Gabe Klein to Resign at End of Month

Gabe Klein walks across the first pedestrian scramble. Photo: John Greenfield.
Gabe Klein walks across Chicago's first pedestrian scramble. Photo: John Greenfield

With two and a half years of service under his belt as the transportation commissioner — not to mention 300 bike-share stations — Gabe Klein announced that he will be resigning at the end of November.

A lot changed since Klein arrived. He oversaw a major reorganization of the transportation department, the creation of Chicago Forward, a two-year departmental plan, and the release of design guidelines and policies for complete streets and sustainable urban infrastructure. He said the culture that accepts speeding must change, while introducing automated speed enforcement. CDOT’s priorities and practices changed substantially during his tenure, with a strong emphasis on safety, multi-modalism, and livability .

Klein told the Tribune that he will return to the private sector after about five years working for Washington, D.C., and Chicago, to develop business plans “that promote transportation technology.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel hired Klein immediately after the 2011 election to execute the transition plan that called for building 100 miles of protected bike lanes and the Bloomingdale Trail within four years, as well as bus rapid transit. All of those projects are well on their way, though the goal of 100 miles of protected (and now buffered) bike lanes will be tough to reach before the end of Emanuel’s current term.

While it seems like Klein was just getting started, he had the longest tenure of a transportation commissioner in recent memory. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley moved five people into the position within five years.

CDOT spokesperson Pete Scales said that Emanuel will make a succession announcement after Klein leaves the post.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. That’s a blow to the city. Good luck to the next commissioner–there are big shoes to fill!

  • Chicagio

    I hate to ask anything of you guys for all the time you put in on this blog but, I’d love to read an in-depth streetsblog exit interview with Gabe.

  • J

    Nooooooooo… Unless he’s coming back to DC. :)

    Gabe Klein is one of the best at actually getting things done. Since he left DC, things have slowed to a snail’s pace.

  • He’s going back to the private sector, where he was before he was commissioner (his first public service job, I believe) of D.C.

    I’ve noticed those issues in D.C. and with the streetcar taking a while. However, Capital BikeShare keeps expanding!

  • Send résumés to the mayor…

  • Andrew H

    Crap, Gabe was great for advancing the culture and transportation projects here (and in DC). Best of luck to him in the future. Looking forward to future articles about potential successors to him on this site. Lets hope the next person continues and pushes the envelop even further and doesn’t take a step back.

  • If you didn’t ask, I’d prioritize everything I like :)

  • Andrew H

    I second this

  • Brian

    This is SUCH good news. I’m smiling from ear to ear, especially knowing how so many of you worshipped “the commissioner” because you thought he actually had your best interests in mind. While I applaud SOME of the things he has accomplished, like the bike share program, I certainly don’t applaud his speed camera agenda and agenda for shrinking the size of the roads.
    Let’s hope whoever comes in is more in favor of the status quo before we see more road diets or cash grabs like speed cameras.

  • His wife still works at EPA HQ, and there are a few transportation-tech startups around here that I’m sure he knows about. C’mon by TRB Transportation Camp in January and you’ll hear more! (Especially you, Steven.)

  • Andrew H

    Well if by “agenda” you mean making the roads safer for drivers, bikes, and pedestrians then I think the whole “agenda” was a great one. It’s proven in many cities that camera enforcement and road diets make it safer for all road users including drivers, so as a resident of Chicago I feel safer and more comfortable in my neighborhood.

  • Speeding is illegal and kills 10,000 Americans every year — as many people as AIDS, skin cancer, or aneurysms. How can speeding possibly be a good thing?

  • The status quo means 300,000 crashes per year, a greater than 25% hit-and-run rate, and 45 Chicagoans killed while walking and biking.

  • Brian

    His agenda was lining the pockets of the bike share company and the camera companies at the expense of taxpayers.

  • Mishellie

    Not if you don’t speed or use Divvy… that’s not a tax it’s either a “fee” or a “ticket”

  • Chicagio

    Driving, the leading cause of death in this country for a large segment of the population. Reducing speeds, reducing driving saves lives.

  • Chicagio

    In that case, send me a beer while i read your interview.

  • J

    You’re confusing a tax with a fine. A tax is mandatory, but you only pay a fine when you break the law. Don’t like paying fines? Then don’t break the law.

  • Chicagio

    Since i only paid $75 for most of my transportation needs the past few months, he lined my pockets, too.

  • Anonymous

    Please come to NYC.

  • Daphna

    I bet Mayor Rahm Emanuel would love to hire Janette Sadik-Khan for Chicago if Bill de Blasio doesn’t keep her in NYC. Gabe Klein and Janette Sadik-Khan are super star transportation commissioners.

  • Kenny Easwaran

    Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles is suddenly in the market for a new DOT head, so we hope he’ll hire one of these two!

  • Adam Herstein

    Steven Vance for CDOT commissioner! :-)

  • Anonymous

    I, as my driving self, Applaud him because all the streets on my driving routes (That I rarely take, but do use) have been repaved, and no longer have potholes and huge bumps in them! He has actually done a ton for the car too. Better maintained streets are good for all of us, and the roads he re-apportioned more fairly to all users didn’t need as much capacity for cars as they had. How many of them are now in total gridlock as compared to where they were before they had lanes reduced?

  • A sad day for Chicago’s ‘transiters’. Hopefully the next commissioner is a fan of StreetsBlog.

  • papspanakos

    Let’s all stop driving, winter is coming, hibernating reducing air pollution

  • Don’t hibernate, celebrate!


Evaluating Gabe Klein’s Chicago Legacy

Not long after Gabe Klein reported for work as commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation on May 16, 2011, there was speculation that he wouldn’t stick around long. Klein’s wife was remaining in Washington, D.C., where he had previously run the DOT. As an ambitious guy who had worked in several different fields, including […]