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Future Bike: Sam Ollinger

There are some people you meet and immediately think to yourself: That woman? She gets stuff done.

The first time I met Sam Ollinger, she was commanding the room with insightful thoughts on the importance of political engagement during a Q&A portion of the National Women’s Bicycling Summit. And she certainly knew what she was talking about.

Over the past several years, Ollinger has led the charge for a more bicycle-friendly San Diego, as the founder and executive director of BikeSD. She’s a passionate voice for equity in bicycling — and the bike movement — and we’re excited to host her as a speaker at Future Bike on September 11, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pa. She’ll be joining Ed Ewing (read our blog about Ewing) and Naomi Doerner (read our post about Doerner) in our discussion about Future Leadership.

Just this year, Ollinger was not only nominated for the Alliance for Biking & Walking’s Advocate of the Year award, but her organization took home the Advocacy Organization of the Year trophy.

No one has done more to advance bike advocacy in a major California city in just a few years than Sam Ollinger, her peers wrote. With her forceful, precise style, Sam has altered the transportation conversation and the direction of public policy in California’s second most populous city. In 2013, Sam oversaw the passage of a progressive $312 million city bike plan update and a regional decision to front-load $200 million of bike-ped investments. Thanks in part to Sam’s influence, 2013 mayoral candidates competed with one another over who was more bike-friendly, the City of San Diego has officially embraced design guidelines for protected bike lanes, and thousands of San Diegans are informed and activated online. Sam’s work with BikeSD has challenged longstanding bike advocates to up their game, and they have responded strongly, creating additional momentum to move San Diego towards robust active transportation.

Talk about getting stuff done. Read Ollinger’s bio below and register for Future Bike today.


Samantha Ollinger is the founder of BikeSD, Inc, a non-profit cycling advocacy organization whose mission is to transform San Diego’s streetscape to be a world-class bicycle friendly city. As the Executive Director, Ollinger sees San Diego exemplifying the ideal urban city that civic leaders around the world can only aspire to. Bicycling is one of the many avenues to lead San Diego onto the world-stage and BikeSD is committed to changing and executing the city’s narrative that will drive this transformation.

While previously completely uninspired by bike advocacy, Ollinger was drawn to this burgeoning movement during her 2008 cross country trip that ended in Texas. On a bike path in West Virginia, witnessing a small monument dedicated to a woman (Sue Ann Miller) who had worked tirelessly to bring this facility to life, Ollinger was inspired enough to dedicate her time (now going on three years) to the cause.

An immigrant to the U.S. from India and a graduate of Temple University with a Business Administration degree with a focus on Accounting, Ollinger evaluates the movement around livability through a financial lens.

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