After 17 Years of Leadership, Our Executive Director is Pedaling on to New Adventures

In a letter to San Francisco Bicycle Coalition members today, Executive Director Leah Shahum announced that, after nearly 17 years with the organization, she will be stepping down at the end of the year to pursue new professional adventures, including a Fellowship to research Vision Zero successes in European cities.

“We thank Leah immensely for leading our community’s efforts to make San Francisco a safer, more inviting place to bike and a better place for all of us to live,” said Lawrence Li, President of the SF Bicycle Coalition’s member-elected Board of Directors. “Leah leaves behind a legacy of one of the most bike-friendly big cities in America and one of the most well-organized and effective membership groups in the country.”

The SF Bicycle Coalition Board of Directors has initiated a nationwide search for the next leader of the organization, which today stands in exceptional organizational shape with a talented staff of 17 people, healthy financial reserves, a diverse funding stream and a track record of successful campaigns. The Executive Director job description will be posted on our jobs page shortly. Questions about the search and suggestions of potential candidates can be shared with Anna Binder, the Search Committee Leader, at

In her letter to members (PDF), Shahum recalled starting her tenure in the late 1990s as a volunteer at the then-small SF Bicycle Coalition, handing out flyers to people biking on Market Street. She was then hired as Membership Manager, moving into the Program Director role and, eventually, becoming the organization’s second Executive Director, a role she has served in for the past 12 years.

“It has been a tremendous honor to work with such an exceptional community of people to create something so much larger than any of us as individuals,” Shahum said. “I will step away with immense pride and confidence that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition is stronger today than ever before, and that San Francisco is poised to become a truly great place for bicycling. Our success — and our potential for even greater transformation — is evident in the record number of people biking in San Francisco.”


Successes under Shahum’s tenure (left to right): All-day bike access on BART, organizing the largest Bike to Work Day in the country, Lower Polk Street protected bikeway.

During Shahum’s tenure as Executive Director, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition grew from 3,000 members to more than 10,000, making it the largest city-based bicycle advocacy organization in the nation and one of the most influential membership groups in the city. Under her leadership, the organization launched an ambitious five-year Strategic Plan to grow and dramatically improve bike ridership in San Francisco and is experiencing notable progress toward these goals, including:

  • Near-doubling (96% increase) of the number of people biking since 2006 (when the City started official counts).
  • Connecting the City with safe, inviting, protected bikeways for people ages 8 to 80. Recent successes include Lower Polk Street, Fell and Oak streets, Cesar Chavez Street East and the northbound bikeway on San Jose Avenue.
  • Educating 2,500 people per year on their rights and responsibilities while biking, and more than 1,500 drivers about how to safely share the road with people biking and walking.
  • Launching the Great Streets Project that helped jumpstart San Francisco’s parklet program and helped create more open spaces and plazas.
  • Expanding bike access on regional transit, including helping lift the bike blackout on BART last year.
  • Welcoming more youth and families to biking through partnerships with Safe Routes to School, as well as helping launch Sunday Streets.

“San Francisco has become one of the best bicycling cities in America, in large part due to the vision and leadership of Leah and the SF Bicycle Coalition,” said Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who has worked with the organization at the local and state levels. “The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s commitment to advancing more healthy and sustainable ways to move around will positively impact our great city for decades to come.”

“Leah’s vision and leadership have been groundbreaking in transforming our city,” said Lawrence Li, SF Bicycle Coalition Board President. “Now, the SF Bicycle Coalition Board is committed to continuing this progress with our talented team — a staff, Board and membership that have never been stronger and who are poised for even greater success in making San Francisco’s streets and neighborhoods safer, more inviting places to live, work and bike. We look forward to the next chapter in our organization’s core work of promoting the bicycle for everyday transportation.”

Read Leah Shahum’s letter to members here.

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