“We are the main sponsor of the two biggest bicycle events in Fort Worth. One is the Bicycle to Work Day, we picked up on that and we’re the main sponsor for that and get that organized every year,” Ruddel says.
“And we do a Clean Air Bike Rally. The city used to do that. They did it to promote the idea that Fort Worth is a bicycle-friendly community and you can ride your bicycle in Fort Worth. Not just to work, you can ride your bicycle in Fort Worth. They have a lot of bicycle trails in Fort Worth and they are very heavily used.
“We always talk about, hey if you get tired just take your bike to the nearest bus stop, hop on the bus and it will take you back.
“If you just go around the city you will start seeing bikes on the front of buses. You can’t go very far without seeing a bike on the front of a bus. So people are using them.”
In all my interviews with transit directors, the last question I like to ask is if they have any advice for other transit execs. Ruddell smiled and simply said in that drawl, “Yep.” His first bit of advice — good communication.
“Managers need to have good communications,” he says. “Managers need to learn to communicate more both with their employees and with their board.”
And then he gave me these three keys to success: a small ego, thick skin and short toes.
“What I mean by small ego is, never let your ego get in the way of a good decision. That’s the best way to put it. A lot of managers have big egos and sometimes it gets them in trouble, so the key is don’t let your ego get in the way of a good decision,” Ruddell says.
“Thick skin, well everybody knows what that is. Believe me you’ve got to have a thick skin in this business. At this level you just do.”
“Short toes,” Ruddell smiles as he ticks off the third key on his fingers.
“You’ve probably heard the expression you step on somebody’s toes, and so what that means is if you have short toes you don’t have to worry about people stepping on your toes. Let people do what they are good at doing and if somebody has a good idea let them take it forward.
“Give your staff and your people the idea that if they have a good idea or if they believe something needs to be done, they can do it and they don’t have to worry about stepping on your toes. And everybody will be better off.”