Below is a joint letter from Seattle’s Transportation Advisory Boards, which was sent to Mayor Durkan last month. As the search for a new SDOT director stretches on, we thought our readers would be interested in what the advisory boards want to see from the department going forward. – ed.
As members of the Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB), Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board (SBAB), Seattle Transit Advisory Board (STAB), and the Seattle Freight Advisory Board (SFAB) we would like to congratulate you on your election as mayor and anticipate many positive and challenging transitions for Seattle in the years to come.
A new director of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will have a significant impact on the modes of transportation that we each represent and as such we hope to weigh in on the nationwide search. We hope you will consider our positions and concerns in choosing the next SDOT director. These advisory boards decided it would be more beneficial for you to receive a collaborative letter, as we are not simply modal silos, but passionate Seattle residents who desire a safe and efficient city that accommodates and embraces all modes of transportation.
We have compiled a list of key values and experience that we would like see reflected in the new SDOT director. Many of the values listed below drive our own commitment as volunteer stewards of the city’s alternative transportation and freight transportation advisory groups. Webring a diversity of skills, backgrounds, and expertise, and reflect the diverse community of people trying to move safely and easily around Seattle.
All four boards have highlighted a desire for a new director with experience in:
- Equitable and data-driven decision-making,
- Coalition building, and
- Thorough and efficient implementation of safe streets policies.
Thank you for your consideration and please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.
Seattle Pedestrian Advisory Board (SPAB)
Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board (SBAB)
Seattle Transit Advisory Board (STAB)
Seattle Freight Advisory Board (SFAB)
Desired Experience and Values for New SDOT Director
PEDESTRIAN ADVISORY BOARD
- Demonstrated experience with operationalizing equity. SPAB members identify a lack of consistency in pedestrian safety improvements in low income communities and communities of color. (e.g. some streets have flashing lights, signs and striping, some have one of them, and others have none).
- Broad vision for a multi-modal and safe city. SPAB members request that newleadership at SDOT must consider the city’s transportation networks in sync with othersocial and health issues, such as the Race and Social Justice Initiative, ending homelessness, youth access to open spaces, and seniors to comfortably access naturalareas or community resources. New leadership must also consider the city’stransportation networks in sync with other social and health issues, such as the Race and Social Justice Initiative, ending homelessness, youth access to open spaces, and seniors to comfortably access natural areas or community resources.
- Broad vision for a multi-modal and safe city. SPAB members request that new leadership at SDOT prioritize the comfort, safety, and mobility of people walking even in the face of competing desires such as moving vehicular traffic quickly using adaptive signals.
- Experience in efficient project delivery. The Move Seattle transportation levy is off track. The new SDOT director should be confident creating an agency that can deliver projects on time and on budget, and be able provide leadership to find solutions to complete the promised voter approved list of projects.
TRANSIT ADVISORY BOARD
- Broad experience implementing a wide variety of mobility solutions with a diverse set of community groups. STAB members request that the new SDOT Director emphasize the importance of all modes playing an important role in creating a safe, complete transportation system.
- Strong operations and personnel management experience. We believe Seattle has a clear vision for a safe, interconnected city and funding to bring that promise to fruition.
- STAB members hope the new SDOT Director will have skills to unite the department to fulfill the promises made the Move Seattle Levy.
- Strong commitment to equity and accessibility to all users. STAB members would like the new SDOT Director to have successfully increased transportation equity in a past role, experience that we hope could inform how SDOT moves the needle on improving transportation equity in Seattle
- Strong political experience and relationship building skills. STAB members hope the highly political SDOT Director position is filled by someone who can quickly understand Seattle’s politics and work to build consensus among stakeholders.
BICYCLE ADVISORY BOARD
- Commitment to implement priorities of the Bicycle Master Plan in a timely manner: promote ridership, safety, connectivity, equity and livability for all ages and abilities.
- Demonstrated ability of coalition building around competing transportation interests.
- Understanding of the importance of upholding commitment to Vision Zero principles.
- Previous experience managing the unique needs and issues of rapidly growing urban areas.
- Commitment to Seattle Climate Action Plan of zero net carbon emissions by 2050.
FREIGHT ADVISORY BOARD
Questions to Ask SDOT Director Candidates:
- Like many urban cities, Seattle has a range of transportation modes all competing within a limited right of way. How have you worked toward, and what are your strategies for coordinating and setting priorities for multi-modal transportation investments? What strategies have you deployed to keep all modes safe while keeping all modes viable. How will you manage and structure your teams to make sure all modes have adequate advocacy?
- Seattle enjoys a unique position along a global trade route with well-developed transportation infrastructure. How have you worked, or how will you work to preserve the jobs and economy that relies on this interconnected and intermodal network to ensure the region’s’ economic vitality? What would be your priorities for maintaining and preserving this system to keep it viable into the future?
- Like many urban communities, Seattle is challenged with growing income inequality that has led to affordable housing and homelessness challenges. Our two large Manufacturing Industrial Centers are critical for providing family wage jobs. These centers are supported by rail and roadway and port infrastructure. How can we make sure these facilities are maintained at a level that keeps manufacturing and industrial centers viable and resilient for the future?
- What is your approach to data driven and performance based decision making. Vancouver B.C.’s clogged freight transportation system adds one billion dollars a year to infrastructure costs? What freight performance measures are you familiar with and what measures would you apply in Seattle? How would you utilize real economic factors in establishing priorities for infrastructure investment and development?