Seattle’s new transportation director on electrical automobiles, distant work, firm shuttles, and extra – GeekWire

Greg Spotts, the brand new director of Seattle’s Division of Transportation. (SDOT Photograph)

Since transferring from Los Angeles to take the helm of Seattle’s Division of Transportation in September, Greg Spotts has been busy studying about his new house.

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 come back together with him.

Spotts additionally staked out his primary precedence in a Seattle Occasions editorial: making Seattle’s streets safer. One in all his first duties was ordering a overview 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 Companies, 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 assist transportation within the metropolis, electrical automobiles, 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 assist transportation?

Greg Spotts: One of many explanation why I got here right here is that Seattle is rising and its progress is powered by innovation. I see a lot pleasure round innovation and transportation on this neighborhood. I believe there’s an amazing quantity of potential to work collectively.

Particularly, people might help us actually perceive the place distant work goes in order that we are able to plan the transportation community accordingly.

Additionally, assist your staff work out, 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 snug, straightforward, secure and nice for people to not convey their very own automobile when they’re coming to work, and perhaps even combine different issues like micro-mobility, corresponding 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 flexibility to faucet into these different alternatives.

In case you might construct one transportation app, what wouldn’t it be?

Wouldn’t be nice if I might simply take a type of choices on a map app and instantly order that up or find it and pay for it? A form of omni-transportation app for city dwellers who’re multimodal can be a heck of numerous enjoyable.

Greg Spotts. (SDOT Photograph / Jeanné Clark)

Speak about widespread sense measures that may scale back visitors deaths.

It isn’t nearly widespread sense. It’s truly about making essentially 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 latest assembly, our visitors engineer requested me, “when do we have now license to completely prioritize security over queuing or delays or every other consider working the highway system?” And I stated, “Immediately. 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 concentrate on security relatively than visitors throughput.

What’s the function of enforcement?

After we’re quick law enforcement officials, it’s more durable to employees visitors enforcement. However then there’s additionally this extra query of how visitors enforcement has traditionally generally introduced individuals of colour involved with the prison justice system in methods which can be inequitable. Automated cameras is perhaps a option to create extra of a disincentive to drive quick with out the sort of unintended fairness impacts of human enforcement.

What cities do you admire for his or her transportation infrastructure?

There are numerous cities that I love, 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 bought to see how the setting on the waterfront radically modified.

I additionally thought the model new neighborhood that was made in South Lake Union was world class streetscape: the large 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 setting a lot of that kind of extra human-scale road.

“I imagine that the period of transportation planners drawing strains on a map after which telling the neighborhood what they’re going to get must be over.”

What are some classes you realized in Los Angeles that you’re taking to your new job?

Two issues, and they’re very completely different. I wish to co-create initiatives with communities, particularly underserved communities. I’m very proud to have accomplished that in number of completely different sorts of initiatives giant and small. I imagine that the period of transportation planners drawing strains on a map after which telling the neighborhood what they’re going to get must be over.

Secondly, the final couple of years I’ve been an innovator in adopting zero emissions automobiles into the municipal fleet that helps metropolis operations and development. I’d actually wish to convey a few of that management experience to SDOT’s fleet and perhaps additionally assist different metropolis departments.

What’s the function of electrical automobiles within the metropolis?

I like the concept of right-sizing the car after which electrifying. I actually don’t like a 5,000-pound electrical SUV delivering two kilos of pad thai. I’d relatively have that delivered by a 100-pound little robotic. I like the concept that the sort of batteries we have now at the moment open up every kind of latest kind components for various kinds of automobiles.

Any ideas on firm shuttles?

In my listening excursions, somebody lately requested: if a hospital has a bit of shuttle bus that circulates across the neighborhood, wouldn’t it be attainable for different individuals to make use of that, a cool micro-transit linkage? And that’s an attention-grabbing query for the company shuttles as effectively. Sharing sources could possibly be a means to assist us transfer in direction of a decrease carbon footprint.

How can individuals on foot, scooters, bicycles and automobiles all get alongside?

I’m enthusiastic about making a public realm that’s a nice, secure and orderly place to be for no matter mode you select to make use of at a given time. A extremely nice instance is our Madison Avenue venture 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 sort of venture the place we’re actually altering a hall to work higher and extra harmoniously for all customers. And I discover that very thrilling.

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