Kelly Cross, Candidate for City Council 12th District

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?

KC: I have not owned a car since moving to Baltimore in 2010.  With the exception of the occasional use of car rental, my primary ways of navigating the City are walking, transit, and biking.  I believe the City urgently needs to implement a new hierarchy in transportation priorities: (1) pedestrian accessibility; (2) cycling; (3) transit; (4) car share; and (5) private automobile use.  We need to deemphasize the private automobile as much as possible, particularly in the core of Baltimore.

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

KC: Biking and walking improvements encourage people to lead more active lifestyles.  The direct benefits to overall health are clear.  But there are also ancillary benefits to having more people walking and biking.  Both modes of transport encourage more interaction with other residents and businesses, strengthening local community.  And the presence of people on the streets traveling at lower speeds improves safety and reduces crime in neighborhoods.

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?

KC: As a community association president for the last several years, I've had to consistently deal with concerns about inadequate parking or restricted private vehicle flow.  I have been unapologetic in explaining to residents and business leaders the long-term benefits in deprioritizing private automobile accommodations.  My view has been that, while I listen to everyone's concerns, I stand firm when it comes to making necessary bike and pedestrian improvements.

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?

KC: I believe accountability and performance standards are rooted in leadership taking an active role in producing results.  For several key departments, I would push for creation of a "Standards and Accountability" office that works to ensure projects are completed on time and budget. 

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?

KC: I believe the City's current investment in sustainable transport is a fraction of what it should be.  Baltimore should be working to make transit and bike infrastructure the cornerstones of its transportation development.  I would focus on including bike lanes or cycletracks on every major corridor of the City.  I also believe that our most heavily traveled corridors (e.g., North Avenue) should be serviced not by bus lines, but by modern streetcars.  Financing of this sort of infrastructure is why TIFs and other municipal funding mechanisms exist--not to bolster car-dependent development near the Harbor.

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?

KC: We must start by establishing strong east-west transit connections in Baltimore.  The most isolated and vulnerable communities of East and West Baltimore are cut off from more prosperous parts of the City due to a lack of reliable, frequent transit connections. 

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

KC: I've never owned a car in the nearly 6 years I've lived in Baltimore and believe this has helped me understand and interact with this City in a very intimate way.  I look forward to working with Bikemore over my term in creating a world-class, multi-modal transportation network for the City.