As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition cannot endorse candidates for public office, but we are able to share information so that you can arrive at your own conclusion. Below are Windsor City Council candidates’ responses to our questionnaire on bicycling in Sonoma County. We have made no content changes. Thanks to the candidates for their time and thoughtful answers!
ESTHER LEMUS, At-large Mayor
Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city? I purchased a bicycle at the Windsor Bike shop in late July and began cycling in the evenings for recreation and overall health and fitness. I do not currently use my bicycle for transportation. However, my long-term goal is to cycle to and from my place of employment in Santa Rosa.
My cycling experience in Windsor has been overall positive, although I have long recognized the need for improvements with bike lanes and cross walks. When my daughters were younger, they wanted to ride their bikes to school. As a parent, I was very aware of their path of travel to school and the lack of proper bike lanes and fully marked crosswalks. As such, during my term as a School Board member for the Windsor Unified School District, I raised this concern with the Town Council during our joint meetings and during presentations by the Safe Routes to School program. As a sitting Councilmember, I have continued to raise concerns regarding the lack of proper bike lanes, sidewalks, and crosswalks in different parts of Town. I am pleased to share that some of these concerns have made it onto our Capital Improvement Plan. Additionally, some of the safety concerns have also been addressed with recent paving and street projects.
What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development? Some of our transportation challenges include traffic, lack of parking, and incomplete bike lanes throughout the Town. I am a strong supporter of encouraging our community to use alternative modes of non-vehicle travel.
My vision for Windsor includes making it as walkable, interconnected, and bike friendly as possible. When I think of street improvement projects, bicycle safety, street safety, and crosswalks go hand in hand with these improvements. I view both as intricately connected. If streets need to be improved, bicycle and pedestrian safety will be included in the project.
If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety? I will continue to prioritize adding and improving bike lines throughout the Town of Windsor. I would also love to sponsor large bicycle events for community members where multiple cyclists gather at one spot and bike together to a common destination. This would serve to encourage others to bicycle for recreational and health/fitness reasons, but would also help to create a bike friendly culture in Windsor.
Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities? As I mentioned in my previous answer, I believe street improvements and bicycle infrastructure go hand in hand and are interconnected. Street improvements are part of every cities’ capital improvement plans. To me, I do not draw a distinction between the two. Both are high priority in the capital improvements and budget of a city, including for me in the Town of Windsor.
ROSA REYNOZA, At-large Mayor
GINA FORTINO DICKSON, District 1
Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city? I don’t ride a bike, I have never felt very coordinated on a bicycle and fear I would hurt myself/create a traffic hazard. Friends who ride have told me riding in Windsor is getting better. Many intersections and arterial roads have bike lanes. The country roads and connectors have fewer bike lanes and are narrow, making biking more challenging.
What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development? Lack of parking, congested roads and sporadic access to public transportation are among the challenges Windsor faces. Bicycling allows for less car traffic potentially, reduced emissions and requires minimal parking allocation.
If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety? When elected, I will continue to support bike lanes, bike paths and coordination with public transit for long commutes.
Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities? I believe bicycling is interwoven in any traffic project. The cost to embed the infrastructure initially is much more cost effective than a redesign to add it at a later time. Money spent up front can save money in the future. I support Windsor moving more in this direction of integrating multi modal solutions, from the beginning of projects as well as through our General Plan and planning documents. With the coming of SMART eventually to Windsor, we need to prepare for our downtown area for more cycling and micromobility options. I support Windsor having scooters and share bikes, and hope that we can continue to grow these types of programs in the years to come.
MICHAEL “MIKE” WALL, District 1
MAUREEN MERRILL, District 2
Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city? Yes, I am an avid cyclist, riding from home to work when possible – it’s only 5.5 miles! – and on regular rides of 18-38 miles around Windsor, Healdsburg, Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley and Russian River Valley. I have frequently ridden in group charity rides such as Tour de Fuzz and Rotary’s Giro Bello, where I started with the 25-miler, then did the 100K three years in a row.
I find it fairly easy to bike anywhere within Windsor, but my experience and relative ease in riding makes it less daunting for me than for new cyclists. The more we promote bicycling, the more approachable and doable it becomes. I have a couple of wild ideas, below, that could help new and aspiring riders.
What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development? Our overall transportation challenges include bottlenecks at a couple of intersections, use of the bicycle lane, especially for right turns, by vehicles, and inconsiderate or distracted auto drivers. Bicycling, including E-bikes, could be a big part of our future. It makes me sad to see one driver in car after car during commute times, and also to see streets near schools with cars carrying students who likely could ride in groups on safe, supervised bike routes.
On the Council or not, I will encourage every pending and existing development to include or make adjustments for safe parking and passage for bicyclists. I will encourage our local business community to consider “bicycle days” or “bicycle VIP specials” in which incentives are offered to people on pedals.
My vision is that Windsor could be as bicycle-forward as Davis, California and be known as a fun, welcoming haven for the pedal-powered lifestyle. I can envision a measurable decrease in traffic, auto crashes, and health issues, and an observable increase in happiness, friendliness and energy.
If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety? If elected or not, I will advocate policies to encourage people of all ages to ride bikes, and to create a culture in which auto drivers are alert, supportive and even protective of cyclists. I could see a ‘nudge’ campaign in which signs such as this are displayed: “Welcome to Windsor, where we love, encourage and protect our bicyclists (and tricyclists)!”
For many people, the choice to ride becomes easier once tried. We could encourage a concerted effort to include volunteer riding mentors, group cycling events, and maybe even a volunteer corps that could provide a bike equivalent to our school crossing guards.
Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities? Improving bicycling infrastructure is part of my policy priority of providing the overall infrastructure for a healthy communityOur complaints about parking, traffic noise and speed dangers would be greatly reduced when we embrace bicycling with enthusiasm. We need to see to adequate and secure parking for bicyclists. . Ultimately this makes good economic sense, saving both personal and public money.
It’s a high priority for me because Public Health is part of our social and cultural infrastructure. A physically healthy community is more resilient, has higher morale, and is more productive. For those with physical challenges, an environment of vitality and good cheer is supportive and uplifting. I’m going to be frank here and say that we have a seemingly unabated issue of childhood obesity. We have overall health risks related to too much sedentary activity within some segments of our population. Type 2 diabetes in U.S. children has more than doubled in this century. This issue is just as important as our efforts to discourage smoking in public places.
An increase in bicycle riding would, I believe, raise the profile of riding itself, increasing driver awareness of two things:
The need for their bicycling neighbors for safe rides, and
The accessibility and doable nature of bike riding.
SAM SALMON, District 2
KEVIN GONYO, District 4
TANYA POTTER, District 4