Two key architects of change at NYC DOT are moving on after seven years with the agency. DOT Traffic and Planning Commissioner Bruce Schaller departed at the end of May, and DOT Policy Director Jon Orcutt announced on Twitter yesterday that he will be leaving next week.
Orcutt and Schaller were two of former DOT chief Janette Sadik-Khan‘s major hires after she took over as transportation commissioner in 2007. They each played leading roles implementing reforms that prioritized safety, efficiency, and public life on New York City streets, and both leave tremendous legacies.
Orcutt came to DOT from a career in advocacy, starting with Transportation Alternatives in its formative late 1980s period and moving on to the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, where he was a founding staffer and later executive director. He led the development of DOT’s first strategic plan in 2008, which set the stage for many reforms that followed, and in the early days of the de Blasio administration he was the lead on the Vision Zero Action Plan.
Inside the agency he was known for pressing for bold changes. He had a hand in too many projects to count, but spearheading the development and launch of bike-share tops the list. Count the implementation of the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway, the city’s new pedestrian wayfinding program, and the introduction of protected bike lane designs among his other major contributions.
Schaller had stints in public service before joining DOT, but in the years leading up to his time at the agency, he was best known for a series of reports from his consulting firm, examining everything from regional driving patterns to the travel habits of neighborhood shoppers. At DOT, his data-driven brand of communications helped the agency tell the world about its work in new and rigorous ways. The reports produced by DOT clearly conveyed the safety improvements, economic impacts, and other benefits attributable to the agency’s street overhauls.