1. Austin’s Bicycle Master Plan has spurred the development of hundreds of miles of bike lanes and street safety improvements throughout the city. These improvements have calmed traffic and created an affordable, healthy transportation option for Austinites. Do you support the full funding and implementation of Austin’s Bicycle Master Plan?
Ann Kitchen: Absolutely, I want to fully implement the Bicycle Master Plan. I think it’s also important that the Plan be seen as a living document that changes and grows with the city. We have the opportunity to continue to develop the Master Plan as part of a regional transportation system, for example enhancing first and last mile options for a high capacity transit system.
2. Austin’s Urban Trails Master Plan uses existing trails and creates new trails in public green spaces to connect on-street bike and pedestrian facilities, establishing a citywide network of safe bicycle and pedestrian routes. Do you support the full funding and implementation of the Urban Trails Master Plan?
Ann Kitchen: Yes, absolutely. The 2018 bond provides an opportunity for some additional funding for urban trails (Prop G) which will help make progress.
3. In 2013, the City of Austin launched its bike share program, Austin B-cycle, with a $1.5 million federal grant matched with $500,000 in private donations. Since its launch, the program has set national records for bike share systems, and has been financially self-sufficient in its operations. But the program faces ongoing challenges as it strives to maintain an efficient, equitable system in a rapidly evolving market. As a Council member, will you support additional funding mechanisms, from the City of Austin or other local, state or federal sources, to grow Austin’s B-cycle system?
Ann Kitchen: Absolutely, I support B-cycle and use the bikes to commute to and from City Hall and other places.
4. Do you support the implementation of dedicated, protected bicycle facilities on Shoal Creek Boulevard?
Ann Kitchen: Yes, I believe a protected bike lane on the street would provide an excellent north/south bike corridor. Dedicated facilities improve safety, which encourages more people to feel comfortable cycling. Surveys have shown that significant numbers of people would cycle if they felt safer.
5. In the face of climate change, congestion, and other problems associated with cars, a growing number of cities have been eliminating parking requirements for new development. Would you support eliminating parking requirements in the following areas, and stepping up the management of on street parking in and around those areas as needed? (West Campus, South Central Waterfront, TODs.)
Ann Kitchen: The Austin Strategic Mobility Plan will be presenting a number of initiatives to better manage and right size parking across the community and I look forward to addressing parking with a broader set of context specific tools. Using these tools will help analyze where reductions and/or elimination of parking requirements are appropriate. I support fitting parking requirements to location after considering factors such as sidewalks, transit access, protected bike lanes, and locations near schools.
6. Are there other potential changes to the Land Development Code that you would support in order to promote cycling, walking, and transit?
Ann Kitchen: Yes, I am looking forward to the City Manager’s recommendations for how a new process can be developed for adopting a successful new land development code. The list below is from the Key Goals document I released with Mayor Adler and some of my council colleagues.
Key Goals for a Successful New Land Development Code Enable transportation choices, improve safety, and prepare for our mobility future: People need to travel safely, efficiently, and reliably. With limited space to expand roads, the Code needs to support more effective transit and other transportation options. The new Code should support and prepare our community for new technology and opportunities to transform Austin’s mobility future.
A Code That Works:
- Supports street and traffic signal design, bus stops, and bike lanes that make driving, biking, and transit easier, safer, and faster
- Requires sidewalk design to support accessibility and walkability by providing trees for shade and building frontages that are scaled for comfort
- Enables urban trail connections and requires projects to connect to existing trails or construct new ones in coordination with the Urban Trails Master Plan
- Creates a safe pedestrian, bike, and transit environment in Mixed Use and Main Street zones by reducing the number of curb cuts
- Helps prepare our streets for electric, autonomous, and shared mobility choices including along transportation corridors and in transit oriented development, and enables convenient electric refueling options
- Encourages more housing and jobs along corridors and near activity centers to enable easy access to transit services
7. City staff has proposed a new Street Impact Fee that would apply to new development. Presentations to date indicate that proceeds from the fee could be used only for street improvements that increase automobile capacity. Would you work to ensure that any such fees could be used to support other modes of transportation, including biking, walking, and transit?
Ann Kitchen: Yes, it is my understanding from a recent presentation to the Council Mobility Committee that the Impact Fee can have broader application including bike and pedestrian infrastructure. I will work to ensure the broadest application and interpretation of state law that authorizes these fees.
8. The city code currently prohibits the use of motor-driven devices on trails. But it allows electric bikes, scooters, and similar vehicles in bike lanes if they are powered by a motor with a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour. Would you support a code amendment to allow some electric vehicles on trails?
Ann Kitchen: There are a number of safety concerns regarding powered vehicles on trails. The transportation department is already working on potential amendments as a part of the permanent regulations for electric scooters. I am open to discussing a relaxation of the prohibition (for example, for electric bicycles) but believe serious study is needed before any amendments.
9. In 2017, Austin’s Bicycle Advisory Council asked that all city departments work to provide reasonable accommodations and access for effective pedicab service during events and in traffic plans. Pedicabbers continue to face difficulties during special events, including a lack of dedicated lanes and staging areas. As a Council Member, will you take action to support the use of pedicabs and other non-automotive vehicles at special events?
Ann Kitchen: Absolutely. Pedicabs are a fun option that helps reduce reliance on automobiles for short trips and makes it possible for more people to attend events, especially people who have difficulty walking longer distances. I am happy to help support their operations (and other non-automotive vehicles) during special events.
10. Please tell us briefly about your recent experience with riding a bike. How many times have you ridden in the past month? The past year?
Ann Kitchen: I regularly B-cycle to and from my home to city hall and enjoy riding my own bike for relaxation and transportation. I do ride more when its cooler and am glad we are now past 100+ degree weather!
Additional Question for District 5 Candidates
11. Do you support the implementation of dedicated, protected bicycle facilities on South Lamar?
Ann Kitchen: Yes, I’ve have been working on this both as a Council member and as a member of the Capital Metro Board. My amendment included protected lanes on South Lamar in the implementation phase of the 2016 Corridor Package (in addition to design).