November 2022 Election 2022 Novato City Council Candidate Questionnaire

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Marin County Bicycle Coalition cannot endorse candidates for public office, but we are able to share information so that you can arrive at your own conclusion. Below are the 2022 City of Novato candidates’ responses to our questionnaire on bicycling in Marin. We have made no content changes. Thanks to the candidates for their time and thoughtful answers.

Candidates’ campaign websites may be accessed by clicking on those with a highlighted name. Those who did not provide a campaign website are not highlighted.

Here are the candidates on the November ballot for the City of Novato:

City of Novato District 2

City of Novato District 4

City of Novato District 5

  • Mark Milberg

Personal Travel

1. Do you ride a bicycle? If so, for what purposes and how often? (transportation/road/mtb)

District 2

Rachel Farac:

  • a. Commuting: Never, I work from home.

  • b. Errands: Never

  • c. Road recreational: Never

  • d. Mountain biking or trails: Never

Andy Podshadley:

  • a. Commuting: Never

  • b. Errands: Never

  • c. Road recreational: 1 day/week

  • d. Mountain biking or trails: 1 day/week

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: 

I enjoy riding bicycles however I don’t ride very often. I used to.

The future of transportation I hope will be a result of open and free markets and not a result of social engineering or mandates.

I see a future where many different methods of transportation exist simultaneously in a responsible community that does not vilify combustion engines which are our best practice at least for the foreseeable future.

Energy costs and distribution issues are some of the many methods used to control masses and consolidate power structures.

Battery technology is more polluting than most will admit. Wind and solar have their pitfalls.  We must allow all our options to remain on the table if we are to be competitive in a global market.

Pat Eklund:

  • a. Commuting: Never

  • b. Errands: Never

  • c. Road recreational: Never

  • d. Mountain biking or trails: Never

Nicole Garnder: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


2. If you own a bike, what type of bike(s) do you have and ride? If not, when was the last time you rode a bike, and where (on vacation, for example)?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

I own a mountain bike. I have two small kids under 2.5, so I have not been as active in bike riding. I love riding bikes on vacation.

Andy Podshadley:

Specialized Rockhopper-Specialized Hardrock-Nishiki

DISCTRICT 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

I own a bike and a helmet, but did not feel comfortable sharing the road with automobiles and trucks. So, I stopped biking.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


Vision

3. In your own words, describe your vision for the future of transportation in Novato.

District 2

Rachel Farac:

My vision is to promote more use of bikes, scooters and other method of transportation that reduce greenhouse gas emissions. I believe Novato has great potential to creating better bike routes, and other transportation methods.  I would love to implement  a partnership between the company Bird, a bike and scooter programs,  that provide eco-friendly transportation around Novato.

Andy Podshadley:

Continue the expansion of designated bike paths creating easy access to these paths and increase maintenance. This will enhance the many outdoor experiences available in Novato. Creating easy access to these paths will encourage more people to choose their bike for errands and commuting.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

Provide a safe route through Novato that links to other forms of transportation (bus and raill) with the use of bike lanes and separated pathways.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


Traffic

A large proportion of peak hour traffic is made of people driving their children to school. While some people live too far to easily walk or bike to school, many parents are simply afraid to let their children travel by foot or by bicycle because of the high volume and speeds of car traffic.

4. What strategies would make more parents feel safe with their children walking or biking to school, thereby reducing traffic and making everyone else’s trip to school a little safer?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

  1. I would collaborate with the schoolboard to consistently distribute communication about safety measures in schools and roads. Novato has safety guard crossings.

  2.  Also, I would implement a Novato Bike or Walk to school day. A Novato bike or walk to school day would encourage students and parents to walk to school and this could encourage families making it a regular event. They can see firsthand, the safety measures we have implemented.

  3. I think a community forum is important to gain feedback on our safe routes and where we need to make improvements.

Andy Podshadley:

I live in Novato and my children attended a middle school in Terra Linda. My son and daughter started riding their bikes to school. They were quickly joined by others and a teacher even joined the group. They had a great time. Parents need to ride with their children for the first few trips. This will get the children used to the possible safety concerns. We also need to have police presence in the morning during the school rush to enforce traffic laws. We also need to have the police teach bicycle safety and the rules of the road. This is a program that was started when I was young and needs to be restarted.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

As a member of Novato Safe Routes to School, we have increased the number of children walking and/or biking to school with the use of the buddy systems, designated drop off areas, etc.. I believe continuing the improvements of our infrastructure and continuing school crossing guards would help make families encourage their children to walk/bike to school which is 25% of our traffic in Novato.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


A survey from the Transportation Authority of Marin (Figure 18, p. 51) found that over half of Marinites would like to bike more than they currently do. This backs up research that shows that over 50% of adults are interested in biking, but concerned about the threat of fast-moving cars.

5. What concrete steps can be taken to allay these concerns and make people feel safe on bicycles?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

  1. Put together a local map of safe bike routes in Novato including fun stop along the way.

  2. Safety resource guide and even a training on bike safety at city hall.

  3. Set up a biking club where expert riders lead the less experienced riders.

Andy Podshadley:

Enforce the posted speed limit. In high traffic areas install permanent orange delineator (Cones) to separate traffic and cyclists. San Anselmo is doing a great job with the green marked bike lanes. If elected, I would research and visit other communities to see what is working best and discuss these ideas with my fellow council members.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

I advocated for an annual set aside in our capital improvement program for implementation of traffic calming improvements to ensure that not only will the residents feel safer, but they will be safer. We have initiated the use of speed tables, separated pathways, flashing lights for pedestrian/bike crossings, etc..

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


Safety

Traffic deaths and injuries are on the rise, both nationally and in Marin (this includes all road users, not just bicyclists). Many cities in California have enacted so-called Vision Zero
resolutions, setting an explicit goal to eliminate traffic deaths.

6. If elected to town Council, will you support such a resolution? If so, what actions do you see as being needed to improve safety? What are the relative roles of infrastructure, enforcement, and education?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

Yes I would absolutely support this type of resolution. I would want to partner with the schoolboard to teach youth the dangers of speeding. We had teens deaths this year because of a traffic collision. Create a community feedback program on how to increase traffic safety in Novato.

Andy Podshadley:

Yes, I would support the resolution.

Maintain bike paths, Enforce current speed limits. Educate our youth with regards to Bicycle and pedestrian safety and enforce the “Rules of the Road” that pertains to bicycles as well as other moving vehicles.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

I support considering a ‘Vision Zero’ resolution as long as it includes implementation of traffic calming measures. People drive too fast. Infrastructure improvements, enforcement and education all play a role in making our streets safer for all to use!

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


Climate Change

The latest IPCC report states clearly that greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced quickly in order to stave off the worst effects of climate change. According to Novato’s most recent Greenhouse Gas Inventory, transportation accounts for a majority (53%) of local greenhouse gas emissions. Given that battery electric cars make up 3% of California’s vehicle
fleet, and only 12% of new cars sold.

7. does reducing overall driving have a role in meeting our climate targets? If so, what policies can support transit, walking, and bicycling in place of driving for short trips?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

I think implementing a work from home program can help. As a council member I will work with other council members to promote EV charging stations and other non-profits that encourage EV usage.

Andy Podshadley:

This is such a difficult question. As a green candidate I think about this question often. I would like to see the coalition sponsor family bike events. Get families riding together. We need more bike racks throughout Novato. People seem to forget how fun it is to take a ride on their bike. Having bike events reminds people how much fun it is to ride.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

Schools generate about 25% of the traffic in Novato. I believe that our Safe Routes to School program can continue to reduce overall driving to and from our schools. If we had more funds to expand our Safe Routes to School program in Novato, we could expand the number of students who bike/walk to school.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


Project Delivery

Bicycle/pedestrian plan implementation is notoriously slow with typically fewer than one new bike lane project opening every year.

8. What steps would you take to hasten the project delivery process from inception to ribbon-cutting?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

Have public works prioritize these projects. Also, create a project management plan and utilize standardization for new bike lanes which will increase efficiencies.

Andy Podshadley:

Funding is most likely the issue in our community. I would like to implement creative financing options to alleviate this roadblock.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

Funding constraints are our major hurdle. If there were more funds available (without competition) from the County, State and/or Federal government, many more bicycle/pedestrian plans could be implemented to make our routes safer.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


In all things, there is a tension between “perfect but slow” and “quick and good enough.” Recent years have seen a move toward so-called “quick-build” infrastructure, allowing reconfiguration of streets to facilitate safer walking/biking without a years-long engineering process. While quick-build projects may be less aesthetically pleasing than the standard process, they are cheaper and happen much faster.

9. How do you rank aesthetic concerns of biking/waking infrastructure in comparison to those of cost and project speed?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

I think implementation of safe bike lanes are important. Safety needs to be the highest priority but I believe in most area aesthetically pleasing bike last are not a must.

Andy Podshadley:

There should be a balance. The areas in need of a bike path may be easy. However, there are those areas that need a little more work to make them safe and aesthetically pleasing.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

Getting projects completed that makes biking and walking safer is of paramount importance. I have not heard that ‘aesthetic’ concerns are an issue in Novato.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


Car Parking

Much of Marin has narrow streets, but on-street parking typically takes up between 30-40% of the street space between the curbs, and is often in tension with the need for dedicated bike lanes.

10. In your mind, are bike lanes ever sufficiently important to justify removing on-street parking, and in what circumstances would you consider that to be the case?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

In Novato, we have a few steep hills with low traffic where there is extremely low foot traffic. I do not see a need to add bank lanes because of the terrain.

Andy Podshadley:

Realistically parking will always be needed. This is something that needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis. There is not a blanket fix but this should definitely be fixed where possible.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

Bike lanes, especially on heavily used streets, are critical and do justify moving or removing on street parking. I personally support more use of separated pathways due to concerns about proximity to moving cars and trucks.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


11. Would you say that Novato has (A) not enough, (B) too much, or (C) just enough space dedicated to parking cars? If (A), what areas of town would you consider to convert to parking, and if (B) what would you do with the space that was previously parking?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

I think we have sufficient parking in Novato.

Andy Podshadley:

All of Novato has parking issues. Some of these issues can be removed by enforcing the 72-hour parking laws.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

There is never enough parking when you need it. Novato has a good balance, but as state housing laws are implemented, there will be a greater demand.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


Bike Parking

Many MCBC members report challenges with bicycle parking in the downtown area. Racks are few and far between, or not easily visible from shops and areas with high levels of foot
traffic.

12. What steps or policies would you advance on the council agenda to bring about better bicycle parking and reduce the chance of bicycle theft?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

I would love to add more bicycle parking in Novato especially downtown.

Andy Podshadley:

As stated above I would encourage more bike racks in traffic areas. I would also make this a part of the new construction permit process.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

I support the use of more bicycle parking areas and racks in the downtown area that will keep the bicycles safe. I would be glad to bring that forward to the Council.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


Due to recent changes in state law, the cities and towns of Marin are being compelled to zone for more multi-family housing. However, traffic is already unsustainable. To address this,
many cities have implemented what is known as Transportation Demand Management (TDM) in new developments, including replacing some car parking with bicycle parking, giving residents transit passes, or providing shared cars.

13. Do you support steps to require secure bike parking in new housing (and other policies to reduce driving), and, if so, how would you seek to implement them?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

Yes I think this is a great idea. We have a project being proposed with over 1000 units and I think having bike parking is a great idea. I will suggest this during the design phase which is on the 9/15.

Andy Podshadley:

Yes, I would support this effort. Make this a part of the permit process.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

I support requiring secure bike parking as part of our new Housing Element.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


Novato-Specific Question

Being the only north/south road that travels through the entire county, US 101 serves as a conduit for cars, but acts as a substantial barrier for people walking and biking. The presence of unsignalized, high-speed ramps leads to perceived (and real) threat to people outside of cars. The Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM) is initiating a process to reconfigure the US 101/Nave Drive freeway overpass.

14. How will you work with TAM and Caltrans to ensure that the final project is one children or older adults could traverse safely?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

Collaborating with them, providing input on design and incorporating feedback from the community.

Andy Podshadley:

I would support any project that would promote safe travels for all citizens of our community on our roadways.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

We have many on and off ramps that can be improved for safety of the public. For over 10 years, I have asked Caltrans and TAM to focus on the BMK overpass where bus riders try to cross the on-ramp at their peril of the traffic turning right from BMK on to the freeway. Again, funding is a major hurdle.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


Wrap Up

15. Why should people who ride bikes (or those who want to ride bikes but don’t yet) vote for you?

District 2

Rachel Farac:

I would be honored to have the support of the biking community.  Biking is an important method of transportation, exercise and a great hobby. As a mother, I understand the need for safe biking routes. I will support biking efforts and fight for a more bike-friendly Novato.

Andy Podshadley:

I am a Novato native, having been educated at local Novato elementary and middle schools and graduating from Novato High School. I have a common sense yet creative approach to address local issues. I believe one of those issues is access to safe bicycling in Novato.

District 4

Chris Carpiniello: No response

Pat Eklund:

I would be honored to have the support of the biking/walking community. I am a strong advocate for making improvements to ensure we have safe walking and biking lanes and pathways. I have been an active member of Novato’s Safe Routes to School Program for over a decade and have seen an increase of the number of students who walk and bike to school.

Nicole Gardner: No response

District 5

Mark Milberg: No response


2022 Novato City Council Candidate Questionnaire


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