Connor Meek, Candidate for President of City Council

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? 

CM: I don't own a car.  I ride my bike often, and I occasionally ride the bus and the light rail.  Since I've been running for office I've been walking more often than not, as it's easier to talk to people.  The City certainly needs to improve it's public transit system.  We also need a more comprehensive network of protected bike lanes.  I often hear from people who would LOVE to go for a bike ride, but they're afraid of the traffic or afraid of being robbed.  The police need to do a better job of patrolling the parks and the bike paths.  To be fair, I have actually seen officers on the Gwynns Falls Trail several times in the past few months.  We also need to enforce our Share the Road law.  Impress the importance of that law on officers and instruct them to enforce it.  We need to do everything we can to get the residents on their bikes.  For the environment, for the budget, and for our health and sanity. 

What role do you believe biking and walking improvements can play in creating a safer, healthier, more livable Baltimore? 

CM: These improvements will be key.  Not only will the city be healthier and safer due to a reduction in drivers and fitness benefits, but biking also helps you connect with your surrounding environment.  That's something many drivers are either intentionally or unintentionally avoiding.  When you roll up your windows and turn on the radio you're missing a lot of what's going on around you, and as a result, overlooking many of the city's most urgent issues.  Biking has made me more engaged.

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? 

CM: That change in perception won't be easy to make in the short term.  But if done correctly, it will be incredibly easy to make in a generation.  It starts with education and access.  I'd like the City to offer free bicycling lessons to anyone interested, any age.  More support for organizations like Velocipede and responsible fundraising can help ensure that bicycles are available for children whose family's might not be able to provide them.  The more people we engage and the more bikes on the roads, the easier it will be to convince people that one lane for each is a fair compromise.

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? 

CM: All city agencies need to be audited immediately.  And Department heads that are found incapable of allocating resources in a productive and transparent manner should be removed.

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 council president what would you do to support increased investment? 

CM: I would give the City a C+.  There are improvements being made.  And with the help of organizations like Bikemore the needs of cyclists are not being ignored, and the argument for more sustainable transportation solutions is an easy one to make.  I believe that cycling is the best mode of transportation.  As President of the City Council I would support any initiatives to get more people on bikes and less in cars.  The cost of protected bike lanes is well worth the reward. 

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? 

CM: That's an interesting study.  We need reliable public transportation.  Many people leave for work much earlier than they'd need to if our buses ran on a more predictable schedule.  And riding a bike in this city is faster than taking the bus.  If we can encourage more riders and protect them from traffic and crime, we could all spend less time traveling and more time home with our families.

What other information about your candidacy would you like to share with our members? 

CM: My candidacy is a quest for information and a greater understanding of our electoral process, which I've found to be quite bizarre and counter-intuitive.  I'd like to run a model campaign.  I want you to make your own decision.  I will not ask for your vote, and at this point I have not accepted a single campaign contribution.  I am interested in speaking with you about our City and I want to hear your ideas for the future.