Mayoral Candidates Questions and Answers

The Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan is the city's road map for improving active transportation policies and infrastructure, but was last adopted in 2017. If you are elected, will you propose, advocate for, and, if passed by the Common Council, sign a budget in 2023 that funds a consultant to update Fitchburg's now-outdated Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan (estimated cost $25,000-50,000) in 2024?

Julia Arata-Fratta
Biking is part of our identity as a community. We are one of the bicycle-friendly communities designated by the League of American bicyclists. The trend in cities is to include/approach pedestrian and bicycle planning when designing new neighborhoods and business parks. Fortunately, our city has a network of 45 miles of sidewalks and 22 miles of shared-use paths and trails within the city.

I was at the Council when we approved the 2017 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan. It is a robust plan with over 100 pages and many recommendations. Many of the recommendations from that plan are already accomplished or in progress or rolling out, like the B-cycle. But since our city is in motion and growing, I will support an update of the plan to determine what else the city can do to improve pedestrian conditions and how to stimulate residents to enjoy our bike paths, sidewalks, and other transit options.

Randy Udell

Yes. Alder Maldonado has proposed using ARPA/TID money to update the plan. We will see if that passes. If it does not, I will support an update of the plan and will work, as always, to ensure the cost is in line with other similar projects. It may be the cost range in the question is the right range. If we can get it done for less, I will support that too!

Please speak freely about what you think active transportation (biking of all kinds and walking) means to the city, and whether and how you would work as mayor to make walking, recreational, and transportation biking safer, easier, and more fun.

Julia Arata-Fratta
Active transportation like biking and walking contributes to reducing gas emissions and protecting our environment and air quality and motivates people to a healthy routine improving physical and mental health. As a mayor, I will advocate for building a safe pedestrian infrastructure by reducing speed limits and providing separate spaces for people bicycling, walking, and driving. I will support the design of successful bike lanes on new roads or while reconstructing roads.

I will push for land use patterns, we should start designing new neighborhoods and business clusters around pedestrian accessibility. Ensure supermarkets or other amenities like green spaces and schools are accessible without a car and connected to bike paths and trails. Have you heard of the concept of Fifteen Minute City? The concept is to ensure that urban residents in high-density areas can achieve most of their essential functions within a 15-minute walk or bike. This policy focuses on access and puts people's needs at the forefront of planning decisions. It would be great to apply in Fitchburg, but because of how geographically our city was designed and planned, it would not be easy to implement. However, we can try to apply this in new residential clusters. I am very excited about the new B-Cycle initiative coming to Fitchburg. We should expand it to every corner of the city.

Randy Udell
Fitchburg is a more livable and healthier City because of the opportunities available for biking, walking, and outdoor activities. I know the Bike Committee, which works closely with Bike Fitchburg, has been focused on safety, community input, increasing our biking network and moving towards applying for Gold Status with the Bike League of America. My understanding is that we should hear soon whether we will attain Gold Status (we are currently at Silver Status).

I also appreciate the work that has been done to make biking safer and more accessible by adding more trails/multi use paths, working on traffic calming including reducing the speed limit on Seminole Highway, adding the Bike Bridge over McKee, adding bike sharing with Trek BCycle and hosting Bike Safety Rodeos which include Bike Giveaways for our youth at Leopold and at Fountain Apartments.