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Ann Arbor City Election Candidate Survey 2022 Responses: Ward 2

The WBWC's mission is to make Washtenaw County a national leader in bicycling & walking by improving facilities, policies, and community support through advocacy and education. Each Ann Arbor city election, we send a survey to council and mayoral candidates in an effort to illuminate their perspectives on walking, biking, and overall mobility issues. The responses to the survey are published on our website in advance of Election Day. We do not editorialize on the responses. The survey is for informational purposes only.

Chris Watson


What proportion of your weekly trips, on average, are done by single-occupancy vehicle, carpooling/ridesharing, transit, walking, or bicycle? Explain

About three quarters of my trips are done by single occupancy vehicle. For the rest of my trips, in order of frequency I use walking, biking, and rideshare (including SPIN scooters). From 2014 until I got my own car in 2018, I was heavily reliant on transit, using the 65 Bus to commute downtown for work and would often bring my bike on the bus’s rack. I saw the weaknesses in our transit system and I know how much an increase of frequency would impact my own behavior.

What are your thoughts on the current bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Ann Arbor?

I have concerns about the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. This opinion is informed by data in the city’s comprehensive travel plan. Additionally, it’s informed by my personal experience biking on poorly maintained parts of bike lanes and what I’ve heard from Ward 2 residents. Examples like the parents I joined on the walking bus to King School, talking about fearing for their children and commuters to the hospital noting that they don’t feel safe on their bicycle commute.

What is your impression of the current traffic calming tools the City is using? Current traffic calming efforts are budgeted for $30,000 per year. Is this adequate? Would you propose to adjust this budget item?

I would support examining our traffic calming budget in collaboration with city staff with the goal of increasing safety in our neighborhoods. I’ve seen the success of traffic calming near King School. Over time some speed bumps have worn down, so I’d support budgeting for upkeep as well. The vision zero plan has identified areas where traffic calming could be pursued. Feedback from neighbors and a diverse set of people who use residential streets can help determine where we pursue new projects.

Other communities factor cut-through traffic into their rubric for Traffic Calming qualification. Would you support addressing cut-through traffic by adding diverters and bicycle boulevard treatments to problem locations?

I would support these measures in areas where cut through traffic has been identified as a problem and where feedback from residents, especially cyclists, the elderly and young people who walk on our streets, demonstrates that diverters and bicycle boulevards would have a positive impact on those that live and traverse through the neighborhood.

Do you support reducing vehicle lanes for a low-stress bicycle and pedestrian network, assuming it increases vehicle travel time?

Road diets (Roadway reconfiguration) have been successfully implemented in my ward, notably on Green Road near where I live. Reducing lanes has been shown to make roads safer for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. Federal Highway Administration data shows reducing lanes from four down to three results in a 19-47% reduction in crashes. I’ll support reducing vehicle lanes when city staff determines, through data and feedback, that reductions are prudent.

What are your thoughts on eliminating or reducing current parking minimums for new developments in Ann Arbor?

I support eliminating parking minimums. Parking minimums make building new housing unduly expensive, contributing to higher rents and less walkable neighborhoods, so eliminating parking minimums is one way to help improve affordability. I believe it’s better for developers to use a market based standard for determining how much parking to build, based on demand and the specific location, rather than relying on the city to create a generic standard for all new developments

What are your thoughts on Vision Zero (striving towards zero fatalities or serious injuries)?

Growing up, I remember pedestrian deaths in my ward on Plymouth Road and in front of Huron High School. Those deaths shook our community and are a personal reason I support working toward our Vision Zero Goals. We won’t be able to implement every recommendation of the plan, but remembering the stakes, and focusing on the actions with highest returns for safety and reducing stress for residents, while using pilot programs and soliciting feedback will help the plan go the furthest.

Should a portion of road millage money be allocated towards crosswalks, pedestrian infrastructure, and a bicycle network? Why or why not?

It makes sense to me that road millage money should be used to make our roads safer for motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. When we invest in crosswalks, pedestrian infrastructure and a bicycle network, the return is not just fewer crashes and injuries, but an increase in those who use our streets without relying on a vehicle, reducing carbon emissions. We have to be diligent with taxpayer money, but for projects that show benefits to quality of life and safety, I’d support using these funds.

Should Ann Arbor have a specialist staff member devoted to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure?

I would be in favor of more staff attention to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure but would want to hear more from the city administrator and current staff before making a decision.

Please share your short- and long-term vision for transportation and mobility in Ann Arbor.

Short-term, I want the city to focus on improving the safety of our most dangerous corridors and intersections and to implement the pilot programs underway that have been shown to be successful. Long-term, I want the city to work with the AAATA to make Ann Arbor as transit friendly as possible, so the system has the frequency and capacity to be used as a primary option. I also want to pursue zoning that allows more Ann Arborites to live within a 20 minute walk of essential needs.

What makes you a strong candidate in regards to walking and bicycling in our community?

​Growing up here, I’ve walked and biked much of the city. I remember when Ann Arbor had few adequate crosswalks, and I’ve noticed areas that are still unsafe to cross within my neighborhood. My time as a low income individual without a car trying to navigate the city informs the perspective I’ll bring to council. My education and professional experience lead me to value data and the input of experts, and I have a personal motivation to solve transportation problems.


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