Bellamy, who was confirmed last month as the director of DDOT after six months as its interim director, said his style of travel is becoming more common in the District, where almost one-third of the residents don’t own a car.
“We are the incubator of the world. Everybody comes to D.C. to see what we are doing,” he said when Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) nominated him. “We want to continue to bring the new technology to the world here in Washington, D.C.”
Bellamy might soon have to decide whether the city can continue to be an innovator. He’s following the media-savvy tenure of Gabe Klein, a former entrepreneur and extrovert who introduced bike-sharing, installed fancy new parking meters and pushed forward the old-school use of streetcars. Klein’s job, former mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) told him, was to shake things up.
Whether Bellamy will be a change agent like Klein, his old boss, or a more traditional department head as his 27 years of experience in the field hint at, may be dictated by budgets and differing mayoral philosophies.
“Personality-wise, we’re different. I wanted some yin to balance my yang,” Klein said in a phone interview from Chicago, where he is the head of that city’s transportation department and has hired some former DDOT employees.
Bellamy “absolutely is forward-thinking and progressive,” Klein said. “The only question is whether he will be allowed to be as innovative as he wants, and whether he will be able to draw in the talent.”
The recent loss of several high-ranking administrators in the 900-employee department made transportation bloggers nervous and wonder whether DDOT’s era of innovation had ended.
Bellamy dismissed the turnover and noted that some have gone into private industry.
“Today, people don’t stay 30 years in one position,” he said. “Yes, we get talent and we lose talent. But even as they move on, we stay in contact and they share. They continue to share.”
A key role
Bellamy, 56, has worked at DDOT since 2008. Under Klein, he played a key role, making sure traditional street and road projects moved forward, ensuring potholes got filled and overseeing $123 million in federal funding for capital projects.
Before moving to the District, he worked for eight years with Arlington County’s transportation department and before that with transportation agencies in North Carolina.
Gray said he and Bellamy are working together “to get people out of vehicles and onto public transit and other means of transportation like streetcars and bikes.”
Gray said he wants the city’s transportation system to continue to evolve “so that it meets the needs of all wards and all communities.”
But many of Bellamy’s goals have a distinctly practical cast.