Today we spotlight SVBC member Katie DeLeuw. Katie has been the SVBC San Mateo County representative for the BART Bicycle Task Force since 2017. She helps SVBC develop policy on issues related to BART and Bikes+Transit. If you’re interested in being SVBC’s Santa Clara County rep for the BART Bicycle Task Force, see more info here.
- Introduce yourself and tell us how did you get introduced to/involved with Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition?
I’m a Bay Area native from Mountain View originally. I left in 2003 for Santa Barbara, and then Seattle and was lucky enough to return in 2016. I live in South San Francisco with my two awesome kids (6 and 4 years old) and my wonderful husband. I’ve always been passionate about environmental protection and doing my part to tread lightly, which is one of many reasons I choose to ride my bike and take transit instead of driving, when possible. I am also a consultant, specializing in public engagement and communication – which is another passion of mine, helping people connect with their communities and contribute to decisions about plans/projects that affect them.
A bit about my bike: it’s a cargo bike and I love to ride it. I bought it in Seattle where there is a great network of people who bike with their families – via cargo bike, box bike, trailers, whatever. When we moved back from Seattle, I was looking for bike advocacy groups to support, as I had been involved in a similar group in Seattle. I attended the 2016 Silicon Valley Bike Summit to learn about local initiatives and connect with other bike-minded people, and then joined SVBC and started “lurking” in various groups to see what they were all about. As a regular bike/BART commuter, I joined the BART Bicycle Advisory Task Force and reached out to the SVBC to see if I could help keep the two groups coordinated. So, now I represent SVBC on the BART Bicycle Advisory Task Force as the San Mateo County rep – I’m happy to be able to contribute to both.
- If you could spend an afternoon bike ride with anyone dead or alive – who would it be and why?
My family and friends! I think the best bike ride would be a big family ride. I have friends all over the country who ride cargo bikes like I do, and it would make me so happy to get us and all our kids together to ride to the park or a beach to play and picnic for the afternoon. An afternoon would be nice but a weekend camping trip by cargo bike would be even better!
- Among your friends and people you know who don’t ride a bike, what do you think would help encourage them to get out there?
I think it’s a combination of seeing other people do it and feeling safe and comfortable on a bike around cars. I love talking to people about my bike and how easy and fun it is to get around by bike with the kids. But I definitely understand how scary it can feel for people who are not comfortable riding around with cars. Our roads are traditionally focused on cars first and, while there are many changes in progress, it is going to take long time to have a fully connected, accessible, consistent bike network.
4. What do you think needs to be done to achieve 10% of trips taken by bike by 2025 in Silicon Valley?
A fully connected, accessible, consistent bike network. To me, this means infrastructure improvements that 1) prioritize people, regardless of travel mode, instead of cars, 2) help people feel safe and comfortable for the duration of their trip, 3) connect regionally, and 4) are easily accessible. It’s no fun to be riding along on a nice green bike lane that ends at the boundary of the city you happen to be in, or to have to ride a couple miles out of your way on busy car-oriented streets just to get to the path you take to work.
Also, acceptance. The societal view of “cyclists” needs to shift. It’s beyond time to lose the judgment and arrogance and accept people and their choices – I’m talking about transportation choices but of course this goes for everything! Our roads should be for everyone, and people who walk, bike, drive or take transit should all be able to use them without getting yelled at, having things thrown at them, or worse. Building societal acceptance can start with some basic education and training so that people driving can do so in a safe way around people biking – and vice versa.
- What kind of activities and trips do you use your bicycle for?
I used to do long recreational rides but now I’m more of a commuter/errand-runner by bike. I find myself thinking up errands to run just so I have a reason to take the bike for a spin sometimes! It is the best way to get the kids to and from school, I love riding up past the line of parents in cars waiting to get in the parking lot to drop of their kids – we just roll right up and beat them all! I also do most of my grocery runs by bike (even the occasional Costco run), ride to BART regularly to get to Oakland for work, and sometimes to Caltrain for meetings along the Peninsula or South Bay. I find that the bike/transit combo is the easiest way to get around the Bay Area. It takes a little planning but it’s worth it to not be behind the wheel in traffic, plus I get to explore neighborhoods and businesses that I would otherwise never see.
6. What would you say to someone considering becoming a member of SVBC?
I support SVBC because they show up to represent their members and advocate for bike improvements, in a realistic way. If you want improved bike infrastructure so that you can get around by bike or even if you don’t bike but think it’s important for people to have safe and accessible transportation choices, then you should support SVBC also.