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Our 2023 Advocacy and Education Award Winners
The National Bike Summit is an amazing opportunity to bring people together and learn from one another. It’s also a great opportunity to honor the people who have made a huge impact in the bike movement through our Advocacy and Education Awards. The awards celebrate the volunteers and advocates who have committed their time and resources to advancing the work of the bike movement, and it’s a chance for us to be inspired by and learn from them.
We announced this year’s awardees earlier this week and then, during May’s National Bike Month, we’ll have a bike-side chat with each of them for an in-depth discussion that you’ll be able to watch on YouTube.
Now, please join us in applauding the people and organizations who in 2022 expanded and grew the bicycling movement through education, encouragement, and advocacy. Thanks to their tireless efforts, we are building a more Bicycle Friendly America for everyone.
Club of the Year
This award is for a bicycle club that has done an excellent job at providing a great experience for its members and people who are new to bicycling. The goal of this award is to recognize clubs that do an exceptional job at integrating advocacy into club activities or supporting advocacy organizations while creating exceptional events for new and experienced bicyclists. This award is about recognizing clubs that are inclusive, welcoming, and committed to growing bicycling.
Our 2023 Award Goes To Blue Ridge Bicycle Club
Blue Ridge Bicycle Club promotes healthy and fun lifestyles through cycling in Western North Carolina, but they are more than just a group of people who love to bike together. BRBC offers mini-grants for bicycling related projects in the Western North Carolina region and provides funding to support building paths and greenways. Promoting bike education and healthy living are also a big part of what sets BRBC apart. For youth, BRBC supports on-bike education in local middle schools and by hosting bike rodeos. For everyone, BRBC’s League Cycling Instructors host monthly cycling skills classes.
Visit Blue Ridge Bicycle Club’s website to learn more and follow the club on Facebook, and Instagram.
Emerging Leader of the Year
This award is a special accolade for a young person who is new to the bicycling movement and has demonstrated exceptional and inspiring bicycle advocacy. Recipients have demonstrated leadership in their short tenure and show great potential to continue leading in the bicycling movement.
Our 2023 Award Goes To Dasha Yurkevich
Dasha started biking in her senior year of high school and she quickly fell in love with it. So much so that her and her friends started a group, Youth Bike America, with the goal of biking from San Francisco to New York over the summer. The group raised money for supplies, planned the route, and set out – pedaling the whole time and achieving their goal along the way. That trip inspired Dasha to continue planning and executing epic rides for youth as a way to show her peers the power of bicycling as a key element of climate justice and youth leadership. In the future, Dasha hopes to empower other youth to be leaders in the movement, to plan their own trips and lead their own adventures.
Follow Youth Bike America on Instagram and TikTok.
Advocate of the Year
This award goes to a leader of a bicycling and/or walking advocacy organization who has shown tireless commitment to promoting bicycling and walking in their state/community. This person goes above and beyond the call of duty to transform their state/community into a great place for biking and walking. Their time, knowledge, creativity, and commitment are the highest standard of excellence exemplifying a role model for peers.
Our 2023 Award Goes To Dorian Grilley
As the head of the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, Dorian has led an organization that has led its state and local communities to lead the nation in being better for bicycling. Under Dorian’s leadership, BikeMN has utilized the League’s Bicycle Friendly Community program to advocate for infrastructure, education, and equitable bicycling and as a tool to partner with and engage local communities on how to improve the safety and availability of a high quality bike infrastructure network. Thanks to this leadership, Minnesota has always found itself high in the League’s Bicycle Friendly State rankings. Dorian’s award reflects his steadfast commitment and belief in the power of the bicycling movement to foster real changes that improve the lives of our neighbors and friends.
How should advocates seize this moment to shape the future?
By uniting, and partnering with others, around the message that we understand that biking and walking are not the only solution to issues related to public health, climate, and community sustainability, but that the return on investment in infrastructure and, especially, programming, is incredibly high.
Follow BikeMN on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Susie Stephens Joyful Enthusiasm Award
This award commemorates Susie Stephens, one of the Alliance for Biking & Walking founders and an enduring inspiration for many members of the bicycle and pedestrian movement. The honor goes to an individual or group who carries on Susie’s passion for advocating for bicycling as a fun and economical means of transportation.
Our 2023 Award Goes To Letamarie Highsmith
Leta is an experienced bike educator and recently joined our team of League Cycling Coaches, the experts who train new League Cycling Instructors. Like many, Leta learned to bike when she was young and continued to do so until she turned 16. After she returned to bicycling and took a few Smart Cycling courses, that joy of biking returned, too. Since then, she’s continued to teach and be an advocate for bicycling in her community. Even throughout the era of covid-19 restrictions, Leta was able to continue coordinating and finding healthy and socially distanced spaces for people to convene around bikes and bike education in her efforts to create more riders and more advocates for safe infrastructure and driver education in state drivers’ manuals.
What was a recent moment of bike joy in your work?
My heart always fills with so much joy when our learn-to-ride students start pedaling! They are often amazed at themselves and I can just see them swell with pride. Makes me smile. My joy is beyond words when the learners are children. It never gets old.
Gail and Jim Spann Educator of the Year
This award recognizes a person who has worked to elevate bike education in their state/community. We’re looking for educators who are current League Cycling Instructors, active in teaching classes in the past year, serve diverse communities, and have shown innovation in their education work.
Our 2023 Award Goes To Laura Davidson Brienza
For years, Laura has been a dedicated bike educator. Her support of BikePGH’s youth cycling program, Positive Spin, began more than five years ago. Since then, she has helped create the Positive Spin Toolkit and a Bike ECS (Environmental Charter School) program. Laura officially became an LCI in 2022, after which she launched Cycology by LDB to instruct and mentor new cyclists. She gets to spend her days as a bike educator doing things like leading a 5th grade PE class on a ride around a park to enjoy the sun and bike joy.
What do you hope the future holds for the bike movement?
The bike is such a powerful tool to tap into our strengths- physically, mentally, & emotionally. I hope the future holds a space for more children and adults to have access to this tool– including a safe route, someone to learn from, and a supportive group to ride with. I’d also love to see a future where every walk of life believes they truly belong in the cycling community.
Visit Cyclology by LDB’s website and follow them on Instagram.
Katherine “Kittie” T. Knox Award
This award recognizes champions of equity, diversity, and inclusion in the bicycling movement. This award goes to an individual or group that has led in making bicycling more inclusive and representative and has worked to remove barriers to participation by underserved and underrepresented people in their community, state, or country.
Learn more about Kittie Knox and her advocacy for a more inclusive League and bike community.
Our 2023 Award Goes To Radical Adventure Riders
Radical Adventure Riders (RAR) was founded in 2017 as WTF Bikexplorers by six friends who were inspired to collaborate on a movement to center gender inclusivity, and racial equality within the bicycle adventure community. Their collective mission is to support, celebrate, and connect communities who identify as women, transgender, femme, and/or non-binary who use their bicycles to explore (be it the outdoors, themselves, each other, etc.) RAR does this by providing education, connection, resources, and support for the community and industry. Notable efforts of the group include establishing the SJ Brooks Scholarship which aims to increase access to cycling opportunities by providing financial, gear, and bicycle support for BIPOC cyclists who are trans, non-binary, genderqueer, two-spirit, femme, and/or women. RAR also established the Cycling Industry Pledge which works to hold the bike industry and nonprofits accountable on their stated commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Learn more about Radical Adventure Riders on their website and follow them on Instagram.
Advocacy Organization of the Year
This award goes to a bicycling and/or walking advocacy organization or club who, in the past year, made significant progress. Their leaders have worked tirelessly together to grow and strengthen their organization and fulfill their mission. The proof of their efforts is in the growth of their capacity, programs, membership and the victories they have achieved for biking and walking in their state/community. This award is about recognizing organizations that are inclusive, welcoming, and committed to growing bicycling.
Our 2023 Award Goes To Bike Walk Knoxville
Bike Walk Knoxville began as a subcommittee of Bike Walk Tennessee’s regional in 2012 and over ten years has grown into a force for change and a trusted subject matter expert in the Knoxville area. The organization’s mission is to make the Knoxville region a better place to bike and walk for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. We’ve seen this in action through their advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels. The people of Knoxville have seen this in action through their Open Streets Knoxville, their work with Safe Routes to School, and the Tour de Lights where you’ll see “bicycle enthusiasts wearing their latest spandex to four-year olds on tiny bicycles to families towing pets.”
How should advocates seize this moment to shape the future?
Bike advocacy means focusing on inclusivity, equity, and collaboration. Advocates can seize this opportunity to work towards a transportation system that is safe, comfortable, and convenient for all road users.
Visit Bike Walk Knoxville’s website to learn more and follow the group on Instagram and Facebook.
Dr. Paul Dudley White Award
This award is the highest honor the League bestows. The recipient should be an inspiration to others for their commitment to the future of bicycling and someone that has made significant progress in education, safety, rights, or benefits of bicycling.
Our 2023 Award Goes To Randy Neufeld
Randy has been a force for change in our movement for over 30 years. First in Chicago as the founding executive director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, now known as the Active Transportation Alliance, which he continued on with as Chief Strategy Officer as the organization grew into a multi-modal focus, and served on the Board of Directors from 2005 until last year. Randy’s work has reached far beyond Chicago where he was a powerful player in project funding, street design and community engagement. Randy was the founding chair of the Thunderhead Alliance, a coalition of state and local cycling groups, which became the Alliance for Biking and Walking and eventually its activities were folded into the Leadership Institute within the League. Randy was president of America Bikes, strategy manager for the National Complete Streets Campaign, and since 2009 has been the director of the SRAM Cycling Fund, where he leads SRAM’s involvement in bicycle advocacy, corporate grants, and policy from international coalitions to local engagement near SRAM offices. Randy guides SRAM’s collaboration with the rest of the bike industry, working to optimize their associations and coalitions to grow cycling. He delights in developing strategy with cities, advocates and organizations to encourage the significant benefits of scaling active mobility. Many of us can remember the Advocacy Advance program that SRAM made possible.