Thought leaders in urban transportation?
August 11, 2014 6:15 PM   Subscribe

I work for a large municipal multi-modal transportation agency in the Bay Area. I'm interested in starting an agency-wide speaker series focusing on thought-leaders and innovators within the transportation industry.

The goal of the speaker series is to create shared experiences that can serve to bridge gaps between agency silos and to get staff to recognize the possibilities inherent to the work they do keeping the transportation system running (i.e. what you do here is interesting and important!). Ideally, these speakers would get staff engaged with new ideas with respect to transit technology, transit oriented development, fare control, new transit modes, innovative management, energy/sustainability issues, transit policy, information technology etc.. Some ideas that I've floated are: Google Car initiative, geographers/map makers using new data mining techniques, Uber/Lyft etc., high speed rail planners/engineers. Anybody have an additional ideas? The more specific the better. Thanks.
posted by Captain Chesapeake to Law & Government (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Get Jarrett Walker if you can, who'll tell you that a lot of these ideas (for instance, transit oriented development) aren't inherently new, and that the basics of transport planning are largely geometric and demographic, rather than technological.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 6:21 PM on August 11, 2014 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Very cool idea!

How about Dave Snyder, ED of the California Bicycle Coalition and member of the Golden Gate Bridge District board?

Robert Cervero studies sustainable transportation policy at Berkeley.

Or really shake things up with a speaker from the Bus Riders Union.
posted by latkes at 6:43 PM on August 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Rebekah Schienfeld, interim Chicago DOT commissioner and former CTA director -- could probably talk about her work on Bus Rapid Transit.

The non-places project, a research project on building communities for journeys -- connecting "familiar strangers" while not crossing the line into awkward / intrusive. Contact Justin Cranshaw (@compurbanist).
posted by batter_my_heart at 6:46 PM on August 11, 2014

Taras Grescoe, author of Straphanger.
posted by zadcat at 7:06 PM on August 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Donald Shoup is a fantastic speaker and I have heard often described as a rock star among transportation policy wonks.
posted by munchingzombie at 7:08 PM on August 11, 2014 [5 favorites]

Janette Sadik-Khan jumpstarted NYC's bicycle infrastructure

Seconding Donald Shoup & Jarret Walker.
posted by nanhey at 7:58 PM on August 11, 2014

Oh and Mia Burke was/is an influential force behind the bicycle movement in Portland and is the president of Alta Planning
posted by nanhey at 8:01 PM on August 11, 2014

Best answer: Are you familiar with ITE? Because they are already doing that at their conferences - at least the ones I have attended. Work within their organization to help develop this if it is not already in place in SF.
posted by JJ86 at 5:43 AM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: A little out of the box but I think a talk like this would be helpful for understanding how transportation/planning in the Bay Area works and/or fails. Louise Nelson Dyble, a historian of the Golden Gate Bridge District.
posted by Octaviuz at 5:44 AM on August 12, 2014

Mine skew kind of cycling, since that's what my principle interest in planning, but most of these see the very important linkages between multi-modal transporation networks. Not sure if you're mostly looking at public transportation, given your list, but there are definitely areas that they could touch upon in that realm.

- Brent Todarian is the former chief planner for the city of Vancouver and now the CEO (?) of Todarian Urban Works. He is very multi-modally focussed and was planner during the key phase in Vancouver urban planning right before the Olympics, thus the Skytrain expansion to the airport, the establishment of new communities, etc.

- Mikael Coville-Anderson is the for Copenhagenize Design Company. He is mostly bicycle focussed, but in the European sense that bicycle networks are inextricably connected with other forms of public transportation.

- Jan Gehl is another Denmark-based planner, and a founding partner of Gehl Architects. Very much focussed on cities for people. He is a great, great speaker. Some of the US-based staff might also be good, although I am less familiar with them than him.

- Agree with the suggestion Taras Grescoe, above. He's based in Montreal.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:34 PM on August 12, 2014

Sorry, one more that I meant to add:

- Kay Teschke, a prof at UBC in the Population and Public Health faculty who specialises in cycling in cities. Again, cycling focussed, but a lot of transportation intersectionality in her work.
posted by urbanlenny at 1:46 PM on August 12, 2014

Quick statement, I know this person, Dr. David Levinson, Transportation Studies, at the University of Minnesota. Director of Nexus and the Transportationist. He came out of Berkeley so he is familar with the Bay Area.
posted by jadepearl at 5:42 PM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: UC Davis's Institute of Transportation Studies has a weekly seminar that may have topics of interest.
posted by aniola at 10:10 PM on August 12, 2014

Best answer: There have been lots of great suggestions so far. Are you interested in bringing people in? Or local experts? There's a lot happening in this area.

Other people I would suggest: Eric Fischer for his work with data visualizations and mapping. He's done a wealth of research and really has an interesting perspective.

Lewis Lehe and Victor Powel have also been doing some interesting dataviz work.

You should also check out some of the programs Young Professionals in Transportation San Francisco Bay Area (YPTSF) have done recently. They really bring together a number of different groups and represent industry, academia, and advocacy quite well.

Disclosure: I work for a transportation group at UC Berkeley, and could probably name a bunch more people but I'm also staring down a deadline. Feel free to Memail me.
posted by kendrak at 11:54 AM on August 14, 2014

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