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Joaquín Baca

BikeABQ
Candidate Survey

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Joaquín Baca

1. Albuquerque has the second deadliest streets of any city in the US, with approximately 110 people killed by vehicles each year while walking, biking, or driving, and another 6,500 people injured. How important is it to you that Albuquerque maintain and act on its commitment to the Vision Zero goal of zero fatalities from traffic violence? 
 

Making Albuquerque safer for cyclists and pedestrians is a top priority. We’ve heard survey after survey list safety as the number one concern for cyclists.  One way to address this is through the complete streets ordinance. In District 2, several streets are either fully funded and ready or at least have initial planning designs completed, including Rio Grande Blvd, 12th Street, and several minor Downtown streets. Streets that are in need of planning include Central Avenue through downtown, and potentially 4th Street. Together this can go a long way towards achieving the safer streets portion of Vision Zero.  

 

By using city funds as cost-share for state and federal funds we can leverage and create a dedicated funding source for road improvements, protected bike lanes, and pedestrian crossings. Ultimately, we need true multi-modal transit and mobility options that move us away from a largely car dependent city.   

2. In 2019 Albuquerque updated its Complete Streets Ordinance to support safe and efficient street design for all users. What are the biggest remaining barriers to getting people to choose walking, biking, or public transit instead of personal vehicles, and what would you do to address these impediments? 

While we have a large dedicated bike trail network, it often feels as if these trails are for  recreational use only.  We need protected bike lanes and trails that take people from their homes, to their work, and to areas of day-to-day non-work activities.  We must get everyone moving in a unified direction, including our city planners, engineers, developers, neighborhood associations, and advocates..  We need to create a strategy for how we advocate and develop multi-modal transportation options throughout our city, especially in areas that currently are car centric and often not thought of as bikeable. I support exploring the creation of protected bike lanes on Central Avenue in the heart of downtown that connect to city and county work centers as well as the upcoming Rail Trail. 
 

We must also develop healthy neighborhoods in a more dense and urban manner.  We can help this along by creating public private partnerships that bring grocery stores, banks, and gyms into communities.  Similar to the Silver Market building in Downtown, it is a combination grocery, housing, retail, and community garden that allows community residents to walk to achieve their needs rather than drive.  

3. ABQRide remains severely understaffed, with motorcoach operator vacancies more than double their pre-pandemic numbers despite severe reductions in service. Other facets of our transit system, including mechanics and stop maintenance, are also understaffed. What is your plan for filling the staffing shortage at ABQRide?  

My father retired as a City of Albuquerque bus driver.  At that time city pay and benefits were among the best in the region.  Since that time the City has lost ground to other public and private employers and it is no longer competitive with the state, county, or the private sector.  In my role as a Board Director for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District (MRGCD), we recently faced a similar situation with our vacancy rate reaching nearly 20% at one point.  We made changes and now for many positions, MRGCD currently offers higher pay, better options for career advancement and similar health and retirement benefits than other governmental entities.  The city must do the same.  

 

Additionally, our bus operators have high stress positions working with the general public that often includes engaging with passengers who are angry or engage in violent behavior.  Our bus drivers and riders need added security—on the bus and at stops. I also support increased cleanings so buses are comfortable for families to ride. 

4. What is your plan for increasing housing supply in Albuquerque, particularly along useful transit corridors and near popular amenities? How do you plan to increase housing availability without requiring the occupants of those houses to own a car to participate in most aspects of city life? 

To increase our housing supply, we can do these four things: First, we can adopt a more progressive land use policy and incentivize land development to be used through upzoning, which allows for denser development.  The city can prioritize and update the zoning of city owned parcels prior to any projects in order to attract home builders by lowering the costs and time associated with the permitting process.  Second, we need to improve our permitting process. Currently, permits for small projects such as walls and business signs take a minimum of 90 days to complete.   We can have existing pre-approved templates for businesses to use and empower staff to make decisions on small projects.  Third, our development ordinances need to be continually updated to allow for easier construction of housing while protecting our historic neighborhoods. Finally, we need to embrace change, density, and new mixed-income developments happening near where we live. Instead of NIMBY (Not-In-My-Backyard) we need more YIMBYs (Yes-In-My-Backyard).

5. Albuquerque’s urban areas have limited space on streets. In order to increase safety and improve mobility, some modes of transportation must be prioritized over others to make the most of this limited space. Please rank how you would prioritize different modes of transportation on city streets, using numbers 1 through 7:

1. Public Transportation
2. Walking & devices that aid people with a disability
3. Bicycles and Scooters
4. Personal Automobiles
5. Parking
6. Freight and Delivery
7. Ride Hailing Services (Taxi, Uber, Lyft)

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