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Nicole Freedman headed back to Massachusetts as Newton Transpo Director

Nicole Freedman. 2012 image from Boston Bikes
Nicole Freedman. 2012 image from Boston Bikes

Nicole Freedman has stepped down as Seattle’s Active Transportation Chief after a year and a half on the job.

She’s moving back to Massachusetts and serve as the Transportation Director for the City of Newton, just west of Boston where she served for years as the city’s bike czar.

“I am in awe of the SDOT’s drive towards its progressive transportation vision, and of the tireless work from so many staff, advocates, consultants and individuals to help make this vision a reality,” she wrote in a farewell email.

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Her last day was September 2.

“We appreciate her contributions to the city and will begin the process of filling her position,” SDOT spokesperson Norm Mah said.

Freedman’s tenure was short, but packed. She hit the ground running, arriving in the spring and being put in charge of the city’s new Summer Parkways program. She also served as the SDOT staff liaison to the Seattle Bicycle Advisory Board.

And though she did not oversee the development or launch of Pronto Cycle Share, she was heavily involved in the development of the city’s bike share expansion efforts. She was also at the center of the controversial city buyout of the system early this year.

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15 responses to “Nicole Freedman headed back to Massachusetts as Newton Transpo Director”

  1. William

    So why is she leaving after so short a tenure?

    1. Eli

      Obviously, the City of Seattle has made such tremendous strides during her tenure that she is no longer needed.

      Literally dozens of people attended Summer Parkways — that’s more than enough to fit in a PR photograph to show the world that we have open street events.

      And our rhetoric around building protected bike lanes is even louder than ever. The cherry on top is taht we’ll have a NACTO conference to show the world how great our empty promises are — maybe they’ll make a Streetfilm about it.

      And as Nicole pointed out, things are already so great in Seattle, what else could we possibly need?

  2. This is extremely disappointing news. I exchanged mail with Nicole on the last week of August, proposing ideas to improve Pronto and other things. She sounded enthusiastic about Pronto, Shared Mobility and Parkways programs. What the hell is SDOT thinking?

    1. Look at the bright side: if she was mostly interested in Pronto, “Shared Mobility”, and Parkways, maybe her departure won’t cause any more delays in improving the bike network.

      1. True, though I’m not sure whether those were the things Nicole was interested in, or SDOT simply threw them on her plate. If I was Scott Kubly, I would have considered appointing her to the lead of the centre bike network. I wonder why that didn’t happen.

  3. Erik

    Good by and good riddance. This woman was a walking conflict of interest. Gets the city (taxpayers) to take on the money sucking Pronto and then bails.

    1. Tom Fucoloro

      Conflict of interest? She had no financial interest in bike share, from what I know. She helped launch Boston’s system for their city, and then came here and worked on ours. She didn’t work for the company.

  4. Alkibkr

    I’ll try to be positive and be grateful for the very good people who’ve been around for a while. Dongho Chang, Dawn Schellenberge and Jim Curtain come to mind as some of the SDOT staff who’ve been very helpful and (knock wood) will continue to do so. I would like to give them a shout out.

    1. Andres Salomon

      This. SDOT has retained some very good people, but they also seem to have an issue retaining people. One person who left SDOT in frustration has referred to it as a “culture of fear”. There will be no organizational competence as long as that is the working environment there.

      I’m grateful that we the Dawns and Donghos of SDOT have stuck around as long as they have.

      1. Andres Salomon

        I can’t the english so good today. :)

    2. Alkibkr

      Dawn Schellenberg (hyperactive E key)

    3. BallardBicycler

      You are so right about everyone you mentioned. Kyle Rowe is also great.

  5. […] Newton, MA: Seattle’s bikeshare director is moving on home to Massachusetts for a new gig. […]

  6. Alkibkr

    What is the status of the RFP to expand bike share in Seattle? We are overdue for some transparency from SDOT on this issue. I want to save the planet and I am a huge supporter of bike share and all active transportation. But our small bike share system with limited destinations is not going to do much toward that goal. We need more stations as soon as possible at commercial and transportation hubs, like Fremont, Lower Queen Anne theater district, Ballard/Ballard RR stop, Stadiums, Sodo (including one at the light rail station), WS Ferry terminal/Water Taxi docks, Alki + first or last RR stop in West Seattle (I can dream). These are all relatively low elevation hubs with good bike infrastructure access (maybe Ballard excepted until the missing link is fixed) that could be connected easily with the current style bike. What a boon to connectivity this would be, given the lack of secure personal bike storage in the city and the abysmal local Metro bus coverage to communties outside of peak high ridership hours. I hope this vacancy will not be an excuse for delay or keeping us in the dark.

  7. Yeah Whatever

    The City is going with Bewegen. Electric bikes for all in probably a similar undersized system that exists now. Check out what Portland and San Francisco scored. We get Bixi (Hi Montreal!) in Bewegen clothes.

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