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?
NC: I used my bicycle as my sole means of transportation around the city for years, but after one too many encounters with angry car drivers and near-death experiences, I simply decided that it was no longer worth the risk, even though it's a great way to stay in shape.
I think that nixing the red-line was a big mistake, because this city is sorely in need of a reliable and convenient East/West public transport option.
That said, I think that we should prioritize creating car-free corridors; major arteries connecting the city's neighborhoods that can be walked or biked on, but not driven on by privately owned automobiles. This low-cost solution would finally make biking around Baltimore a valid option for those of us who don't feel comfortable with cars passing us six inches away from our handlebars.
Depending on traffic and need, these corridors could be car-free 100% of the time, or only during certain times of day, to be determined on a case-to-case basis. It would also be easy to incorporate bus/trolley access along these corridors if needed, reducing the impact that the change would have on existing public transportation circuits.
What role do you believe biking and walking improvements can play in creating a safer, healthier, more livable Baltimore?
NC: In my opinion, you aren't really living in a city unless you're walking and biking around it. There is a level of immersion and familiarity with the landscape that simply cannot be obtained when traveling by car. Plus, it's a great way to stay in shape.
Also, as any world traveler will tell you, cities in the United States are very unique in their complete and utter lack of pedestrian and bicycle activity, directly hampering citizens' ability to foster a sense of community and belonging.
You need only look at events like Artscape, Pigtown's festival on Washington Boulevard, Honfest, or any number of other events where roads are shut down if you want to see how dramatically a car-free zone affects the safety, vibrancy, and "livability" of a street. People go out, they bring their families, they do things they ordinarily wouldn't do (like have some fun for a change), and they spend money at the local businesses lining those streets.
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?
NC: I do not know the specifics of the city's bike-share plan well enough to comment on it, but the implementation of a bike share program is a natural complement to the designation of car-free corridors.
It is critical that the plan take into account the fact that many different people of many different fitness levels will want to use the bike share program for many different reasons. For example, the group of UB students who want to go on a bike ride together on a warm summer evening are looking for an essentially different service than the woman who had been living on a fixed income and can't make it to her new job on time because she has no reliable and affordable means of transportation to get there. The first group may only want to pay a small sum to use some fun bikes for one evening, whereas the lady in the second scenario may benefit more from the option to pay more for a monthly or weekly subscription that grants her the utility of cargo bike access on demand.
If we combine car-free corridors, a responsiveness to resident need, and robust but easy to manage integrated tracking, parking, and maintenance systems, we could transform transportation for Baltimore's residents. Plus, it's fun and a great way to stay in shape.
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?
NC: This could be said about any number of the "Departments" that comprise what we think of as city government, and frankly I do not understand why we have such a hard time doing our jobs. As someone who thinks in terms of logic and efficiency ala the simple elegance of computer code, the constant clusterfuck that is our government simply doesn't make any sense to me.
Forget the audits. Tear the whole system down and start over with a team of tech-savvy and data-literate engineers tasked with building the DoT that we've always needed from scratch. Focus only on infrastructure and outcomes, and get rid of all the bloat.
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?
NC: This is another natural extension of the livable streets paradigm. If our livable streets and car-free corridors connect a network of open public spaces, those spaces get transformed from inaccessible islands in a sea of traffic to nodes in a network of livable spaces where people can move around the city and do whatever they want, without ever having to step foot in a car.
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?
NC: Multi-Billion dollar private companies who do business in our city and hire large groups of low-wage workers (i.e. Amazon), have no excuse not to provide some sort of shuttle service to the already underpaid part-time and seasonal shift workers that comprise the bulk of their labor force. If John's Hopkins and UMaryland can afford to run multiple shuttle routes for their students all day long, these private companies can certainly afford to hire a service to shuttle their workers between their warehouses and and the neighborhoods that they hire from. No excuses.
This should be a requirement for any employer that primarily hires on a part-time or seasonal basis, and which is located within city limits but not near easily accessible residential areas.
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?
NC: Please see my previous answers. If the majority of residents in this city decide that they want to create complete streets, I will not concern myself with the opinion of constituents that don't share our vision.
What other information about your candidacy would you like to share with our members?
NC: I rode in Bike Party all the time when it first started gaining traction (see my awesome facebook cover photo at https://www.facebook.com/nicholas.caminiti), and you can ask anyone that I went to law school with and they'll tell you how hard and often I tried to recruit my fellow students to join me.