Shawn Kao

What do you think are the benefits of active transportation (e.g. walking, riding a bicycle)?

I think it is very important to encourage active transportation in our city when possible. Active lifestyles lead to better long term health and higher quality of life for Calgarians while helping to reduce our environmental footprint.

Research recommends enabling biking and walking for transport as an important public health measure. What are your thoughts on the current state of the infrastructure for active transportation in the city? How will you increase the convenience and safety of all modes of transportation, including walking/using a wheelchair, riding a bike, and transit?

Ward 14 is in the ‘burbs. What works for the inner city doesn’t necessarily work for us. That said, almost every community in Ward 14 touches Fish Creek Park and a vast majority of the residents enjoy the pathways to walk, walk the dog and ride bikes. Not sure what can be done in our Ward, but this is obviously a city-wide strategy. I would have to judge each idea on its own merits.

Lowering speeds to 30 kph in residential areas improves road safety for all users, especially children and seniors.  Calgary citizen groups in many communities are calling on the City to act against speeding. If elected, how will you work to reduce vehicle speeds in residential areas in Calgary?

I’m not entirely convinced that lowering the speed limits will have the desired effect. I would be in favour of support traffic calming initiatives in locations where it makes sense. Also, I would be in favour of running a pilot program with Calgary Police Service to use photo radar in problem areas. If these methods don’t yield favourable results, I would consider exploring the 30 kph speed limit.

Vibrant communities depend upon everyday people using city streets to shop, eat, linger, and walk. Several factors play into the walkability of communities including: intensity, mixing of different types of uses, connectivity, and quality of the urban realm. If elected, how will you increase the walkability and vibrancy of Calgary’s communities?

It is a lot easier to design new communities with these concepts in mind. The problem is “retro-fitting” them to existing communities. I live in Lake Bonavista and it is fairly walkable and vibrant. There are shops, restaurants, schools, the lake and recreation centre all within walking distance. In other communities, I do see that commercial tends to exist on the outskirts, which does affect the walkability of the community. People tend to drive instead of walk or ride. So, for me, community design is key, but any new projects in existing communities would require a healthy amount of community consultation beforehand.

Bicycle access to amenities (e.g. work, school, recreation) requires bicycle facilities that extend beyond our pathways. In addition, this summer we saw how reliance on a pathway network built primarily in a river floodplain resulted in a loss of viable travel routes for many Calgarians. Of its 18,000 lane-km of roads, Calgary has only 26 km of marked on-street bike routes. Given that 98% of Calgarians are uncomfortable riding in traffic, do you support reallocation of roadway space to provide people on bicycles with equitable, reliable, safe, comfortable, and efficient access to the amenities they need to reach?

It depends on the situation. In the case of Macleod Trail, I would say “no” with 100% conviction. In fact, cyclists that I talk to who live south of Fish Creek would not want to ride on Macleod Trail due to safety and pollution concerns. As before, community consultation would be mandatory anywhere this is being considered.

How will you increase the convenience and appeal of transit as a mode of choice, as well as facilitate the possibility of multi-modal trips (e.g. walking & transit, riding a bike & transit)?

We increase the appeal of transit by making it stand above out against the current primary method of transportation. In the inner city, it’s easier, because parking is expensive, the distance travelled is less and there are more transit options. In the suburbs, what I find is that it is tough to compete with cars if the bus in stuck in the same traffic jam as the car. This is where the SE LRT would come in very handy or at least the SETWAY project. Multi-modal trips could be facilitated by increased use of technology to allow people to plan their trips better (eg. Google maps route planning) as well as equipping buses with bike racks, etc. I know bike shares are on the radar, but I would need more information on this before commenting further.

Are you familiar with the New York experience from 2007-2013? How can we replicate most of that success here in the next five years?

I am familiar with New York City, but I think it would be unrealistic to think that Calgary could or should replicate this exactly. Necessity is the mother of invention and this is what you see in New York and any cities of higher density. We can take the parts that make sense for Calgary but it is important that it is a “made in Calgary” solution.

Will you advocate for the prioritization of cold hard cash directed towards alternative transport options, and an urgent move to make on-the-ground changes immediately?

Unfortunately I cannot make this promise. If elected, I would represent the residents of Ward 14 to the best of my ability and their priorities are not necessarily geared towards alternate transportation. Having said that, I do recognize the importance of these strategies so I would advocate for any alternative transport options that make sense for Ward 14 and the city as a whole.

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