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BikeABQ Candidate Survey

Virginia Gonzales

House District 68 — Republican Primary
http://virginia4nm.com/

1. Do you bike in New Mexico? Describe your experience biking for transportation and/or recreation.

I am a novice. Primarily, because I will not ride my bike on the public byways. I am always concerned for biker's safety as well as my own. I don't ride often enough to be confident on the streets. I will ride in my neighborhood and have on occasion ridden my bike on the bosque. My use is always for recreation.

2. Describe your vision of a healthy, safe, equitable transportation system for the Greater Albuquerque Region and the roles walking, biking, and public transportation play in that vision.

I've traveled to other cities and I am aware of bike-friendly communities that have done well in providing healthy, safe, and equitable transportation for their cities. Those cities attract people who want to live there which bolsters the community, and economy. Places like Boulder, Colorado, and Seattle Washington are great examples. They offer proper infrastructure, with ample bike lanes and bike-sharing programs. Albuquerque has many challenges with accessibility since there are limited roads that allow traffic to move from the west to the east side of the city. Public transportation exists but is not effective for varying reasons: scheduling, access, and perception as well as image. Ultimately, it would be ideal to have a city that is more conducive to walking and biking as a viable alternative to getting to and from work as well as accessing bike trails and opportunities to explore our beautiful city. I envision Albuquerque as a day place where people are walking and biking alongside the busiest of roads that are seperate well-lit biking/walking paths.

3. What are the biggest barriers to getting people to choose walking, biking, and public transit instead of personal vehicles for daily trips, and what would you do to address these impediments?

Access, education, incentive, and the culture are the four things that come to mind. Infrastructure would have to be improved. An educational series promoting public safety, awareness and incentivizing the community to choose walking or biking to work by offering a "rewards" program is one way to work towards getting people motivated to use other forms of transportation. Engaging the community at the neighborhood level is key so that people become invested in the success of an alternative way of living and commuting. Albuquerque is a densely populated area that functions as a rural community. The more active communities want the opportunity to be healthy and live economically, and so they see the vision and value of walking and biking, however the culture of New Mexico is deep rooted in the way things are and have always been. The key is to work together. Meet the needs of those who want to drive and commute, but then find a way to provide a safe alternative for those who want to walk and bike. As State Legislature for District 68, I would like to have the opportunity to examine this issue in a way that offers real solutions to the complex barriers.

4. New Mexico consistently has the deadliest streets of any state in the US, with approximately 400 people killed by vehicles each year while walking, biking, or driving, and another 12,000 people injured. What should New Mexico, and in particular the New Mexico Department of Transportation, do to improve traffic safety?

Public service announcements do a great job of educating people. We not only have TV but we have social media. We love to watch short videos. Providing PSAs would remind people how and why we use crosswalks. Why there are bike lanes and how you should respond to a biker as you pass them much less make a turn over a bike lane. Awareness and education are key. Most people who obtain a driver's license are never taught the fundamentals of watching out for bikers. I often wonder how many motorists know the left and right hand signals that are used by a cyclist. Traffic safety is all about education.

5. The New Mexico DOT is currently pursuing a pair of projects related to Interstate 25, following the South I-25 Corridor Study that calls for the widening of Interstate 25 in Albuquerque from Sunport to the Big I, to 8 lanes from the current 6. Do you support urban freeway widenings, or how would you prefer NMDOT enhance transportation options in this corridor?

Our infrastructure is suffering in all areas. We continue to develop and yet our roads remain the same. The I-25 corridor intersects with the 1-40 Interstate. We are the hub for major transportation, commercial and recreational, that passes through our City on a daily basis. Growth is inevitable. We need to make sure we are being good stewards with our resources while making sure that we are addressing the needs of our City and State. It is a double-edged sword. I would like to see our tax dollars pay for more alternative ways of traveling within the City, but I do believe that opening this corridor is vital.

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