Published : Thursday, May 2, 2019 | 4:40 AM
Pasadena’s Director of Transportation, Fred Dock, is leaving the City dock after 11 years on the job.
“It’s just time,” Dock explained. “Time and family matters. I have a new grandson and most of the family now lives on the east coast so I reached a point where it’s time to relocate.”
Dock’s department is responsible for how Pasadenans and visitors physically interact with the City. How we move through it, inside it. His mandate at the Department’s helm has been to balance land use and transportation to “maintain a livable community in which cars are not necessary to travel within the city.”
The constant effort to get people out of their cars and into and onto other modes of transportation (including walking) has been the hallmark of Dock’s efforts.
Among the recent issues Dock has navigated during his long tenure was the advent of electric scooters, a bike-sharing program with the County, the Orange Grove Boulevard road diet project, the City’s SR-710 North Early Project Action List, and the low-stress Roseway Bicycle Route, to name a few projects, each of which was controversial to some degree.
All issues reflecting a time of conceptual change in his field.
“Fred Dock is a nationally recognized leader in the field of transportation and the City of Pasadena has benefited greatly by this over his many years of distinguished service,” said City Manager Steven Mermell. “He leaves behind a sophisticated Transportation Department well equipped to meet the evolving needs of a thriving city.”
“I think Pasadena has been very lucky to have Fred Dock as the director of the Transportation Department,” said Blair Miller, Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition. “He really has a national stature as an expert in transportation and he has a very wide ranging knowledge of current best practices all over the country.”
Dock joined Pasadena Now’s David Cross for an interview about takeaways he picked up from the job he’s leaving.
PN: Where do you think the government is headed in terms of transportation in the future?
Dock: It’s a work in progress. It’s something that’s been very interesting to work with in Pasadena over the last 11 years, and it continues to be very progressive. We’re a microcosm of some of the different forces, in Southern California particularly, that are at the root of how we want to move forward in a sustainable fashion.
PN: What are some of the major changes that you’ve seen in your time at the City’s Department of transportation?
Dock: I think one of the main ones is that we’ve seen the development of a citizens constituency that’s more interested in not just driving around. They’re interested in walking and biking. So the development of the Complete Streets Coalition, and some of the other groups that have evolved, I think have helped balance some of the public discussion as we move forward here.
PN: What do you envision that is around the corner?
Dock: I think in the short term it’s more of the same. I don’t know how fast the uptake will be for various sorts of autonomous transportation, but it’s something that I think we need to keep thinking about. I don’t know that I’m anticipating some sort of major sea change immediately. I think it will be a gradual thing, and we’ll see more and more autonomy creeping into what we do. Much the way we’ve seen Uber and Lyft and some of the other transportation companies come in and rearrange certain types of travel taking place right now.
PN: So you don’t think autonomous cars will be ready one day and all of a sudden everyone will say, ‘Oh my gosh, we have to redo intersections and crosswalks and traffic lights and there’s going to be this dramatic change’?
Dock: History to date has indicated that we’re going to be seeing more [of] a slower uptake of it. It really depends on how fast something comes out and disrupts things. I think the statistics are showing us that it takes about 17 years for the automotive fleet to turnover.
PN: What’s the biggest thing you learned during your time in this position?
Dock: I guess the time it takes to get things done. You know, I came into this knowing that it was going to take time. That’s why I was interested in working for the City, after consulting for [about] 35 years. It’s the ability to see concepts through from conception to implementation and the fact that it’s just a very long timeline. I think it means there needs to be persistence.
I think working for the City has continued to reinforce my thinking that there’s somewhere on the order of maybe a 10-to-15 year uptick of new ideas to come into the system and to be accepted as mainstream. And we’ve seen a lot of that coming around in terms of the time it takes for people to understand the value of certain things.
Fred Dock’s last day as the City of Pasadena’s Department of Transportation will be Friday, May 3.