by Cherie Walkowiak
On the morning of Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015, I had the priviledge of interviewing our new mayor, John McAlister. My three goals in talking to him were to find out about a conference he attended in Austin last year, to find out where he stands on cycling issues, and just to get to know him a litlte better. I liked what I learned.
ABOUT THE MAYOR
His motto is: "Don't be part of the problem. Be part of the solution." In other words, if you see a problem, don't just complain about it. Come up with a solution and work toward it. Fighting against something changes nothing, but shifiting focus onto a solution is where real change starts to happen.
I couldn't agree more!!
Mayor McAlister is a 50-year Mountain View resident, and owns the Baskin Robbins near the corner of El Camino and Miramonte/Shoreline. He and his wife are newly empty nesters. Both of his kids go to Cal Poly, where his daughter is a senior and his son is a freshman.
Now that his kids are both away at college, Mayor McAlister is finding he has a lot more time on his hands, and can take more time to bike places. So he's trying to bike more often.
The mayor has three bikes: his everyday, utility bike is a red Trek (shown in photo above). It's sturdy and can withstand harsh treatment and being thrown to the ground. It is 15 years old. He has a Santa Cruz mountain bike which he likes to go offroading with in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Finally, he has a Trek carbon bike for rides longer than 30 or 60 minutes.
McAlister's first cycling priority is safe routes to school. The way he sees it, if you get the young kids cycling, it sets them up to continue cycling later.
The mayor will be leading a bike ride on Sunday, April 26th at 8:30 am. The ride starts on the Steven's Creek Trail, at the Sleeper Trailead. See more here.
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
The National League of Cities is a conference that takes place twice a year. Mayor McAlister went to one held in Austin last year. The conference always has a lot of breakout groups on topics such as wastewater, bicycle safety, and others. Our good mayor chose the bicycle safety group. I asked why he chose that one, amongst all the interseting choices. He said that, as the mayor, he was at the conference to represent his city. With all the enthusiasm he's been hearing from his community about cycle infrastructure, that seemed like the most appropriate group for him. Good answer!
The cycle safety breakout group went on a bike tour around Austin. The tour went through residential neighborhoods, commercial areas, the college area, parks, and through the state capitol, looking at the types of bike facilities Austin installed in different types of areas. They have quite an expansive and innovative cycle network. Here were just some of the highlights of the tour:
- a two-way protected bike lane
- green bike lanes
- extra wide sidewalks which accommodate both cyclists and pedestrians, with markings in between to separate them
- roundabouts in residential areas. These kept both cyclists and cars flowing without making anybody stop unnecessarily
- bike boulevards
Here are some pictures from his tour (click image to scroll):
Another thing the breakout group talked about was funding. Austin created a $100 million dollar bond, much of which was used towards cycle infrastructure and transit. Now that's forward thinking!
TO SUM UP
The biggest message I took away from my interview with the mayor is that he wants to know what is important to residents. He wants to know our concerns, and what we think can be done to make things better. I look forward to seeing how Mayor McAlister will make Mountain View better.