The change of administration in Washington D.C. is providing some specific reasons for joy for active transportation advocates. Pete Buttigieg promises to bring a fresh perspective to USDOT. Also, some of the initial appointees who will run USDOT from day one are friends of biking. And that group includes some high-profile Californians.
Nuria Fernandez, who will be the deputy administrator for the Federal Transit Administration, was the GM and CEO of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Ann E. Carlson is a professor of environmental law at UCLA and an expert on climate change law. She becomes the chief counsel of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
A friend of bikes heads to DC
At CalBike, the USDOT appointment we are most excited about is Steve Cliff, who will be the NHTSA deputy administrator. Cliff comes from the California Air Resources Board (CARB). He is a strong advocate for biking who understands the importance of reducing transportation emissions to address climate change. Streetsblog did a thorough analysis of Cliff’s record (including a photo of him with CalBike alum Jeannie Ward Waller).
The California choices aren’t the only promising picks for the incoming team. Author and planner Angie Schmidt summed it up on Twitter: “People were disappointed Pete isn’t a big enough nerd. These are the big nerds with a lot of experience as well.” Check out this thread for a rundown of all the planning nerds joining USDOT and the official press release announcing the appointments.
As mayor of South Bend, IN, Buttigieg embraced Complete Streets. He oversaw the transformation of wide, downtown streets from car deserts to multimodal transportation corridors. Under his leadership, with a strong team to support him, we hope to see USDOT finally address the lack of transportation choice that plagues so many US communities and the transportation policies that are killing our planet. That could translate into more federal funding to support active transportation in California. When that happens, your CalBike will be pushing hard for projects that support safer streets, healthier communities, and cleaner air.