The Towering Evergreen of
John Kaehny and his son
“Reformers are like Morning
Glories: They look great early in the day and then they disappear.”
-GEORGE WASHINGTON PLUNKETT
John Kaehny is no ephemeral
morning glory. More akin to a conifer of his native Colorado (and similar in
stature), John, in his 14 year tenure at Transportation Alternatives, outlasted
seven City Department of Transportation commissioners, three mayors and—thanks
to his brand of informed, multi-pronged and dogged advocacy—more than a few
misguided transportation policies.
Under his watch, T.A. opened many new and fruitful fronts in the fight for a
more livable city: New York City traffic calming, enforcement cameras, Safe
Routes to School, Bus Rapid Transit and, most recently, Safe Routes for Seniors
and crash mapping. John also pried opened bridges and parks to those not
traveling by motor vehicle, the vast majority of New Yorkers. With quotable
flair influenced as much by Martin Luther King as Jane Jacobs, John’s spoken and
written words raised the profile of alternative transportation. He also raised
significant funds, which he plowed into winning key victories and making wise
investments in human capital.
John’s tenure, however, will be remembered more in terms of the expectations he
raised, two of which will long endure: first, what to expect from our government
in terms of traffic safety and equitable allocation of transportation resources
and; second, what to expect from ourselves in terms of professional and
John’s work is etched in the
streets, greenways, boulevards, bridges and parks of this great city. These
places now bring less death and more life, more silence and less noise, less
fear and more joy.
We’ll miss you John.