Gabe Klein, the former transportation chief for the cities of Chicago and Washington, D.C. who is known for making cities less car-centric and more people-friendly, is a 2014 ULI senior visiting fellow.
Klein serves ULI’s Rose Center for Public Leadership, which works with public officials throughout the United States to encourage and support excellence in land use decision-making.
Klein, who most recently served in the administration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the Transportation Commissioner, is widely regarded for his emphasis on combining transportation and land use planning, and for incorporating sustainability and livability into all transportation projects. During his 30 months in Chicago, he spearheaded financing and construction plans for a waterfront park spanning several blocks on the Chicago River, which will improve pedestrian mobility by encouraging active transportation. Klein also jump-started the funding and construction of The Bloomingdale Trail, an elevated bike trail that will traverse four neighborhoods and add appealing open space. He described his people-first philosophy on transportation planning at ULI’s 2013 Fall Meeting in Chicago. “Congestion is not a bad thing…if streets are congested with people walking and biking,” he said.
Klein came to Chicago after serving as director for the District of Columbia’s transportation department under former Mayor Adrian Fenty. In Chicago and Washington, Klein worked to streamline the transportation agencies and transform them into innovators in technology and finance to improve mobility for all forms of transportation. An avid bicyclist, he spearheaded efforts to vastly improve biking conditions in the both cities, including the establishment of major bike sharing programs and dedicated biking lanes throughout many of the cities’ major corridors.
In 2007, before entering the public sector, Klein co-founded On the Fly, a boutique curbside food-service company in Washington serving high-quality, affordable, healthy meals from electric carts, which led to the food-truck craze now seen in many American cities. He also served as a regional vice president for Boston-based Zipcar from 2002 through 2006, where he helped make car sharing a viable business in the Washington metro area and beyond.
“Gabe is a game changer whose innovative ideas about transportation planning have upended long-held notions about how people get around in cities,” said ULI Chief Executive Officer Patrick L. Phillips. “He is one of the nation’s most effective leaders in all areas of urban mobility, from bus rapid transit to bike lanes to pedestrian walkways. His work is a perfect fit for ULI’s ongoing pursuit of communities that are economically prosperous, environmentally sound, and conducive to healthy living.”
“I am honored that Patrick has asked me to serve the Urban Land Institute as a senior visiting fellow. ULI really “gets” the intersection of land use and transportation,” Klein said. “It speaks volumes that the institute wants me to help spread the word that cities are going to change dramatically in the next few years, and there will be big benefits for all of us if we work to make positive changes in our transportation systems and public spaces, rather than keep the status quo.”