Seattle hires Boston Bikes head to lead Active Transportation Program

Image from Boston Bikes

Image from Boston Bikes

Folks in Boston are bummed to lose Nicole Freedman, who has led that city’s Boston Bikes program since 2007. She oversaw the city’s first real efforts to build bike lanes and the launch of their Hubway bike share system.

But Boston’s loss is Seattle’s gain. Freedman is headed here to lead SDOT’s Active Transportation Program, according to a farewell letter she posted on the Boston city website.

Freedman is headed to SDOT to “develop, manage and champion a leading-edge active transportation program that benefits users of all ages and abilities,” according to the job listing (we reported on this position back in October). Specifically, Freedman is tasked with growing biking, walking and transit use, managing the expanded Summer Streets program and managing people working for safe streets all around the department (from Safe Routes to School to Complete Streets to Capital Projects).

The Boston Globe credits her with “changing the culture of cycling in Boston.”

“It’s been fantastic just to see how far the city has come along,” Freedman said. “When we started, there were no bike lanes in the entire city.”

Freedman helped launch the Boston Bikes program under Mayor Thomas Menino in 2007. Under her leadership, the city created 92 miles of bike lanes and implemented a successful bike-share system, Hubway.

Pete Stidman, director of the Boston Cyclists Union, said Freedman managed to build a “whole raft of programs” with few resources.

“She was in the right place and in the right time, and she was the right person,” he said.

Before she studied urban planning at MIT and Stanford and started working for the City of Boston, Freedman was a champion bike racer. She won the 2000 US National Championship Road Race and the 2001 US National Championship Criterium. She was also a member of the US Women’s Road Team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

But in recent years, she’s more about bike share and safe streets than racing. Perhaps you remember her from this 2013 KUOW report about the then-upcoming Seattle bike share system. Even two years ago, Freedman seemed drawn to Seattle.

Freedman has visited Seattle before and seemed excited about the prospects of a bike sharing program in the city. “I can guarantee that it’s going to be a huge success in  Seattle,” she said. “It’s a great city. You’ve got a great culture of people that want to be biking.”

The Boston Biker blog is sad to see her go:

I knew and worked with Nicole personally and I have to say she was a one woman force for change in this city. She expertly navigated the tricky political streets of Boston and brought a heap of good to our city.

Welcome to Seattle, Nicole!

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20 Responses to Seattle hires Boston Bikes head to lead Active Transportation Program

  1. richard says:

    Quick note on 1st sentence: lead->led :)

  2. Congratulations and welcome Nicole! We’re lucky to have you.

    You’re in good company with other talented women who lead Seattle’s safe street efforts, namely Barb Chamberlain (ED of Washington Bikes), Cathy Tuttle (ED of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways) Deb Salls (ED of Bike Works), Elizabeth Kiker (ED of Cascade Bicycle Club), and Lisa Quinn (ED of Feet First).

  3. jt says:

    Nice! Welcome! Has SDOT made any announcement? It seems weirdly like some sort of accidentally-blown secret, since all the news is coming from Boston about losing her, rather than a nice warm welcome from Seattle (though I saw lots of nice Twitter messages to the latter effect).

  4. Gary says:

    Congradulations! Welcome to Seattle!

    Don’t let the “cold shoulder” rumors get to you, the bicycle community is actually very welcoming.. oh, and never ever read the comments on the Seattle Times….

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