Are You Bike-Friendly? CD14's Nadine Momoyo Diaz Responds

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015 is the primary election for important City Council seats in the City of Los Angeles. LACBC invited all candidates to share their perspectives on bicycling and transportation with our members and supporters. While LACBC does not endorse candidates, we encourage you to consider these responses before casting your vote on March 3rd.

Below are responses from Council District 14 candidate Nadine Momoyo Diaz.

All candidate responses are available here: http://la-bike.org/vote

1. Please share a memory involving a bicycle that has had a lasting effect on you (whether or not you were the one on the bicycle).

There are two memories that have a lasting effect on me.

Bicycle riding for me always brings memories, at least every time I ride to this very day. There was a period in my life when I lived in Salt Lake City, Utah where my father attended the University of Utah Medical School, and the only mode of transportation for me was my bike. In sun, heat, rain, or snow, I rode a total of 10 miles each day to my job, working for the U.S. government, as a cartographer, making geographical maps of Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq and Iran in the early 1980’s. In fact, while I was creating and making a map of some foreign country using a “swivel edge engraver,” I would imagine riding my bike in order to sustain accuracy of the terrain, rode and surface. Accuracy is critical in map making.

Riding in falling snow is actually another fun memory for me and I miss it very much. The key thing to remember is to wear waterproof clothing and always have an extra pair of pants for example. It is a super fun experience.

The darker side of bicycle riding is working with and helping patients in ICU, CCU, Trauma and ER at California Hospital in Downtown L.A. As a health professional, it is a travesty to witness the bicyclists who become victims of a “hit and run” and their lives take a drastic turn for life. As a clinical social worker, I have witnessed bicyclists who end up with traumatic brain injury, disabled, loss of limbs, on life support and death.

2. Approximately 200 people are killed in traffic in the City of Los Angeles every year, about half of whom were walking or biking. In September, the Department of Transportation released a new strategic plan Great Streets for Los Angeles, including the ambitious goal to eliminate all traffic fatalities in the city by 2025 (“Vision Zero”). Many of the projects designed to improve safety will also slow vehicle speeds or reduce capacity, sometimes on major streets. Do you support Vision Zero? How would you evaluate a project that increases delay for drivers in order to make a street safer for walking and biking?

As a bike rider and councilwoman, I will work with the Department of Transportation to assess and evaluate the streets in question and consideration for the safety of the public. I have a background in planning and very familiar with DOT and land use development. In fact I was able to implement the first Preferential Parking area in Boyle Heights to better serve the seniors and the disabled where I live.

As a health professional and advocate of 24 years, it is important to me for health reasons to explore and implement new alternatives to transportation in the City of L.A. One of them is implementing a bicycle plan for the city that is conducive for all ages and includes all constituents in the process.

3. The Department of City Planning is in the process of updating the City’s Mobility Plan for the first time in decades. Among many exciting components, the plan calls for a citywide network of protected bike lanes--designed for people ages 8 to 80--called the “Bicycle Enhanced Network” or BEN. Many of these BEN projects will require reallocating either a traffic lane or parking lane in order to construct the bicycle facility. Do you believe making Los Angeles a city where everyone feels comfortable riding a bike on the street is worthwhile? How would you approach the tradeoffs inherent to such a project?

Yes I do support making streets safe for people of all ages who are cyclists or pedestrians, or public transit users. My main concern is making sure that residents and business are part of the discussion, and not only for this plan, but for all projects that relate to land use. Change is a hard thing for people and especially when they are not aware of the coming change. I would also like for there to be more education of the benefits of these plans to the residents and business so they can see the value of the change and thereby be more agreeable to the proposed change.

In 2011, the City Council unanimously adopted the Bicycle Plan proposing a comprehensive 1,600-mile bikeway network across the City. What steps would you take to ensure implementation of Bicycle Plan projects in your district? Are there any specific projects in the Plan you would prioritize? To what extent would you feel obligated to implement a plan adopted by your predecessor?

As councilwoman I would assign a staff member to be a project manager and work with the Bike Plan Implementation team to be the liaison with the city and the community. I would first prioritize the proposed lanes that are ranked highest by the Bicycle Funding Priority Grading system. The obligation to implement any plan of the predecessor would depend on the funding availability and community input in the selection process.

5. (CD14 only) Bike lanes are currently proposed for all of the following streets prioritized by the Bicycle Plan. All of these projects involve a “road diet” to make the street safer for walking, biking and driving. Which of these projects are you prepared to support at this time? Please feel free to share any thoughts about specific projects.

  • Central Ave (1st St to 95th St)
  • Boyle Ave (5th St to 8th St)
  • Soto St (Huntington to 8th St)

As councilwoman of CD 14, I will support the bike lanes currently proposed as long as the entire community directly impacted by the proposal are part of the process.

6. Studies have shown that people on bicycles spend more per month in local business districts than those arriving by other modes. What steps would you take to ensure that local businesses in your district are able to benefit from better bicycle access?

As councilwoman, I will develop a CD 14 Site Seeing Tour Book that advertises for local businesses throughout the district, along with a bicycle lane map leading to each of the establishment listed. To increase business, I would work with and encourage local businesses to create incentives and specials to promote bicyclists and other customers to patronize their local businesses. The CD 14 Site Seeing Tour Book can be obtained at any district office and local businesses as well. I will also see if this can be done through a phone application.

7. The LA Times recently wrote a feature story documenting that hit-and-run collisions are on the rise for bicyclists, according to state records. The majority of seriously injured or fatal hit-and-run victims are people walking and bicycling. What steps would you take to reduce the rate of hit-and-run and ensure perpetrators are prosecuted?

To reduce the rate of “hit-and-run,” I want to create and implement legislation with stiffer rules, regulations and policies to protect the bicyclists. As mentioned earlier, I am a health care professional who has witnessed first-hand the repercussions of bicyclists, critically injured by “hit-and-run” drivers” who have no remorse for human life. I have seen all ages of bicyclist severely injured by senseless individuals behind the wheel. The outcome is devastating for the bicyclists and the families. If no family is involved, the situation is even worse, and especially if the patient has no health insurance what-so-ever.

8. An additional countywide transportation sales tax is currently being formulated by Metro. None of the existing three half-cent measures (Propositions A & C and Measure R) currently dedicate significant funding for walking and biking, despite these modes making up 19% of all trips and 39% of all roadway fatalities in the county. Would you support allocating at least 10% of any future transportation tax measure to walking, biking and safe routes to school?

I would fully support allocating a percent of the transportation funds that is equal to the percentage to trips made by pedestrians and cyclists.

9. LACBC’s Neighborhood Bike Ambassadors work with local businesses, neighborhood councils, homeowner associations and other stakeholders on bicycle issues. Will you commit to meeting with the local bike ambassadors in your district on a regular and ongoing basis? Would you be willing to lead a regularly scheduled bike ride with your constituents?

As councilwoman of CD 14, I will commit to meeting with the local bike ambassadors on a regular and ongoing basis. Moreover I would be willing to lead a bike ride with constituents in different parts of the district throughout the year. Perhaps 3-4 times per year.

10. Would you presently feel safe riding a bike in Los Angeles, and if not, what would it take to make you feel comfortable on our city streets?

Actually I do not feel safe riding a bike in Los Angeles. When I moved from Utah to L.A. in 1982 to take care of my Grandfather Diaz, I brought my bike because I did not have a car because I did not need a car in Utah. I rode it twice as soon as I got to L.A. and both times I almost got hit by a car.

I am a firm believer of education, intervention and prevention are key to creating better bike riders. Some of us are great bike riders and follow the law, and some bike riders need education. This is the same for drivers. In making me feel comfortable about bike riding in Los Angeles, as councilwoman, I plan to work with DOT, MTA and bicycle organizations to promote bicycle education throughout the district. It must be implemented. I will also feel safer with bike lanes.

11. Is there anything else you'd like to share with L.A.'s bicycling community?

I have participated in several of the CicLAvias and have enjoyed them very much. I would look to see what the city can do to make CicLAvias happen on a monthly basis. If cities like Mexico City and Colombia can have them on a weekly basis, there should be no reason to at least have on a monthly basis.

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