The City of Tucson has hired local planner Ann Chanecka to take over the bicycle and pedestrian program coordinator position.
Chanecka replaces former bicycle and pedestrian coordinator Tom Thivener who left to head Calgary’s bicycle program at the end of May.
Chanecka begins at the city on Sept. 17 and is trying to wrap up projects at Pima Association of Governments where she worked on planning projects.
She said she is excited to work for the city because she wanted be able to actually implement the projects she worked on rather than create the plans.
She said when she starts, she wants to get up to speed with where the bicycle and pedestrian program currently is and then start moving forward. As of now, she is responsible for the bicycle, pedestrian and Americans with Disability Act compliance programs. She is hoping in the future she will be able to add some staff to accomplish more.
Chanecka’s duties at PAG will be dispersed throughout existing PAG employees, but many of the responsibilities will fall to Gabe Thum an long-time PAG employee.
I was able to ask Chanecka about her thoughts on bicycling in general, the streetcar and the city’s focus on bike boulevards. Below you will find a mix of interview thoughts and email followups.
Chanecka’s biking philosophy
“Personally I enjoy biking for a ton of reasons including the positive benefits it has for my health, the environment, my bank account and perhaps most importantly because it is FUN! As a transportation planner, I strongly believe it is important to provide a balanced network so that people have the option of walking or biking. My primary focus is to encourage more people to walk or bicycle to meet their transportation needs; however, they need to feel safe while doing that. At this point I aim to get out the next wave of cyclists, the ones who are ‘interested in riding but concerned’. I would love to see a broader group of people out there cycling: more commuters, families, kids, grandparents, etc. In order to achieve that, I think the most important thing is to provide facilities they feel comfortable on, where they are separated from traffic moving really fast.”
“I am excited about the streetcar because it will be another available alternate mode option available in Tucson. I think it will be very positive for our community for many reasons. However, I am also aware of the danger of mixing streetcar tracks and bicyclists. I know there are some signage, markings and coloring treatments in the plans to try to help cyclists navigate the tracks. I also hope to work on some alternative routes on nearby roads to the streetcar for cyclists who would prefer a different route choice.”
She said she is planning to become much more familiar with the plans in the coming weeks and ensure that the accommodations are happening and happening in a timely fashion. Additionally she said she has a good working relationship with Thivener and would likely speak with him if critical questions pop up.
“I agree with the city’s vision and goals for a network of bicycle boulevards throughout Tucson and I look forward to implementing them. I see them as a low cost solution to providing a more comfortable and direct facility for the large segment of the population who aren’t comfortable riding on busy streets with traffic traveling very fast. I also am excited about bicycle boulevards because they make roads more attractive and comfortable for other users too. In some communities they are doing away with the bicycle boulevard term because it can be alienating, but they are still focusing on the same kinds of improvements. The improvements also benefit pedestrians, transit riders and the livability of neighborhoods.”
She said bicycle boulevards are a good way to reach a whole new segment of the population by providing routes that have fewer conflicts with vehicles.
She said she also sees Pima County’s Loop system as a great way to get people who don’t feel comfortable riding in traffic onto their bikes. She said she is excited to work with the county to increase access to The Loop.