Since shifting from Los Angeles to take the helm of Seattle’s Division of Transportation in September, Greg Spotts has been busy studying about his new dwelling.
His private Twitter feed is stuffed with images of Seattle roads, bridges, and eating places as he explores town by bicycle, foot and transit, inviting residents to return together with him.
Spotts additionally staked out his primary precedence in a Seattle Instances editorial: making Seattle’s streets safer. One in all his first duties was ordering a assessment of town’s Imaginative and prescient Zero plan to finish visitors deaths and critical damage by 2030. Final 12 months, Seattle noticed the highest quantity of visitors fatalities since 2006.
Spotts is the previous government officer and chief of sustainability officer on the Los Angeles Bureau of Avenue Providers, the place he led efforts to make town extra walkable, bikeable and transit-friendly.
In an interview with GeekWire, Spotts talked in regards to the significance of partaking with communities, how tech and enterprise sectors can help transportation within the metropolis, electrical autos, and extra.
“I’m each an admirer of Seattle and a change agent on behalf of Seattle,” stated Spotts, who based a small music expertise administration enterprise earlier than turning to public coverage.
The next interview was edited for brevity and readability.
What can enterprise and tech leaders do to help transportation?
Greg Spotts: One of many explanation why I got here right here is that Seattle is rising and its development is powered by innovation. I see a lot pleasure round innovation and transportation on this group. I feel there’s an incredible quantity of potential to work collectively.
Particularly, of us can assist us actually perceive the place distant work goes in order that we are able to plan the transportation community accordingly.
Additionally, assist your staff determine, on the times they’re coming to work, how we get them again onto transit. What do we have to do as employers to essentially make it comfy, simple, protected and nice for folk to not carry their very own automotive when they’re coming to work, and possibly even combine different issues like micro-mobility, comparable to scooters and e-bikes.
Micro-mobility makes the final mile faster and extra enjoyable. And proper now, once you give your staff an ORCA card (permits transportation funds within the Seattle area), it doesn’t present the power to faucet into these different alternatives.
For those who may construct one transportation app, what wouldn’t it be?
Wouldn’t be nice if I may simply take a kind of choices on a map app and instantly order that up or find it and pay for it? A type of omni-transportation app for city dwellers who’re multimodal can be a heck of plenty of enjoyable.
Speak about frequent sense measures that may cut back visitors deaths.
It isn’t nearly frequent sense. It’s really about making probably the most cost-effective interventions that save lives. And that must be data-driven and community-informed.
However one factor I can let you know is that at a current assembly, our visitors engineer requested me, “when do we now have license to completely prioritize security over queuing or delays or another consider working the street system?” And I stated, “At present. Now. Do it.”
At a time the place the downtown workplace buildings are solely 35-to-40% occupied, we are able to make changes to sign timing and different issues with a give attention to security fairly than visitors throughput.
What’s the function of enforcement?
After we’re brief law enforcement officials, it’s tougher to workers visitors enforcement. However then there’s additionally this extra query of how visitors enforcement has traditionally generally introduced individuals of colour in touch with the prison justice system in methods which might be inequitable. Automated cameras may be a technique to create extra of a disincentive to drive quick with out the type of unintended fairness impacts of human enforcement.
What cities do you admire for his or her transportation infrastructure?
There are plenty of cities that I like, together with Seattle. One of many explanation why I moved right here is there have been two issues right here that basically impressed me.
One was tearing down that Alaskan Manner Viaduct. I obtained to see how the surroundings on the waterfront radically modified.
I additionally thought the model new neighborhood that was made in South Lake Union was world class streetscape: the huge pedestrian methods and rain gardens, narrowing the vehicular a part of the road and integrating the streetcars. I selected to reside in South Lake Union as a result of I just like the constructed surroundings a lot of that kind of extra human-scale road.
What are some classes you discovered in Los Angeles that you’re taking to your new job?
Two issues, and they’re very totally different. I wish to co-create initiatives with communities, particularly underserved communities. I’m very proud to have carried out that in number of totally different sorts of initiatives massive and small. I imagine that the period of transportation planners drawing strains on a map after which telling the group what they’re going to get must be over.
Secondly, the final couple of years I’ve been an innovator in adopting zero emissions autos into the municipal fleet that helps metropolis operations and development. I’d actually wish to carry a few of that management experience to SDOT’s fleet and possibly additionally assist different metropolis departments.
What’s the function of electrical autos within the metropolis?
I like the concept of right-sizing the automobile after which electrifying. I actually don’t like a 5,000-pound electrical SUV delivering two kilos of pad thai. I’d fairly have that delivered by a 100-pound little robotic. I really like the concept that the type of batteries we now have at this time open up every kind of recent type elements for various kinds of autos.
Any ideas on firm shuttles?
In my listening excursions, somebody lately requested: if a hospital has a bit shuttle bus that circulates across the group, wouldn’t it be attainable for different individuals to make use of that, a cool micro-transit linkage? And that’s an fascinating query for the company shuttles as effectively. Sharing assets may very well be a method to assist us transfer in the direction of a decrease carbon footprint.
How can individuals on foot, scooters, bicycles and vehicles all get alongside?
I’m serious about making a public realm that’s a pleasing, protected and orderly place to be for no matter mode you select to make use of at a given time. A very nice instance is our Madison Avenue mission the place we’re constructing bus fast transit with heart bus boarding islands and guarded bike lanes. We’ve reorganized the geometry of five-way intersections for safer pedestrian and bike crossings. That’s the type of mission the place we’re actually altering a hall to work higher and extra harmoniously for all customers. And I discover that very thrilling.