Thank you, and some news.
Dear Members and Friends,
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as the Executive Director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association for nearly six years. I’ll be stepping down as the Executive Director and my last day at WABA will be May 31, 2021. It’s been a true honor and privilege to work everyday to make our streets safer for people on bikes.
A lot has changed in the past decade since I first started at WABA. Ten years ago, I could attend public meetings for the next street project and recognize most of the people in the room there to advocate for biking. Now those (virtual) rooms are packed with neighbors, business owners, and civic leaders speaking up for safer streets. Years ago, a cargo bike with kids would roll by, I would wave as it could be one of only a few local families. Now, I see dozens of families riding with kids every day. And, back then there were a few champions of biking serving in elected office that carried the flag for better biking. Today, there are leaders at all levels of government working to make biking better for everyone.
WABA is a community of people dedicated to creating a more just and sustainable region by making biking available to everyone who wants to ride. It’s really about the people. I have had the opportunity to work with so many inspiring, passionate, and caring people to improve bicycling — you, our neighbors and community members, civic leaders, staff, and board members.
The collective hard work by so many of you has yielded new miles of trails in the trail network, a growing network of protected bike lanes, the launch and expansion of bikesharing, passage of important legislation that protects the most vulnerable road users, and many more improvements that are making biking safer and more joyful.
And yet, there is work left to do. The past few weeks have been incredibly painful as people walking and biking are being injured and killed at alarming rates by dangerous driving on deadly streets. Each person killed leaves behind a grieving family and community. Every survivor faces a long road to recovery and will never be the same afterwards. Elected leaders across the region have made commitments to eliminate traffic deaths and injuries, but progress toward safe streets is too slow, too often bogged down by politics. We are tired of demanding change from people with the power to fix a broken system. We must continue demanding changes as lives are depending on us.
The movement that you are a part of is bigger, more diverse and inclusive, and powerful than it has ever been. The calls for safer streets for better walking and biking are louder, more effective, more frequent and throughout the Washington region. The pandemic has brought into focus the need for more places for people to get outside on foot and bike to recreate and exercise, to promote their well-being, physical and mental health, and to live more sustainable lives. The growth of biking right now rivals historical bike booms and it’s the time to invest in long-term improvements that makes bicycling truly accessible and available to all who want to ride.
I am particularly proud of our work to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism (DEIA) as an organization. Staff, board, WABA members, and volunteers intentionally work to center DEIA in our advocacy, education, and outreach efforts to better represent our diverse community and address historic and current inequity.
On a personal note, our family welcomed a baby girl a few weeks ago. I will be taking some time in the short-term to be the primary caregiver for our two young kids before taking on my next professional role. Fortunately, we planned ahead and our family cargo bike has a spot for a second seat when the time is right.
Here is an update from the Board President Joanne Neukirchen shortly that outlines the transition and search process for WABA’s next Executive Director. I have complete confidence in the members of the board and staff to advance our mission and represent the diversity within our organization.
Again, thank you for your support of WABA. I will soon join you as a member and look forward to WABA’s next chapter.
PS: We can’t do a happy hour safely yet, but join us on Thursday the 27th for a socially distant ride to a neighborhood park.