Dr. Dennis Pocekay – 2018

Name Dennis Pocekay
Candidate for: City Council
1.    Do you ride a bicycle in Petaluma for recreation or transportation?  Why or why not?  What has been your experience? I have been a confirmed hiker for the most part, but I bike for recreation intermittently, when my arthritic knee flares.  When my knee hurts, I find it easier to get exercise on my bike, and so I have experienced most of our bike routes, including the Lynch Creek Trail.  I find it very difficult to cover much ground without including some streets that I consider less than safe.  I suppose that I am also influenced in this regard by my experience as a physician who has been involved in the treatment of several doctor friends who suffered serious injury while biking. Based on my limited experience, I think we have a long way to go relative to bike safety.
2. What role does bicycling and walking play in your vision for the future development of Petaluma?  If elected what strategies/ tools/resources would you utilize to realize this vision? In terms of my vision for Petaluma, bicycling may be second only to affordable housing.  There is no easy solution to our traffic issues; we simply have to get cars off the road.  Bicycling infrastructure costs less than automobile infrastructure, and improving it will increase ridership AND rider safety.  We will then reap the twin health benefits of physical activity and cleaner air.  If we emphasize affordable housing near transit, the table will be set.  We can then institute bike-share programs, and incentivize employer actions such as workplace showers (the lack of which kept a sweater like me from biking to work).  I would consider the small city of Davis, CA as a model, and study what has worked and not worked there.  I would certainly seek input from the local biking community at every stage.  And we will still need to improve our public transit system for walkers.    
3.  What are Petaluma’s biggest transportation challenges?   What policies or projects would you promote to address these challenges? Our biggest transportation challenge is getting cars off the road.  I would like to build affordable housing near transit that gives preference to families that agree to give up their cars.  How about 12 parking spaces for 50 families, each occupied by a community electric Zip car (or similar)?  I also think we need to consider charging for parking when a car does not contain at least 3 people, to incentivize employers to flex schedules and allow telecommuting, and to encourage transit use.
4.  Petaluma streets are increasingly congested and worn if elected, how would you propose to improve infrastructure in the City? In terms of road repair, the near term is dependent on defeating the repeal of the SB 1 gas tax.  The widening /elevation of Hwy 101 is also dependent on defeating this repeal.  Beyond SB 1, improvements in infrastructure depend first on finding additional revenue to balance the city budget.  This might be accomplished by a Cannabis dispensary, a partial repurposing of the fairgrounds, an increase in TOT, or a bond issue; there are other possibilities as well.  Our traffic congestion is a different problem.  The Rainier connector is not possible in less than 7-8 years, and we must seek improvements sooner.  We must improve our public transit, and revisit all ways to decrease trips and share rides.  We should consider adding traffic signals, and improving their timing.  I would also try to develop incentives for getting folks on bikes, even electric bikes.
5.  Why should people who care about street safety, bicycling and walking issues vote for you? Because I am a frequent walker, an occasional cyclist, and interested in a healthier (and safer) Petaluma.  I understand that cycling and walking are excellent forms of exercise that are accessible to all ages and associated with better health.  Efforts to make our city more walkable and cyclable will require building higher and near transit, which will in turn improve traffic and reduce road wear.  Reduced traffic will also allow safer walking and cycling.