Whip smart, compassionate, and motivated to make a difference? The hallmarks of a phenomenal Lady.
Leah Shahum, the executive director of San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, has almost single-handedly brought dramatic increases in the number of cycling commuters and extensive expansion of bike infrastructure in the streets of San Fran.
Leah: you are an inspiration to all of us Ladies (and Lady-lovers) atop two wheels! It’s our presence and passion that changes communities, and you have set an amazing example.
More on her accomplishments from WSJ.com:
Under her watch, the nonprofit organization’s membership has grown to about 12,000 from 5,000 in 2005. Meantime, about 3.5% of all trips in the city are made by bike today, compared with 2.1% in 2002, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
The coalition, which receives private and corporate funding in addition to member dues, shepherds the popular “Sunday Streets” program, which closes off car traffic in selected neighborhoods to create a promenade for pedestrians and cyclists.
Way to go, Lady!
And more from her recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Bay Edition:
WSJ: Of which accomplishments are you most proud?
Ms. Shahum: Far and away it’s the huge growth in people who are biking, and the growing diversity of people who are bicycling. It’s made the city a calmer, more pleasant and liveable place. It’s inspiring the number of families with children I see riding, elderly people, people in suits, working-class people.
WSJ: For the vast majority of people who don’t bike regularly, why should they care if the city is bike-friendly?
Ms. Shahum: We cannot accommodate the population and job growth we’re expecting in the Bay Area by moving everyone around in single-occupancy vehicles. And that’s probably not the city we want to live in, either.
For those people who do need to drive, every person on a bike means it opens up a parking space on the other end of your route. It’s making a little more room on transit. As governments have to tighten their belts, the amount of investment the government needs to make in that [biking] trip is pennies on the dollar compared to a trip by car or by transit.
WSJ: What are some of your policy priorities?
Ms. Shahum: We’re focused on helping the city complete the Bay to the Beach route [a contiguous biking route from the Ferry Building to Ocean Beach]. There’s some great biking along that route but a lot of intimidating gaps, too.
Also, bike share. We’re seeing huge successes in other cities, including Washington, D.C., Montreal and Minneapolis. Bike share can be a real entry point for people who may not realize biking can be so accessible and easy.
The [Bay Area] was supposed to launch a program in the spring of this year, and it’s been delayed several times. Our biggest concern is it’s starting too small, with only 1,000 bikes for several counties.
So much insight, drive, and cycling-induced-happiness! Could you be the Leah Shahum for YOUR community? Check out local advocacy groups, like the BTA in Portland, OR, or Transportation Alternatives in NYC. Put action to your values by donating your money and/or your time.
Because the joy of cycling can and should be shared by all.
Keep riding and smiling, Ladies! You’re changing the world.