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Big shakeups at Cascade continue: Manvel and Kelly let go, board elections Tuesday

Elizabeth Kiker (right) tours the Seattle area with Serena Lehman. Photo from Cascade.
Elizabeth Kiker (right) tours the Seattle area with Serena Lehman. Photo from Cascade.

Big changes at Cascade Bicycle Club continue with no signs of slowing down.

We reported recently on departures of many staff members in the past year, and the club let two more high-level staffers go. Evan Manvel is no longer the club’s policy director, and M.J. Kelly is no longer the communications director.

The changes come as new Executive Director Elizabeth Kiker settles into her role at the head of the largest regional bike club in the nation.

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Manvel was formerly with Portland’s BTA organization before taking the Cascade position a year ago. He oversaw a transitional period in the club’s history, with longtime director Chuck Ayers stepping down earlier this year and many members of the advocacy arm of the club leaving for positions in other non-profit organizations.

Kelly is a biking mom who has led the club’s media wing. She is often the person in front of the camera for TV news reports, making the case for safer streets for people of all abilities and ages. As such, I have worked closely with her in the three years writing this blog. She has been very supportive of my work and the growth of Seattle Bike Blog.

“We are reaching out to our networks and posting the jobs to try to get the positions filled immediately,” said Kiker, who could not comment on the specifics of the employment decisions. Kelly also declined to comment. I was unable to get in touch with Manvel.

Kiker emphasized that the changes do not represent a move away from advocacy, as some have reported in recent months.

But the club is poised to change dramatically in the near future. Half of the Board of Directors will be elected Tuesday, and their direction will shape the focus of the club as it rebuilds its advocacy wing and refocuses its resources.

bod-meet-candidates_facebook-400x400All Cascade members (which the club boasts is more than 15,000 people) are eligible to vote either online, by mail or in-person at Tuesday evening’s annual membership meeting at the REI flagship store. Online voting is open now. Details from Cascade:

There are three ways to vote:

  1. Online: Members can access the e-ballot via an email that will be sent on Oct. 1 to all current members with a valid email address in our database.
  2. By mail: Printed ballots are available in the October issue of the Cascade Courier and may be downloaded and printed.
  3. In person: Bring your ballot to the Cascade Bicycle Club office in Magnuson Park, 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Bldg #138, Seattle. After business hours, deposit it in the secure mailbox next to our front door. Or, bring it to the Annual Membership Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 6 – 8 p.m., at the REI at 222 Yale Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109.

Seattle Bike Blog is independent and typically stays out of Cascade’s internal workings unless it becomes a big enough deal to warrant coverage. There are bunch of people we like on the candidate list, but we have not done enough reporting to endorse a full slate of candidates for the Board. However, we definitely endorse the following principles:

  • Biking is a mode of transportation that should be safe and inviting for people of all ages and abilities.
  • The city needs Cascade to push it to invest in education and infrastructure to meet this goal. This will require a variety of tactics, some of which might be abrasive or inspire controversy if necessary. We need bold change, and we need it now.
  • Cascade can do much to help widen the appeal of cycling to more people from more backgrounds and ages.

Seattle Bike Blog can definitely endorse one person though: Merlin Rainwater, who is definitely the site’s all-time top reader and biggest fan. Merlin is also the only person who has been to more Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board meetings in the past three years than I have, so she is intimately versed in current issues facing people biking in Seattle and is extremely dedicated to the cause of making cycling safe and inviting for everyone.

Do you have any thoughts on other board members? Please use the comments below to discuss.

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33 responses to “Big shakeups at Cascade continue: Manvel and Kelly let go, board elections Tuesday”

  1. mike archambault

    Yeah, Merlin!

  2. merlin

    (blushing) gee thanks Tom… I think you’re pretty great, too.

  3. Two candidates I know who share those values: Merlin Rainwater and Catherine Hennings. They would add much to the Board’s diversity and life experience.

    1. Kevin in Ballard

      Tom and readers of the SBB forum – thanks for posting this info and for calling out its importance (and getting a conversation started)

      My current candidate choices are influenced by having served as fellow board member with three of them. I wholeheartedly support George Durham, Don Volta and Daniel Weise for re-election to the Board. I’m happy to get into details with any interested reader ([email protected]).

      All three have served as board leaders (chair, vice-chair, executive committee), and they bring thoughtfulness, passion, and vision to the role. Choosing among the other five candidates for the remaining three seats will be a difficult choice – all were recommended by Cascade staff and the board-staff Nominations Committee and have the skills to do well in the job. This is a good problem: to have so many great choices for the board!

      I thank everyone who has committed to seeking election and to those SBB readers who are current or potential CBC members (everyone of you should be!) who will vote in this election. Please join us at our Annual meeting next Tuesday (highlighted by Tom in his sidebar)

      Kevin Carrabine
      current vice-chair of the board

  4. Any updates on the shakeups?

    I can’t believe this isn’t driving a bigger discussion among the bike community. Folks! This isn’t just a “member” issue. The “Club” isn’t like a golf or tennis club — a member organization solely dedicated to a leisure activity — Cascade is actually creating local and state policy. The size and reach of the club means they have a hand in virtually ALL Seattle bike issues.

    Cascade has (aggressively and successfully) sought that role over the years and become THE default “bike” representation at the table for nearly everything — new public/private partnerships, city initiatives, workshops, events, etc., — often at the expense of any other bikey point of view (if you’re only going to have one bike seat at the table, who’s it going to be? Cascade of course).

    But the tradeoff for claiming that seat is transparency. Who is Cascade? What direction is the group moving? What are the initiatives for the coming year? 5 years? Whether I like it or not, Cascade has decided to speak for the entire bike community. So at the very least I’d like to know what they plan to say and do in our name.

    New executive directors often put their stamp on an org. That’s understandable. But the timing of losing two long-time activists (one recently recruited from BTA, an org I personally wish Cascade was more like) the Friday before the election makes it easy to speculate (probably wrongly, but speculate still) on her strategy.

    1. Mara Gross

      As someone who worked with Evan Manvel for years before he left Portland for our fair city to the north, I can say that he’s about as smart, committed, and politically astute as they come. He’s also just good people.

  5. Elizabeth Kiker

    I appreciate the coverage here, Tom, and the honest questions by the commenters. Cascade is, if anything, re-emphasizing the importance of advocacy, and working to add transparency. If you (or others) have any questions about our/my strategy or direction, I’d welcome the chance to talk. Just expect that I’ll have questions of my own for you, such as “how can we serve you better?” and “how can we work together more?” and “how can we continue to transform the Puget Sound region for all cyclists?” I can be reached at the office (206-522-3222) or by email ([email protected]). I look forward to working with each of you.

    1. Thanks for your response, Elizabeth. It’s great to see a Cascade director engaging here! Id’ love to chat — I’ll follow up.

      In the meantime, though I’d like to pose a question to Seattle bike Folks. Is Cascade just a club or do they mean something more to the region — are they The VOICE? And (especially if you aren’t a member) — do they speak for you? (in my opinion they do, so I’m more wondering if you are OK with that).

      1. Daniel Weise

        Tim, Elizabeth isn’t a director, she’s the new ED!

        Daniel Weise, Board Chair, Cascade Bicycle Club

  6. Gary

    Cascade has been just a club for the last 30 years. Hardly willing to play hardball with the auto lobby. Only in in the last 5 years has anything been done to really make bicycling more than recreational. AFAI can tell it’s has changed more due outside forces and a generation change that saw what was possible thanks to Portland.

  7. Thanks for joining the discussion, Daniel. Since you’re here, I’d love to hear your perspective (either as the Cascade Board Chair or personally) on my questions above.

    “Is Cascade just a club or do they mean something more to the region — are they The VOICE? And (especially if you aren’t a member) — do they speak for you? (in my opinion they do, so I’m more wondering if you are OK with that).”

    With what I see as Cascade’s role as “The Bike Org of Record,” I’d sure like the club (staff AND board) make an effort reach out to and engage with the “non-club member” bike riders you all now represent by default.

    PS: I do know she’s the ED. I meant to say “The director.” Call it a minor typo — though “executive director” is still a kind of “director,” is it not?

    1. Daniel Weise

      I’m speaking for myself here.

      Given all the bike organizations and cycling evangelicals listed to the right of this comment under “Seattle Bike Links,” and all the great work they do, clearly Cascade is not The VOICE of cyclists in the region. It could be claimed that Cascade is the loudest voice, and the one capable of generating the most grass roots support for the cause of making cycling a viable and enjoyable transportation alternative for everyone. But even given Cascade’s resources and clout, it is small compared to the task at hand, and only by everyone working together can we move things forward as quickly as possible. Everyone has a role to play.

  8. Elizabeth Kiker

    I think we are much more than just a club, and working with advocates like you and journalists like Tom we can all help to transform the Puget Sound region for bicyclists. Look forward to meeting you this week!

  9. merlin

    Cascade is a very important organization for bicycling – as one of the other board candidates pointed out on the candidate forum, it’s the only organization in the nation that successfully combines recreational rides, education programs and advocacy (at least as far as I know – correct me if you know differently!). However Cascade is not the ONLY voice for people who ride bikes. I have been an observer at the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board for the past three years, and was just appointed as a an official member. Quite a few Cascade members have served on this board, but it includes members with no association with Cascade and has its own independent voice. Seattle Neighborhood Greenways (SNG), with about 22 neighborhood-based Greenway organizations, is another local organization with significant influence regarding bicycle (and pedestrian) policy. Bicycle Alliance of Washington provides an advocacy voice representing the whole state, but also has an influence locally. And Columbia City’s Bike Works is another independent organization that contributes to the mix. Cascade will be most effective by working collaboratively with these and other independent groups.

  10. merlin

    Also, there’s a certain individual who writes a bike blog here in Seattle and has a pretty big voice in the bike world, independent of ALL the organizations. :-)

  11. merlin

    For bike news that’s timely
    insightful and thorough
    follow Seattle Bike Blog
    by Tom Fucoloro!

  12. stardent

    I have been bike commuting here for 20+ years and I have no clue what CBC does. Intersections that have been unsafe have become more so and the number of hyper aggressive bicyclists has gone up. I suspect CBC is an organization for racers and such in lycra and do not represent cyclists in everyday clothes.

    1. Daniel Weise


      Thanks for giving us the opportunity to introduce the Cascade Bicycle Club to you, and others who might not be aware of what we do or the impact we have on the region. Since this is Tom’s blog, and not ours, I will keep this very brief, even though brevity in a blog can make a message seem strident even (especially!) when it isn’t meant to be.
      1) We have no racing DNA in our body. Our focus is the commuter, the recreational rider, and the person who simply wants to use their bicycle for transportation.
      2) The focus coming out of our last retreat was the 60% of the entire population identified as the “interested but concerned” rider (IBC). One of their major concerns is safety.
      3) We are the group that produces the Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic, which 10,000 cyclists participate in every year. It is a fundraiser that supports our other work.
      4) We have a strong and effective advocacy group that organizes the voice of the riding community to affect city, county, and state transportation policy, cycling infrastructure, and funding for cycling improvements in the transportation and trail system. As one example among many, if you have ridden the Burke Gilman Trail through Lake Forest park, you have CBC to thank for the lawsuits filed to get it improved.
      5) Our board has no racers on it, but we have someone from SpokesPeople, a cycling group you will never find in lycra, and various other people that represent the broader cycling community. On the ballot for board member this year is someone from Commute Seattle (also on the Seattle Bike Advisory Board), another person who is a leader in the Seattle Neighborhood Greenways movement.

      This is the tip of the iceberg of who we are the services we provide. Clearly, we could be doing a better job of marketing ourselves, and we soon will be. Thanks for riding.

      Daniel Weise, Board Chair, Cascade Bicycle Club

      1. stardent

        Thank you for the explanation. I am not too far from the old Navy Base and I find the intersection of BGT with NE 70th and 25th continue to be dangerous for bicyclists. I wrote to the Mayor after a jogger was struck by a car coming down 70th and implored him to install speed bumps or stop signs. They Mayor wrote back several months later that they were making changes to the intersection on the 65th but that SDOT had determined that no changes to 70th were necessary.
        NE 25th continues to be very dangerous with cars daring bicyclists to cross even when the latter has green light. Considering that the BGT at 25th is a much trafficked section, it is amazing that the city has done nothing to improve the safety there.
        I also think patrolling the trail by bicycle cops and ticketing offenders (racers who pass someone within a foot or so without giving any kind of warning whatsoever) and those causing obstruction would improve the trail for most of the users. These are the areas of rather narrow concern to me where I see very little happening.

      2. Andres Salomon

        Are you referring to the crossing of 25th Ave NE? If so, that intersection is due to be improved by SDOT in 2014. I’m anxiously awaiting additional details on that, but it will include signal changes.

        What you talk about is a larger problem with Seattle streets, however. Any time you have a walk signal, you should not have to contend with cars turning right and left into you!

      3. Roger Dodger

        stardent: I also wrote to McGinn — six months ago — about installing speeds bumps and safety improvements IMMEDIATELY on NE 75th at Eckstein, after a drunk driver killed two pedestrians there last March. Instead of sending SDOT out there the very next day with a truck full of blacktop and paint, he waited five months. Instead of the very effective speed bumps, which slow drivers down no matter what, he installed revenue-generating speed cameras.

        As I wrote to McGinn after his opportunistic, electioneering photo op in front of Eckstein a few weeks back, getting a speeding ticket in the mail two weeks later doesn’t stop the offense, it merely punishes it after the fact. Further, speed cameras have no effect on a drunken, multiple offender, like the one who killed the Schultes.

        Once McGinn and the City Council got a taste of the “easy money,” they vowed to install speed cameras all over the city. Then, in July, to cover their butts when challenged over the choice between inexpensive, effective speed bumps and expensive, marginally effective speed cameras (with no less than $38,000 a month going to a company in Arizona, a state the City — by Council Resolution 31214 — is supposed to be boycotting for being a backwater of racial prejudice), the Council hastily set up a fund “dedicated to safety improvements.” We still don’t know what those are, but we know they aren’t speed bumps at critical locations.

        Critical locations like, oh, I dunno…in front of Whitman Middle School on 15th NW, where speed bumps were installed ages ago and are doing their intended job! Or the speed bumps on Pullman Ave NE in Jean Godden’s neighborhood, a stone’s throw from 75th & BGT!

        AFAIC, when it comes to safety McGinn is a raging hypocrite. The fact he would sit on his can for months after the Eckstein tragedy, and allow SDOT to stall off improvements at 75th & BGT til some vague date next year, tells me all I need to know about his priorities.

      4. Roger Dodger

        Andres: “Any time you have a walk signal, you should not have to contend with cars turning right and left into you!”

        Maybe, in an ideal world. But this is Seattle, where 30 percent of drivers are distracted at any given time. Always presume you’re invisible.

        And definitely not if you’re playing “beat the bridge” when the signal is flashing or fixed on “Don’t walk.” Drivers, even the distracted ones, are accustomed to the pace of walking pedestrians. They’re not accustomed to cyclists gunning it at the last second to make a light. When a turning driver sees the “Don’t walk” light, he/she should be able to presume the light will be observed.

      5. Andres Salomon

        It’s not just people on bikes; people walking have near-misses (and actual hits) by people rushing to turn all the time. It happened to me yesterday as I walked through U-District.

        It’s also not a complicated thing to solve. No right on red + dedicated left turn signals. When you get your walk signal, the light should be red in both directions.

    2. Kevin in Ballard

      Hi stardent –

      How could we have missed you!?? Appreciate that you are such a long term commuter (me too) and many of us are deeply involved with CBC’s efforts to build out more safe infrastructure for bicyclists of all ages and abilities in Seattle and the region.

      To learn more SOON, come to the Cascade Annual meeting, next Tuesday, October 8th. http://www.cascade.org/About/annual_membership_meeting.cfm, or check out http://www.cascade.org/Home/

      Hope to see you out on the road….

      Kevin Carrabine
      CBC board vice chair

  13. Daily Seattle Bicycle Commuter

    Since there are so many folks in CBC in the comment tread, perhaps the topic should be moved to the forum section and my comment should be included there. I paid for a family membership with the CBC for a year but decided not to renew after one year. My reason in particular is that the CBC, judging by its events calendar, is most geared (pardon the pun) toward King County-wide participation. I know that there are a few events that would appeal to Seattle residents, but not many. Perhaps the CBC can form its own Seattle chapter? We don’t have a car and the Club doesn’t seem relevant for us unless we can ride to the start of the event (child included). We are not Drive To Ride (DTR) folks, which is what most of the CBC events seem to be. I am sure that there is improvement on the way, however, just to add that.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      This is the place for comments like this (no need to move to forums). Since CBC is making changes, it’s a good time to make such suggestions, and that’s what this post is about.


    2. ODB

      On the topic of CBC’s events calendar, the free daily rides are a lot of fun and are a great service to the community offered by ride leaders who (as I understand it) volunteer their time. I’ve done several as non-member of Cascade, some that I had to drive to, others that had Seattle-area starts. Recognizing that the rides calendar represents only a small part of what CBC does, even just focusing this recreational part of the club illustrates that the club is far from an organization for “racers.” Only a few are paced in the “strenuous” or “super strenuous” range, with many rides in the “easy,” “leisurely” or “moderate” range. In fact, as someone who likes to ride fast (and also commutes to work every day) I sometimes wish they would do more fast rides. Even the most performance-oriented part of the club (High Performance Cycling) is for people who want to develop their skills and fitness but don’t want to race. I’m not a member of CBC, but nothing I’ve seen indicates that it is racing club.

    3. I have never driven to the start of a Cascade Event… it seems most of the rides and events start in the greater Seattle area.

  14. No traffic lights

    This is quite a thread. I’m guessing there’s a decent amount of dough that comes with these board seats?

    1. Daniel Weise

      Board seats at non-profits are always volunteer gigs. We are just dedicated cyclists (who apparently sat in front of our computers today instead of out riding).

  15. Longtime CBC

    For those concerned about the recent direction of the club, starting when the board forced out Chuck, let me be clear:

    Vote to remove Volta and Weiss. They are principals in this odd realignment of the club, and likely behind Kiker’s incoherent actions reported above.

    Sorry for the anonymity.

  16. […] will replace Evan Manvel, who was let go recently after about a year on the […]

  17. […] staff shakeups started before Kiker arrived, but they didn’t slow down after she took the position. Retaining talent has remained a challenge for the […]

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