California Streetsies: Malcolm Dougherty for Civil Servant of the Year

streetsie_2015Malcolm Dougherty took on the job of Director of Caltrans at a pivotal moment for the department. Long an independent department, Caltrans had just been put under the control of the new California State Transportation Agency, CalSTA, which had promptly commissioned an outside report on its strengths and weaknesses. That report pulled no punches—it called Caltrans rule-bound, out of step, archaic, and dysfunctional.

But we knew all that. What we didn’t know was that Dougherty would take the report seriously, and in short order begin to put its recommendations into action.

While Dougherty has been at the helm, Caltrans has:

Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty prepares to lead the Director's Bike Ride last May. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog
Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty prepares to lead the Director’s Bike Ride last May. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

In addition, Dougherty leads a yearly Caltrans Director’s Bike Ride as part of May Is Bike Month, in which he shows off new bike lanes, bike parking solutions, and bike ideas being explored by Caltrans. He speaks up for active transportation at California Transportation Committee meetings, where funding decisions are made. He even came to the California Bicycle Summit this year and gave a rousing speech to the bike advocates assembled there, saying that California should be first, not eighth, in the League of American Bicyclists’ ranking of Bike Friendly States.

In other words, the head of California’s transportation department is making bicycle riders feel like we are part of the state’s transportation solutions, not just marginalized squeaky wheels who must be silenced.

We like what we see. Congratulations, Director Dougherty, and keep up the good work!


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We’re still digesting all the reports and conversations that occurred at the California Bicycle Coalition’s biannual bike summit in San Diego this week. In addition to some very hard conversations about equity and diversity in bike advocacy—a subject that needs its own report—there were more planner-y presentations about on-the-ground bike issues. Caltrans was very active […]

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Squeezing up on its statutory deadline, Caltrans issued its “Class IV Bikeway Guidance [PDF]” on the last day of 2015. There are already existing sources of information on best practices and engineering guidance for protected, or separated, bikeways but this is the first from Caltrans. It was prepared in response to the Protected Bikeways Act of […]