For over a quarter of a century, the SF Bicycle Coalition has honored people and organizations going the extra mile for bikeable, livable streets. This year, we honor an SF bicycle advocacy legend, and an organization that is dedicated to safe streets in San Francisco. For the 2018 Golden Wheel Awards, we are proud to honor Leah Shahum and San Francisco Bay Area Families for Safe Streets, a program that is organized by our partners at Walk San Francisco.
Leah’s career spans nearly two decades of proven success championing movements to advance active transportation, including serving as the long-time executive director of the SF Bicycle Coalition and founding the Vision Zero Network, a nonprofit working to advance Vision Zero in communities across the country.
“One of my favorite victories with the SF Bicycle Coalition was expanding Golden Gate Park’s car-free Healthy Saturdays,” Leah told us recently. “It was such a challenging campaign, with opposition from some powerful, entrenched interests. For me personally, that was so significant because Healthy Saturdays is so undeniably beneficial for the people of San Francisco with the benefits extending beyond just people bicycling.”
But as Leah recognizes, in this work there are victories, but there are also some deeply felt losses, like when Amelie Le Moullac died biking in SoMa in August, 2013 following a collision with a truck.
“I remember that as a time of deep sadness, as is always the case for any preventable fatality. Amelie’s death really captured people’s attention, grief and anger,” Leah said. “With Folsom being such a busy morning commute route, so many of our most active members could relate to that tragedy. It felt like this could have been any of us.
“I think the SF Bicycle Coalition’s advocacy helped capture attention, and it felt like a turning point for the City really taking the experiences of people biking seriously,” Leah recalled.
“When I ride on Folsom and in SoMa now, I am so pleasantly surprised by how much safer it feels. There’s a tremendous difference from the streets that Amelie biked.”
Preventing tragedies is at the core of the advocacy of SF Bay Area Families for Safe Streets, a group of people who have lost loved ones to traffic collisions. While working together on street safety campaigns and effectively telling their stories to persuade decisionmakers, SF Bay Area Families for Safe Streets also offers a sense of community for people who have suffered tragic losses from collisions.
Member Julie Mitchell, who lost her son Dylan when he was hit by a truck while he biked on 16th Street, now channels her grief by fighting for street safety improvements.
“We’ve all been through very traumatizing experiences, and we all use that grief and that trauma as a power to see change delivered on our streets,” Julie told us. “Being active with SF Bay Area Families for Safe Streets made me understand that people like me can make a difference.“
People like Leah Shahum and organizations like SF Bay Area Families for Safe Streets demonstrate courage and determination day in and day out to make our streets the safe corridors that people deserve.
Join us Thursday, July 26 as we recognize these incredible advocates. For complete details on the 2018 Golden Wheel Awards, go to sfbike.org/goldenwheel.