The SF Bicycle Coalition is excited to welcome Julia Raskin to the team as a Community Organizer! Julia recently moved from New York City after extensive work in community outreach and environmental planning in the Midwest and Colombia. She’s followed her passion for biking, adventure and community to working with our members on ways to make SF safer and more fun to bike.
SF Bicycle Coalition: Tell us a little about yourself; where are you from? What motivated you to get involved with the SF Bicycle Coalition’s work?
Julia Raskin: I grew up in New York, mostly in the suburbs but have also lived in the Bronx and Brooklyn. I spent nine years in the Midwest, doing my undergraduate studies at Oberlin College and graduate school at the University of Michigan, living in Chicago in between. After that I moved back to New York and lived in Brooklyn for a while, working at the Parks Department. Then I moved to Colombia for almost a year, and although I love the country I realized that my work isn’t really there. Since my real passion lies in community outreach, San Francisco seemed like an obvious choice because it has such active and engaged residents.
Can you tell us a little bit about your work here at the SF Bicycle Coalition?
I am a Community Organizer, working with the neighborhoods north and west of Market Street. My work includes listening to what communities need and making sure that their voices are reaching City Hall. I work directly with communities in their neighborhoods to help make a city that’s a better place for them to live and bike.
What aspect of the SF Bicycle Coalition’s work are you most excited about?
Making sure that communities are getting their voices heard and needs met. I’m excited about helping communities make sure make their city the way they want it. One of the projects that I get to work on is the Embarcadero, a route very dear to me since it was part of my commute when I worked in the Presidio. There are so many different types of travelers along the Embarcadero, from tourists cruising along while taking in the San Francisco sights, to people riding recreationally, to people commuting. A lot of people use the Embarcadero path, and it should be accessible and easy to use for everyone.
What do you think are some of San Francisco’s biggest areas of opportunity in regards to bicycle infrastructure?
More accessibility for people from all walks of life, including low-income folks and communities of color. I hope to make biking more accessible and safer in the Western Addition, for example, and hopefully help create an area that allows for more economic mobility for its residents. With living and public transit costs so high here, the bicycle can be, and is, a vehicle for economic mobility.
If you could make an ideal San Francisco for people biking, what would it look like?
More protected bike lanes, of course, as well as strengthening bike lane connections. SF is already such a great place for biking, but we can always use more protected bike lanes. More protected bike lanes and stronger bike lane connections can help make it even easier to get around the city by bike. Stronger lanes and connections would help in making the waterfront a great biking destination for people riding at all levels by providing safe, accessible spaces to accommodate them. More bike parking would also help people get around more since they wouldn’t have to worry about anything happening to their bike whenever they go out.
Any favorite rides/aspects about biking in San Francisco?
Riding to the Presidio, to Land’s End and all the way down to Ocean Beach is still one of my favorites. Even though Ocean Beach still needs some work with its bike lanes, and there can be a lot of people in the lanes on the weekends, it’s still a beautiful ride. Also riding across the Golden Gate Bridge to the Marin Headlands is breathtaking!
As a part of the SF Bicycle Coalition staff, is there anything that you would want members to know about you?
I am so excited to meet our members. I am still getting to know the city, so I am relying on our members to tell me what they need. I am so happy to be here, and that I get to work with such a great community of people.