In an effort to educate voters, we will be posting responses to our candidate questionnaire. Questionnaires were emailed to each candidate running for City Council, President of City Council, and Mayor. Candidates have until March 4th to submit. We are publishing results in the order they are received.
How frequently do you use a mode of transportation other than your car to navigate the city? Based on your experience, where should the city prioritize resources for transportation?
JB: Approximately 25% of the time I walk and 10% of the time I use transit. My priorities would be complementing the existing transit system with light rail and/or street cars. This would eliminate gaps in coverage and build connections to current routes. Given that funds are scarce, the targets must be limited to ensure maximum effectiveness. There should also be a focus on upgrading a system that has been woefully neglected, including bus shelters and fleet maintenance.
What role do you believe biking and walking improvements can play in creating a safer, healthier, more livable Baltimore?
JB: City streets are not just for automobiles, but must accommodate walking and bicycling. These self-ambulatory forms of transportation are environmentally friendly and should be encouraged. Traffic calming devices would improve pedestrian safety and a city-wide bike lane network would make bicycling safer and more accessible. Public education campaigns could also be useful in spreading awareness.
Often road redesigns that improve the safety for people on bikes or people walking do so in a way that removes priority for single occupant vehicles. This can look like removing lanes for travel or decreasing available street parking. Can you describe how you would manage public expectations during project implementation, and handle any backlash from constituents that don’t share in the City’s vision for complete streets?
JB: I am committed to having an open door policy and willing to help explain the rationale behind changes that impact the community. Additionally, there should be more communication between the City and affected neighborhoods to address such concerns. It must be an inclusionary process to provide valuable input and receive feedback prior to implementation.
Recent audits have discovered that the Department of Transportation struggles to measure key performance indicators. The city’s procurement and project management processes have also faced scrutiny. This has led to significant delays of key improvements to bicycle infrastructure in Baltimore. How will you work to improve performance and accountability of city agencies like the Department of Transportation under your leadership?
JB: One of the roles of the City Council is to provide oversight and investigative functions, and I am committed to exercising this duty more consistently. We must continue to demand accountability from city agencies through regular audits and reviews. Additionally, progress reports regarding the status of such improvements would provide more transparency.
The percentage of people choosing to take public transit or ride a bike for transportation is increasing in Baltimore, while the percentage of residents without access to a vehicle is over 30%. How would you rate the city’s current investment in sustainable transportation solutions for its residents, and as a council person what would you do to support increased investment?
JB: The current level of investment in transportation is lacking. A comprehensive, multi-modal system that emphasizes transit oriented development is imperative. As one who served on the Station Area Advisory Committee for the West Baltimore MARC Station, I recognize the potential for economic development that was lost with the rejection of the Red Line. However, we must continue to work with city and state stakeholders to link people with opportunity in our city.
A recent study by Harvard economists found that the single strongest factor affecting the odds of a child escaping poverty is not the test scores of his or her local schools or the crime in the community; it is the percent of workers in his or her neighborhood who have long commutes. How do you plan to improve transportation options and commute times for our most vulnerable residents?
JB: Baltimore City is contending with a spatial mismatch – the jobs are not where the potential workers live. A regional approach requires coordinated policy and planning decisions that make it possible for efficient commuting. This will require cooperation and resource investment; the payoff will be increased productivity in the workforce through cutting travel times.
What other information about your candidacy would you like to share with our members?
JB: As a former transportation planner, I understand the role of different transportation modes and am committed to working toward sustainable solutions.