In an email to its membership today, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia announced that its executive director for the last 13 years, Alex Doty, will be leaving the organization to lead the League of American Bicyclists.
The Bicycle Coalition grew from a tiny, two person staff to nearly twenty during Doty’s tenure. Recent successes included the launch of Indego Bike Share, a merger with the Cadence Youth Cycling Foundation, the opening of the Schuylkill Boardwalk, buffered bike lanes of Spruce and Pine streets, and the development of 300 miles of trails as part of The Circuit, a planned 750-mile network of bicycle and pedestrian trails planned for the 9-country region. The Coalition boasts that Philadelphia is the “most-biked big city in the United States.”
Doty described the decision to leave the Coalition for the League as “the hardest professional decision I’ve had to make.”
The League is a national bicycle advocacy and education organization that has seen a number of staff departures in recent months. One of Doty’s first tasks at the League will be hiring new staff and developing a strategic vision for the organization. Doty said he sees his new role at the League as “fashioning the tools for local advocates to use to make their communities more bicycle friendly.”
“I’ve been involved in advocacy in a big city, and [the Bicycle Coalition has] also done work in the suburbs and statewide, but the big challenge will be figuring out what we need in all fifty states, not just one state.,” said Doty, noting that his experience leading a local bicycle organization would help bridge the gap between national and local advocacy efforts and local.
“And,” Doty added, “taking some of that Philly attitude to a national level can’t do anything but help, in my opinion.”
While Doty will be leaving the Bicycle Coalition, he won’t be going far. He intends to stay living in Philadelphia, spending a few night a week in Washington, D.C. where the League is headquartered. “I can’t imagine wanting to live anywhere that is more than five blocks away from Clark Park,” he said.
Sarah Clark Stuart, currently the Bicycle Coalition’s deputy director, will become acting executive director. The League, which saw its last chief executive depart in July, did not give Doty much time to make his decision and oversee a transition at the organization that he has led for over a decade.
Doty leaves the Bicycle Coalition at a crossroads. On one hand, the organization has won significant promises from both the Democratic and Republican candidates for mayor, causing Philadelphia Magazine’s Patrick Kerkstra to crow “The Bicycle (Riding) Lobby Has Won, and Philly Will Never Be the Same Again”. But new bike lane construction has slowed in recent years, and Philadelphia has yet to build a protected bike lane while peer cities see their cycling infrastructure grow by leaps and bounds.
Still, Doty has faith that the Coalition will carry on well without him. Doty called building the “talented team here” one of his proudest accomplishments of his tenure, adding that he expects the Coalition to “do things in different ways that will make it even better and stronger,” as he departs.
“I don’t think the Bicycle Coalition is going to miss a beat.”