All Member Forum

#ITE2020 President's Speech: Shape Your Community

By Mr. Ransford McCourt P.E., PTOE posted 08-02-2020 10:55 AM

  



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Good morning and welcome to ITE’s Annual Meeting in it’s 90th year.  After 90 years you would think we all know ITE.

But here we are in our first Virtual Annual Meeting. Today, I want to share with you a journey of what I believe ITE is – the ITE I know now and what we can be in the future.

ITE has been, and will be, a partner with you to shape your community.  Many people ask me why ITE?  When you surround yourself with people that are passionate, knowledgeable, thoughtful, supportive, encouraging, sharing and dedicated to making a difference, I have found you can be in NO better place.

It is a belief that we can make lives better one project at a time – from big picture systems views of transportation –to the details of signing, striping, signals, forecasting and analysis.  We have the power to impact people’s safe and efficient travel every day. Who’s job is this?  Well, I can tell you one person who sees it as their job.

Adika Iqbal – a recent Clemson University graduate with honors , US Army specialist and immigrant to the United States who sees the opportunity in transportation analysis – how to solve problems – believing through the knowledge gained as an ITE member that she personally can improve mobility, access and safety while advancing her career.

The ITE I know goes beyond simplistic application of standards to understand context, characteristics and users of our transportation system. In several languages (for example Greek) they have multiple definitions for the word love that address context, characteristics and users to better define the application to be used in routine communication. Such as luv ya, I love you man, love how those flowers look, I love you – will you marry me.

Big concepts require deeper understanding. We have so many in transportation - 12’ lanes, 85th percentile, fronting improvements to land development, bicycle buffers, trip and parking generation. For example, if we were to utilize the 85th percentile the same on every freeway, arterial and local street, it would lose sight of the context.

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All are extremely important and valuable “standards” but when used without context, characteristics or users, sometimes the same thing that makes people happy one moment can make them sad the next.  

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Like HERE or      
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HERE                                                                        

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HERE or     

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HERE,

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HERE or                                                                                                            

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HERE.

If we all wish to have jobs thru the 21st century and not be turned over to artificial intelligence – we best continue learning about consistent use of judgement. As ITE members, we can do this Together. Sharing. Asking good questions, being curious.  Who’s job is that?  Well I know a person who thinks it’s their job.

Eddie Curtis.  An FHWA Traffic Management specialist who has worked in LA and Atlanta. He saw the opportunity created by a lack of good data in yellow change intervals for traffic signals and took it – advancing funding of needed research for a topic that languished in the old ways of doing things + assumptions. Believing that the context of left and right turns are not the same as thru movements and that big data could make a difference in signal timing for safety. That work is now advancing for all of us because of Eddie’s curiosity.

The ITE I know is one that recognizes that we can go fast by ourselves but can go further together. Equity is one such topic. I am asked, “Why would we engage equity topics rather than transportation-related issues like advancing spreadsheets and AutoCAD?”  We can’t help but be self-aware of the impact our profession has had historically on users and people. The siloed approach to transportation either by predominant user or “alternative modes” MEANS trying to go fast by one’s self. Equity in transportation means considering the system as a whole and all the users as a whole – TOGETHER in their context. The brilliance and light that transportation professionals can have in a rural or urban community in terms of accessibility, mobility, freedom and opportunities are muted by silos. We are better than that.

We are a proud industry that has provided a wealth of meaningful careers, provided individuals with upward economic mobility, security and benefits. And if we are advancing together as transportation professionals, we cannot help but be aware historically that our ranks have not always matched the demographics of the regions where we work. Why is that?

I believe that if we are curious as a profession, we will find answers to these kind of equity issues. Who’s job is that?

It’s all of our jobs – TOGETHER – to be welcoming and inclusive in our work, business, gatherings and network. EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL ADVANCES WHEN WE DO IT TOGETHER. I want each of you to know you are important to our profession – you are not alone. We can be more welcoming and inclusive – TOGETHER – by listening & learning from others – not unlike what we will do in the next two weeks. Considering people with new, different and unique perspectives – different from our own. Sharing. I know the  ITE executive committee this coming year – Alyssa Rodriguez, Beverly Kuhn, and myself will be reaching out more widely and with partners like the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials to help understand how we can address these complex issues as they relate to transportation.

Stay with ITE and be informed, at the forefront of our industry – as a valued partner. As with many organizations, you get out of it what you invest in it – I can tell you with ITE your investment can change your career trajectory. It does not matter if you are from a humble, rural timber community in Oregon or a prosperous metropolitan region across the globe – One thing we have learned thru this pandemic – we can reach each other and share in new and creative ways. If we encourage each other, coaching and mentoring our next generation, we will be a resilient profession into the next decade and beyond.

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Who knows – you may be just the problem-solving, heat- seeking missile who takes an emerging topic from this meeting and creates the next generation of great ideas. Things like:

  • Improving pedestrian crossing safety – sharing consistency in policies and the standard of care
  • Speed management for all street types – advancing target speeds
  • Big Data and transportation analytics – fusing walkscore, bike score and transitscore to parcel level data, demographics and trip & parking generation data
  • Bringing transportation fatalities closer to zero – using machine vision and emerging technology
  • Or expanding new mobility ideas and applications for autonomous vehicles in cities – making work from home the “real alternative mode” through the latest 5G communication

Listening, learning, creating, testing, improving, solving and sharing these with others –  THIS is the ITE way … now ….  and into the future.

And Tomorrow – we can again gather to exchange ideas, listen and learn … and I can’t wait to see you all here in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, the Rose City, in July 2021 as a part of the ITE family.

Together we can …make a difference

SHAPE YOUR COMMUNITY

 

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