Are You Bike Friendly? Supervisor District 5 Candidate Ara Najarian Responds

Over the past several years, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and BikeSGV have made great strides toward making bicycling a safe and convenient way to travel, connecting diverse communities to make our county more livable, economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable. Critical to this progress has been supportive leadership from our County Supervisors, who also serve on the Metro Board of Directors.

It is our hope that our new supervisors will continue this progress and elevate LA to the next level. The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and BikeSGV invite all supervisor candidates to appeal directly to an engaged, thoughtful group of voters–our county’s bicyclists–by responding to our questionnaire. 

Note: The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and BikeSGV are 501(c)3 non-profit organizations and cannot endorse candidates or engage in electioneering on behalf of a candidate. We are offering this questionnaire as a service to candidates to communicate with potential voters for informational purposes only. All candidates have an equal opportunity to respond and responses will be distributed without bias in the order in which they are received.

The election for the L.A. County Board of Supervisors' Fifth District is on Tuesday, June 7th. To register to vote, check your registration, request a vote-by-mail ballot, or find your polling place, visit: ​www.lavote.net.

Below are responses from Fifth District candidate Ara Najarian.

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).

2. Bearing in mind there are thousands who do not drive for any number of reasons; under what circumstances would you feel safe using a bicycle as your primary means of transportation?

I would feel safe using a bicycle if there were dedicated bike lanes available, preferably lanes which are protected from traffic as recently implemented in Long Beach.

3. To better understand the needs of those who depend on the County’s public and active transportation systems, would you be willing to take the SoCal multi-modal challenge once a year? I.e. Complete your daily routine for 5 days without the use of an automobile?

I would absolutely take the challenge and I regularly take public transit from Glendale to downtown Los Angeles.

4. County supervisors have great power to improve the safety, health and livability of Los Angeles County through both their role on the Metro board shaping countywide transportation policy and investment decisions and through oversight of County departments, including Public Works, Public Health and Parks & Recreation. In 2012, the County of Los Angeles adopted a Bicycle Master Plan proposing 831 miles of new bikeways due to be completed by 2032. What would you do to ensure that implementation of the Bicycle Master Plan projects continues during your term? How many miles of new bicycle facilities will you commit to implementing each year in your district?

I commit to the completion and implementation of the bike plan. Although I state how many miles I year I could guarantee, I will work with all due expediency to build out the bikeway system.

5. The County needs to be a leader when it comes to connecting communities across the district, whether it is by waterway, roadway, or bike path. Many people have felt that the County does not always take ownership of the role it plays in connectivity and bringing communities together. How do you see your potential role as County Supervisor being a critical piece in closing the gaps that you would administer, control, and that are sometimes created with bad planning?

During my 10 years on the Metro board, I have worked diligently to connect communities through transit, bike ways and pedestrian paths. As a Supervisor I would continue the work that have already started.

6. County Public Works design standards currently favor high speed traffic by requiring minimum lane widths larger than other transportation agencies. This has created an unnecessary barrier to implementing bicycle projects in urban unincorporated areas, resulting in shared “class III” bike routes on major streets where dedicated “class II” bike lanes would be more appropriate. Do you support adopting the Model Design Manual for Living Streets produced by the County Department of Public Health but not yet adopted by Public Works?

I support the narrowing of travel lanes because the first benefit is that card slow down when drivers perceive a more narrow roadway. This is one element of traffic calming that we have implemented during my term as Mayor and Councilman in Glendale. The additional width saved should be dedicated to a class ii bike lane.

7. Studies have shown that protected bikeways (i.e. those that are separated from moving vehicles by a curb or parked cars) can reduce injuries by as much as 90%, while reducing collisions and improving safety for all road users. The County Bicycle Master Plan calls for the implementation of such facilities, but none have been planned on County streets to date. Would you support the implementation of protected bikeways, and can you suggest any areas in your district where such facilities should be built?

I support the creation of protected bikeways. The best location for them are on streets that have not yet been constructed, or on streets that are undergoing a major repaving and widening project. The next best opportunity is to place the protected bikeways on existing wide blvds. We have an excellent opportunity as we all develop plans to control storm water runoff, there will be many streets undergoing reengineering to construct bioswales and other means of reducing water runoff. This will be an excellent time to implement protected bike lanes in the engineering.

8. In Los Angeles County, 19% of all trips are made on foot or by bike and 39% percent of those killed on our county’s streets are people walking and biking, yet Metro only allocates 1% of its funding to these modes of transportation. The three sales tax measures that generate a majority of Metro’s revenue (Proposition A, Proposition C and Measure R) dedicate 0% for walking and biking. Metro’s 2016 potential sales tax, the Metro Plan, could address these underfunding issues, do you support allocating at least 10% to active transportation as part of the Metro draft expenditure plan?

As a board member we at metro recently (May 26) passed unanimously an active transportation strategic plan dedicated toward active transportation modes, and first mile last mile concepts.

9. In Los Angeles County, 34% of students walk or bike to school, while motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for school-age youth. Many more parents don’t feel safe allowing their children to walk or bike to school, resulting in heavy vehicular traffic at school hours and dangerous levels of congestion in front of schools. Metro is currently drafting a countywide Safe Routes to School Strategic Plan, but without an implementation strategy or dedicated funding. Do you support dedicated funding for a countywide Safe Routes to School program that would improve safety for children and parents, and encourage more biking and walking to the over 2,000 public schools in Los Angeles County?

I support the safe routes to school program, and have implemented many measures in Glendale. The best opportunity for funding will come from Federal and state sources. I will ensure that Metro obtains the resources and implements the SRS strategies.

10. In the early 1900s, Los Angeles County constructed a watershed management and flood control system using box channels, rivers, and creeks. These waterways currently criss-cross Los Angeles County and provide an opportunity for creating linear park space, regional connectivity to attractive destinations (downtowns, shopping centers, schools, parks, etc.), and safe routes for alternative modes of transportation. What role can the county play in advancing the development of existing, underutilized waterways into community greenways?

I am considering a bike path along the Verdugo Wash in Glendale, and also exploring the concept of a freeway cap park over the 134 freeway.

11. Over the past twenty years cities across the world have significantly reduced their rates of serious and deadly traffic collisions by launching and implementing Vision Zero campaigns. The movement’s core principles include:

  • Ethics: Human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system
  • Responsibility: providers and regulators of the road traffic system share responsibility with users;
  • Safety: road traffic systems should take account of human fallibility and minimize both the opportunities for errors and the warm done when they occur; and
  • Mechanisms for change: providers and regulators must do their utmost to guarantee the safety of all citizens; they must cooperate with road users; and all three must be ready to change to achieve safety.
  • Traffic deaths and injuries are preventable; therefore, none are acceptable.
  • People will make mistakes; the transportation system should be designed so those mistakes aren’t fatal.
  • Safety is the primary consideration in transportation decision-making.
  • Traffic safety solutions must be addressed holistically.

The City of Los Angeles - home to one of the highest rates of traffic violence in the country - was the first City in Los Angeles County to adopt a Vision Zero policy in 2015. If elected, what would you do to reduce and prevent collisions involving pedestrians, bicyclists and other vulnerable road users? Would you support a countywide Vision Zero campaign to focus on reducing serious roadway harm and death?

12. AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, calls for the reduction of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020. Passed two years later, SB 375 requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to reduce emissions from passenger vehicles and requires regional metropolitan planning organizations to develop “Sustainable Communities Strategies” that integrate transportation, land-use, and housing policies that plan to achieve the emissions targets for their regions. Given that almost half of emissions in LA County come from motor vehicles, what specific policies or plans would you support to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector?

13. Support for Bike Share programs is growing across southern California. How do you see your district getting involved in this program? How can you make sure that Bike Share programs prioritize equity to ensure all community members benefit from the program?

I have voted for the county wide bike share program at Metro and have required new developments in Glendale to incorporate bike facilities including bike share/rental.

14. What does equity in active transportation mean to you?

All modes of active transportation are fairly and equitable offered and available to all people.

15. Is there anything else you would like to say to Los Angeles County’s millions of bicyclists?

I am a staunch supporter of biking and active transportation and I have the track record at Metro to back this up.

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