A Fond Farewell

After 6+ wonderful years as Executive Director of BikeAthens, I am leaving my position and heading off to new adventures in North Carolina. My last day will July 18. When the Board hired me in the fall of 2012, I had experience as a student, a teacher, a BikeAthens BRP volunteer, and a life-long bike rider. I did not have formal experience as an advocate, and honestly, I did not fully know what I was getting myself into.

Only a few months after I started, I worked with then-Commissioner Alice Kinman to tweak the Athens-Clarke County Complete Streets Ordinance. That experience was a crash course in Athens politics and bike advocacy. It was a whirlwind beginning, and the last 6 years have flown by. Since I started, I have a taught hundreds—maybe even close to thousands—of kids and adults about bike safety. We have seen thousands of bikes come through the shop. We’ve donated hundreds back to fellow Athenians. BikeAthens moved from a cramped space on Chase Street (and I had a cubicle in the HT Edwards building) to our great location on Broad Street. Of course, we have not yet realized the vision of a “connected network that all Athenians can use with comfort and ease.” However, Athens has come a long way and is in a great place to move forward. Athens-Clarke County has accepted the Athens in Motion Plan; they hired a Bike and Pedestrian Safety Coordinator; and they just created a 9-member Athens in Motion Commission. And, most recently, ACC Government voted 9-0 to bring long-awaited protected bike lanes to downtown. We can see the progress written in asphalt as abstract policies are increasingly made physically manifest in our streets.

I am proud of BikeAthens accomplishments, but they are not my accomplishments alone. It has been a pleasure working for all the folks who have volunteered to serve on the BikeAthens Board over the years. Bringing Athens to where it is now has truly been a collaborative effort. On that note, I will also say that I will remain inspired by all of our hard working BikeAthens shop volunteers. Many of the regular volunteers working on bikes pre-date my time with the organization. Some have repair records dating back 10 years! Their commitment to the work is testament to the culture BikeAthens created. I will not forget their passion and dedication.

I want to thank Complete Streets Athens: Kristen Morales, Clint McCrory, Jesse Houle, Jennifer Rice, and especially Carol Myers and Tony Eubanks. We worked tirelessly in weekly meetings, online discussions, and phone conversations. We built a great advocacy “think tank” from the ground up. It was quite a journey at times, but we created a lot of good work. I think we helped expand the conversation beyond cars and bikes to look at our streets in a more holistic manner.

Lastly, I want to give a special thank you to Jason Perry, Scott Long, Elliott Caldwell, and Richard Shoemaker. Jason stepped up at a time of organizational upheaval and has worked tirelessly to get BikeAthens on strong footing going forward. The time he gave to BikeAthens freed me up to focus on advocacy and education. Scott Long began working with us a volunteer, but quickly became an essential member of the team. He definitely earned the job in more ways than one. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having him as a co-worker and officemate. Elliott has also been a huge help. Even though he works for Georgia Bikes, he never hesitated when I asked for advice or used him as a sounding board. Plus, he has advocated here in town of his own accord. For my first two plus years, Richard wrote the BikeAthens weekly newsletter. He and I would meet at EarthFare on Tuesdays to talk about the newsletter content. He produced a wonderfully readable newsletter with voluminous content. For me, they were much appreciated social visits as much as work meetings.

It is impossible to describe and distill my six years working for BikeAthens. It has been such a positive experience both professionally and personally. The more I think about it, the harder it is to find the words. Working for BikeAthens has been an honor—I am sad to leave. Yet, I am also excited to follow from afar and see how much further BikeAthens will go.