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The Passing of a Bicycle Visionary: Ellen Fletcher
It is with a heavy heart that we note the passing of a true bicycle advocacy leader: Ellen Fletcher.
According to Richard Masoner: “The Holocaust survivor, PTA mom, city council member, and bike advocate Ellen Fletcher succumbed at age 83 to lung cancer at her Palo Alto home” this week.
“Ellen was a board member of the League from 1984 to 1990 – and I had the pleasure of working with her then when I was first on staff,” remembers League President, Andy Clarke. “She was recognized with the League’s Paul Dudley White award in 1996 and we also honored her at our education conference in San Jose a couple of years back. She valiantly made her own way from Palo Alto by bike and train to attend. Ellen was a tireless advocate in the Bay area, and served on the Palo Alto city council for many years in the 70s and 80s.”
Ellen shared just a glimpse of her inspiring story earlier this year, contributing to our “31 Days, 31 Reasons” blog series during National Bike Month.
… Moving to the California suburbs in 1958 with a baby, I thought my biking days were over. But it wasn’t long before I was again back on the bike, at least for short trips. But those short trips expanded greatly, partly for ideological reasons during the Arab oil boycott. Although I still owned a 1964 Plymouth Valiant until a few months ago, I rarely used it, filling my gas tank no more than once a year. The rest of my trips were by bike or with my bike on transit.
When my son entered elementary school here in Palo Alto I volunteered to be “Safety Chair” for the PTA. That got me started in bicycle advocacy. Bike lanes, under and over crossings at major obstacles, bikes on trains and buses and the Nation’s first bicycle boulevard.
At one point when the City Council balked at adopting some bike improvement policies in its General Plan, I decided to run for a seat on the City Council myself and served on the Council for twelve years, from 1977 to 1989…
Our thoughts are with her family and friends. Learn more about Ellen’s incredible leadership and legacy on SF Streetsblog and Mercury News.
Photo by Richard Masoner