Seven Inspiring Leaders Win Alliance Advocacy Awards

Reader Contribution by Staff

In my job with the Alliance for Biking & Walking, I’m privileged to work with amazing leaders on a daily basis. In recent months, I was doubly lucky to be in charge of our Advocacy Awards program, an opportunity for us to shine the spotlight on the progress and victories of the bicycle
and pedestrian movement.

Since 2009, the Alliance has solicited public nominations and
recognized the individuals, organizations and business leaders who are
propelling our People Powered Movement. For the 2011 awards, we got a record number of submissions from across North America and, let me tell you, the judging wasn’t easy. When we did narrow it down to the final winners, I was struck by one common thread that tied together all the recipients.

The Alliance got its start in 1996, when a handful of bicycle and pedestrian leaders met in middle-of-nowhere Wyoming to strategize how to turn their still-few local and state advocacy efforts into a larger, stronger movement. Many of the folks who attended that gathering are still in the trenches of hard-charging organizations. But nearly all of the leaders who took home advocacy awards this year were probably still in high school when the Alliance was born. So, as read through the accomplishments of the 2011 winners below, remember their names. They’re just getting started.  

Advocacy Organization of the Year– Bike Pittsburgh

On
its face, Pittsburgh is a tough place to ride a bicycle. The streets
are steep and twisting, and the winters are long and brutal. But bicycle
mode share is up and the Steel City is charged up with new enthusiasm
for active transportation. Why? Bike Pittsburgh.
The advocates at BikePGH have been working hand-in-hand with government
officials to get new infrastructure on the ground, partnered with the
local companies to get the business community on board and created
innovative programs, like Car Free Fridays, that are getting more people
on bicycles. But BikePGH excels at more than the nuts and bolts of
basic organizing. The members of their small staff are the best kind of
ambassadors for the movement: They’re friendly, energetic and welcoming.
The work and attitude of BikePGH are making Pittsburgh a mighty
appealing place to ride… despite the tough terrain.

Advocate of the Year: Jackie Douglas, LivableStreets (Boston)

This
award goes to an individual who has shown tireless commitment to
promoting bicycling and walking in his or her community and serves as a
role model for other advocates across North America. In 2010, there was
no advocate more tireless or worthy of modeling than Jackie Douglas from
LivableStreets
in Boston. Having risen from the ranks of intern, Douglas never rests
as executive director, working to improve conditions for cyclists and
pedestrians; increase membership for the organization, bring in grant
funding for its programming and act as the face of LivableStreets at
near-daily public meetings, volunteer gatherings and public speaking
events. For Douglas, working overtime is the norm and that tireless
dedication shows in the sophistication and success of LivableStreets
campaigns, including a Better Bridges
initiative that’s tackling the tough task of getting better provisions
for bicyclists and pedestrians on the region’s river crossings. Despite
her busy schedule, Douglas is generous with her time, frequently sharing
her experiences and insights with other advocacy leaders in Advocacy
Advance reports and Alliance Mutual Aid Calls.

Business Advocate of the Year: New Belgium Brewing Company

In 2010 alone, New Belgium Brewing Company
raised more than $330,000 for bicycle advocacy organizations with a
nationwide event that blew the minds of more than 70,000 residents in 13
different cities. The Tour de Fat festival
is an ingenious way to celebrate and elevate bicycle culture – and give
back to the bike-ped movement. In each Tour city, New Belgium selected
area nonprofits to receive the proceeds from the beer sales, funneling
thousands of critical dollars into local advocacy efforts to improve
biking and walking. In addition to the Tour de Fat, New Belgium Brewing
promotes biking to the brewery for employees and visitors; provides a
free bike to each employee upon their first anniversary; provides
funding to many bicycling-related non-profits through its Community
Grants program and sponsors dozens of bicycling events around the
country.

Winning Campaign of the Year: Michigan Complete Streets

At
the start of 2010, Michigan had just one local complete streets
ordinance. By the end of the year, there were more than 20 communities
with complete streets policies and the Governor had signed a new
statewide complete streets law. That incredible and rapid transformation
was sparked and spurred by advocates from the League of Michigan Bicyclists, who helped to create a powerful Michigan Complete Streets Coalition
with more than 100 diverse member organizations. That powerful, unified
voice led to the passage of a statewide complete streets bill, the
adoption of policies in a number of communities and a new priority
within the state Department of Transportation to plan streets that
safely accommodate bicyclists and pedestrians. Thanks in large part to
this Winning Campaign, the state that spent the last century focused on
all things automotive is now leading the way in the Great Lakes region.

Best Practices Award: Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition

The
Best Practices Award goes to an organization that serves as a model for
other bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations. In 2010, countless
individuals and a number of advocacy organizations drew information and
inspiration from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. The LACBC’s City of Lights
initiative elevated the conversation about “invisible cyclists” – men
and women who ride bicycles but whose voices aren’t heard and needs
aren’t acknowledged because of language or economic barriers. Through
thoughtful outreach and, more importantly, true collaboration, the LACBC
is changing the dialogue among city officials about urban planning,
bringing new cyclists into the movement and, expanding the scope of the
bike-ped movement to address critical issues of social and economic
justice.

Susie Stephens Joyful Enthusiasm Award: Stephanie Routh, Willamette Pedestrian Coalition

The
Susie Stephens Joyful Enthusiasm Award commemorates Alliance
co-founder, Susie Stephens, commemorating her passion for biking and
walking as fun and economical means of transportation and her commitment
to creating a safe environment for all street users. This year we honor
Stephanie Routh, executive director of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition.
In just two years, Routh has transformed the group from
struggling-to-be-noticed to well-networked, in the news, and in demand
for participation in regional active transportation forums. Stephanie
has embraced this role with great enthusiasm, increasing the membership
and volunteer base, building bridges to diverse communities and
partnering with other active transportation organizations.

Innovation Award: Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling

The
Innovation Award goes to an organization that’s pioneering or inventing
new ways to promote biking and walking. In 2010, the Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling released a groundbreaking new resource: Guide to Reviewing Public Road Design and Bicycling Accommodations for Virginia Bicycling Advocates.
The 28-page booklet simplifies and streamlines the confusing road
design process with easy-to-follow flow charts, handy check lists and
explanations that make sense to folks who don’t have a masters degree in
urban planning. Almost immediately, FABB’s innovative guide was in high
demand. Over the past six months, it has been widely distributed, well
received by both advocates and transportation officials, and now FABB
advocates are working on a template that other organizations can use to
tailor the guide for their specific states and transportation
jurisdictions.

Click here for photos of the Alliance 2011 Advocacy Awards Reception.