You could be the manager of ODOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Program

You could have a hand in creating ODOT’s bike safety PSAs!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The hiring binge at the Oregon Department of Transportation continues and they just announced a new opening that has the transportation reform crowd buzzing.

ODOT’s current Safe Routes to School and Bike/Ped Safety Coordinator Julie Yip is retiring and the agency is looking for someone to replace her. In the job description, ODOT says the new hire will oversee the existing safety programs for bicycling and walking and will also, “develop and implement transportation safety programs and projects.”

This is one of those “guru” positions that — with the right person — could have a significant impact on biking and walking locally and statewide. While the scope of this job is crucially important (especially with an alarming rise in traffic deaths in recent years) and relatively broad, unfortunately the pay isn’t quite what we’d hope for. Just $41,000 to $60,000 a year probably isn’t enough to snag someone with a lot of experience and swagger to make big things happen. Also note that under “special qualifications” ODOT says, “Driving is an essential function of this position. A valid driver license and an acceptable driving record are required for this position.”

Here’s the list of “duties and responsibilities”:

– Develop, direct, and coordinate safety programs to reduce Oregon traffic crashes and fatalities, specifically those involving bicycles or pedestrians, and other vulnerable users, as applicable.
– Oversee program budgets.
– Ensure compliance with program requirements and priorities.
– Develop program performance measures.
– Select and manage safety grant projects.
– Evaluate programs and projects and report findings.
– Coordinate the Transportation Safety Division’s involvement in bicycle and/or pedestrian traffic safety issues and identify problems at the state and local levels.
– Facilitate the participation of advocates and citizens involved in bicycle and pedestrian safety.
– Make presentations to various groups on bicycle and pedestrian safety including walkable communities.
– Monitor bicycle or pedestrian-related concepts and bills during legislative sessions.
– Draft press releases, newspaper and magazine articles, and public service announcements.
– Serve as the state’s SME (subject matter expert) on the program

Keep in mind that whoever lands in this position will have oversight of the agency’s many walking and biking-related public service ad campaigns. Coming off what happened with Representative Jeff Reardon’s PSA, we could really use someone sharp to set a more effective tone down in Salem. And ODOT sorely needs fresh thinking in this department. In the past the agency has done their share of victim-blaming and the director of their Traffic Safety Division, Troy Costales, once signed onto a national statement about the scourge of “aggressive pedestrians”.

But there’s hope! In part due to retirements, there’s a new (and younger) guard of ODOT employees with a different perspective. In 2015 ODOT created the very effective and respectful Oregonian Crossing PSA campaign.

This position is part of a massive ODOT hiring effort resulting from the passage of the $5.3 billion transportation package this past session and end of a statewide hiring freeze.

Please share this with your smartest friends. We need ODOT to have as many reform-minded employees as possible if we have any chance of making our transportation system work for everyone.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and

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