Druh Farrell

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

Ward 7 residents are on the move! And that’s a good thing.  More and more studies show us that active modes of transportation such as walking, biking and more are linked to better health and wellness. With the rise of lifestyle illnesses such as obesity – especially in children – experts are finding connections to our built environment.

Community residents are much more apt to walk, ride a bike, use a wheelchair or push a stroller if there are shops, schools and services within a reasonable distance. We also need to encourage them with networks of barrier-free, well-maintained sidewalks and pathways; interesting human-scaled buildings; tree-lined streets; parks and more.

We know neighbourhoods that are easy to navigate on foot or by bike have more people using the sidewalks, pathways and streets. This translates into less crime, better traffic safety for everyone (including motorists) and increased economic viability for local businesses.

Studies also show that houses located close to shops and services command a premium and hold their value more than those in less walkable areas so active transportation choices are a good financial investment on behalf of homeowners.

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 7 residents walk, bike and use transit more than any other ward in the city and that’s a good thing because active mobility and transportation choices are key components of a resilient and healthy city. We’ve come a long way in Calgary with infrastructure for biking and walking and I’m proud of the role I have played in that progress.

I initiated the City of Calgary cycling strategy and pathway safety review and supported Calgary’s first cycle track. I supported enhanced connections throughout the Ward and pathway snow clearing, allowing users year-round access. I promoted pedestrian safety during construction with a new construction hoarding bylaw designed to keep sidewalks unobstructed. I advocated for new downtown underpass guidelines that promote pedestrian safety and comfort. This is just the beginning. We need to reach a point where we no longer spend our energy advocating for such improvements; they need to become second nature. Until then, I’ll continue to advocate for forward-thinking policy changes and investment that improves access to active transportation choices.

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?

Speeding and dangerous cut-through traffic is a concern in many Ward 7 communities and one I work hard to address with residents.

We’re constantly learning more about calming traffic in residential streets using everything from traditional speed bumps to creating small traffic circles in intersections and adding boulevards and bike lanes. We don’t always think of bike lanes as a traffic-calming device but they work!

We’re also getting creative when it comes to traffic-calming and cut-through traffic in neighbourhoods. When we collaborate with residents, we are often able to identify and implement quick fixes that can be implemented without a full traffic study, fixes that are inexpensive yet effective at influencing the behaviour of drivers and making the streets safer for everyone who uses them. This has been successful in many Ward 7 neighbourhoods.

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?

We’ve already come a long way in increasing walkability and vibrancy in communities citywide and in Ward 7 in particular. It all comes down to designing streets differently.

I initiated the walkable community requirements for new communities, requiring sidewalks on tree-lined streets. I advocated for the City’s Complete Streets policy requiring that new streets be designed for all mobility modes (car, transit, walking, cycling). This policy calls for physical separation of various users where necessary to keep everyone safe and is being applied in Ward 7 in areas such as the Brentwood LRT Station redevelopment. I’ll continue to advocate for refining these policies until they become accepted best practices throughout Ward 7 and citywide.

I will continue to defend what works and refine what doesn’t when it comes to mixing uses, improving connections and creating a high quality space for community residents to enjoy.

I stood up for the residents of Ward 7 when City engineers proposed an extremely costly Crowchild Trail expansion. Not only did the initial plan threaten homes in adjacent communities but it would have compromised the ability for people to safely cross Crowchild Trail and would have cut off the University of Calgary and  the Foothills Hospital from adjacent communities. The Crowchild Trail Study was quickly sent back to the drawing board and will be refocused to include transit and other modes of transportation and more practical, cost-effective solutions to ease congestion.

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?

Yes. Cyclists have been asking for safe infrastructure for years and it’s important that we find the space for that infrastructure. We’ll have greater success if we continue to identify relatively low volume roads and then work with neighbouring community residents and businesses to find replacement parking alternatives.

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)?

While we’ve made great progress, we still have more to do. After all, we’re all pedestrians for at least the beginning and end of every transit trip. I initiated the transit safety study and will continue to advocate for making transit as safe and convenient as possible for Calgarians. I initiated the move to expand LRT capacity by upgrading platforms to accommodate four-car trains coming in 2015. I supported the Route Ahead transit strategy and Its Your Hub study for Foothills Hospital, University of Calgary and the West Campus area and look forward to looking at innovative ways to better serve the mobility needs of the largest employment hub outside of downtown Calgary.

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?

Yes. New York City has become the model everyone loves to point to for giving priority to people and active modes of transportation, for creating complete streets and public spaces that invite people to linger. They’ve done some great things, and while we can learn from other cities we are creating made in Calgary solutions. We’re piloting, refining and adopting what works for Calgarians. We need to be bold, take risks now and then, learn from our failures and build on our successes.

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?

Calgarians want transportation choice. This has been a priority since I was first elected. I will continue to advocate for changes and investment that improve access to transportation choices. This means making existing roads work better for all users, investing in active transportation choices, making transit a viable option for people who cannot, or choose not, to drive. This is a sound investment, often at a fraction of the cost allocated to building traditional roads and interchanges.

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