Thursday, November 3, 2011

Craig Ruthven, mayoral candidate Maple Ridge 2011

1. What modes of transportation do you normally use within your community and within Metro Vancouver?
I use my vehicle to and from work.  When I am home, I walk through the Maple Crest trails as well as down town when I am shopping for various items.  I am pretty high energy, so I need to burn some of that energy of walking around.  When I am down town Vancouver, I walk over several blocks rather than taking the bus, often to the chagrin of some of my friends.

2. How would you support and encourage cycling for transportation - for people of all ages and abilities - to promote healthy and livable communities?
I think that we should introduce the biking culture as early as possible. ie. within the school curriculum.  With respect to the position of mayor, I would work tirelessly to provide more parks and trails for the suburbs where there is very little continuity between communities-- even with communities.  It all starts with people getting out and voting for representatives from their own areas.  That way, someone is considering their local interests, specifically.  The outlying areas are grossly underrepresented, which is why I am strongly encouraging everyone to vote.
We should be tying our tourism promotions to biking, because, really it is all of the amazing outdoor space that makes Maple Ridge so remarkable.  If we can promote our parks and trails, we can fund more bikes and trails.

3. There have been many surveys asking people what it would take to get them on a bike. The number one thing people want is separated cycling facilities. How would you support separated bike lanes on key routes? If you are not in support, please explain why.
You know, Albion, for instance, is not that far away from down town by bike.  I think everyone would like to see fewer people driving their cars around town.  Jackie, as you have pointed out, you really don't feel very secure biking up Lougheed Highway with all of the traffic zipping by.  This major E-W route should be prioritized for a separated bike lane, but it would take some real commitment and patience, as it is not a municipal road.
I still support the idea any how.

4. Maple Ridge has no off-road (non-mountain-) biking/multi-use trails and is lagging behind other Lower Mainland communities in this respect. How do you feel off-road biking/multi-use trails can benefit Maple Ridge, and how do you suggest to start developing a network of trails.
If I am elected mayor, I will be initiating a district wide contest where everyone will be invited to come up with branding for our local tourism and business.  Essentially, the question will be what is the essence that we want to promote to the world out there?
I am anticipating that it may well be tied into to outdoor adventures, including mountain biking and hiking.  Regardless, outdoor recreation simply has to tie in there somewhere.
You are right in pointing out that we are lagging behind biking trails, but that is  really the case with all sorts of features that "complete communities" typically get, like sidewalks, parks, local shops, etc.  Maple Ridge needs to make a shift from hurried residential development to real community building.  That starts with a mayor and council paying attention to the detail and requiring more of developers.  It also starts with a reformed planning department that encourages outside investment, rather than discourage it.  Maybe then we can attract developers interested in doing an eclectic mixtures of features, including mixed used communities with excellent biking trails, taking their cues from Whistler.

5. If elected, would you aim to increase or decrease cycling funding from current levels? Do you feel that cycling funding levels should merely reflect the present level of cycling in our communities, or should it reflect the potential of cycling - not only as a means of transportation and for recreation, but also in view of the many desirable benefits cycling has for individuals as well as for our communities/society, such as health benefits, improved livability, reduced greenhouse gasses/pollution, reduced oil-dependency, reduced need for expensive car infrastructure/parking lots, reduced congestion, etc.?
I believe that there is great hunger out their for all of the features that make complete communities, including bike trails.  We need more specific requirements on developers to make these a reality.
Yes, I support increasing the funding, so long as it is in areas where many will benefit.  I also believe that we need to plan and begin to invest for the future now, regardless if there is obvious demand for more investment in cycling.
Do I commit to continue to work and look for ways to improve our cycling network whenever there is an opportunity?
I see cycling as dovetailing nicely into our future growth and community promotions, so, yes.  Maple Ridge needs a marketing plan that will power our ideas.
Will I encourage staff to look for funding opportunities from other agencies?

6. What is your level of interest in a public bike-share system integrated with the transit system? How do you think a public bike-share system in Vancouver can benefit Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows residents?
I haven't really thought much about it until you mentioned it, to be honest, but I think that it could serve a good number of residents, especially while we are waiting for improvements to transit in the outlying areas.
I would want to see this happen on a trial basis first, to see how people take to it.

7. What role do you think the municipality has in supporting and promoting cycling education for children, cyclists and motorists?
The municipality is charged with the duty to provide safe roads and sidewalks, so it goes without saying that we really ought to be informing people about proper etiquette for the road.  That's huge, because many people don't know how to react to cyclists and many cyclists don't follow the rules, particularly down town.  I think that we should dedicate a section on municipal website promoting cycling as a transportation option as well as supplying the rules of the road.
Maybe we could help the Cycling Coalition get into some of the local schools, but I am not really sure how we would do this, as they fall under provincial jurisdiction.  We could likely collaborate with the provincial government, as the earlier, the better.   

8. How do you feel e-bikes can play a role in our transportation system?
They could be viable means for getting people to and from work, locally.  They would not get most commuters off the road, though.
What do you see as the benefits of e-bikes as compared to cars?
People can get more exercise (some) and it may help to strengthen the core.  Less emissions.  Less noise, I think.
What can e-bikes mean for less densely populated suburban communities like Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows?
Connectivity and ease of connectivity.

9. Would you be interested in joining members of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition on a bike ride through your community?
Very much, but certainly after the campaign is over.  I barely digest my dinner these days!

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