Smart Trips Voter Guide – Rebecca Noecker

Candidate Questionnaire Web Header_Noecker

rebecca_cropped

Name

Rebecca Noecker

City Council Ward Office sought

Ward 2

Campaign website

rebeccanoecker.com

1) How do you get around in St. Paul?

My family and I bike, walk, use public transportation and drive.

2) In your opinion, what is St. Paul’s greatest transportation challenge?

A lack of an efficient and connected transit system – we need busses and trains that come at regular intervals, get people to where they need to go for work, shopping and play, and make transit a viable and attractive option for all of us. One of the biggest burdens on low-income families, especially single-parent households, is simply getting from place to place – to daycare, a job, to get groceries, to the clinic, and home. Improving our transit system is an immediate priority if we are going to close our opportunity gap.

3) What are your priorities for allocating transportation spending?

Making our bus shelters more comfortable places to wait in inclement weather – they need to be designed to be people’s first choice for travel, not options of last resort.

Improving connectivity to places we need to go – esp. east-west lines on the West Side and connections to the Green Line. We also need reliable schedules for busses without long wait times at peak commuting hours.

Connecting the triangle between downtown and the airport – the mode should be determined through community input but we’ve waited far too long for this connection. St Paul residents shouldn’t have to take multiple busses or take the green line to the blue line in Minneapolis to get to the airport.

4) Our city streets have limited space to accommodate competing users including people walking, people biking, people riding transit, people driving, parked cars and delivery trucks.

a. How do you feel these competing needs should be balanced?

We need to make it safe for everyone to get around and appreciate the fact that everyone has a right to use our roads safely and conveniently. I’m in support of the citywide bike plan, sidewalk widening projects where possible to ensure pedestrian safety, and traffic calming measures.

We need to ensure that our transit options are accessible in every sense of the word – for people with limited mobility, biking, walking, driving and using public transport. We also need to engage the community in conversations related to transit to ensure everyone’s needs are met.

b. What is a complete street to you?

A complete street safely accommodates travelers in all modes – those on foot, on bikes, riding transit, in wheelchairs, pushing strollers and driving.

5) Do the current mechanisms for collecting feedback on transportation projects work?

a. If yes, why? If not, how would you change the process?

Transparency means doing public business out in the open where the citizens of St. Paul can see what is happening and engage in the process. It means that business owners and residents know what to expect from the City, and they understand how and why decisions are made.

We need to ensure those who use transit are included in transit decisions – and that their voices are actually heard. I intend to send constituents a monthly newsletter/update that includes major decisions/changes related to transit and other issues and ask for their feedback. In addition to gathering input, I believe the city needs to hold itself accountable for implementing its decisions.

The public review process should be inclusive, comprehensive and efficient from the beginning. I was frustrated to learn that the City passed its bike plan but left in a condition for additional public review each time a segment of the plan needs to be implemented. To me, that trivializes the public review process that initially took place in order to pass the plan and ties up implementation in needless bureaucracy.

b. How would you involve more people who don’t normally participate, like young people and people of color, in transportation conversations?

Inclusivity means meeting people where they live, not expecting them to meet with city government only between the hours of 9am and 5pm. It means remembering that not everyone who uses transit speaks English. Meetings need to be held in locations that are transit-accessible and at different times during the day so retirees, people working various shifts and young people can attend. Child care will also make a difference in who can participate in this process. As a working mom of two kids under three, I understand the importance of child care in order to make it possible for families to participate.

6) Currently, Gateway, Riverview, Rush Line, Red Rock and Robert Street are all transit corridors being studied in St. Paul. What are your priorities for transit development in St. Paul and the East Metro?

As I mentioned above, we need to have a reliable, safe, and connected transit system so people can get to work, buy the food and materials they need and participate in community events. We need to work with users to develop a system and routes that make sense.

The number one priority for the East Metro should be completing the Riverview Corridor. Having an efficient, reliable public transit option connecting downtown to the airport and the Ford site is critical for residents and visitors alike. The process of deciding what mode and what alignment the corridor should follow should be as public as possible, and should ensure that the final outcome is beneficial not just for people who want to traverse the city but also for those who live here and would be advantaged by another transit option. Our region needs a balance of transportation investment and Riverview is critical to making sure that happens.

In general, I believe the city should be investing heavily in building a more robust transit network. A convenient and efficient system of public transit will attract more young professionals and families to Saint Paul and a city is only truly equitable if it’s possible for all residents to get around efficiently and comfortably, whether or not they have a car. We should prioritize building out additional bus routes to help connect all parts of the city to the Green Line (east-west bus routes on the West Side are sorely lacking, for example), investing in more comfortable and better-maintained bus shelters, including heated shelters where possible, and implementing the city-wide bike plan. We also need to work with Metro Transit and our neighborhoods to ensure that transit facilities are adequately lit and monitored so that all residents feel safe when taking transit anywhere in the city at any hour of the day.

7) This year, St. Paul made a new commitment to becoming a “world class bicycling city” by passing the St. Paul Bicycle Plan.

a. Now that we have a bike plan, what is your vision for implementation?

As mentioned above, I would like to see the entire plan implemented as soon as possible based on the initial public review process.

b. What are your priorities?

I would like to see the Downtown Loop completed asap so that there’s a “fact on the ground” that will serve as a model and an inspiration for what the rest of the plan could be. I think it’s important that approved plans become reality, at least in part, as soon as possible so they generate momentum to complete the rest of the plan, and give us more information on how to improve future implementation.

c. How should the plan be funded?

We should explore using 8-80 funds to implement the plan and work to keep costs down by adding bike lanes and improving sidewalks when road work and other maintenance is already going on.

8) Through the 8-80 vitality project, St. Paul is on a path to becoming a city safe for people from eight to 80 years old to walk, bike and play. As the city seeks dedicated 8-80 funds, how will you ensure that those funds are used to create safe spaces for everyone and improve the public realm?

We need to ensure that we are creating sidewalks that are accessible to people of all ages and mobilities. We need to ensure there are safe crossing at intersections and that transit is efficient and effective with good shelters and schedules. As I mentioned above we should work to use these funds as efficiently as possible and incorporate 8-80 plans into planned road work and scheduled maintenance whenever possible.

9) In light of the recently passed bicycle plan, does St. Paul need a pedestrian plan? Why or why not?

Yes, Saint Paul does need a pedestrian plan. The number of fatalities on Grand Ave and other serious incidents across Saint Paul is alarming. Our city is graying and if we are committed to supporting people aging in place in Saint Paul, we need to ensure they can safely cross our streets and access reliable transit. I’ve been advocating on the West Side to install a safe crosswalk near Humboldt High School and have been frustrated by the lack of response. I’ve also talked to many parents of young children who live near busy streets and who are afraid to let their children play outside because of the lack of traffic control mechanisms and safe crossings. This shouldn’t be the case. I truly believe that if we create a transparent and inclusive system to address these issues we can balance the needs of drivers and transit riders to get to their destinations safely and efficiently with the needs of pedestrians and bikers.