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New League Staff: Stephen Clark

The League is excited to announce a new member of our staff: Stephen Clark. A longtime bike advocate, Steve is our new Bicycle Friendly Community Specialist, and he’ll be traveling across the country visiting communities to help them become more bike friendly.

So what’s Steve’s story? Here’s a quick Q&A on Steve’s biking background…

What’s your first memory of riding a bike? 

It’s a bit muddled, but a bunch of kids in the neighborhood were daring one another to ride down this very steep dirt hill on their bikes, but several of us hadn’t learned to ride yet, so we were just watching — I think I was maybe four.  My brother who was two years older attempted it on his purple bike and I remember him crashing pretty bad.  But it still looked like fun so I figured I’d try it, but not when anyone else was around.  I crashed too, but much earlier in the hill so didn’t get hurt, but then kept at my brother to teach me how to ride, and after my dad put on some training wheels I was off!  By the time I was 9 years old I was sneaking off on 5 mile rides without telling my mother (except when I would get back home) and I guess I haven’t changed all that much over the years!

What got you interested in working for the League? 

My involvement with the League goes back to when I was in high school and became a member of the “League of American Wheelmen” and soon started the St. Croix Valley Wheelpeople — a League affiliated club.  I was once even the president of the League, while working as the bicycle coordinator in Boulder, Colorado.  And after leaving Boulder and becoming a consultant, I did some work for the League helping to develop the Bike Month materials. More recently I’ve been a Coach for the League, training new LCIs.  But I have been really impressed with how much impact the Bicycle Friendly America program has had in recent years and it just seemed like an ideal job to follow the work I’ve been doing here in Minneapolis as the program manager for the Non-motorized Transportation Pilot Program.

You’ll be doing lots of travel in this position, meeting with lots of advocates, politicians and others — what are you most looking forward to as you prepare to start off on this journey?

Well, I’m super passionate about bicycling and that seems to bring out the extroverted side of me. I mean, just to talk about bicycling is energizing for me so I must say I’m looking forward to every aspect — but especially meeting the people who are trying so hard to make things better in their communities. I have yet to meet better people than those who care about making their streets more livable and their communities more walkable and bikeable. Plus it will be fun to see what the challenges are and help people overcome them.

What drives you to do this kind of work?

I like challenges! (And I love bicycling). And quite frankly, we really have a lot of problems right now that could be greatly alleviated by more pedaling and less driving.

What bike are you riding now and what inspires you about cycling?

Well the bike I used today is very different than the bike I used last week because right now there is a major snow storm happening here.  So today I used an old (30 years!) Cannondale mountain bike with wide knobby tires (but no studs as it’s just snow, not ice).  The bike I’ve been using for commuting most of the year has been a 2011 cyclo-cross bike, and generally I use that for winter too, but not today with the 5 inches of snow.  I suspect with this new job I will be using my folding bike more than anything else.  My mantra for most of my adult life (and what I teach to new LCIs) is to be able to “Bike anywhere, under any conditions, for any reason.”    Bicycling is a solution in so many ways and I’m still having fun proving it by doing things like pulling a canoe,  or going on a winter bike camping trip, or hauling a refrigerator — or more importantly, making cities more pleasant places!  

Stay tuned here on the blog for more on Steve’s travels!