Washington Bike Summit: Featured Speaker Samantha Ollinger

Samantha Ollinger, Executive Director, Bike San Diego, will be a featured speaker at the 2015 Washington Bike Summit. Image by Allison Don.

Samantha Ollinger, Executive Director, Bike San Diego, will be a featured speaker at the 2015 Washington Bike Summit. Image by Allison Don.

Her voice as a bike blogger was fresh, forceful, and funny. When I first read her personal blog, Brown Girl in the Lane, I thought, “This is one I want to make sure I read regularly.” I was a volunteer bike advocate thanks to help from the staff of the statewide bike advocacy nonprofit, organizing Bike to Work Week activities in Spokane and spending most of my spare time thinking about bike transportation and policy. Compiling a list of women’s bike blogs as a hobby led me to Sam.

Fast forward a couple of years. I’ve joined that same statewide bike advocacy organization as executive director and I’m at a leadership retreat put on by the Alliance for Biking and Walking. I meet a young woman who has just founded something called Bike San Diego. She says something that rings a bell. I look at her and say, “Wait, are you Brown Girl in the Lane?”

Sure enough. Thanks to the great national network that the Alliance helps foster, I got to know her in person. At the League of American Bicyclists National Women’s Bicycling Summit, I saw her engage a roomful of advocates and leaders on the importance of political engagement. She was a featured speaker at Future Bike in 2014. She was nominated for the Alliance for Biking & Walking’s Advocate of the Year award that same year and her organization took home the Advocacy Organization of the Year trophy.

From her nomination for the Advocate of the Year Award: No one has done more to advance bike advocacy in a major California city in just a few years than Sam Ollinger. 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.

If you’d like to be able to say similar things about your hometown, you’ll appreciate the energy and inspiration Sam brings as a keynote speaker at the 2015 Washington Bike Summit. Read Ollinger’s bio below and register for the Summit today.

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Samantha Ollinger is the founder of BikeSD, a nonprofit 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.

In under three years, thanks to Ollinger’s leadership, BikeSD’s efforts have resulted in having San Diego’s mayoral candidates in the past two election cycles competing with one another over who was more bike-friendly (the current mayor constantly refers to himself as a “cyclist” and talks about riders’ needs on the road).

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 in historically neglected neighborhoods. BikeSD pushed for San Diego to become a member city of NACTO, pushed to have the city adopt the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide, initiated and helped with the launch of the city’s first open streets event, CicloSDias, advocated to have the city to create the city’s first Bicycle Advisory Committee (first promised in 2002), and won the 2014 Advocacy Organization of the Year award from the Alliance for Biking and Walking.

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.

Thank You, Sponsors!

The Washington Bike Summit presented by Washington Bikes is made possible by our outstanding sponsors:

  • Platinum: Cascade Bicycle Club, Group Health
  • Gold: Washington State Dept. of Transportation
  • Silver: Raleigh, People for Bikes
  • Bronze: Alta Planning + Design, Foundation for Healthy Generations, Mithun Design, Ortlieb USA, REI, SRAM, Transpo Group
  • Other support: QBP
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  1. […] The story as Barb wrote was that I somehow was able to finagle mayoral candidates in our historically car-centric town to come out strongly in support of biking. But it wasn’t that easy. […]