will you show support for non-motorized users on RTA facilities?
- Metcalf: I believe the Sound Move should work with the bicycle community to establish bicycle friendly facilities at stations and on trains. I also support the inclusion of bike racks on all Sound Move buses throughout Puget Sound.
- McDermott: I believe that Sound Transit has the responsibility to develop multi-modal methods of transportation, including bicycling. TEA-21 has funding to assist local agencies in the design and development of alternatives to facilitate non-motorized transportation. I will continue to assist local government in accessing necessary expertise and funding.
- Lippmann: The light rail should be accessible to bicyclists.
- Behrens-Benedict: Sound Transit's plan, "Sound Move," consists of several components: light rail in Seattle; a north-south commuter rail system connecting Seattle, Everett, Tacoma, and Lakewood; and improvements in HOV lanes and regional express bus service. In the 8th district, the most important components are the commuter rail service (with planned service to Auburn, Kent, Puyallup, and Sumner by 1999) and the bus service. Sound Transit has already publicly committed to providing bicycle storage at the facilities for the commuter rail stations. They should also seriously consider full bicycle support on the bus system - from providing bicycle racks at transit facilities, to using buses with front- loading bicycle racks as Metro does. Non-motorized users should be given full respect in planning Sound Transit facilities. This is usually neither difficult nor expensive, but simply requires forethought. For example, currently buses are equiped with bike racks that hold only two bikes. If the bike racks are full, passengers must wait for the next bus. As I understand the code, wheelchairs and strollers are allowed on buses because they collapse. We might encourage the use of folding bikes to increase bike ridership. By purchasing, say, 10,000 folding bikes and providing them for a very modest price and a promise to purchase a transit pass for, say, five years, we solve several issues related to the bike/transit equation. Other issues related to the bike/transit equation could be solved by designing the entrance to transit facilities in such a way so that cars entering very
rapidly can share the entrance and a bicyclist will not have to fear for her life in trying to squeeze by. All design issues should keep in mind that a bicyclist may be riding to the train or bus stop.
- Smith: RTA has a duty to provide facilities that encourage non-motorized transport. The Tacoma Dome Station in my district has done a good job of providing bike lockers and paths, which is why that project has been so appealing to me from the start. I will work with RTA to ensure that the project as a whole makes it easier for bicyclists to commute.
6. What policies do you support that affect bicycle safety? What within your plan of leadership would be pro-active to increase bicycle safety?
- Metcalf: TEA-21 includes funding for grants to improve bicycle safety through education, outreach, and other programs.
- McDermott: I will continue to support legislation to provide incentives and funding for non-motorized transportation. This includes making transportation corridors more accessible and the development of corridors exclusively for non-motorized transportation. Implicit in this legislation is provision for safety. Actual implementation of safety standards is very dependent on site conditions and the use of corridors and trails. This must be implemented at the local government level. For example, use of a bicycle for recreation is very different from use of a bicycle for commuting to work. In either case, however, we need to elevate the importance of non-motorized transportation in the mind of the average traveler - regardless of the method of transportation. This includes the development of information and training to increase awareness and improvements in the standardization and placement of signage and markings to enhance compliance.
- Lippmann: I would try to make bicycle and pedestrian awareness a central part of driver training courses. I almost lost a finger when a driver opened his door in my path. I also tore a muscle when I hit a pothole after 12 hours on my bike, trying to do over 200 km that day (through mountains), teaching me the hard way not to try to do anything crazy.
- Behrens-Benedict: I entered this race because of my concern for the safety of children. As someone who has lost a loved one, I know how life can flutter away in a heartbeat, and a bicyclist - especially a child - is all too vulnerable in a collision. In the US approximately 600 children die from bicycle-related injuries each year, 80% of these hildren suffering from head trauma. We can't prevent all accidents, and there's only so much the federal government can do, but there are a few commonsense actions that government can take. The most important is to promote bicycle helmet awareness and usage. The Children's Bicycle Helmet Safety Act of 1994 was an excellent step in that direction, by funding activities that promote helmet usage, and directing the CPSC to set a legal standard for helmets. In addition, local governments can and often do pass "helmet laws" that require bicyclists to wear helmets; Pierce County has had such a law since 1994, and many cities and towns within the 8th district have additional laws, but Washington lags behind many other states in not having a state-wide helmet law, even for minors. As a Congresswoman, I will work to provide states with strong incentives for passing mandatory helmet laws for children. The government can also help by providing (as I believe TEA-21 does) solid incentives to communities to construct bike lanes and trails, and by ensuring that the CPSC has the teeth to enforce its standards.
- Smith: I support federal bike safety guidelines, including helmet laws. I think the best thing we can do for bike safety is make streets safer. As a state senator, I wrote and passed tougher drunk driving laws for Washington State. Through this and other traffic safety measures, I feel I helped improve conditions on our roads for bicyclists.