As a service to our members, WOBO offered the City of Oakland’s candidates an opportunity to answer questions about walking and biking in Oakland. Below are the questions and the Oakland Mayor candidates’ responses, in alphabetical order by first name. WOBO does not endorse candidates for public office.

The questions:

  1. As Mayor, how would you improve safety and access for biking and walking in Oakland?
  2. What transportation projects and policies will you work on?
  3. How would you improve Oakland’s pavement conditions?
  4. Please tell us about how you walk and bike, and/or why you support better walking and biking.

Skip to Charles Williams

Skip to Courtney Ruby

Skip to Dan Siegel

Skip to Jean Quan

Skip to Joe Tuman

Skip to Libby Schaaf

Skip to Rebecca Kaplan

Skip to Saied Karamooz

Charles Williams

1. As Mayor, how would you improve safety and access for biking and walking in Oakland?

I would like to limit cars on Lakeshore Dr on Sundays I would like to do the same from grand to Jack London Sq on Broadway during Saturdays and Sundays from 8am to 6pm, Publishing more bike info and putting out the best routes will help. Would like to see a bike path from Jack London to the port area under the Bay bridge

Courtney Ruby

1. As Mayor, how would you improve safety and access for biking and walking in Oakland?

We need safe walkways for pedestrians to take advantage of programs like Oakland’s Safe Routes to Schools program and a safe, continuous bicycle network to connect our city and its distinctive neighborhoods. The first step to create a safe, well-run city is to actively fix our roads and sidewalks as addressed in my public works audit. The second step is to integrate our transportation and public works systems so that we can properly prioritize our transportation needs and ensure that Oakland has an integrated transportation network. For example, right now there are bike paths that just end at major roadways leaving cyclists to fend for themselves. A Transportation Director that oversees all aspects of infrastructure will make our transportation system more efficient and economical. Finally, we need to improve education and awareness about alternative forms of transportation. Many walkers and cyclists don’t go out because they feel Oakland’s streets are not safe – that they are a threat to our city’s health, environment, and public safety. We can do better.

2. What transportation projects and policies will you work on?

While bringing together Oakland’s transportation and public works functions under one transportation vision, my approach to transportation will be three-pronged. First, we need to create incentives for people to use all forms of transportation such as bicycling and walking by making it safer or public transportation by making it more convenient. Second, we need to create incentives for business to help through zoning, finance, BART/Bus pass programs and land use controls. And third, we need government to make smart decisions to reduce our dependence on cars by building on the Great Streets concept. We can accommodate more people through bike paths, walkways, and placing large investment infrastructure in transportation oriented developments so every citizen will have access to some form of improved public transportation. It is time to stop treating individual modes of transportation in silos and time to start integrating every aspect of transportation with the focus of decreasing the dependence on individual car trips.

While a vibrant urban core is essential for a healthy city, we must also prioritize transportation options for low-income neighborhoods that often have the greatest need. We need to support programs that promote alternative methods of transportation among low-income communities and ensure that the needed infrastructure reaches their communities as equally as other neighborhoods.

3. How would you improve Oakland’s pavement conditions?

Under my vision, Oaklanders will see a difference immediately. When my administration delivers on public safety, we will start to attract more businesses and entrepreneurs to create jobs sand increase revenue. But we can’t deliver residents to their jobs without dependable infrastructure. City government is here to address these large issues to get Oakland to realize its potential.

My 2009 audit of the Public Works Agency identified more millions in savings, infrastructure in need of investment, and 292 recommendations to make the department work more efficiently. Once we get our transportation priorities aligned, we will look for more funding on the local, county, state, and national levels.

To understand my view of streets and sidewalks please view my PWA audit here:

4. Please tell us about how you walk and bike, and/or why you support better walking and biking.

Investments in biking and walking are critical to meeting the transportation and energy challenges of this century. As the mother of two young boys, I know the immediate need for exercise and fun is rooted in cycling. I recognize the long term need of improving our environment for the generations that come after us. My support for biking and walking is unequivocal and I look forward to driving the accountability and results needed to make this work for our community.

Dan Siegel

1. As Mayor, how would you improve safety and access for biking and walking in Oakland?

One approach I would like to implement is to create bike lanes between street curbs and parking lanes as is being done in Golden Gate Park. I also want to increase the number of pedestrian crossings with lights embedded in the street. We also need more street lights with pedestrian crossings and signals on busy streets and, over time, a plan to designate certain streets as reserved for bicycles and pedestrians only. Finally, we need to target enforcement efforts to areas of the city where drivers routinely ignore traffic laws and endanger cyclists and pedestrians.

2. What transportation projects and policies will you work on?

See above. Additionally, I want to implement bike share programs throughout Oakland and work with AC Transit to provide mini-bus service in parts of the City and/or at times where minimal use has caused the cancellation of regular bus routes or where bus service has never been provided. I support improved bus service along key routes, but I am unhappy about the plan for International Boulevard because it is being implemented to the detriment of local businesses. I would prefer to have placed the new bus routes on East 12th Street or San Leandro Boulevard.

3. How would you improve Oakland’s pavement conditions?

Oakland’s sidewalks and streets are a mess. Oakland is currently about $75 million behind in making needed capital expenditures, mostly for street repair and maintenance. Absent extraordinary steps, this deficit will never be addressed. Looking at the City budget and revenue expectations, my plan would be to budget $10 million yearly from the general fund for street repairs and maintenance. However, this amount would be insufficient to make up the backlog, so I would propose to issue bonds in the amount of approximately $65 million so that we could make up for years of neglect fairly quickly.

4. Please tell us about how you walk and bike, and/or why you support better walking and biking.

My personal bicycling is limited to vacations and occasional local outings with friends, primarily because my exercise routine includes walking a dog every other day. I walk in my neighborhood in East Oakland, in Chabot and Redwood Parks in the Oakland hills, and at the Martin Luther King Shoreline. I also walk from my office at 14th and Broadway to the Oakland courts. My vacations involve a lot of walking, whether hiking in the Sierras, the Himalayas, or the mountains of Alaska, or exploring cities in the U.S. and other countries. I want to see walking and biking made more attractive and convenient in Oakland because these activities are healthy, provide an enjoyable way to see and interact with the world, and are better for the environment.

Jean Quan

1. As Mayor, how would you improve safety and access for biking and walking in Oakland?

  • I have personally championed  and would continue to expand our Sunday Streets/Oaklavia program by adding additional neighborhoods.  This year we did Love our Lake Day and the San Pablo/SPAGGIA neighborhood.  I would like to see it build up to a monthly event with events in all parts of the city.
  • I plan to be involved in the implementation of the Bike Share Funding that I was able to obtain for Oakland/Berkeley/Emeryville.
  • This would include the completion of the Bike Parking facilities at all BART stations.

2. What transportation projects and policies will you work on?

  • As a member of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission — making a position for the Mayor of Oakland was one of my legislative priorities to improve Oakland’s/ the East Bay’s access to funding — I am working to increase funding for East Bay Projects including the implementation of the Bike Share Program, the completion of the bike/pedestrian path on the the Oakland Bay Bridge, the DD pathway from Lake Merritt to the completion of the Bay Trail on the estuary and the Freight Impact Study.
    I would like to update and expand the Oakland Bike Path Plans and other Complete Street Projects.
  • Continue implementation of Bus Rapid Transit on International Blvd including new bike lanes, safer crossings and bus stops and transit oriented housing.
  • Plan to continue work on the Climate Action Plan which I co-sponsored including the increase of bike commuting and reduction of car trips in the City.
  • I would look at the current prioritization and coordination of transportation projects in the City as funds are restored.
  • I would continue to advocate and try to obtain more funds for public transportation working with AC Transit and BART.
    Funding for Transit Oriented Housing from Cap and Trade Funds.

3. How would you improve Oakland’s pavement conditions?

  • We are working for and carrying BB campaign materials.  Critical to providing at least $200 M for Street and Sidewalk funding.
  • Continue to seek special project grant funding to improve major arterials.
  • Continue to work with public works to improve service delivery such as our launching  SeeClickFix.
  • Work on the MTC Freight Study to decrease impact and seek funding for the damage caused by trucking at the Port and other industries.

4. Please tell us about how you walk and bike, and/or why you support better walking and biking.

In addition to the above:

  • I have continued to support Oakland’s free walking tours and lead some of them personally.
  • As a lover of nature hikes and a founder of the Friends of Joaquin Miller Park, I have helped to develop and maintain city hiking and biking trails, and I am working on completing the Bay Trail.
  • I bike recreationally with my family and believe that biking supports health while reducing our carbon footprint, so I promote and participate in Bike To Work Day each year.

Joe Tuman

1. As Mayor, how would you improve safety and access for biking and walking in Oakland?

First, by vigorously enforcing California’s new law which requires a minimum of three feet clearance between drivers and cyclists who share the road. Second, by also vigorously enforcing the law and prosecuting car drivers who endanger pedestrians by carelessly running through yellow to red lights at intersections, or those who turn into crosswalks when the lights still indicate a right of way for pedestrian cross-walkers. If we make examples of those who violate these rules, we can begin to deter this behavior. Equally important will be to fully implement Oakland’s proposed 218 miles of a bicycle network by or before 2020 to provide dedicated spaces for cyclists to safely ride.

2. What transportation projects and policies will you work on?

I support WOBO’s goals towards creation of continuous bikeways for five key corridors by 2015, and as indicated above, I am also supportive of realizing completion of a bicycle master plan for 218 miles of a city biking network by or before 2020.

3. How would you improve Oakland’s pavement conditions?

By making sure the city (in addition to helping deliver public safety) also prioritizes public infrastructure, with an eye to meaningful and effective road repair of cracked pavement and filling of potholes. The failure to deliver this most basic of core services places both cyclists and auto drivers at risk to safety.

4. Please tell us about how you walk and bike, and/or why you support better walking and biking.

I have been a cyclist for 51 years. In an average year, I cycle approximately 3-400 miles per month. I bike for transit and also (happily) for recreation and training. For the last 21 years I have also been a competitive amateur cyclist and triathlete with competition in more than 200 triathlons. In my thirty years in Oakland, I have been hit by a car while riding my bike three different times, twice sending me to the emergency room. I take cycling safety very seriously.

Libby Schaaf

1. As Mayor, how would you improve safety and access for biking and walking in Oakland?

Pedestrian and bicycle safety are vital issues for the City of Oakland. We still have a car-centric view of transportation here in Oakland and I want that to change.

As Mayor, I will have a two-pronged approach to making our streets safer for all users: 1) I will continue the City’s push to incorporate complete streets and pedestrian-friendly design for large projects and ongoing infrastructure improvements. Oakland’s urban design principles must include, and promote, walking and biking. 2) I want Oakland to send the message to drivers that bicyclists and pedestrians are to be respected. That’s why I wrote the Vulnerable Road Users Protection Legislation to increase penalties against drivers who intentionally harm or threaten to harm pedestrians and bicyclists.

2. What transportation projects and policies will you work on?

I believe the City’s primary responsibilities lie in the areas of land use, transportation engineering, and traffic enforcement. We need to continue our commitment to smart land use and sustainable development near transit, consistent with our General Plan, zoning, and the basic vision of Plan Bay Area. We need to continue implementation of our bicycle master plan, and integrate complete streets requirements into new development or major rehabilitation. And, of course, we need to dedicate sufficient police resources to pedestrian and traffic safety.

It’s time to re-think some of our parking requirements — particularly around transit hubs. I was very involved in Oakland’s first TOD project at the Fruitvale BART station where we created a TOD overlay zoning with a .5 per unit parking requirement.

Oakland must continue to fight for maintenance and rehab dollars to implement complete streets and other transportation programs, whether it be from Measure BB, individual development master plans, cap and trade proceeds and Plan Bay Area, or one-off settlements like the 4th Bore of the Caldecott Tunnel. Staff needs to always be looking for opportunities to promote complete streets by adding bike lane or sharrow striping to a scheduled re-paving project and looking for road diet opportunities.

Putting in a trolly where the Free B bus line runs now will be a priority. In 2009 I was invited to be part of Oakland’s delegation traveling to Portland as part of the German Marshall Fund to study their advances in promoting active transportation. This was following a seminar in Oakland led by representatives of several European cities. I will continue to engage in this advocacy community to ensure Oakland becomes THE model for active transportation and complete streets.

3. How would you improve Oakland’s pavement conditions?

Improving funding of street and pothole repair is crucial, despite the fact that county, state, and federal dollars committed will never be enough for all of Oakland’s roads. The city can speed its contracting processes and increase competition for Oakland’s paving dollars. When — not if — Measure BB passes, we should bond against the future revenue stream to do a major upgrade to our road conditions NOW. We are wasting money and endangering lives by tolerating substandard and dangerous conditions throughout our city. It’s embarrassing! Once road conditions are upgraded, it will cost 1/7th to 1/8th as much to maintain that condition.

We also must prioritize repairs along known biking routes. We have had far too many serious accidents caused by poor road conditions — including a fatality. We need to be far more aggressive and creative about having our projects prioritized with MTC and Sacramento. We should be able to leverage our city’s location efficiency to attract street repair, rehab and complete streets funding from cap and trade proceeds. I am a big believer in data, and I want to better utilize StreetSaver, our pavement management system. I also believe in transparency, so I will have street repaving information online so the public knows about upcoming street repairs. The city must also work with other jurisdictions, namely Caltrans, to make sure their facilities in Oakland are prioritized for repair and rehab.

4. Please tell us about how you walk and bike, and/or why you support better walking and biking.

Active transportation improves public health, promotes economic development, helps the environment, is fun and affordable. If you look around the world, cities that are great for bicyclists and pedestrians are great cities overall. By shifting away from cars, we free up acres of space in our cities for open space, parks, new investment, more business and more housing. We create more social interaction and more vibrant, welcoming and safe-feeling streets. A real transportation system is one that works for all users.

I walk and bike as often as I can — particularly to downtown meetings during the day. I can’t wait to use the downtown bike share! I sadly rely on my car far more than I would like to as I have two young children I need to get to various places. I’ve participated in bike-to-work day and Oaklavia every year. I do encourage my children to walk and bike regularly — my 9 year old son is the walk-a-thon champion of his school and “trains” year-round with his pedometer. I look forward to doing more in a city I help make more convenient for walkers and bicyclists.

Rebecca Kaplan

1. As Mayor, how would you improve safety and access for biking and walking in Oakland?

Making our communities walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented has been a priority of mine throughout my life, and would be a major priority of my administration.

I would bring to the mayor’s office the dedication, regional connections and personal understanding to implement these goals. In addition to representing all of Oakland on the City Council and being a bicyclist myself, I also represent the City of Oakland on the Alameda County Transportation Commission, on which I serve as Vice Chair. Before being elected to the Oakland City Council, I served for eight years as Director At-Large on the AC Transit Board. Before that, I worked to expand sustainable transportation as an advocate at Transform. I have successfully fought to secure funding for Oakland’s new bike station and new bike lanes.

One of my top priorities – beyond my years of work to expand and enhance transit and bike options – is to promote transit-oriented development (TOD). During the drafting of Measure BB, I successfully fought to secure funding for TOD projects in Oakland – including the West Oakland BART, Lake Merritt BART and Broadway-Valdez areas.

As mayor, I would use my authority to ‘step up’ the City’s TOD planning and implementation – and provide a real commitment to TOD and transit access in the budgets that I author. And I’m also excited to realize the potential of the Broadway Shuttle expansion. During my first year, I would also ensure smooth project delivery for the International Blvd. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project.

2. What transportation projects and policies will you work on?

I believe very strongly in policies that encourage and make it easier for the public to walk, bike and take transit. Oakland must use\real experience and data – as well as persuasive arguments based on my knowledge and background – to explain and advocate for projects that improve transit, bicycling and walking and that do not always prioritize individual automobiles.

By making these modes attractive – and preferable to driving – we improve quality of life, we improve public health, we reduce the negative impact on our local and global environment, and we make it quicker and easier for people to get to and from work, engage in positive economic opportunity and recreational opportunities. Simultaneously, these efforts create communities that are more welcoming, reduce blight and crime and help encourage people to patronize our local businesses.

Fundamentally, I believe that with proper planning – and real communication among stakeholders – we can and should realize the tremendous opportunity we have for a ‘win-win’ in transportation planning. In other words, having fewer cars on the road benefits both drivers and bicyclists/pedestrians. Drivers enjoy roads with fewer other cars because they can more quickly and safely navigate our city, and bicyclists & pedestrians can also more safely get around without intimidation and congestion created by having too many vehicles on the road. And both benefit from work to fill potholes and fix sidewalks, which is why I’ve fought successfully to secure so much money for local street and road repair, and bike/ped safety, as Oakland’s representative on the Alameda County Transportation Commission.

3. How would you improve Oakland’s pavement conditions?

Our current pavement cycle is unacceptable. In drafting Measure BB, I helped secure funding to double our annual street and road repair budget. Immediately upon taking office, I would take action to end the lag time in expending the transportation funds that the current Administration has been sitting on (such as the current Measure B local formula funds), quickly implement improvements to our pothole filling/pavement repair program, and target high-bicycle use corridors for pavement repair. I would bring together transit/bike/ped/TOD advocates to launch the creation of a transportation commission (and to decide whether to structure it as a separate commission or as a committee of the Planning Commission), and I would hire a knowledgeable transportation director to oversee these goals. I would make sure we complete the planned Uptown Bike Station, properly implement the bike share program, and identify locations for additional bike stations and related infrastructure. I would speed the implementation of pedestrian safety improvements that have already been approved during the Fourth Bore settlement (which has funding but has yet to be installed). In filling key roles in City leadership, I would include people with an understanding of the importance of repairing our ailing infrastructure.

4. Please tell us about how you walk and bike, and/or why you support better walking and biking.

As a bicyclist myself, I understand that it is time to make our Oakland community walkable, bikeable, and transit-oriented.

Though I’ve often been successful at helping to improve this challenge as a councilmember, it’s this kind of issue that makes executive leadership so important. Part of why I joined the Alameda County Transportation Commission was to advocate productively on project funding and delivery in a way that could substantively benefit Oakland and my constituents. But seeing Oakland ‘sit’ on allocated funds has been a frustration (councilmembers are not legally allowed to direct City staff). As mayor, I’ll make sure we take action to put the needs of Oakland first – and that very much includes transportation project/plan delivery and administration.

Not only is green public transit important for reducing CO2 emissions, but it is also essential in increasing Oakland’s public health, community vitality and vibrant neighborhoods.

Saied Karamooz

1. As Mayor, how would you improve safety and access for biking and walking in Oakland?

I would expand bike lanes (funded by Measure BB) and repair sidewalks (paid for by property owners who have sidewalks in front of their properties that are in a state of disrepair).

In addition, I would look for ways to close some streets to traffic and promoting outdoor shopping/dining districts, with provisions for emergency vehicle access, of course.

2. What transportation projects and policies will you work on?

I would work on the following initiatives:

  • Implement rent-a-bike system with bikes, equipment, systems, and technologies made in Oakland
  • Reduce or eliminate parking allowance for city workers working standard shifts, coupled with increased public transport allowance to them
  • Work with Downtown Business Association and Open Oakland to create a Rewards Program to encourage use of public transportation by patrons (similar to a parking validation system, but for use of public transportation)
  • Convert vacant lots into public spaces (e.g., mini-parks, playgrounds, urban gardens, etc.)
  • Convert some streets to outdoor shopping/dining promenades

3. How would you improve Oakland’s pavement conditions?

I would rely on funds from Measure BB to address the condition of our roads. It is imperative to vote Yes on Measure BB.

4. Please tell us about how you walk and bike, and/or why you support better walking and biking.

To the extent possible, I rely on my bicycle for local transportation, followed by walking or mass transit. As a last resort, I use my car, Smart Car for 2.

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