SC House Candidates Answer our Questions

House District 17 Mike Burns (Incumbent)

 

Burns1)  What do you think your role is in improving walking and biking infrastructure in upstate South Carolina?

I serve on the GPATS (Greenville-Pickens Area Transportation Study) policy council which includes our county….and I support a planned corporate plan for both bikers and walkers…….also a planned strategy to move those who choose to move around the area without a car……..I also started a business on the SR (Swamp Rabbit) trail in T.R(Travelers Rest)……full disclosure

  • 2) What do you think are the biggest transportation challenges in the Upstate? Do you think walking, biking and transit play a role in solving those challenges? How?

I believe we are on a good tract with walk/bike…..but we lag in moving to transit locals out of Greenville

3) Land-use policies have a major impact on how people get around. Numerous studies show if you build pedestrian and bike-related infrastructure, people will use it. In addition, this type of infrastructure is much cheaper to build and maintain than car-based infrastructure. But when new construction is not required to include pedestrian and/or bike infrastructure, it is very often not included, limiting people’s options, and make foot and bicycle transportation less safe. What role do you think the state plays in helping manage growth to ensure Upstate residents have transportation options?

So far, I see it as a local issue much more than a state issue……if it becomes a majority state issue, then we will end up short, just as we do now……a donor county….however, I believe that we should  continue the chase for fed funds….i.e….continue the swamp rabbit to jones gap state park and connect statewide to the palmetto trail which trails to the Atlantic in it’s plan

4) The Swamp Rabbit Trail has had a huge impact on the economy and quality of life in the Greenville area, and there are plans to extend the trail to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. Some, but not all, of this can be grant funded. What other revenue sources will you propose for expanding the Swamp Rabbit Trail?

The county continues to attain fed funds for this

5) Would you support the legislation allowing a penny sales tax option for road improvements, including for biking and walking infrastructure, be granted to cities?

The people spoke on this issue in a county referendum……the support is not there………

6) What role do you think the state should play in making it safer for children to walk and bike to school?

The state responsibility is to get kids safely to school via state funded transportation……..bikes and sidewalks are a planned local decision using state money.

7) Tell us about your personal experiences riding a bike, running or walking for recreation, exercise or transportation.

I walk about 8 mikes a week at Furman Univ……and have ridden the s/w trail in t.r….it is wonderful.

Mr Burns has no opposition in the Republican Primary.

District 22 House Candidate Jason Elliot

Elliot1)What do you think your role is in improving walking and biking infrastructure in upstate South Carolina?

As a runner and want-to-be cyclist, I know how key improving the walking and biking infrastructure in our state is for quality of life and economic development. I think my role is two-fold. I can help raise awareness of the need for better infrastructure as a member of the State House, but also help to redesign our long-term thinking on walking and biking infrastructure. The state can help mandate better sidewalks and bike-only trails as part of new road construction. When I say, bike-only trails I do not mean a strip of asphalt that gets put to the side of a highway and accumulates with gravel. I think actual separate lanes that are separated from motor traffic is a possible answer.

2) What do you think are the biggest transportation challenges in the Upstate? Do you think walking, biking and transit play a role in solving those challenges? How? Our biggest transportation problem is the condition of roads. We can talk about driver-less cars, rapid buses and express trains in the future, but those aren’t addressing the major problems we have with a poor road system. We can’t keep kicking the can down the metaphorical and physical road on this one. We need funding solutions. Better biking infrastructure would help alleviate some of the congestion and road wear-and-tear problems, but that is a small part of the solution. But we need better planning of housing and business first. We need better education. The average person isn’t go to ride a bike across two counties for work. They need to be able drive roads that are safe.

3) Land-use policies have a major impact on how people get around. Numerous studies show if you build pedestrian and bike-related infrastructure, people will use it. In addition, this type of infrastructure is much cheaper to build and maintain than car-based infrastructure. But when new construction is not required to include pedestrian and/or bike infrastructure, it is very often not included, limiting people’s options, and make foot and bicycle transportation less safe. What role do you think the state plays in helping manage growth to ensure Upstate residents have transportation options?

I agree that land-use policies play a major part in how people use pedestrian and bike-related infrastructure. However, I also believe that needs to be done on a local level. The state shouldn’t mandate what cities and counties do. That being said, as a state rep I will work with local officials to find ways to create better land-use policies. My district has numerous key corridors such as Wade Hampton, Pelham and Roper Mountain Road that are not friendly to cyclists. Actually, we discussed to a community District 22 bike ride for the campaign, but decided against it because the roads were too dangerous. I see the problem.

4) The Swamp Rabbit Trail has had a huge impact on the economy and quality of life in the Greenville area, and there are plans to extend the trail to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. Some, but not all, of this can be grant funded. What other revenue sources will you propose for expanding the Swamp Rabbit Trail?

Again, I am a big fan of the Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail and use it often. However, that is a project mainly of the City of Greenville, Greenville County and corporate donors. The last is key. I know that Leadership Greenville did a funding study a few years ago that showed how the county could raise funds to add more to the trail by going to companies and business along the trail. A beta version of this helped build new rest shelters along the trail. The funding mechanism is self-sustainable if used. Not every funding dollar needs to come from government.

5) Would you support the legislation allowing a penny sales tax option for road improvements, including for biking and walking infrastructure, be granted to cities?

Yes, municipalities need to be able to use that option.

6) What role do you think the state should play in making it safer for children to walk and bike to school?

I can tell you what it shouldn’t do: That is try to push through anti-biking legislation like my opponent in District 22 did two years ago. My opponent authored a bill that would require cyclists to get liability insurance and register with the state. That is the worst kind of legislation. Protecting children on the way to school needs to be a major priority. The state can do thing such as raise fines for speeding in school zones, failure to yield for cyclists and the like.

7) Tell us about your personal experiences riding a bike, running or walking for recreation, exercise or transportation.

I exercise at least 5 days a week. I regularly walk and run for recreation and exercise. When possible, I walk for transportation. I usually bike the Swamp Rabbit Trail 4 times per year. I see the benefits of living in walkable and bike-able city. One of my favorite things to do when visiting a big city is to walk and bike for recreation and transportation. A goal for our city is to make it more biker and walker friendly.

The other district 22 candidate, incumbent Wendy Nanney did not respond to our questions.

 

Thanks to Greenville Spinners Vice President Sarah Franco who contacted all of the upstate legislative delegation with our questions!

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