Working at the intersection of cycling and social justice

Photo by: Serena Liu

“The bike is second to me. The bike is a tool for social justice,” says Tamika Butler, the executive director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition who considers safe, accessible, dignified opportunities for active transportation critical to addressing social inequities.

Butler, who took the helm of the organization is 2014, defies many stereotypes of active transportation advocacy, a realm often associated with privileged white men.

“I’m a queer, gender-nonconforming woman of color, and that’s the lens through which I see my work,” Butler recalls telling the board of directors of the bicycle coalition when they (Butler’s preferred pronoun) interviewed for the job. “If I take this job,” Butler advised the future employers, “this is going to be a social justice organization.”

Photo by: Serena Liu

A Stanford-trained lawyer disenchanted by the prospect of a traditional legal career, Butler worked in social justice advocacy before assuming the helm of the bike coalition. The move was precipitated not very long before by a doctor’s warning about the need for more exercise to stem significant weight gain after a move from the Bay Area to the car-dependent City of Angels. On the advice of a friend, Butler bought a bike, a decision that would turn out to be life-changing.

America Walks is thrilled to count Butler among the exciting speakers appearing at the 2017 National Walking Summit in St. Paul September 13-15. Butler’s talk will be one of several sessions to address growing concerns about equity in the active transportation movement.

Read more about Butler’s story here.  

Early bird registration for the conference is open through July 15th. Register now to join Tamika at the 2017 National Walking Summit.