1. Proponents of cycling infrastructure say that bicycles are an important transportation mode that can be part of a solution to problems like traffic congestion and public health. Opponents contend that money spent on cycling facilities is diverted from critical infrastructure needs in repairing and improving our country’s highway and road system. What role does Dr. Stein envision for bicycle facilities like separated lanes, on-street lanes and bike paths in the nation’s transportation infrastructure?
We support complete streets that offer safe, convenient and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation. Bicycle-friendly infrastructure would be a major part of our transportation plan, including separated lanes, on-street lanes and bike paths. As part of our Green New Deal full employment program, we would put Americans to work retrofitting existing roads to accommodate bikes and other non-polluting transport, as well as ensuring that all new infrastructure meets the level of complete streets. In addition, we would plan public transportation systems to integrate closely with bicycle-friendly infrastructure.
2. In 2015, the federal government committed $833 million in funding to bicycle and pedestrian transportation infrastructure and programs. Does Dr. Stein think that amount should be increased, decreased or kept the same, and why?
Considering that Congress passed a $305 billion five-year highway and transit bill in 2015, we clearly can and should be committing more resources to bicycle and pedestrian transportation infrastructure and programs. These programs have huge benefits not only for improving transportation options, but also improving health, making communities more livable, improving air quality, reducing pollution and much more. Our Green New Deal plan would give local communities access to federal money for eco-friendly projects including new bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.
3. A critical issue for riders on roads is the risk of being hit and injured or killed by drivers (often distracted or impaired, and sometimes hit intentionally). On average, 712 cyclists were hit and killed each year for the past decade, according to FARS data. That fatality rate has remained relatively steady, as have fatality rates for other vulnerable road user groups like motorcyclists and pedestrians. At the same time, passenger vehicle death rates have declined almost 30 percent. In many instances, the drivers responsible for these cyclist injuries and fatalities face extremely light penalties, if they are charged at all (just 77 out of 285 crashes where drivers were at fault resulted in a citation or arrest, according to a 2014 study from the League of American Bicyclists). What are Dr. Stein’s plans to reduce fatalities on our nation’s roads, and ensure that the most vulnerable road users receive both equal access and equal justice?
A major obstacle to getting people to choose to travel by bike instead of by car is safety concerns, and a major cause of those concerns is a culture, still too common, where bicyclists are treated as second-class citizens. To remedy this, we will direct law enforcement to pursue justice for cyclists when drivers are responsible for crashes. In addition, we will make safety for bicyclists and pedestrians a priority in transportation infrastructure plans. We can ensure that everyone feels safe taking their bike, by both changing the infrastructure and changing the culture to one of sharing the road.
4. Currently, bicycles are banned from federally managed Wilderness areas, under a 1984 ruling by the United States Forest Service that classified bicycles as “mechanized” transport disallowed by the Wilderness Act. A Senate bill introduced this year (S.3205) would change that by directing regional land managers to decide, on a case-by-case basis, whether specific Wilderness areas should be opened to bicycle travel. What is Dr. Stein’s position on the bill, and on how mountain bike access to federal lands should be managed in general?
We are certainly sensitive to concerns about activities that could damage wilderness areas, particularly given the history of how wilderness in our country has so often been abused for the sake of private profits. However, a key Green value is decentralization, and so we generally support devolving land management decision-making to local officials. The role of the federal government in environmental regulation should be to set a floor of minimum standards, with states and local governments able to make their own decisions as appropriate within that framework.
5. Several planks in Dr. Stein’s campaign platform deal with issues that bicycles can at least tangentially address: her pledge to create 20 million jobs in sustainable transit and infrastructure; her goal of transitioning the US to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030; and her effort to encourage physical activity as a means of improving preventive health care. What role does Dr. Stein envision cycling for recreation and transportation playing in these goals?
Under a Green administration, cycling will play an integral role in our transportation system like never before. We will invest in complete streets and bike-friendly infrastructure integrated closely with public transit systems. Green public policy would incentivize biking as a transportation method for numerous reasons: it’s affordable, pollution-free, healthy, and encourages dense, livable communities instead of sprawl. Biking is effective, eco-friendly transportation and healthy recreation at the same time. Electing Greens at all levels of government will help bring about nothing short of a bicycling renaissance in America.