Catherine Pugh, Democratic Candidate for Mayor

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?

CP: When I am not working, I frequently bike or run around my neighborhood in Ashburton and surrounding neighborhoods. Baltimore must have a transit system that can meet the needs of its citizens, as nearly one third of Baltimore residents lack access to a car. We need to focus our resources in a way to ensure the citizens of Baltimore can reach their destinations safely as well as encourage green transportation options. I will work to ensure Baltimore has a rapid bus system that links our neighborhoods so residents can go to and from with greater ease in less time. The bike transportation program is an excellent plan that has never been implemented. Under a Pugh Administration, we will get the bike plan moving forward.

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

CP: I fully support making upgrades to our infrastructure. When I was a member of the City Council, I passed legislation requiring whenever they were paving or filing a road to create safe bike lanes to accommodate the bike riders in our city. Under a Pugh administration, we will increase and improve the safety of bike lanes throughout the city. It is imperative that the citizens of Baltimore have access to secure and reliable biking and walking paths. A study released by the Alliance for Biking and Walking highlights how investments in protected bike lanes greatly increases biking levels. Separated bike paths on well-maintained roads also cuts down on traffic. Investments in bike paths and separated pedestrian walkways ensure people have safe places to sightsee and provide greater commuting options.

Are you supportive of the city’s plan to implement bike share in 2016? If so, what do you believe to be the critical components of success?

CP: Yes, I am supportive of any program that gets citizens to and from work on a shared bike program. I will work with all interested stakeholders to roll out a successful bike share program. It is important that the size of the program matches the needs of Baltimore’s citizens. With almost 8% of commuters riding bikes to work already, it is time we had a city equipped to accommodate and deliver them safely to their destinations. I believe we could expand the scope of the project by adding more bikes and lanes. Under my administration we will move the stated goal forward of 253 miles of bike lanes by 2028.

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?

CP: We need new leadership in the Department of Transportation. The squandering of scarce resources without a clear mission is reason enough to move forward. We need an accountable and transparent department that serves the needs of Baltimoreans. The inability to get a nine year old bike master plan in motion is a prime example of the agencies failings. Under my administration, I will not tolerate poor performance coupled with wasteful spending.

What impact do you see increasing rates of biking and walking in Baltimore having on the public health and safety of our residents? In what ways will your administration invest in the creation of safe places to encourage more people to engage in physical activity?

CP: Increasing quality of life is one of the pillars of my campaign. By encouraging biking and walking we can create a positive culture of physical exercise and healthy living. In order to make places like the Mt. Royal Streetscape a reality, our administration would serve as an arbitrator between the state and advocates to achieve the goal destination as well as a healthy, and physically active city. Studies have shown the numerous positive benefits that access to green spaces has on the brain. My administration will actively develop public green spaces such as parks and community gardens through a mix of community land trusts and land banks. We will serve as a partner to make Baltimore a healthy and productive destination location.

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?

CP: I agree we need to shorten the commutes of city residents. I favor a rapid bus system that links all neighborhoods in Baltimore with job centers. The rapid bus system if done right will increase efficiency and improve reliability with the same buses and operators. The Governor’s new proposal, Baltimore Links (BLink) is a start to a better bus system. I will work with him to improve the implementation and efficiency of the system in a way that benefits our citizens. You can improve the quality of life by having an efficient bus system so people are not sitting and waiting for the next bus. I favor looking at best practices that other cities of similar size and challenges face, one example is what they did in Omaha. By discontinuing underused routes, they were able to shift resources to more popular lines and drastically decrease wait time.

Often road redesigns that improve the safety for people on bikes or people walking do so in a way that removes priority for single occupancy 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?

CP: Baltimore’s transportation policy has been one of doing a little bit of everything but not doing it well. About 30 percent of the city’s land is public right-of-way, maximizing that 30 percent is what leads to economic development & jobs, better public safety, and a better quality of life for Baltimoreans. Working with all stakeholders, I will move us toward a balanced transportation system that allows all modes to be considered. As a regular bike rider and author of city legislation that required re-paving or filing a road to create safe bike lanes to accommodate the bike riders in our city, I will work to ensure that our transportation plan recognizes that the growing impact bike and pedestrian has on commuting.

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

CP: By far, I have the most substantive combination of experience, demonstrated leadership and integrity. I have proven that I will be a Mayor who can connect with and represent the interests and concerns of all Baltimoreans. Cooperation with and assistance from the state and federal governments are key to Baltimore’s success. Among all the candidates, I am the only one who has forged valuable state and federal relationships. Unlike others, I can leverage these relationships, and my understanding of how state and federal government works, to maximize the support we obtain.