Where do the candidates for Arlington County Board stand on sustainable mobility issues?  Find out below.  We sent all four of the candidates for the November 2021 general election five questions.  We received complete responses from Takis Karantonis and Michael Cantwell.  Adam Theo's initial response attachment did not include answers to our questions (likely a technical snafu) but a follow-up email after initial publication did.  The guide below has been updated with his answers.  Audrey Clement did not respond to multiple venues of attempted contact.

1. Recognizing that Arlington's streets are unlikely to be widened given the cost of land in the County, SusMo supports reallocation of existing street space to support sustainable transportation modes. Do you support the reallocation of existing street space from private motor vehicles to support speedy transit, a comprehensive all-ages and abilities bike network and a safe and complete pedestrian network of sidewalks and trails? Why or why not?

  • View Takis Karantonis response

    My answer is yes.

    The current configuration, design, capacity and patterns of connectivity in Arlington are heavily influenced by the dominance of the automobile and adapted to prioritize private driving. True multimodal networks not only offer better, safer and more efficient connectivity, they also help address equity disparities and convey significant economic, environmental and health benefits to the community.

    While I remain mindful of the mobility needs of those who depend on driving their cars, I support planning for more contemporary mobility and urban connectivity that offers the widest possible variety of mobility choices to all Arlingtonians. Therefore we need to continue prioritizing safe walkable neighborhoods, safe, stress-free cycling infrastructure and efficient public transit.

    Safety, connectivity and stress-free accessibility often require reapportioning existing and limited street space. In this regard I fully support the goals and the implementation of the bicycle element of our Master Transportation Plan which in many instances require “making space” for protected bike lanes. I continue to be a vocal supporter of investments in better sidewalks and pedestrian infrastructure well beyond the delivery horizon of programs like Neighborhood Conservation. Safe routes to our schools are a priority.

    Efficient public transit, under conditions of increased traffic congestion, often requires the assignment of exclusive use of lanes, temporarily or permanently, as well as the implementation of a host of technological improvements, such as signal-priority. I support the thoughtful assignment of dedicated bus lanes, especially in corridors and at peak hours where such assignment would increase frequency, reliability and level of service.

    I continue to support the significant upgrade of pedestrian facilities across Arlington and remain committed to the creation of separate and protected bike lanes where possible.

    I championed and continue to support pilot projects like the creation of protective buffer zones for pedestrians on S. Carlin Springs and Lorcom Lane. Along with instances where I had to question further car-centered investment like my vote against the projected enhancement of Arlington Blvd. to accommodate more and faster car-traffic, these are examples of my commitment to sustainable mobility in Arlington.

  • View Michael Cantwell response

    I am an avid cyclist and have biked the streets and trails in Arlington for over 28 years. I biked to work when I worked at the Pentagon two decades ago, and again, when I worked at the NGA Headquarters in Bethesda. During the pandemic, my daughter and I would frequently take twenty-mile bike rides to Herndon, Bethesda, and Alexandria.

    As the long time President of the Yorktown Civic Association, I’ve had to truly listen to the many sides of local issues. I, and other cyclists, enjoy traveling on the dedicated bike lanes on North George Mason Dr., Yorktown Blvd, and Williamsburg Blvd. On the other hand, some homeowners are concerned about the County’s proposal to eliminate parking on some of the side streets on our neighborhood in favor of bike lanes. If I am elected to the Arlington County Board, I will continue to listen --- really listen --- to all stakeholders.

    As a member of the Langston Blvd (Lee Highway) Alliance, I gained a better understanding of how local zoning and other regulations can help improve traffic, pedestrian, and bike safety. I support safe and complete sidewalks and trail networks.

  • View Adam Theo response

    Taking the bus, biking, and walking are undoubtedly safer and healthier ways to get around the county. If we truly do want to prioritize public safety and health then we must redesign our streets to encourage these safer and healthier modes of transportation. That involves building better sidewalks, protected bike lanes, and dedicated bus lanes along the county's major roads, boulevards, and highways. We also need to take into account modern mobility options of e-scooters and ride-hailing services with plenty of docking stations and carve-out spaces for easy pick-up and drop-off of riders.

    Funding is often the barrier for this development, however. As something that improves public safety, it should be prioritized as such over the many luxury amenities that the county often tries to build such as the Rosslyn boathouse, schools designed by world famous architects, and high end aquatics centers. Having beautiful amenities is wonderful, but they shouldn't come at the expense of essential infrastructure.

2. Given the compelling data in the Capital Trails Coalition’s Impact Report that completing the Capital Trail Network will result in 19,580 metrics tons of CO2 emissions prevented each year, $517 million in public health savings every year and $1 billion in economic impact every year, as well as residents’ strong support for paved trails in the statistically-valid 2016 Arlington Parks and Recreation Needs Assessment Survey, SusMo supports completing construction of the priority trail projects within Arlington: the Arlington Boulevard Trail and the Cemetery Wall Trail by 2030. Do you support completing construction of these priority trails by 2030? Why or why not?

  • View Takis Karantonis response

    I am very supportive of complete local and regional bicycle trail networks.

    I was proud to add my voice with elected officials who openly supported the proposed regional bicycle network advocated for by the Capital Trails Coalition. Given the latest IPCC report on the rapidly worsening climate crisis and given that in Virginia transportation is the biggest CO2 emitting activity (38%) I see powerful reasons to accelerate the pace of creating this infrastructure. The public and individual health, economic and employment benefits are significant and justify the investment.

    I voted to complete an engineering study of the Arlington Blvd trail up to G. Mason Dr. as part of the last short term CIP and and will continue to support the completion of this and the Cemetery Wall Trails and their corresponding connecting segments to our neighborhoods, schools and public facilities.

    The mainstreaming of electric-assisted bicycles to citizens of all ages and abilities is an additional motivation to invest now and more in a safe and stress-free bicycle network.

  • View Michael Cantwell response

    Yes. I believe Arlington County should dedicate funding to complete the priority trail projects within Arlington. Biking and walking on trails are equal opportunity recreational activities. Increased biking and walking will also reduce CO2 emissions and promote economic activity.

  • View Adam Theo response

    It will likely be necessary to prioritize which of these segments is built first as funding allows. This is where I admit I do not know the answer to that, but I do know how I would consider them to reach it.

    My top requirement for prioritizing which segment is built first would be answering "which route would people use the most on their day to day commutes, going out to dine, or grab some essential groceries?" It's these regularly transited, well known routes that can make the most impact in getting people out of their cars and converting them into people comfortable with biking.

    I was the same way - I am a huge fan of bike riding, but didn't become one until I became comfortable taking my bike into downtown DC for work and to Trader Joe's a mile from my apartment for groceries.

3. Given that behavior change is most readily achieved through frequent, low-cost enforcement, and recognizing the outsized danger to our black and brown neighbors that could be presented by pretextual traffic stops, SusMo supports automated enforcement of our traffic laws to the extent possible – specifically making use of all authority currently granted to us by the General Assembly to do so (generally red light cameras and speed enforcement within school zones) and seeking additional authority to extend speed enforcement throughout the county as well as adding stop sign enforcement while simultaneously reducing the fines associated with these violations or basing fines on income. Do you support these approaches to automating enforcement of traffic laws on our streets to improve safety and help prevent unnecessary police-resident encounters? Who or why not?

  • View Takis Karantonis response

    Inequitable treatment of persons of color in the guise of traffic enforcement must end. This is among the most important reasons I actively supported the creation and work of the Police Practices Group the final recommendations of which I also support, including the recommendations on ending discriminatory and biased traffic enforcement. I further supported the County’s legislative agenda and worked with our Gen. Assembly delegation in order to enhance our authority to implement automatic enforcement.

    I recognize the equity-related benefits of automatic enforcement and believe that Arlington should make more frequent use of its new authority. However I also believe that Arlington has to seriously consider and implement other forms of automatic enforcement that don’t necessarily “issue fines” yet force compliance: such as speed-sensitive traffic lights, additional permanent and mobile automatic speed and noise awareness displays and similar.

    As always, enforcement technology is just one tool in the big toolbox of traffic calming and safety by design. Therefore I am focused on making the best combined use of automatic enforcement and street design to promote safety for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.

    With regards to fines, I support moderating fines relative to the economic circumstances of an individual. I further support efforts at the State level to study the totality of repercussions our current traffic enforcement regime has on vulnerable and marginalized individuals.

  • View Michael Cantwell response

    I support automated systems to enforce traffic safety laws. Using automated systems is a more efficient and effective method to enforce traffic safety laws. The primary purpose of the traffic safety laws must be to increase safety, not to increase revenues for the local government. The concept of basing fines in income is worth exploring, but I would prefer to basing fines on vehicle value, not income or net worth. I would also like to see automated traffic enforcement systems on bike trails.

  • View Adam Theo response

    It's sad, but true: the best way to improve the accuracy of traffic enforcement and reduce potentially dangerous encounters (for drivers and police) is to automate the process with intelligent camera systems.

    However, I wish I could say that traffic cameras were without consequences, but they are not. If automated camera systems are implemented it is critical that they remain strictly for automated traffic enforcement and never enabled with facial recognition capabilities, storage or transmission of video outside of individual incidents, or used for general surveillance of vehicles or people. The system would have to remain as a hardened network isolated from outside hackers and other government agencies (especially federal) that would assuredly misuse it for general surveillance. In short, it would be costly and cumbersome to properly implement.

    As much as I am in favor of automated camera enforcement of traffic violations, until the privacy and other civil liberties concerns are thoroughly addressed I am very cautious about this method. It is certainly worth investigating and planning, but with the understanding it's not a quick or cheap solution that could be implemented soon.

    Part of the process of investigating and planning is to set up and run limited temporary pilot programs such as what is being implemented in Clarendon to test and refine requirements in a real-world environment.

4. Given that walking & biking are the most sustainable modes of travel available, but safety is a serious barrier to getting people to walk & bike more, SusMo strongly supports Arlington’s new Vision Zero Action Plan and the creation of a capital program within the CIP to build infrastructure to address the most critical safety deficiencies on our streets. Do you support Arlington’s Vision Zero program to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our streets to zero? Do you support the creation of a capital program within the CIP to address the most critical safety deficiencies on our streets?

  • View Takis Karantonis response

    I supported the County Board’s adoption of the Vision Zero plan earlier this year, which aims to reduce serious injuries and fatalities on Arlington’s streets to zero by 2030. I consistently endorse a focus on pedestrian and bicyclist friendly road design and traffic calming. For example, I pursued and supported the South Carlin Springs safe pedestrian zone, which creates walkable paths to school for many students of the Campbell, Kenmore, and Carlin Springs Schools.

    In the most recent short-term CIP, I voted to fund Vision Zero implementation at an initial level while the County and our community are working on a detailed implementation “toolbox” and plan.

    In addition, the County Board gave guidance to the County Manager to change the format of future CIPs so that it is very clear how CIP expenditures and investments support and advance Arlington’s established policies, plans and corresponding goals, including Vision Zero. This will create a new level of visibility, transparency and accountability that will help both the County and the community to measure progress, evaluate outcomes, fine tune and prioritize projects and investments, including all Vision-zero and traffic safety related programs. It will also reveal the many interdependencies between programs.

    The difficulty of establishing a separate Vision Zero capital investment program is that the implementation of such a plan permeates many other projects. I remain open to discussing whether specific bold aspects of the implementation (e.g., a protected bike-lane fund) could justify “earmark” designation.

  • View Michael Cantwell response

    I support Arlington’s Vision Zero. I would like to see a world where there are no deaths or serious injuries on our streets. As a civic association President, I mourned the loss of two local residents who were killed by automobiles over the last decade. I support additional funding to make our streets safer and help change behaviors of pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.

  • View Adam Theo response

    Redesigning our streets to be safer for drivers, riders, cyclists, pedestrians, and scooter users should be one of the key purposes of our Capital Improvement Plan. As an issue of public safety and infrastructure it deserves to be a very high priority within the CIP.

    I am not a fan of flashy, fluffy mission statements from the government. Thankfully Vision Zero's intended reduction of deaths and injuries on our roads is a very achievable goal grounded on best practices already in use in other parts of the world.

    Funding for the CIP program and Vision Zero in general deserves to be much higher than the paltry five million dollars allocated in the FY2022 budget.

5. SusMo believes that Transit is the backbone of a sustainable transportation system, but people take transit only if it is fast, frequent and convenient. Many of Arlington’s busiest bus routes are not fast and convenient because the buses are stuck in traffic, so we support investments in our Capital Improvement Plan to speed up our bus service – dedicated lanes, transit signal priority and the necessary farebox investments to support all-door boarding. Do you support these investments? Why or why not?

  • View Takis Karantonis response

    I have long supported improvements in our bus network. Specifically, I have endorsed dedicated bus lanes and signal priority on key corridors such as Columbia Pike, Arlington Blvd, Langston Blvd. and Richmond Hwy. I further support studying the feasibility of similar improvements along other major north-south connectors, e.g., Glebe Rd.

    I also believe that we should continuously search for, review, and, as appropriate, implement new cost-efficient ways to make bus service more affordable and more convenient for our community. All-door boarding, supported by the necessary fare collection technology on vehicle or off-vehicle are examples of effective steps to improve convenience and transit times. While I am mindful of the fact that many improvements need to be coordinated with WMATA, Arlington still has significant opportunities to innovate. In this context it is critical to expedite the implementation of the long overdue “premium transit” option along Columbia Pike where some of these technologies can be applied.

    Most importantly, I support more funding for transit, as I agree that it is indeed the “backbone” of our transportation system and as such it benefits our community, our economy and the environment.

  • View Michael Cantwell response

    There are many factors that contribute to Arlingtonians not using public transportation. Creating programs to encourage high school students to walk, bike, or take public transit could have a big impact on future public transportation usage. A bold initiative would be to eliminate “Yellow School” buses for APS High School Students. I shared this idea with the APS Director of Transportation. She liked the idea and plans to conduct a pilot project this fall.

  • View Adam Theo response

    Doing the hard work of securing the right-of-way along major roads, boulevards, and highways while re-prioritizing funding for dedicated bus lanes to increase the speed, frequency, and reliability of our bus network is a high priority of mine, especially along Columbia Pike which has been clearly neglected by the County Board with many broken promises.

    Researching and implementing transit signal priority and "offboard" fareboxes are part of the overall solution but thankfully can be tackled independently and al-a-carte as funding permits. I would also add researching and requirements-building for eventual electrification of our busses as not only an environmental improvement but also for smoother rides as a "quality of life" feature to attract ridership.

    Improving our bus service is necessary for sustainable growth, increasing living affordability, protecting public safety, and expanding economic mobility for our residents.

    Developing our bus infrastructure in Arlington is clearly a role for our local government, although sadly it has not been a priority. That needs to change. In order to speed up the process and offload costs the county must consider public-private partnerships and improve the competitiveness and transparency of contracts for bus operation, maintenance, and tech scouting of more affordable options.