Choosing our decision-makers

Our town’s annual election is coming up in May, and there are two candidates running for the one open seat on the Board of Selectmen. Both have Facebook pages for their campaigns: Lise King and Mark Hatch.

I’ve met both of the candidates from my volunteering around town.

  • Mark Hatch is the current chair of the town’s Finance Committee. I first met him through making funding requests for bike racks and through my involvement with the founding of the Provincetown Commons non-profit, where I served on the board of directors with him.

  • Lise King is a media producer who I met through PTV and the Swim for Life. I also met with her when we were initially forming the idea that became the Provincetown Commons. We have both been involved recently in advocating to allow tiny houses in town.

Since the Selectmen function as the commissioners of the public way and vote on every single change to our streets, it’s important to know where they stand on the issues of street safety, walking and biking, and spending money on making street improvements. I’ve found myself in front of the selectmen every year at the annual Traffic Hearing with requests, so it’s important for me to have a general sense of how they will respond to new ideas.

To this end, I tracked down a questionnaire that Massachusetts Vision Zero Coalition sends to political candidates and revised it for the selectmen race. I sent the questionnaire to both candidates, but so far only received a response from Mark. I’ll update this if I get a response from Lise before the election.

Here’s what Mark had to say in response to the questionnaire:

1. Do you personally walk to destinations in town? If yes, how often do you do so?Yes, I walk very often. In summer I walk to work, or I do something my friends and I call “play touch the fence”. We start in the East End, walk all the way to John Dowd’s house, touch the fence, then walk all the way back.

2. Do you personally travel by/use public transit to get around? If yes, which services/routes do you routinely use? I do not use public transit in town. In good weather I either walk or bike. In foul weather I’ll drive.

3. Do you personally bike in town or commute by bike to other communities? If no, would you be willing to give it a try periodically, e.g. once or twice per month?In good weather I bike a lot and frequent the trails at the Seashore as well with my mountain bike.

4. How will you work to establish funding for the infrastructure changes needed to slow traffic and improve crosswalks and intersections to make them safer for people who are walking and using mobility assistive devices? We should ALWAYS be applying for grant money for this purpose, and as a Town, I can tell you we always are. As part of our regular pavement schedules we should also always be looking at ways to lighten the traffic load, especially in the Town Center.

5. How will you improve the reach, frequency, and quality of public transit? Good question, and public transport is not one of my specialties. Since most of it is run regionally, I’d have to reach out to the County and our Reps to figure out how we can have some influence over what happens.

6. How will you ensure near-term implementation of a town-wide network of bike lanes on major thoroughfares and connecting streets that are comfortable for people of all ages and abilities? Again, as we do pavement projects, which we are ALWAYS doing, these considerations should be in those plans.

7. How will you increase access to biking for all? What do you see as the major obstacles to encouraging ridership, and how will you address them? Logistical issues are really our impediment. We are at the end of everything, and people have to/want to drive here, especially in season. It’s just the way it is. While they are here, however, we should encourage alternate means of transportation, as well as moving parking out of the center of Town and to the periphery to encourage walking and biking.

8. How will you increase funding for biking infrastructure? There is only one way…ok two ways: grants or Articles on the Town Warrant expressly for this purpose.

9. Do you support the adoption of Vision Zero and funding for its rapid implementation? Vision Zero is an approach which aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries by 2030 and has been adopted communities across the state. Yes

10. Do you support lowering design speeds through traffic calming measures on streets as a means of enhancing the safety of people walking, using mobility assistive devices, biking, and driving? Yes

11. Do you support setting specific targets for increases in walking and biking? I’d have to see how that could be achieved but in principle yes

12. One key strategy that has been proven to effectively reduce speeding, improve safety, and remove bias in traffic enforcement is automated enforcement (i.e. speed cameras and red light cameras). Do you support state legislation that authorizes the use of automated enforcement in Massachusetts, per the July 2017 recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board? I do not support red light or speed cameras, but that’s a matter of personal principle. We’re under observation enough.

13. Do you support redesigning space on streets in order to improve safety for people biking and walking? Yes

14. Do you support the use of curb extensions to improve safety and visibility at intersections, even if it requires the removal of one or two parking spaces? In principle yes.

15. Will you address age-friendly walking and biking — an issue raised by many seniors as critical to their ability to “age in community”? If yes, how? I’d like to know more about what this means, specifically?

16. Do you support the rollout of dynamic parking pricing (i.e. varying rates in different parking areas during periods of increased demand) to reduce the congestion caused by “cruising” for open spaces? Yes

17. Do you support installing side guards on town-owned trucks to help prevent serious injury to people walking and biking? I like to know more about this…costs, number of accidents related to town-owned vehicles, etc.