Thomas Goldstein is leaving his high-level advocacy position at Cascade Bicycle Club after only nine months at the organization.
“The advocacy work at the Club could not be more meaningful and Cascade’s board and staff have loads of talent and passion,” Goldstein wrote in an email. “However, the fit hasn’t been quite right for me. So, it’s time to take on new professional challenges.”
Cascade will conduct a full search for a new Policy and Government Affairs Director soon. The position is the highest-level advocacy position at the organization, which has been trying to rebuild and redefine its role in area politics in recent years.
Goldstein was the third person to hold the job since David Hiller left to join Mayor Mike McGinn’s staff in 2011. John Mauro held the job for a short time before leaving for New Zealand in 2012, and Evan Manvel held the position before he was let go last fall.
“We are sad that Thomas is leaving our club,” said Cascade Communications Director Anne-Marije Rook. “We were lucky to have had Thomas, his wealth of experience and knowledge working for bicycling for as long as we did. His opportunity in the for-profit sector sounds exciting, and we hope to work with him in different capacities for years to come.”
As we have reported previously, Cascade is uniquely positioned to have a powerful advocacy impact. Almost no other US city has a club quite like Cascade, which has the resources to at the very least have a seat at all the right transportation policy tables.
As we have seen with advocacy efforts around the Westlake bikeway, Cascade can also mobilize people when a big surge of popular support is needed. And as their excellent Advocacy Leadership Institute shows, they also have the capacity to innovate.
The conversation around bicycling in Seattle has been changing fast. While the city still has a long way to go, biking is becoming more and more mainstream. It has wide political support among city leaders, many of whom bike themselves. Even the Seattle Times Editorial Board, which often writes against transit efforts, is on board with bike investments.
Cascade’s advocacy efforts are needed in Seattle more than ever, and must be ready to shift and change with evolving attitudes toward bicycling. Sometimes that means forming new partnerships, and sometimes it means ruffling new feathers. But things won’t improve on their own, and Cascade can play a big role in promoting new ideas and holding officials accountable.
But perhaps even more importantly, other cities in the region are quickly seeing the wisdom in creating safe, bikeable streets and neighborhoods. Cascade can use its resources to help Kenmore, Kirkland, Shoreline, White Center, Tukwila, Redmond, Renton, Burien, Bellevue and other cities move quickly toward being bike-friendly places to live, work and play. It’s a big job, but now is the time to do it. Seattle is not an island, it’s part of a region, and much of the rest of the region seems ready to sign onto the vision of more biking.
“Bikes are having their ascendant moment,” said Goldstein. “New rules are being written and old habits are fading. The wave is truly building.” I think he’s right. Hopefully Cascade can find a leader ready to make it happen.