Getting to know Houston’s first Chief Transportation Planner

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HOUSTON (CW39) – The City of Houston’s first Chief Transportation Planner has been at the job a little over six months now. David Fields has more than twenty years of professional planning experience and has worked on projects including Phoenix Light Rail, the Desire Streetcar Line in New Orleans and the Number 7 subway extension in New York City.

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For the past fifteen years, he has been working to help communities solve their transportation issues. His top priority is safety, which he says is something our city has room to improve on.

“No matter who you are, no matter how you are traveling, you should be able to do it safely. That is kind of the very basics that governments should be doing and we don’t actually have that on our roads today. Right now somewhere around 200 people die on our roads every year, so every three days, two people die. That’s not an acceptable number,” said Fields.

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Later this month, the draft action plan for the city’s Vision Zero initiative will be released. The goal of that program is to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries on Houston streets by 2030.

Fields also has a goal to create a place where everyone has choices when it comes to transportation. He wants to help Houstonians think about their transportation options and realize there are more options than just drive every trip or to drive no trips.

“Most people want to do a combination of trips, so sometimes they will drive to work and when they get home, they will walk to a park. Or they will bike on a weekend and they will take the bus to work a different day. That is really what is going to make Houston get to that next level when we have all of those different choices for all our different trips,” explained Fields.

This falls in line with Mayor Turner’s vision of creating a shift from single occupancy vehicles to more people choosing a combination of walking, riding transit, biking, and driving.

“My mission as a planner is to create places where my grandparents could live. So what I would ask everyone in Houston is ‘Imagine your grandparents lived on this block wherever you are driving or biking or walking or taking transit, whatever it is, and imagine your grandparents are crossing at that corner. Are you being safe for them?’, and if we can create a place like that, we are going to create a pretty great city,” said Fields.

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