Dongho Chang at Monorail Espresso. (Photo courtesy of SDOT)

We are excited to be joined by Dongho Chang for our monthly meetup on December 14th. Our transportation reporter Ryan Packer will be moderating the conversation with Chang, who is a widely respected voice on transportation and traffic safety issues. Chang spent nine years as City Traffic Engineer at the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), but in July he announced he’s leaving to accept a post at State Traffic Engineer at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Chang has earned a sterling reputation for fighting for safety upgrades and highlighting new improvements on his Twitter account, which has more than 12,000 followers.

Seattle Bike Blog’s Tom Fucoloro stressed the impact Chang has had at SDOT: “Since 2012, Chang has forever revolutionized what it means to be a traffic engineer in our city by bringing a level of personal care and genuine love for his community that has made him something of an unintentional local hero. He has had a direct impact not just on the physical shape of our streets but also on the culture of SDOT’s professional staff.”

We’ll discuss Chang’s plans for WSDOT, his proudest achievements at SDOT, and the work remains to be done to make Seattle streets safe. Chang previously worked for the City of Everett and did a previous stint at WSDOT to start his civil engineering career, so that may come up, too. Update: Watch the video below.

Cascade Bicycle Club highlighted Chang’s life story, his work to end traffic fatalities, and his efforts to engage with advocates in a feature earlier this year. Cascade’s Paul Tolmé noted bicycling helped Chang adapt to American life after immigrating from Busan, South Korea. “When Chang arrived with his family in Olympia as a child, he quickly tried to learn a few words of English so that he could talk to a neighborhood boy who owned a bike. ‘I made an instant new friend,’ Chang says. ‘We made ramps with plywood and cinder blocks and took turns jumping and crashing.'”

Dongho Chang on a group bike ride around Green Lake. This protected bike lane has been completed since. (Photo by Paul Tolmé / Cascade Bicycle Club)

“Those childhood days of riding a bike turned into a lifelong pursuit,” Tolmé narrated. “As an adult, Chang enjoys the ease of getting around by bike, the friendships it helps form, ‘and the joy and relaxation that the simple act of pedaling brings,’ he says. ‘I’m so glad that I got a chance to crash that rental bike as a boy.’”

In a line of continuity, Chang’s career now is about ensuring crashes, when they happen, are not deadly or disastrous. With annual state road collision deaths above 500 per year and pedestrian deaths climbing and climbing, WSDOT has a long way to go.

The Zoom call opens at 6:15pm and Dongho’s talk starts at 6:30pm. We’ll be recording the talk for those who can’t attend live.

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Doug Trumm is the executive director of The Urbanist. An Urbanist writer since 2015, he dreams of pedestrianizing streets, blanketing the city in bus lanes, and unleashing a mass timber building spree to end the affordable housing shortage and avert our coming climate catastrophe. He graduated from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Washington. He lives in East Fremont and loves to explore the city on his bike.