The first-ever voters’ guide for people on bikes in the region has just been published by the advocacy group Bike Miami Valley.
The “I Bike, I Walk, I Vote: Election 2015 Bicyclists Guide to Voting,” available on the Bike Miami Valley website, has a series of six questions – seven for candidates in Centerville and Washington Twp. – about bike and pedestrian issues. It was mailed out early this month and compiled this week.
Laura Estandia, executive director of Bike Miami Valley, said the voters guide was designed to both spark the conversation on bike and pedestrian issues and to get candidates on the record.
“The purpose of the guide was to introduce ourselves to the candidates running for election, and convey to them through questions the kind of issues and things our members are thinking about,” Estandia said. “And then secondly, we wanted to inform our own members on where the candidates stand on these issues so they can make educated voting choices at the polls.”
Bike Miami Valley and its affiliated group, Bike Centerville, sent out questionnaires to 57 candidates vying for 17 races in 11 communities. A total of 17 candidates responded, about 30 percent.
Estandia said she was “pretty pleased” with the response, considering this was the first year.
“We can always try to improve ways that we can get this out earlier or follow up with phone calls,” she said. “It’s only a starting point.”
Candidates from some communities were much more responsive than others.
All 12 of the candidates in Dayton, Centerville and Washington Twp. responded to the questionnaire with mostly complete and thoughtful answers.
But none of the 30 candidates in Beavercreek, Miamisburg, Springfield, Troy or Vandalia chose to respond.
One third of the 15 candidates in Oakwood, Kettering and Piqua responded.
Estandia said the differing response rates could be a reflection of the advocacy group’s presence in that community, or it could show the candidates’ lack of interest or awareness on the issues.
“I think it’s a two-sided coin, if you’re looking at these kinds of things,” she said. “It’s just sign of where we need to focus some more of our advocacy efforts to get those responses.”
Here are the six questions posed to all candidates. Bike Centerville added another question specifically about the Iron Horse Trail extension south of I-675.
- What is your favorite personal experience riding a bicycle?
- If you are elected, what will you do to ensure that your city streets are safe and accommodating so they serve ALL users (e.g. pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit users, drivers, etc.)?
- Do you feel comfortable bicycling on your city streets? If not, why not? What specific actions would you support to improve your comfort level for riding a bicycle on your city streets?
- The region has the Nation’s Largest Paved Trail NetworkSM – which has already demonstrated strong economic impact in many communities. How can Centerville use the Miami Valley trails as an economic driver?
- The Surgeon General has posted a call to action to get more American’s active and moving. What can you do as an elected official to ensure future generations have opportunities for a healthy and active lifestyle? For example, what would you do to support the local Safe Routes to School initiative?
- In conclusion, why do you think people who care about bicycling and walking issues should vote for you?
- Additional Centerville-specific question: Do you support expanding the Iron Horse trail south of I-675? Briefly explain why or why not and what a councilperson’s role is in this respect?
The responses, if you’re lucky enough to have a candidate who responded, make for some interesting reading for those who want more bike- and pedestrian-friendly communities. Follow the links, take a look and decide for yourself.
Ken McCall is the database reporter for the Dayton Daily News and an avid cyclist. He is a member of Bike Miami Valley, where he serves as co-chairman of the Regional Advocacy Committee; Bike Centerville; the Dayton Cycling Club; the Ohio Bike Federation; and the League of American Bicyclists. If you have any story ideas or bike news, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (937) 225-2393.