Off the Chain with Tamika: Tamika Rides On
This is the hardest Off the Chain I’ve had to write in my nearly three year tenure at the organization as I announce that I’ll be leaving LACBC on July 14th. Leaving is truly one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made. Ultimately, I had to do what was best for my family and I have an incredible opportunity at a new organization that is going to help me continue to grow as an Executive Director and leader.
When I rode my bike to the LACBC Spring Street office in December of 2014, I never imagined how much I would grow as a leader and person with this organization. Like any epic ride, my time at LACBC has been full of hard climbs, exhilarating views, and plenty of tears and laughs with all of you.
LACBC was already a phenomenal organization when I got here, but during my time here, we have become even stronger, and that is because of all of you! Our members, volunteers, and staff are the core of what we do at this organization. You are the backbone to our successes. You are the people we do this work for and that encourage us to keep fighting to make LA a healthy, fun, and safe place for all people who ride here. Here are a few highlights of what the LACBC team has accomplished together:
A. becomes a Vision Zero City: The City of Los Angeles became a Vision Zero city. As other cities around the county look to adopt Vision Zero policies, LACBC has been a leading advocate in this work. We have stressed the need for Vision Zero to save lives, but also value lives and consider issues such as gentrification, displacement, and racial profiling as cities look towards utilizing enforcement strategies. LACBC has been viewed as a national expert on this topic and our intersectional approach to Vision Zero has been seen as a national model.
Measure M passes: Last November, L.A. County residents overwhelmingly voted to pass Measure M, which provides approximately $120 billion over 40 years for transportation projects, including at least $4 billion for active transportation. Not only is this funding important to complete biking and walking projects, but working on the campaign was a true collaboration between organizations and groups with different missions. This campaign required strategic organizing and thoughtful storytelling. LACBC was at the forefront of this campaign with our partners and were a critical player in its passage. We also stood boldly and honestly in calling it a sales tax and continuing our fight post-passage to ensure that the low-income communities and communities of color most often negatively impacted by infrastructure aren’t afterthoughts as the county looks towards implementation. Our seat on the Metro Measure M Policy Advisory Committee solidifies our position as we continue to influence the shaping of Metro’s work and vision as they plan the future of the county.
Operation Firefly expands: Since 2012, LACBC’s Operation Firefly program has been helping people bike more safely at night by distributing bike lights and handing out safety information, and this program has grown tremendously. During my tenure we had an over 160% increase in the number of lights dispersed, including over 3000 lights this last season. In our continued effort to serve all people who bike, our youngest light recipient was 2 and our oldest recipient was 85.
LACBC in schools: In the largest grants awarded to LACBC in our history, we have developed an education model that will incorporate bicycle education classes into more than 30 LAUSD schools. We’ll be training PE teachers how to teach bicycle education classes to their students, allowing our work to ignite a new generation of people who bike and creating an education model that will live on from year to year as we reach thousands of students. We have prioritized schools serving low-income communities and communities of color as our commitment to equity has been the driving principle in reaching neighborhoods that were historically neglected by our work and other transportation improvements.
Bike share debuts across the county: Santa Monica led LA County with the first bike share program, Breeze Bike Share, last fall.Since then, other areas have followed: Long Beach, Beverly Hills, Downtown LA, and West Hollywood. We’ve been on the frontlines working with Metro and Multicultural Communities for Mobility as we looked to make bike share more equitable as it grows throughout the county.
Internal sustainability and chapter growth: Behind the scenes, we’ve grown the budget, we’ve grown our membership, we’ve expanded our reach, and we’ve increased our professionalism. A major part of doing this was expanding our chapter system which now includes 13 local chapters of our most committed members throughout the county. They lead the work from the ground and have been a key part in pushing us to be better. We’ve done all of that while making the team stronger, providing better pay and benefits for the staff, investing in the professional development of our team, and having a ton of FUN!
Continued expansion of our events for all riders: Whether it was a fancy gala, a ride spanning the state to fight climate change, the historical LA River Ride, or a Sunday Funday exploration of a new neighborhood. We continued to offer a variety of events that cater to all experience levels and all ages. We have these events not just to raise money (though throughout my tenure, our fundraising from these events grew), but to primarily build community. These events are about having fun, experiencing the diversity of our county and membership, and making new friends!
Meeting you all: From LA River Ride to meetings to conferences to Sunday Funday rides, I have loved connecting with so many of you in person and hearing about what is important to you. We don’t always agree, but we all want to make LA better. I’ve been energized by that and am more committed than ever to serving others in the furtherance of that goal.
LACBC’s recognition as a national leader: During my tenure, LACBC has been recognized as a national leader on a number of issues. In particular, as part of our mission to make LA a healthy, fun, and safe place for all people who ride here, we’ve pushed people to consider voices that have historically been silenced. As our national presence and visibility rose, many people right here in LA didn’t understand why we were talking about things like race, inequity, housing unaffordability, police, or social injustice. Often times when you’re leading the way, people on the sidelines question what you do because they don’t yet understand what it is, why it’s important, or that you’re changing the game. We at LACBC have been part of changing the game. We know that we’ve only been able to do this because of all the leaders (predominately women, people of color, and LGBTQ folks) in our community and across the country who paved the way. Many of these leading individuals did this at the expense of their own well-being while being minimized and tokenized by the broader movement. We thank those people. We’re happy to join the fight and we will continue to do this work, even after my departure. It’s now essential to the LACBC culture and all that we do. We know that everyone may not understand, but we hope that one day everyone will. When they’re ready, we’ll still be here, leading the way.
These are just a few of the things this amazing team has accomplished, and LACBC isn’t done. The vision of the organization is to continue centering the voices of all people who bike in Los Angeles County and to do our work with an intersectional social justice lens. At LACBC we don’t always do what’s popular. We do what’s right. We do what’s inclusive. We do what is going to best fulfill our mission to represent all people who are biking in their communities. Our work is about people, not just bikes. We’re going to keep this vision and this commitment. The next chapter of LACBC is going to be the best chapter yet. I can’t wait to see what’s next!
This experience has forever changed me and I want to thank each and every one of you who has supported me and pushed me to be better. For now, we still have work to do, so I need to get back to it!
p.s. Feel free to reach out before I leave, I’d love to see you! Stay tuned to the newsletter for updates on the ED search. I’ll also be announcing my new landing spot shortly.