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New head of SDOT a ‘bike-friendly’ leader

The city’s pick to head the Seattle Department of Transportation — on the left, above — is a bike-friendly dude.

Here’s what Seattle Bike Blog has to say about the appointment of Scott Kubly as SDOT chief:

“Scott is the visionary who will give transportation in Seattle the leadership it needs,” Mayor Ed Murray said during a press event introducing Kubly Wednesday. If confirmed by the City Council, Kubly will be the first permanent SDOT Director since Peter Hahn was swept out with the McGinn administration. Goran Sparrman has served as the Interim Director.

Kubly said Seattle’s challenge is to give people more options so people can continue to get around during a period of significant growth.

“We’ll give people choices, very attractive choices,” Kubly said at the press event. “People will chose to walk, bike and take transit because it is the most attractive to them.”

Kubly is clearly proud of the bike projects he has helped make happen, including a major role in launching Divvy in Chicago and expanding DC’s Capital Bikeshare. He also talked about creating protected bike lanes “for Seattleites 8-80″ years old.

“Scott is a transportation visionary,” said Mayor Ed Murray in a statement on the appointment. “He has a proven track record in Chicago and Washington, D.C. of advancing innovative solutions that address the full range of transportation needs of residents and businesses. He’s also a transportation renaissance man who’s virtually done it all: he’s worked on bikes issues, car share programs, traffic management and pedestrian safety strategies, rapid transit and street cars; he’s done long-range budgeting, strategic planning, cost reduction, major capital project development, and performance measurement and accountability. Scott is the transportation leader this city needs to take us to the next level in creating more livable, walking communities.”

Following the expected confirmation by the City Council, Kubly will earn an annual salary of $180,000. He is tasked with leading a department and planning process responsible for 750 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $400 million — in a city with the fourth worst traffic in the nation.

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28 thoughts on “New head of SDOT a ‘bike-friendly’ leader

  1. Tell me this is a joke! I thought McGinn was out of office. More transit yes, slow down on the bikes and try to balance the use of vehicles that are by far more used in this hilly and rainy city.

    • Seriously, you’re mad that he’s bike friendly? Did you read anything except the headline? “[H]e’s worked on bikes issues, car share programs, traffic management and pedestrian safety strategies, rapid transit and street cars.” What do you take issue with there? If you’re mad that exploding population means we need to discourage the use of cars, tough fucking luck.

    • McGinn’s style may have been rather abrasive, but for a big-city politician he was actually pretty moderate when it comes to transportation priorities, the recent unanimous vote in favor of the Bicycle Master Plan as just one example. A few cranky bike haters notwithstanding, it’s obvious to anyone who seriously studies urban mobility that a city the size of Seattle can’t function if everyone drives everywhere, and getting people out of cars means you need to provide real alternatives, including *gasp* bike infrastructure. So get used to it, because that’s life in the big city nowadays.

    • You’re right, we have hills and rain, so nobody bikes!! (keep those blinders on, make sure you don’t notice that we have the second highest rate of bike commuters in the US, and that the rate has grown significantly every year for the past two decades or so, and that spending even during the “eeevil” mcginn’s term was still well below the % of cyclists represented…)

      Don’t let facts stand in the way of your nonsensical, hateful ranting.

  2. are you fucking kidding,this is a disaster, appoint a bike freak in a city with water on all sides, hills everywhere and rain all the time! What we need is a visionary that can think big and come up with some big ideas to move our CARS around this city,Bikes will NEVER move a lot of people no matter what you do. they move one person at a time they can’t carry anything,and most riders ignore the traffic laws. Bike riders are a minority that has hijacked the agenda while cars sit in more traffic all the time because of less roads. BIKES will never cure our traffic mess.

    • I definitely agree. I am in favor of additional, dedicated bike lanes…as long as they are better-designed than the disaster along Broadway…..but I think there needs to be a balance, with some attention also given to car mobility and transit.

      In my opinion, the best way to get people out of cars is to build an extensive, city-wide light rail system. We are in the process of doing this, but it is taking decades.

    • Buses provide racks for cyclists to handle the hills. A lot of people take advantage of this. I see quite a few bikes where I am, and I live on James Street.

    • Levx,

      It is the future. But it doesn’t create enough union jobs maintaining the rail systems.

      Seattle will be stopping traffic just to vacuum out the street car rails.What a joke. Anything to sabotage the SOV and force people out of their cars. I can sabotage the traffic for less than 180,

    • You’re dead wrong on several of your points:
      “What we need is a visionary that can think big and come up with some big ideas to move our CARS around this city”

      The idea behind a transportation system is to move *PEOPLE* around the city, NOT cars. Allowing them to do so by bikes significantly reduces congestion for people who want to drive by car as well, and a still-large group of people who have stated they want to bike but don’t because of dangerous infrastructure means the there’s still a significant reduction in congestion available by moving toward safer cyclist infrastructure.

      “Bikes will NEVER move a lot of people no matter what you do.”

      Proven absolutely false by numerous European and Asian cities that do so just fine. And no, “rain! hills!” is not an effective counter-argument to this; high bike adoption cities have a wide array of different environments and survive just fine.

      “they move one person at a time they can’t carry anything,”

      So do cars, most of the time. So we use a car when we have to haul a LOT of stuff (I think you’d be surprised how much I can carry in my panniers), or carry a group of people (though nothing stops you from riding together).

      “and most riders ignore the traffic laws. ”

      Provably false bs. Numerous case studies – examples include Toronto, NYC, London, Minneapolis – have all shown that when motorists and cyclists collide, the party at fault is far more often the motorist. If cyclists ignore traffic laws, why don’t they cause accidents? The answer, once you see past your bias, is simply that SOME cyclists, just like SOME motorists, break traffic laws. You only believe this is somehow worse for cyclists because of a combination of outgroup bias and confirmation bias.

      Don’t be an idiot. Nobody is going to force you out of your car. But those of us that do choose to travel safely and responsibly by bike don’t deserve your hatred, and we do deserve a fair share of transportation infrastructure (a percentage of the city’s transportation budget on par with the percentage of trips we represent would nearly DOUBLE what is being spent most years).

      • SDOT has installed many bike lanes in recent years, and continues to do so, yet traffic congestion has increased. Doesn’t this argue against your statements that more cycling infrastructure means less traffic?

      • The only measurement where congestion has outstripped population growth is delay-hours on state roads (99/520) and Interstates (5/90/405). Congestion on those has risen dramatically. And none of those delays are in any way bike infrastructure related.
        Meanwhile, the roads that have had road diets have measured consistent delay-hours numbers, and dramatically reduced accident rates.

        Again, though, your hate-filled ranting likely doesn’t care about facts, and quite a bit of your posts are on the fringe of sanity, so I’m likely wasting my time discussing this with you. Good day.

      • And you get your facts from?

        Actually, I would really like to see the results of the road diets. I think they are a stupid idea, but if there is actual proof that they have no impact on road capacity, it brings up three questions:
        1. If it doesn’t affect capacity, why are we doing it again?
        2. If it does reduce local capacity, does it increase capacity with connecting or surrounding roadways?
        3. What was the original goal – and have those goals been met?
        4. You mentioned reduced accidents. You have a web site that details before and after?

      • AValla: a number of sources, all with pretty consistent results. For example, numerous city, state, and national organizations have done case studies on road diets, and the pretty much unanimous results are that they slow traffic while maintaining the same capacity, allow better pedestrian and cycling routes, and dramatically improve safety. Here’s a general study:

        And here’s one in Seattle:

        And another:

        For traffic delay patterns, I recall seeing a detailed listing of delays by route over time, and the real delay increases were on the larger highways … but I’m not having luck finding it right now, and really can’t spend more than a few minutes (work :) ). Though I’m certain that was what it said, consider that point suspect until I can figure out where I found that data.

        Still, even if you ignore that point, the case studies pretty clearly indicate that no loss of throughput resulted from the road diets, and safety (the primary goal, and answer to your q1 “why are we doing it again”) was clearly improved. They definitely don’t increase capacity for *cars*, they just maintain it while increasing safety for everyone else (and cars a little, too). So yeah, given the dramatic reduction in injuries, and the lack of negative traffic impacts, I’d say these were all complete successes.

        I’ll update if I can find the delays map I was looking for, but that probably won’t happen ’til after work (if I can find it again).

        I know I should default to posting sources in the first place when I reference data like this, but so many people aren’t interested in actual data…

      • And just how do you see “hate” and “ranting” in my comment? You don’t have to fire off personal insults just because you disagree with my point of view.

      • Calhoun: truly sorry about that – When I posted here I clicked the “email me about responses” thing, and then got a flurry of emails about responses from John Worthington, most of which was hateful ranting. (much of which doesn’t actually appear here, which I guess means it got moderated out?) For some reason my brain broke and I thought I was replying to him.
        Truly sorry about that. I don’t see anything hateful in any of your comments here.

  3. I commute to downtown seattle by bike every day(15 miles), rain or shine. I am a middle aged woman who is not an athlete, yet I can commute in seattle. Anyone hear of electric assist bikes? They give you the little extra you need to handle the hills while still getting exercise. I have over 6,000 miles on my bike, and it cost me less than those fancy carbon fiber bikes. Because of the car congestion, it takes me the SAME amount of time to commute by bike as it does to drive. I don’t pay for parking, and I feel great when I get to work and when I get home, not stressed out like when I used to drive. No need to pay for a gym membership. With higher and higher density, we need a lot of different transportation options to move all these people around. Bike infrastructure is one, along with car shares, metro and light rail. I think this is great news for Seattle!

    • KH – Another middle aged woman wanting to electric bike to work here! What kind of bike did you get? I am boggled by the sometimes very expensive options. Did you find one that works well for you? I’m 2.5 miles from downtown, but sooo many hills in that short distance. The electric assist would have me leaving my car at home.

  4. Until the guy is willing to drive a stick shift delivery truck in that Seattle mess he will never know what it is like to wallow around in that sabotage known as transportation social engineering.

    Seattle has made a science out of making more money for the square foot for developers who take full advantage of the public money and public policy. Hey Seattle hold a density vote and see how the vote comes out.

    You won’t because you know you will lose. Instead you hijack transit projects and have them serve developers and density wet dreams. I hope Seattle chokes on the prices of goods and services.

    I hope this guy chokes on his 180,000 to sabotage commercial traffic,so Seattle can keep on getting density.They are cutting off their economic nose to spite their environmental face.

    Soon the building phase will stop, the union halls will slow down and the real economy will step forward. Good luck selling 12 dollar hamburgers and 5 dollar wheat grass shots to pay for your utopia.

    • “You won’t because you know you will lose. Instead you hijack transit projects and have them serve developers and density wet dreams.”

      Yet people continue to move here. Those “wet dreams” are a reality. Then they complain about development and density, wanting the neighborhood to stay as it was when they moved here, with a little higher tolerance.

      • And what are the other lifestyle choices that you don’t personally approve of and would like to vote out of existence? Maybe we should have a vote on red vs. blue while we’re at it. I’m sure the Seattle area isn’t in danger of running out of low-density socially isolated environmentally ruinous and culturally bankrupt suburban crapola anytime soon, so you’re certainly free to choose that lifestyle if it’s what suits you. Meanwhile, more and more people are voting with their feet to live in places where they might actually be able to walk to stores, restaurants and parks, and not have to spend huge chunks of their free time and disposable income on commuting. If you really find that so offensive, you might want to consider moving to Houston or Phoenix.

  5. “– in a city with the fourth worst traffic in the nation.”

    This is also a city where the previous administration went well out of their way to make traffic worse with road diets, bus bulbs, and parking policies designed to keep vehicles in endless block circling.

    Hope this new guy can reverse this insanity. Love the picture. Glad he is not riding in the road.

  6. “People will chose to walk, bike and take transit because it is the most attractive to them.”

    Oh are we now?

    How are you going to accomplish that Larry Lightbulb, triple the number of busses, halve the fairs and get light rail built from South Center to Northgate and downtown to the Eastside on both bridges within 18 months?

    Because unless you do that, people will stay in their cars.

    The way to get people out of their cars is to make alternatives like mass transit EASIER to use, NOT make cars HARDER.

    Until Seattle gets a real, workable public transit system, it will not be a world class city. Hell, it won’t even be the equal of Portland.

    • But..Seattle and soon Bellevue will have their density.. and Wright Runstad will love them for it.