2019 City Election Questions & Answers

In 2013, Lincoln adopted a Complete Streets Initiative that requires streets to be planned, designed, operated, and maintained to enable safe, convenient, and comfortable travel and access for users of all ages and abilities regardless of their mode of transportation.  In 2018, Lincoln developed an On-Street Bike Facilities Plan to provide a master plan to help incorporate bike infrastructure into road maintenance and design. What will you do to continue to support the efforts and improvements of these programs?

Mayoral Candidates

Leirion Gaylor Baird:  Bike facilities comprise the smallest portion of our city’s transportation budget, and the City of Lincoln should continue to secure grants and work with private partners to help pay for them. By combining implementation of the bike network with other street infrastructure projects, we can create efficiencies that reduce costs and help get more projects across the finish line.

Cyndi Lamm:  Our current biking and trail system is great and it is rewarding to see families and individuals make use of them as weather permits.  We are at a very critical time where we must do more work to maintain our roads and infrastructure, as well as our current trail system. This will also allow for making improvements for all modes of transportation and users. A flexible and responsive plan for taking these proactive measures will enable the city to responsibly grow the system as Lincoln continues to grow.   

Jeff Kirkpatrick:  Yes.  Our Complete Streets transportation approach means that we need to make investments and modifications to encourage bicyclists.  We are already seeing an increase in cycling in the City due to the changes that we have already made, but the growth should continue as we improve our infrastructure.

Krystal Gabel:  I am fully committed to incorporating safer biking routes and improving transit options for all Lincoln residents. I have several ideas that will further improve bike infrastructure:

Heat the streets, bike paths, and sidewalks. It’s impossible to bike year round in Lincoln. Our city spends thousands of tax dollars each winter clearing snow from our streets, yet our streets are only half-plowed, potholes are getting worse, and safety is at an at-time low for pedestrians. We can build infrastructure that diverts our power plant’s waste water through a network of pipes under our city streets. This heated water will melt snow and ice as it falls (and dry roads faster when it rains), making travel possible for bikers every day of the year.

Add more bike paths on major roads. Not enough safe routes exist to get every biker to work in Lincoln. A supporter of mine says that his most dangerous part of his daily bike commute is the transition from 1st and Cornhusker out to the airport and back. A separate bike lane is not available, and despite following the rules of the road, he still experiences close-calls with drivers who don’t respect his space as a fellow commuter. Adding more bike lanes will encourage riders to use certain streets, which in turn increases bike traffic and makes drivers more aware of cyclists.

Use shared lane markings consciously. Incorporate sharrows for roads that can’t immediately be re-worked but have high bike traffic. Marked lines reinforce the legitimacy of bike traffic and offer guidance to bikers for the most direct and safest passage when separate bike lanes are not available.

Improve visibility. I will work toward solar bike path lighting systems that will illuminate the way and provide additional safety to travelers during the late evening or early morning. Button-responsive crossing lights can also be operated with solar power. With a press of a button, a flashing light at a busy crossing alerts traffic that they must stop for pedestrians and bikes and quickly returns traffic to normal pace after passage.

Rene Solc:  The master plan to help incorporate bike infrastructure into road maintenance and design seems to lack the walkability and cycle-friendly initiatives.  Focus on making 11th Street pedestrian and cyclists only from the University to K Street.

On-street parking is already limited, make deliberate decisions and plans to transition Lincoln to 100% renewable energy prioritizing alternative forms of transportation and city planning in general.  (See the Green New Deal)

City Council Candidates

Taylor Wyatt (District 1:) I think it is great that so many people are interested and actively biking in our community.  Obviously each one of these projects have their unique pieces that have effects on others. I am committed to working with others on these and other issues and planning appropriately to serve our city.  That’s how I plan to support these programs, avoid and “us vs them” mentality, and how we will improve safety.

Megan Stock (District 2): I would continue to follow the adopted bike lane plan and incorporate the infrastructure into road maintenance and design. Furthermore, I have been advocating for expanded bus routes and a zero-fare bus system to make public transportation easier for residents–including for those who want to “mix and match” by taking a zero-fare public bus part way and then biking the remaining distance to their destination.

Mike James (District 2):  One of the reasons I’m running for city council is to make sure we continue to invest in our libraries, parks, and trails. Lincoln is growing and it will continue to grow. If we can get private donations and grants to build out our master plan I pledge to make sure the maintenance funding is in place after these assets are turned over and responsible for city care.

Colton Zamrzla (District 3):  The Complete Streets Initiative sets a lofty ideal for our future transportation infrastructure needs, and the biggest hurdle to the program’s success is the perception of preference of bicyclists over motorists and the congestion issues caused by reducing vehicular lanes for bike lanes. However, I think a balance can  be achieved between maintaining arterial roadways while expanding bike lanes. For future bike lane projects, lane reductions—especially on arterials—should be a last resort, and bike lanes shouldn’t be added unless they follow the best practices of having: clearly marked lanes, preferably in red, that are well-lit at night and include some sort of barrier between the lane and vehicles. To accomplish both, the City may need to pursue acquiring right-of-way (eminent domain) alongside the streets receiving bike lanes. Ultimately, bike lanes should be extensively planned, acquiring right-of-way when necessary to avoid lane reductions, provide connectivity to our existing trail system, and include the safety features previously mentioned.

Jane Raybould (District 3):  I am an avid cyclist and I love our trails.  I will continue to support effort and improvements in both the Complete Streets initiative and the Lincoln Bike Plan.  Lincoln is wel deserving of the national recognition from Lonely Planet for our amazing network of 130 miles of existing trails as well as the cultural diversity in our community from being a refugee relocation hub.  We know our trail system is attracting families and helping us retain our workforce that has alternative transportation preferences Bottom line, is that our trails and expanded bike lanes are wonderful amenities that enhance the livability of our neighborhoods.

Tammy Ward (District 4):  I am a bicyclist, and I will work to make sure city government solicits input from the bicycling community and works to ensure our City’s infrastructure is safe and friendly for all modes of transportation.  This also means our streets and roads need to be in good condition. I will support public-private partnerships and the city working with other organizations, especially the bicycling community, to ensure these efforts and improvements of these programs are continued.  Public safety and transportation are major issues of my campaign and are listed as such on my website, TammyWardforLincoln.com A growing community means maintaining and (in some cases) increasing public safety and infrastructure.

Cassey Lottman (District 4):  Lincoln is fortunate to have a strong economy that is driving robust population growth. That growth means it’s vital that we continue building out our biking infrastructure to reduce congestion on our roads. At the same time, greenhouse gas emissions are changing the global climate in disastrous ways, and we all need to do what we can to cut emissions.  We just don’t have enough room for everyone to drive a single occupancy vehicle, and our planet can’t afford it. If we create a system where biking is just as safe and convenient as driving, more people will choose to bike. My own experience is a great example: I started biking when I realized how much easier it was to bike downtown for work than to fight for parking for my car. Now, I bike for transportation and occasionally recreation. I love the convenience, saving money on gas and parking, and the health benefits. I would continue to prioritize funding for bike infrastructure through the city’s general fund, federal funds, and by seeking grants to fund certain projects. The city should continue looking for ways to upgrade bike facilities during routine street maintenance and resurfacings. Finally, I would support a public education program on bicycle-friendly driving, followed by stricter enforcement of traffic laws that are in place to keep everyone safe on the roads.

There are some vocal critics of bike-friendly infrastructure and legislation in the City.  Do you endorse collaboration between all people regardless of their mode of transportation? If yes, what would you do to encourage collaboration and discourage an “us vs. them” mentality going forward?

Mayoral Candidates

Leirion Gaylor Baird: Collaboration and communication are essential to effective governance. I am proud of my work on the City Council to build consensus that achieves meaningful results for our residents and businesses. I worked across party lines on everything from Open Data to Recycling to the Safe and Successful Kids Initiative, and my commitment to bipartisanship has generated many unanimous votes of the Council. As mayor, I will continue to set a tone of civility and lead by example.

Collaboration is particularly important as we grow our city. I envision bringing community members, business leaders, and stakeholders with varying perspectives together literally around a table to navigate the challenges we will face. Cities gain momentum when citizens understand their stake in and unite around a shared priority. Strong partnerships among visionary business leaders, a supportive City Hall, and committed citizens play a key role in Lincoln’s trajectory of success.

Cyndi Lamm:  I have already announced that I will hold town hall meetings in each quadrant of the city at least once a year. Everyone wants and deserves to have his or her voice heard.  I want to hear directly from the public and give them the answers they deserve from their elected officials. It is imperative that these discussions involve drivers, bicyclists, runners, walkers, public transit users and potential philanthropists in order to have perspectives and ideas from all angles.  This is just part of the collaboration I will seek. When it comes to bike-friendly infrastructure, I believe it does not have to be an “us versus them” issue. I think much of this comes from misunderstandings about prioritizing projects and how those projects fit into the bigger picture to benefit all. Making the needed improvements does not have to come at the expense of other vital infrastructure. Open communication and transparency that considers all voices and moves forward without creating a culture of urgency will go a long way to let Lincoln residents work through the seemingly “us versus them” concerns.   

Jeff Kirkpatrick:  I think we need to continue to engage with critics of bicycling infrastructure.  We saw with the discussion about changes in 13th Street that getting the community engaged changed the entire nature of the discussion.  I think we can take some lessons from that debate. It can make a tremendous difference in the discussion to engage as many different segments of the community as possible.  For example, the changes in 13th Street were not just about encouraging biking, the biggest improvement was to encourage and allow more people to walk across 13th Street, which was seen as a traffic barrier.  I also think motorists should appreciate that the more people bike and take the bus, the lower the level of traffic congestion and delay. I think it is important to get out and present to neighborhood groups. However, I would advocate for including a cyclist or two along with a presenter from the city.  Cyclists can talk about their everyday practical experiences trying to get around LIncoln on bikes. That viewpoint adds some depth to the presentations. It is also harder to “demonize” someone who is actually present and is just asking for a little consideration and a higher degree of safety.

Krystal Gabel: Lincoln needs to make transportation work for everyone. I find it alarming that more pedestrians have been hit by cars in this state than ever before in our history. This means to me that our municipality has an obligation to refocus on public street safety and encourage other means of transportation besides driving a car.

Part of discouraging “us vs them” is recognizing that the reason this mentality exists is because the subject of biking, like many issues, is political. I am nonpartisan because I think party politics is part of what’s wrong with our political system and dividing our communities. I believe more and more voters have similar thinking.

That said, I know the city collects more than enough tax money to equally improve the streets, expand transportation options (including free buses and EV infrastructure to more bike lanes), and educate residents about sharing the road with other travelers. I will take a lead role in planning complete streets and appropriating enough funds to build a modern and attractive city for future generations.

Rene Solc:  Sure,  Collaborate with folks that have something to say/ suggest.  Unless they ride bicycles they shouldn’t speak to the safety for cyclists; and their perspective is limited.  It is not a matter of “us vs. them” it’s the difference between people who have experienced riding a bicycle in top 10 bike friendly cities and people who haven’t.

City Council Candidates

Megan Stock (District 2):  Yes, there are. In fact, while campaigning I have met many of them at their door. My response to discourage the “us vs. them” mentality has been to point out that very few wheel tax funds go toward bike lanes and trails. Moreover, most users of bike trails and lanes also own a car and they too pay the wheel tax. And finally, when residents ride bikes rather than drive, that is one less car sitting in front of us at traffic lights and less pollution in our air. So even if we aren’t personally using bike lanes, we all benefit from the cyclists who do.

Mike James (District 2):  I do, I support quality-of-life assets like sidewalks and trails. My campaign theme is making Lincoln a place my daughters want to live when I grow up.

I would remind “them” that the trails budget is 1.5 cents of every $10 spent on transportation. It is so small it’s almost a rounding error. A lot of the capital improvement funding for our bicycle and trail network comes from generous donations and grants.

Colton Zamrzla (District 3):  Open communication channels and collaboration among diverse stakeholders is important on any City issue, including the expansion of bike-friendly infrastructure. Productive community collaboration on alternative forms of transportation, such as bicycles, can only occur once everyone has a clear understanding of the problems at-hand. Those against bike-friendly infrastructure seem to lack an understanding of the socio-economic forces at play: there are many Lincolnites that simply cannot afford a vehicle. And with the long wait times, limited routes, and limited service hours of StarTran, this leaves bicycling as the best mode of alternative transportation. Beyond the personal finance side, there are also significant health and environmental benefits to bicycling. However, without proper bike-centric infrastructure, bicycling can be very dangerous. So, it is only with these core issues top-of-mind that we can begin to have a conducive, problem-oriented discussion.  

Jane Raybould (District 3):  Yes, I endorse cooperation, respect and collaboration among all users of our growing and diverse means of transit.  Oftentimes, it is a lack of awareness. Many in Lincoln feel that our transit dollars are all going towards our trails to the detriment of maintaining our streets.  The truth is that out of every $10 of transit funds, $8 is spent on roads, $1.85 is spent on public transit, Star Tran, and only $.15, that is 15 cents(!), is spent on our trails.  Some of my colleagues on the council have never ridden on our trails. I have offered to take anyone with concerns about our trails or bike lanes on a bike ride and show them just how easy it is to get around our city and how beautiful it really is.  It is essential that we educate both cyclists and motorists on our shared responsibilities and that we can all safely use our streets and “share the road” respectfully and peaceably. It is important that signalized intersections are respected by both cyclists and motorists recognizing that each has a duty to be visible.

Tammy Ward (District 4):  I would encourage open communication and collaboration for citizens who use different modes of transportation. A key component of my campaign is to encourage working together. I believe this is the very type of issue which presents an excellent opportunity to engage the stakeholders of the issue and to make sure Lincolnites work together to make our streets and roads safer for all, regardless of their mode of transportation. The strength of our City is the ability to work together to solve problems and keep Lincoln moving forward.

Cassey Lottman (District 4):  A great organizer once said that a good leader should have no permanent enemies, and no permanent allies. I believe that collaboration can sometimes be found in surprising places if you’re willing to really listen to the concerns of the other party. For example, I was very active in organizing the support for the 13th St. improvement project last August. A prominent business group in town was a vocal opponent, going so far as to claim that supporters had declared a “War On Cars” by advocating for a road diet. I found an ally in members of that very business group who were willing to ask their association to tone down the divisive rhetoric. While the 13th St. project included adding bike lanes, the lane reduction was also an opportunity to improve safety for both pedestrians and drivers by reducing the number of lanes of traffic. I was proud to help coordinate testimony in support of the project from people who travel on 13th St. by car, bus, bike, and foot. The diversity of views presented and the common-sense arguments for greater safety for all ultimately led to the project going forward as planned.

Public input for the On-Street Bike Facilities Plan indicated that speeding vehicles and distracted drivers are a major concern for people on Lincoln streets.  Which type of enforcement, policy, and/or design decisions would you endorse to improve safety for all citizens of Lincoln?

Mayoral Candidates

Leirion Gaylor Baird:  My record as your citywide representative on the Council demonstrates how I consistently vote for measures designed to improve safety on our streets for all users. I have voted to fund street and sidewalk improvements at historic levels and to reconfigure road layouts for greater safety, as we did for S.13th Street — and I’m the only candidate for mayor who has cast votes in support of the budgets that have accomplished this. I supported the purchase of new pothole repair equipment that enables one person to fix what it used to take four people to do, the creation of the N Street bikeway to protect cyclists from downtown traffic, and the move to shorter crosswalk widths on P Street (and coming soon to Q Street) so that it takes less time for pedestrians to get across these busy one-way streets. In 2016, I helped enact an ordinance designed to align our local regulations with those of the State, promote safety, and reduce collisions involving cyclists. This legislation requires vehicles to maintain at least a three foot clearance when passing a bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device on the roadway and also requires that bikes give this same clearance when passing pedestrians. As mayor, I will continue to make smart, cost-efficient investments in the safety, quality, design, and repair of our streets so that the path to home is safe and sound, no matter your age, ability, neighborhood, or mode of transportation.

Cyndi Lamm:  Public safety along with roads and infrastructure will be my top priorities. I led the effort on the city council to pass installation of a safe school zone for 84th and Leighton intersection. To this date the city engineers have defied the legislation passed by the council. When addressing speeding vehicles and distracted driving we must start with enforcement and we must have the police staffing to enforce our laws. Currently we do not. We need to make sure our speed limits and zones are appropriate for each area. Finally, as we look to rebuild roads and infrastructure we should look to best practices from across the country, while being responsive to local needs to make sure our streets are safe for all modes and users

Jeff Kirkpatrick:  We need to ask the Lincoln Police Department to step up its traffic enforcement. We have seen a significant drop over a number of years in the number of traffic citations that the LPD has written.  I understand that they have had to prioritize their resources, but it has had an impact on people’s driving behavior and we are seeing more speeding and reckless driving in Lincoln. Some well-publicized traffic enforcement campaigns could help get drivers to improve their behavior. When we look at traffic and signal design, we need to continue to look at the data and address trouble spots.  Sometimes installing some simple signs or flashers can lower the risk at points of conflict. There is no doubt that the last few years have seen a troublesome increase in both traffic and pedestrian fatalities. We cannot ignore that trend.

Krystal Gabel: I will improve street safety for all citizens by:

  • enforcing a bicyclist passing law that requires at least three feet of space between the widest point of a vehicle and the widest point of a cyclist
  • adding a cell phone ordinance that bans drivers within city limits from using a phone or texting while driving
  • prioritizing and penalizing road rage and distracted driving

Rene Solc:  

  • Signage and public service announcements
  • Greater emphasis on cyclists in drivers ed.
  • Teach-ins; videos that play during Husker athletics

City Council Candidates

Megan Stock (District 2): As we move forward with the plan, I would advocate for as many separated bike lanes and side paths as possible. And in order to get the most bike-miles-bang for our bucks, I would advocate for simpler lane designs than the one on N Street.  As for speeding vehicles and distracted drivers, that is a safety hazard for all Lincolnites. We need to work with LPD and the neighborhood leaders where the most offenses occur and take measurable action steps to stop the recklessness.

Mike James (District 2):  I can definitely sympathize with the folks that take issue with speeders and distracted drivers. I acquired a cruiser bicycle for my campaign for city council. It is my primary mode of transportation while I am canvassing neighborhoods as I can go faster on a bike door to door. While riding this week I had a pickup truck go around me, very closely, at a speed much faster than I was, all while I was passing a parked car on a residential street. I thought the truck was going to clip me.

I support

  • Hiring 20 additional police officers over the next 3 years.
  • Attending events to discuss and collaborate on continuous improvement ideas for our bicycle and trail network. For example, I will attend to the GPTN meeting this month.

Colton Zamrzla (District 3):  The best practices in bike lane design, as previously mentioned, will aid in bicyclist safety. As for distracted driving, that is a huge and growing concern, and a contributing factor in many of the accidents happening today. I support the addition of an ordinance on cell-phone use while driving, banning the use of cell phones to scroll, browse, type, or talk when those activities require the use of at least one hand. On the bicycle-side, stricter enforcement of the business-zone sidewalk ban on bicycles should be pursued, if only to protect citizens from speeding and/or distracted drivers. With the addition of the cell-phone ordinance and better enforcement of the sidewalk ban, many accidents could be avoided.

Jane Raybould (District 3):  I certainly support our law enforcement for ticketing speeders and those that run red lights that can endanger the public.  Many municipalities strongly discourage and/or penalize drivers that use their cell phones while operating a motor vehicle. I would support stricter laws on restricting cell phone usage that is contributing to distracted drivers.  We must continue to reinforce that safety has to be the priority. We can improve this by using messaging, signage, public safety service announcements, promoting bike safety and share the road policy at home and in the schools, enlisting and partnering with bike retailers, bike organizations and neighborhood associations at community outreach events.

Tammy Ward (District 4):  I would support increased enforcement in areas we know are a major safety concern for people on Lincoln’s streets.  Again, public safety and transportation are major issues of my campaign. I support the City’s efforts to enhance the quality of life, safety, and security of everyone in our community

Cassey Lottman (District 4):  There are a lot of road redesigns we could do that would naturally encourage slower and safer driving—particularly in residential areas. I’ve seen them work in my own neighborhood, where 13th St. was taken from 4 lanes to 3 and traffic was slowed down a bit to enhance safety for people using all modes of transportation. With fewer lanes to cross and traffic going a bit slower, I feel much safer crossing the street. I’d like to see such cost-effective and high-impact changes implemented in other parts of the city that have similar characteristics.  Speed limits are intended to be a maximum, but drivers often think that driving 5 or 10 miles per hour over the limit is reasonable. In a car one might not even notice the difference – but on bike, the difference in a nearby car going 25 mph and one whipping past at 35 mph is quite noticeable. Faster speeds put us all at risk, but especially people who are getting around without a vehicle to protect them. I would support public education about the need to slow down, and stop texting while driving, followed by increased enforcement.  In addition, I would love to see Lincoln add a speed camera program to crack down on unsafe drivers. School zones would be a great place to start, and then we can expand from there as drivers get used to the program. The Lincoln Police Department has some officers who travel by bike at certain times, but I would like to see more officers on bike, perhaps even in plainclothes to prevent drivers from behaving differently when they see an officer. Along with increased training about the safety risks to pedestrians and cyclists, having our law enforcement officers consider themselves cyclists, too, would help our law enforcement understand the urgency of enforcing bike- and pedestrian-friendly driving.