Candidate Questionnaire: Robert Dickson
City Council District 5
What is your vision for Costa Mesa’s transportation infrastructure in 2050? If elected, what will you do to prepare Costa Mesa for that future?
The transportation infrastructure has barely changed in the last 30 years! if anything, we have worse bus routes and light rail/street cars have proven to be expensive, impractical boondoggles. If bus travel were convenient and efficient, we would certainly utilize it, we used to take the bus to the beach to avoid parking, and I commutedd via bus while living in Dallas. I would focus on realistic means of improving existing infrastructure and facilitating circulation, and working with OCTA on better, more viable transit options.
According to recent estimates released by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, from 2020 to 2021, motor vehicle fatalities rose 10.5%, bicyclist fatalities rose 5%, and pedestrian fatalities rose 13% (https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/early-estimate-2021-traffic-fatalities). If elected, what will you do to address these worrying trends?
I am not interested in national trends, I am focused on what is happening in Costa Mesa, on our streets. I would ensure that our City government continues to improve our understanding of traffic patterns and trouble spots, and work to design and engineer a circulation system which minimizes road and intersection conditions which contribute to injuries and fatalities. Where we have repeat accidents, we should focus engineering and funding on eliminating the conditions contributing to repeat accidents. We have a LOT of work to do to improve pedestrian safety, and priorizing safe crosswalks and sidewalks should take priority.
Many Costa Mesa residents complain of cut-through traffic and speeding on the streets near their homes. How do you think Costa Mesa should address these complaints?
By reducing the need to use alternative routes by making arterials and commuter corridors more efficient. Reduce gridlock with better traffic and roadway management. Disincentize cut-through traffic by making cut-through routes less viable.
Nationally, about a third of all car trips are two miles or less. Do you think Costa Mesa should encourage more people to make these short trips on foot, by bike or via transit, and if so, how would you pursue that goal?
If it were viable to conduct our lives via bicycle and walking, we would. For some members of our community, it is, for many others, it is not. I rode my bike to work until I had children. We ride to local shopping, schools, parks, and the beach when we have time, but that is not always practical. Any efforts by the City to promote those modes of travel should consist of education and improvement of bicycle infrastructure such as the Joann Street bike path. In no way should the City impede vehicular circulation as a means of promoting alternatives.
This year, the City hired a new Active Transportation Coordinator and devoted approximately $3,150,000 of the Capital Improvement Budget to active transportation projects. Do you think the City is spending too much or too little on active transportation? Why?
Based on the latest budget, which contemplates a $25.3 million capital budget. $3.5 million would be 14%. Whether or not that is an appropriate funding level remains to be determined. Looking at the Active Transportation CIP program, it is ambitious, with some great projects. We do have catching up to do, and I would encourage that safety-related projects take priority. Improved crosswalks (such as the lighted ones on Placentia and 17th), sidewalks and pavement in bike lanes.
Should children be encouraged to walk, bicycle or take transit to school? Why or why not?
Ideally, kids live in relaitively close proximity to school. Kids should walk, bike, scooter or skate to school with parents when too young to do so independently, and by themselves, or with friends/siblings as soon as they are old enough. It promotes health, independence, community and freedom of movement. My siblings and I all biked/walked/skated to primary, middle and high school (until we got cars). We should not close of school zones to automobiles, as many parents do not have the luxury of time to accompany their kids, but walking, biking, skating etc. should be encouraged.
Electric bicycles (or ebikes) have surged in popularity during the pandemic, bringing new bicyclists of all ages onto our streets. What, if anything, should the City do to respond to this trend?
Engage in educational campaigns regarding safety equipment and age-appropriate e-bikes. We have conducted focused campaigns on bike safety, we need to do the same for e-bikes. Increase enforcement to ensure safety.
What role do you think public transportation will play in in the future of Costa Mesa and Orange County, as a whole? What are your thoughts on buses, light rail, micro transit, street cars, or similar modes in Orange County?
Current transportation statistics for CA indicate that less than 4.9% of Californians utilize public transportation, 2.6% walk,.9% ride bicycles and 1.7% utilizie taxis, motorcycles or "other" to get to work. The reality is that the infrastructure does not exist. We can improve bikability, but public transportation is a regional and state issue, not a City issue. Southern California is dispersed and spread out and not amenable to fixed transporation routes in every suburb and neighborhood. Better bus routes and microtransit will play an increased role, but we need to plan for the reality of our built environment, while incorporating efficiencies and better cicrulation in newer development.