I talked with Bike Walk Vote co-chair (and veteran political consultant) Evan Manvel about that PAC that aims to elect candidates best support bicyclists, walkers, and people who take transit.
MERCURY: Why did you guys decide to restart the Bike, Walk, Vote?
Evan Manvel: There are a lot of needs out there: A bike plan that's passed but generally unfunded, there's issues with lack of sidewalk construction and safety issues around that, there are a lot of issues with transit funding like increasing fares with decreasing service. Meanwhile, the region is looking at spending $4 billion on a mega-highway project. That motivates people.
What ideas specifically are you going to be looking for candidates to support?
We're after actual green streets and actual transit funding, but we're also looking for people who will call out the false dichotomy between bicycle funding and a strong economy. We're also looking for someone who will support the laws we need to make change. One of the things that we're interested in supporting on the city level is increased coordination between the city bureaus. We know there was some backlash around investing in bioswales and getting the transportation benefits like that, but we're looking for candidates who will support investments like that which can use our dollars to their fullest. There's also some regional transportation equity issues in where we're investing in transit. We want to make sure that our leaders take that seriously and make some of the tough decisions, which may mean less sexy bus service and putting off some of the investment we also support, like in streetcar and in light rail, so overall city conditions are raised.
Are there any concrete policies you guys support?
Taking the next step on the climate crisis transportation issue—making sure more cities are incorporating climate action into transportation policies. We passed a law in 2010 that required the metro region to coordinate its land use and transportation plans with climate modeling and pollution issues.
What does that mean, exactly? Does that mean governments will have to use climate impact as a criteria for funding and planning transportation projects?
I don't think we know that yet—they're doing the models and then they'll the back and forth with what they're required to do. Asking the right questions is the first step.
What do you think it will be like organizing with this group now, versus five years ago?
I feel like bike politics are coming up again because people are realizing that there are other ways to change the system. Yes, there's protests and general lobbying, but the biggest influence we have is who our elected officials are. It's a lot easier to protest and lobby when we have our friends in office.