On Friday, we put this question to our readers: Who should be the next Transportation Secretary? And lucky for us, 323 of you had nothing better to do with your weekend than answer our poll.
The runaway winner, starting as soon as the polls opened, was Janette Sadik-Khan of New York City DOT. Under her leadership, safety and mobility features for bicyclists have increased exponentially, Select Bus Service has made aboveground transit a more viable option, 23 plazas have been installed, Times Square has gone from car-plagued nightmare to pedestrian public space, and Summer Streets car-free days have shown neighborhoods what it’s like to replace automobile traffic with ziplines. If there ever was a beautiful experiment in livability, JSK’s NYC is it.
No one wants to see Sadik-Khan leave New York, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg is leaving office at the end of next year (no fourth term for this guy) and word is she’ll be looking for a new job. Plus, as commenter Joe R. said, “If she makes what we’ve done here in NYC federal policy there’s far less chance of a future mayor undoing the progress we’ve made.”
Sadik-Khan got 108 of the 499 votes cast (voters were allowed to check up to three boxes) — one-third of the total — despite the fact that she was up against nine other candidates, plus “other.”
That’s a pretty solid margin. President Obama, if you were wracking your brain for another DOT secretary that would make Streetsblog readers as happy as Ray LaHood has, now you know.
Runners-up were Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Chicago DOT Director Gabe Klein, with 73 and 72 votes, respectively. They’ve both shown how some smart and strategic changes can result in a seismic culture shift in how people move around the city. Villaraigosa has also shown a special genius for creative financing of infrastructure mega-projects — a rare and exceedingly practical gift in today’s cash-poor transportation world.
And in fourth place was a plea to Ray LaHood to stay put. He’s done so much to make the U.S. DOT a bastion of livability efforts, and our readers know he could do so much more.