Candidate: Shirley Gonzales
Position Running for: City Council, District 5
Alamo Sierra Club Nomination....
A. Will you as Mayor/Councilman implement the Bicycle Master Plan throughout the city/in your district?
Explanation: San Antonio has a Bicycle Master Plan. That plan must continue to be revised, but a bicycle master plan that is a separate plan from other transportation and development plans will never fully achieve safe, convenient cycling for residents of all abilities. I have and will continue to champion transportation policies that make cycling, walking, and transit the preferred choices of transportation. I firmly believe walkability and active transportation are not only quality of life measures, but they are metrics of sustainability and economic opportunity. My husband and I are committed cyclists. As a voting member of the Transportation Policy Board (TPB) and Chair of the Bicycle Mobility Advisory Committee of the Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO, I advocate for bicycle mobility considerations in all projects.
B. Will you vote to remove a bicycle lane?
Explanation: As you will recall, I led the effort on City Council to resist removing the S. Flores Street bicycle lanes. Although I believe bicycle lanes are not particularly desirable on high speed streets, I more firmly believe high speed streets are neither desirable nor appropriate for urban areas. I sponsored the adoption of Vision Zero in San Antonio. San Antonio is recognized nationally by Vision Zero Network as a Vision Zero city. I believe we can and will eliminate traffic fatalities in San Antonio. The pathway to that ambitious goal includes reducing travel speeds on all city streets, increasing bicycle facilities, and increasing bicycling by choice. Removing bicycle lanes does not move us toward the elimination of traffic fatalities.
C. Will you make it illegal to park a car in the bicycle lane?
D. Will you make sure Broadway has a protected bicycle lane from Houston to Hildebrand?
Explanation: The Broadway redesign is an important opportunity to demonstrate how accommodating cycling, walking and transit on a road that has historically been hostile to those modes will benefit local residents and businesses, but my interests are not limited to just one street. I have similar initiatives in progress with Probandt, Zarzamora, Commerce and Frio Streets. Culebra continues to be a desperate situation. Nogalitos needs cycling and walking improvements, as does 24th Street, Cupples, General McMullen and Guadalupe Streets. My interests for Broadway are not to merely add separated bike lanes to an otherwise dangerous and hostile street, but to transform that street to make it safe and pleasant for all road users and to bolster economic development and quality of life along the street. That same work should then be extended to more and more streets.
E. Will you insist on new developments to include bike infrastructure such as a bicycle lane, mix used 10ft paths, and bicycle racks?
Answer: No (see explanation)
Explanation: The City's Traffic Calming Handbook of 2013 states: "The City of San Antonio adopted a Complete Streets Policy on September 29, 2011. The Policy encourages an approach to street design that supports pedestrian and bicycle oriented neighborhoods; promotes healthy living, fitness, and activity; ...." I support the Complete Streets policy. However, I understand this question to refer to new greenfield developments. In general, I do not advocate for greenfield development. I am not opposed to a requirement for bike infrastructure in new greenfield development, but I do not generally promote new greenfield development as a preferred pattern of growth. On the contrary, as the council member from district 5, I advocate for infill development. Mandates for bike infrastructure as proposed in this question may have negative consequences on infill development, especially if these mandates are made in addition to existing requirements for automobile infrastructure. I would like to see robust debate on this initiative. Such debate should begin with open discussion about the desired outcomes, and include considerations that reduce the impact automobile infrastructure (travel lanes, lane width, parking, etc) has on communities and residents’ travel choices.
F. Will you amend Sec. 19-286. Driving or parking on sidewalks prohibited, so people can ride their bicycles on the sidewalk?
Answer: No (see explanation)
Explanation: In the existing environment, there are times and places where cyclists feel pressured to ride on the sidewalk, but an ordinance to allow riding on sidewalks does not address the underlying causes. Moreover, adopting such an ordinance may negatively impact the effort to improve cycling and walking in the city by tacitly acknowledging streets are the rightful domain of motorists, and that bicycles belong on sidewalks. My goal, and I would ask the cycling community to share this goal, is to make cycling safe and pleasant on every street. A street where a person feels it is prudent to ride on the sidewalk is indicative of a failing street, a street that needs redesign, not the adoption of an ordinance to permit riding bicycles on sidewalks.
G. Do you support a city ordinance that prevents any further Development of park or green space lands for development of sports fields?
H. Will you either amend or repeal Sec. 22-28. Public parks hours of operation and curfew, so people can use the Howard W. Peak Greenway trails after dark?
I. Are you willing to look for more funding options to improve and expand VIA bus service?
Explanation: I supported the recent effort to increase VIA funding, but I believe the fundamental challenge faced by VIA is not directly a funding problem, but rather a land use problem. Low density, separated use development patterns place formidable barriers to transit. These barriers cannot practically be overcome with funding. SA Tomorrow gives us a foundation to begin addressing the policy issues that created these barriers in San Antonio. Persistence and diligence are required to ensure that the possibilities created by SA Tomorrow result in real achievements in the city, achievements that can genuinely make walking, cycling and transit the preferred travel modes over private automobile use.
J. Will you support free bus rides for all residents of SA?
Explanation: I would be open to eliminating fares for transit service, although I would not limit that benefit to just San Antonio residents. I would consider extending the same benefit to residents of other municipalities serviced by VIA as well as visitors. Such a policy could improve transit performance by reducing boarding times, and ultimately trip times.
K. Are you willing to bring Light Rail to a vote?
Explanation: I don’t understand the intent of this question. Although I support light rail, I am not aware of a light rail project prepared to go to a vote. If this question is referring to the Charter amendment that requires rail projects to go to a vote, I did not support that Charter amendment. Advocates for that amendment claimed the intent was to give citizens the right to vote on major capital projects, but the exclusion of roads and highways from the amendment made it clear the intent was to increase the barrier to rail projects in San Antonio, while simultaneously allowing the design, funding, and construction of hundreds of millions of dollars in road and highway projects every year without a vote by the public.