Marc Hunt Primary Answers
1. Are you planning to attend “The Step Right Up” on Sept. 22nd?
Yes, can’t wait!
2. Tell us something about your transportation habits. How do you get around Asheville?
Many of the trips I make locally are by bicycle. I occasionally use transit, but frankly, the bike is the frequent choice between the two as I find it quicker, more flexible, and supportive of my health and fitness. My wife and I share a Prius and a Subaru, with the Prius seeing more miles that the Subaru.
3. What recent advancement in Asheville’s transportation infrastructure do you think has had the greatest impact on our community? Why?
As for already-implemented measures, development of bike lanes in several key places, especially Clingman Avenue and the South Slope area of downtown, have served to not only increase safety for cyclists, it has inspired folks to choose the bike over the automobile. It’s when we make the cultural shift to CHOOSE non-automobile forms of transportation that we’ll really gain traction toward large-scale reduction in vehicle miles travelled. Changes to the Transit Master Plan that increase route frequency in some areas to thirty-minute intervals is another great advance, but is yet to be implemented.
4. Even if you haven’t held elected office, you’ve likely been an active member of Asheville’s community. Please describe one thing you’ve done to make our city friendlier to pedestrians, cyclists and/or bus riders.
As a Council-appointed member of the Asheville Greenway Commission for five years and chairman for two and a half, I have vigorously led several successful efforts to improve planning, like gaining a city commitment to overlay bike, pedestrian, greenway, and transit master plans, and to implement great greenway projects like the recently acquired Hominy Creek Green-way.
5. As a council member, would you advocate for the implementation of the city’s Bicycle Master Plan? If so, in what specific ways? If not, why not?
I strongly favor implementation of the plan. We need to strategically refine an ordered list of project priorities extending out for several years, attach estimated costs, and then define an affordable and well-leveraged funding approach that will allow us to make steady progress in implementation. Steady incremental progress, year-in and year-out, is the key.
6. As a council member, would you advocate for the implementation of the Transit Master Plan? If you’d advocate for the plan, how would you encourage increasing ridership? If you wouldn’t advocate for the plan, why not?
Yes, I would advocate for the implementation of the plan, including the recent revisions. With the implementation of several convenient 30-minute interval routes, we have the opportunity to gain ridership especially among elective riders. I would strongly consider funding to support for a short-term marketing push to promote those routes and see if we could stimulate a permanent and inspirational change in transit-use habits by the public. I also would be insistent in on-time schedule performance of our system, another measure that will improve convenience and build followership.
7. What role do you think greenways play in Asheville’s future?
Green-ways provide several key benefits to the community including in the areas of environmental and water quality, recreation and health, redevelopment, and transportation. The reasonable investment we make in strategically-sited greenways will leverage strong results on all these fronts and contribute to greater quality of life and economic development. Greenways will always be the most inspirational elements of our bicycle and pedestrian transportation network, and they will be key to growth in usage.
8. Past City Councils invested in planning efforts. Our city has a Sustainability Management Plan, a Greenway Master Plan, a Bicycle Master Plan, a Transit Master Plan, and a Pedestrian Thoroughfare Plan. The next step is to fund the implementation of these plans. In these hard economic times, how would you propose to fund these plans? Or, do these plans need to be cut? If you think the plans need to be trimmed, what plans or pieces of plans should be cut?
The plans all indicate various projects and implementation strategies, generally leaving the pace and priority of implementation to city leaders to decide over time. There is no need to cut significant portions of any of the plans, as they are periodically updated and any changes can be taken care of in the updates. As a member of Council I will strongly advocate for strategic funding programs, (for example general obligation bond financing), that will assure steady-paced implementation of the plans. The two key advantages to strategic multi-year funding commitments are that, a) projects can be well planned far in advance and prioritized in the best strategic order, and b) city taxpayer funding can be maximally leveraged as staff and partner nonprofits have plenty of lead time to fundraise for known project budgets. Of course the financial commitments would need to meet the affordability test in the context of the city’s long-term budget priorities.
9. What is the most compelling reason to improve transportation options in Asheville?
Environmental. Reducing vehicle miles traveled means lowered carbon emissions and reduced climate change; it means less air pollution; it means less impervious surface and harmful stormwater runoff; it means an improved greenways program and improved stream protection; and it means greater engagement of our citizens with the outdoors – especially children –to improve environmental awareness.