(Photo © J. Maus)
Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) Board Chair Mary Roberts has announced that Scott Bricker has “left his post” as Executive Director of the organization.
Here’s the intro to the statement just released by the BTA:
“The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) Board Chair Mary Roberts announced today the need for a change of leadership at the BTA and that Scott Bricker has left his post as Executive Director.”
Bricker had been with the BTA since 1998 and was selected as their leader in October of 2007.
The BTA Board also announced today they’ll begin a national search for a new leader. Board Chair Mary Roberts says in the statement, “We cannot rest on our successes of the past but must push forward to secure a healthier future for all of our citizens.” Roberts also hints at how the BTA might change their advocacy tone in the future, “… the BTA will become a more assertive advocate for 25% of Portland’s trips to be made by bike by the year 2030.”
This was likely a difficult decision for the BTA Board. Stability at the top is important for an advocacy group and they were just coming off the relatively short tenure of Evan Manvel.
Roberts says the decision to let Bricker go was made because the game has changed. “This is about a change in where we see the BTA going, which is less about just the bike and more about how the bicycle serves the entire state in many ways. We’re starting to see ourselves in a much larger context.” Asked why Bricker was no longer the one they wanted to lead the way, Roberts replied, “He has enormous strengths in lobbying, advocacy, and policy development, but those aren’t the strenghts of running a bigger kind of organization.”
“I think this is a transformational time in our state around bicycle transportation and that it is calling on really different skills. We need a different kind of talent to help leverage that.”
— Mary Roberts, BTA Board Chair
Roberts and her Board colleagues feel like the BTA has not kept pace with what they see as progress of bicycling in our region and our state. “I think this is a transformational time in our state around bicycle transportation and that it is calling on really different skills. We need a different kind of talent to help leverage that.”
Roberts feels that support for bicycling from elected leaders and policymakers across the city, region and state has reached unprecedented levels in recent years and the BTA has not kept up. “We’re trying to catch up to this new reality where we really have support at every level.”
So, how does Roberts see the BTA’s approach changing? Roberts said that will ultimately be up to the new leader, but she was clear that they want to focus more on building public pressure on politicians and decision makers to get more funding for bikeways. “I think the day has come where we need to be a more aggressive organization… and get our members to speak out more, and make sure we are applying pressure in the right places.”
Bricker’s departure is effective immediately and the BTA’s three staff directors — Roopal Patel, Angela Koch, and Eileen Trudeau — are filling the leadership role until someone new is hired.
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Oh. Are we not voting right now? =)
where’s the part about how he is pursuing other opportunities. hey, Elly and Jonathan, if you guys can get some behind the scenes info on what is going on over there (first Karl Rohde and now this), your readers wouldn’t mind knowing . . .
What the heck is goin’ on?
Wow. I know he had non-fans as well as fans, but this is still a shocker.
“… the BTA will become a more assertive advocate for 25% of Portland’s trips to be made by bike by the year 2030.”
This might be the problem. The BTA’s stated focus on their websise is promoting cycling in Oregon and SW Washington but they seem to be more focused on Portland.
well, something needed to change. good luck to scott in his future – I wonder if the Board will ask their membership who should be the new ExecDir? seems like the board hasn’t done a great job of hiring or directing of late.
This is the best news I have read or heard all week.
Scott has been a tremendous asset to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance–dating back to long before he became Executive Director. He’s been an innovative thinker, a successful builder of the organization and an influential and respected leader in advancing consideration of bicycling within influential circles locally, regionally and nationally. It’s a shame to see him go at a time when he’s helped advance Portland to a point where we are now positioned to make great advances.
I interviewed for a BTA borad postion a few years ago. It was clear that what they were interested in wer career non-profit types, politically connected types, etc. Bicycle advocates seemed to be way down the list. Politically connected types would be fine except they were totally ineffective in the last legislative session. They need to get back some cycling enthusiasts into the board again.
Scott is one of the shrewdest and most effective transportation advocates I know.
I hope he will stay in Portland and in Transportation.
More passion, less wonks!
Maybe he’ll have success as a model? He’s in a picture of a streetcar, here in my office.
Good luck in the future, Scott! I always thought you put on great presentations, and as a Rep for the BTA, you were always on point and very professional.
Is the Board’s decision effective immediately or will Mr. Bricker serve as the Executive Director until a replacement is found? Also, if Mr. Bricker’s resignation starts today, who is at the helm of the BTA?
Scott’s presence at the BTA will be missed by many of its memebers. Over the years, he has done tremendous work for Portland as well as the Oregon cycling communities.
I wish Scott well on his future endeavors.
Scott Bricker is a great lobbyist, but he came into the Executive Director position without appropriate qualifications…and the board hired him anyway. Many of the current board members were also involved in his hiring, so perhaps they should be looking more closely at their own failings in contributing to the long-term problems with the organization.
The reality is that, even for a non-profit, politically-connected people help to move the political machinery; and the BTA is, in large part, a political lobbying organization that tries to promote its bicycle issues in the “halls of power”. This is generally how political machinery works. Either you have faith in it, or you don’t.
I generally don’t, and that is why the BTA’s existence has not really affected my choice to ride my bicycle as primary daily transportation for nearly four decades.
If the BTA is really gunning for a radical strategic shift, mark me down as someone who would think it very smart of them to hire someone with a strong background in medicine/public health as their next exec. director.
I’m somewhat conflicted on this one. First off, let me say that I feel that Scott Bricker is an excellent lobbyist, a great consensus-builder, and dedicated to the success of the organization. I’m not a BTA staffer (nor a former one), so I can’t speak as to how well he handled the administrative side of things. I really appreciate the time and effort he’s put into making the BTA successful, and developing the partnerships with the City of Portland, the Oregon Legislature, and various governmental and nonprofit groups. Thanks, Scott!
OTOH, the BTA’s success has been mixed, and while Scott’s departure is a bad thing for Scott (and I wish him the best – he’ll be a fantastic asset for the next organization that gets him), it may or may not be a bad thing for the BTA.
The BTA had an aggressive schedule for the last legislative session, and they were very successful in terms of the number of bills they assisted in getting passed – but can they actually say those bills had measurable impact? I would argue that they have not – and I challenge the BTA to prove otherwise. Has anyone been successfully prosecuted under the Vulnerable Users legislation? Has the passing bill made any impact? Sure, we have a more beneficial definition of what constitutes “safe passing distance” – but are there any roads on which it is applicable? It only applies when speeds are in excess of 35mph, and if a bike lane is not present. The majority of roads over 35mph have a bike lane, or are limited-access highways that are prohibited to bikes.
As another commentor pointed out – where is the focus on the rest of Oregon? While Portland *is* important, and home to both the highest general population and highest cyclist population in the state, it is not the end-all, be-all. There are at least a dozen municipalities in greater Portland and major cities like Eugene, Salem and Bend which can also use some devoted advocacy.
I don’t mean for any of this to diminish the BTA’s accomplishments, which are legion, ongoing, and vital to the community. Those accomplishments should be recognized and acknowledged. But with a new Executive Director comes new opportunity – opportunity for the BTA to greater fulfill its mandate and mission statement, and to help create a better bicycling environment in the state of Oregon. It’s my fervent hope that the BTA’s board will capitalize on this opportunity and find someone with bold visionary leadership to make this happen.
I agree with Rodger Geller (No. 8) Scott’s contribution to bicycling in Oregon is significant. Bicycle Safety Education exists today because Scott started and ran the program for many years. Thousands of school children now learn to ride a bicycle because of that program and no child is turned away for lack of a bicycle. As a non-Portland resident I’ve always appreciated Scott’s statewide persepctive. Thank you for all you’ve done Scott.
As I was coming into the Director position of the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition, knock-kneed and lip-biting, Scott was right there with advice, resources, and support. He has been an incredible advocate for people who want to live in an environment that is geared towards cycling and walking. Transitions in an organization are inevitable, but any region that hopes to develop livable cities needs leaders like Scott – leaders who are collaborative, smart, and supportive. Good luck to the BTA in their search and to Scott in his next worthy endeavor.
Best wishes, Scott, for continued success and ongoing contributions to improving the transportation environment. Thanks for all the hard work and passion you’ve invested on our behalf over the years.
Best wishes, BTA, in the search for a leader who will build on past successes and boost bicycling throughout the state.
from an outsider’s perspective, and a rational person perspective, wtf happened here? someone who’s led your organization for a decade gets fired, just like that? severance? notice? who hated who? ‘left his post’? does he get unemployment?
if it makes sense, then fine, but none of what Mary Roberts said, above, makes any sense to me at all. ‘transformational time’, ‘different skills’, ‘larger context’?
america turns its lonely eyes to portland’s transformations every day. american cities are dying for top-level bike advocates with Scott’s exact skills. and what larger context — is the BTA going to take on pedestrian and transit issues, too?
the bike plan sucks, so Bricker has to go? gas prices are down so Bricker has to go?
look, if he deserved to be fired, then i want to hear that, and i want to know why. i understand meaningless platitudes have a place in this world, but how about, you know, a little maturity on the part of the BTA? and maybe it was Bricker’s decision to ‘resign’ immediately after he was told how bad he was at his job. at this point, we can only guess.
the whole thing feels very amateur-hour.
when does the board meet? are these meetings open, at least to members? nothing on the bta4bikes website.
We wish both the BTA and Scott traveling mercies for their imminent journeys.
It has been great to work with Scott here in Eugene on issues ranging from the Safe Routes to School National Conference, the strengthening of our advocacy organization, bicycle education, and other projects. His collaborative, open, and thoughtful input has been very appreciated. He has given a lot to the bicycling community of Oregon and for that he deserves our thanks. I hope he continues the work in some form as he’s an important asset to us all.
That being said, the BTA Board has decided to let Scott go and my feeling is that it could be an overall positive for the organization…. if the right leader was found. Speaking from a non-Portland focus we’d love to see the BTA have a more state-wide emphasis. They have been involved in bike education for years in Eugene but in a somewhat distant way. I know they have tried and that it often comes down to funding. Their heart has been in the right place but the money and leadership may not have been. I think it also is dependent on the local communities ability to coordinate and organize. Hopefully the “new BTA” can succeed where the old couldn’t in offering that support (financially and strategically) in bringing the rest of Oregon up with Portland by lending those organizational skills.
@Peter #22, yes this is amateur hour.
@beth h, #16, I realize that we need political people so when the political people are ineffective, what do you do? Bricker seems like a nice guy, but the BTA was only able to get pretty ineffective legislation done (see matt picio #18).
The boards statement about running a “bigger” organization are BS, I think the BTA’s membership has gone down. If it wasn’t for the bike store discounts, their membership would be really down!
They have become just another non-profit, sending out e-mails, sponsoring legislation that the bike riding public doesn’t really care about. Just Soul less!
What they need are cycling enthusiasts, people who fire up the community to get legislation passed, nobody cared about the vulnerable users law! They want more money for new bikeways, tax breaks for commuters, stuff that makes people want to ride a bike to work, etc. Good luck in the “nationwide” search, there are plenty of able enthusiasts here if the BTA cared.
I look forward to a new BTA that is in touch with the neeeds of actual cyclist. While BTA arguged wether cyclists should be on top of, or below the proposed CRC bridge, all of my fellow workers and I lost our downtown bike parking. I have been a member for years and called BTA, and they did nothing. I did not renew my membership.
What would it take to get me and my $35 dollars a year back. Focus on the basics: More long term parking, dedicated bike paths, cycle tracks and child education. Simple.
27: Where do you work downtown and what bike parking did you lose?
(Quote) >>Asked why Bricker was no longer the one they wanted to lead the way, Roberts replied, “He has enormous strengths in lobbying, advocacy, and policy development, but those aren’t the strenghts of running a bigger kind of organization.”
These additional comments from Mary Roberts illustrate, at least to me, the strong possibility that the BTA Board lacks direction and clarity. They’ve had plenty of time to envision themselves as a “bigger” organization, and to respond to new trends in the transportation demand picture (both in Portland AND in the rest of the state).
It’s no secret that the BTA was unprepared for Evan Manvel’s sudden departure after his short tenure. How they responded to that deserves a much closer look.
Scott Bricker, though perhaps lacking in specific “skills” — particularly in the areas of membership growth and development (aka fund-raising), cannot be held solely responsible for the BTA’s lateral drift.
Bricker served the BTA in some respects as little more than a placeholder, being asked to stick his finger in the hole of a very large dike whose cracks and fissures the BTA Board did not want to see (or did not have the ability to fix at the time).
Between Karl Rohde’s sudden firing; the CRC fiasco and the BTA’s oh-so-late response to the Bicycle Master Plan, the BTA had more on its plate than it could effectively handle, and it should have begun to narrow its focus much sooner in order to remain truly effective.
Before the BTA Board finds a new Executive Director, I would respectfully suggest that first, they need to clarify their identity and their very purpose for existing. Without that they will continue to lose membership — and possibly relevance as well.
It sounds like the passionate zealots on the board didn’t recognize a winner. Scott will be better off elsewhere where cooler heads prevail.
#26, I don’t think that the legislation sponsored by the BTA was anything “nobody cared about” in fact judging by the number of comments left in favor of some of the bills on both this website and the BTA blog in addition to a lot of talking to people that I did as a member of the BTA legislative committee members as well as the general biking public were very supportive of the bills we tried to work through last year. Not every person supported every bill but overall I think the package was working on the right issues, and we spent many hours trying to make sure that was the case. Fingers can get pointed nine ways to Sunday about why things didn’t get passed, but I don’t think a lack of legislative vision was the problem.
I’m actually very disappointed that Scott will be leaving because I think his somewhat unique take on what the BTA should be trying to accomplish from a legislative standpoint was a very big picture approach that wanted to transform the way transportation worked and especially the way dollars flowed. I found his ideas inspirational and the institutional knowledge that walks out the door with him is vast. I think the BTA has missed a bit of an opportunity over the last year, in not retaining a pair of people who were in many ways learning on the job without having a better option on the table to replace either with, but I suppose only time will tell on that front.
One final note I would like to put forth is that while the legislative process does often seem to be the most visible part of the BTA, making the failure to pass more of the legislation we put forward last year it is arguably not the most important piece. There is a lot of watchdogging, and education going on in the background that few people notice, and I can’t think of anyone who knows more about either of those two things than Scott Bricker.
“They have become just another non-profit, sending out e-mails, sponsoring legislation that the bike riding public doesn’t really care about. Just Soul less!”
you’ve hit on something here – i expect this is a problem shared by a lot of lean n’ mean organizations when they grow exponentially, as the BTA certainly has. I suspect the survey they did recently told them how much they’d lost touch with the membership; but it’s a much bigger bicycling pie than it was way back when you could count the bike advocates on hands & toes, so keeping that warm n’ fuzzy personal feel can’t be easy.
best of luck to Scott – he, and the staff at the BTA, believe in cycling. The charge that they’re somehow imposters, not representing ‘real’ cyclists (Red Hippie, #27: “I look forward to a new BTA that is in touch with the neeeds of actual cyclists”), doesn’t wash – it’s just that there’s now a huge amount of diversity in what cyclists desire, ain’t so easy to pin it down….
Wish the best for Scott. Learned a lot about how Salem works from Scott and he was great for making contacts. Wish it could have worked. He has a great skill set that many groups can use. A great asset for building support for velodromes and cycling.
BTA receives support statewide via license plates but has been indifferent to bicycle issues in Grants Pass. We have serious, life-threatening issues that we can’t get ODOT to address because we don’t have a strong local bicycle community and our ODOT region is not supportive of bicycle transportation. I tried to get help from BTA but they wouldn’t return calls or help us in any way.
old & slow (#26) – “just another non-profit” – I don’t agree. The BTA has more influence into city and state politics than the majority of non-profits. I think they lack focus, and that’s not Scott Bricker’s fault. The Executive Director is a paid employee, and serves at the discretion (and frequently direction) of the Board of Directors.
The recent legislative session wasn’t a failure due to lack of vision or lack of intent. It was very successful in getting some key bills passed. The failure is that whether by poor design or poor execution, that marvellous intent isn’t translating into real results in terms of prosecutions, improved safety, etc.
“what they need are cycling enthusiasts” – ok, when are you volunteering? (that’s not just directed at you, but everyone who complains about lack of passion in the BTA) If you’re passionate, and you feel the BTA isn’t *enough*, then how about bringing it to the BTA/ Or how about forming another grass-roots organization like the BTA in its early days? The BTA isn’t going to get cycling enthusiasts when the enthusiasts stay at home and wait for other people to plan things.
redhippie (#27) – To be fair, the BTA has asked its membership and the public at-large for its opinion more than once this year.
beth (#29) – I agree. The BTA picked Scott as an interim director before giving him the job. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes – I’m sorry to see him go. Scott has tremendous energy and passion for his job, and when I said in post #18 that I didn’t know if his departure was good or bad for the BTA, it wasn’t because I felt that Scott did a poor job – on the contrary, I think he did an excellent job. I think the BTA is losing a valuable person who is a great lobbyist and has a good rapport with city and state officials. That’s definitely bad for the BTA. I think Scott’s departure may be good for the BTA because it may get them to figure out their focus and how to get there. Finding focus is not the Executive Director’s job – the ED takes the vision of the board and implements it – he figures out how to get there. If the vision is unfocused or incomplete, well, the final product is likely to be as well.
My criticism lies with the apparent direction of the BTA’s board, not with its outgoing Executive Director.
Oh, and to whomever is responsible for this at the BTA – you’ve let a LOT of staff go this year, and from what I’ve seen you have not been especially kind as to the MANNER in which you’ve let them go. That’s unacceptable for a community-focused nonprofit. Stop it. Seriously. More than anything, this is why I am no longer a current member. These are the best and brightest of the bike community, and many seem to be cast aside like yesterday’s recycling. Perhaps I’m misreading it – in which case, you have a major PR problem that I suggest you address.
Scott, I hope you stay involved in the bike community, and I hope that you’re able to devote your talents and experience in a way that’s personally rewarding and beneficial to the community. Thanks so much for working towards better biking for all of us and for safer streets. Whether or not you choose to keep fighting for this particular cause in another venue, your contributions will be remembered.
It doesn’t give prospective members any good feelings to see that the BTA Board has chucked so many staffers and in the manner they have.
My first thought on reading the headline was, “again?!”
The phrasing, “he left his post” makes it sound like Mr Bricker walked out one day and hasn’t been back– went AWOL, as it were. If he quit, say it straight out. If you fired him, say it straight out.
Anyway, the BTA’s emphasis seems to stop at the City of Portland’s borders– if it doesn’t happen in the city of roses, it doesn’t matter so much. Being a so-called “statewide organization”, I find it amusing that their advocacy for connected cycling infrastructure doesn’t mean connecting any of the ‘burbs with Portland– it means connecting all the parts of Portland.
I’m not a member because they don’t represent me. They don’t reflect what I’m interested in, where I live, and the infrastructure and safety out here in the wastelands beyond Portland’s demesne.
Anyway. Mr Bricker, I hope that they at least treated you with respect on the way out, and that you find a way to stay involved.
I think one of the biggest reasons he left is the lack of fiscal controls. The BTA’s accounting problem were well reported on this very site a few months ago. One of the primary jobs of the ED is to ensure the fiscal accountability of the organization.
If you can’t take of money, you can’t be counted on to be an effective manager of the organization.
I’d bet that this boiled down to money, management and/or generation thereof. I know some non-profit ED’s who spend a vast amount of their time on relationships that translate to dollars. Staffers work the halls in Salem, develop policy etc . . . maybe Scott’s tremendous stregths and experience were in the wrong areas for management?
All that said, Scott seemed the perfect person to give back some credibility and panache to an organization that was clearly foundering under his predecessor. I am sad to see him go, and pray he won’t be replaced by some glad-hander who is thin on substance.
Bricker is only a small part of the problem I see the BTA trying to address. They (The BTA) seem to think they have a chance to keep up momentum without having realized that it is long, long, long gone. Which, of course, they’ll discover soon after Bricker’s replacement steps in.
It’s the blame-game meets, “Let’s not stumble and fall now.”. Only thing is, that’s coming directly from the boundless-ether of pure free-fall.
perhaps with a change in leadership there might also be a change in focus to issues other than ones that lie within the city of portland. a sentiment that is voiced here quite frequently. or the bta could change it’s mission statement. #36 said quite well what many of us outside of portland feel. as a vancouver resident they are more than willing to solicit my money but do nothing for it on this side of the river.
As a post-note to #35, I can think of 8 staff people who were let go by the BTA this year. That’s 50% of the people who were paid staff at the beginning of the year. Another staffer left on their own accord.
ScottG, I LOVE how you think!
not sure why the BTA board couldn’t keep Scott in the job they say he’s best at. OK, so that may not be ED, but geesh, firings like this are like shooting yourself in the foot.
Scott Bricker was a mentor to me. I think one can not realize the depth of effort he has made in the decade plus of service not only to our bicycle world but to setting the stage for ‘Salem’ to listen to the sincerity and the logic of including us in the process.
Last spring, he enabled Bike Summit with the help of many to get 80+ people into the chambers of legislators in Salem. He was one of the architects for direct participation. Everyone in legislature could not listen to our needs as the fiscal crisis removed any global vision of what the future transportation might need to transform our world. As a testifying person at several hearings, it was frustrating that we did not have greater clout, a greater presence than we some 80 citizens, and depressing that we did not get the nickels and dimes to support more of our programs. We all know that our minuscule budget (as we all know) has much more bang for our state bucks. In Geller’s terms: we are a cheap date. But the failures of our legislative push is s hardly Scott’s or even the BTA’s fault.
We do need more power in the direction of non motorized transportation in our state so that we are on the tips of everybody’s tongue, we need the constant message saying how do enhance the bicycle/pedestrian world to make lives healthier and the local economics viable. We may have to realize that the alliance of bicycle transportation advocates is really about livable spaces, self reliance disconnected from the Eisenhower view of interstates, and about forcing increased real neighbor infrastructures rather than suburban wastelands with unused sidewalks & ribbons of automobile concrete. It is more than just bicycle transportation.
WE really have Scott to thank many times over for pushing these policy issues, creating partnerships in Salem, being received as a voice of reason that got US all included in many discussions of how best to serve out population. Those are truly big shoulders to replace. And yet in the long run, it is perhaps Pollyanna for me to say this but I believe the next person will be lucky precisely because Scott was there for us bicyclists over and over. He really set the stage. We should be immensely grateful. Yes-Fill these shoes immediately as we are back sliding every moment without leadership but don’t forget your history of how long it took Scott to create these positions we take for granted today. Z
I have been a BTA supporter for many years and will be increasing my contribution this year. Most of those trash talking the BTA here are totally clueless about what it takes to actually get things done in the public arena.
That said the BTA is quite right in looking to the future. Cycling right now has very high visibility at all levels, and different, bolder tactics are called for.
I also belong to the Cascade Bicycle Club in Seattle. One of their programs that is really taking off is their candidate endorsements. They send questionnaires to every candidate for office in the Seattle Metro area, then publicly endorse those they feel bring the best value for cycling. It appears their endorsements have become quite influential. I think in order for the BTA to take this on they might need to divest themselves of programs funded directly by government such as SRTS, which could be taken over by a different organization, maybe on created just for that.
yeah, and they would also have to form a separate 501(c)(4) to do the endorsements
I think that it’s past time for some sort of bicycle political action committee that would be able to endorse, and funnel contributions to, and otherwise encourage bicycle friendly candidates. For example, remember the bicycle registration bill? One thing a bicycle PAC could do is look for potential candidates to run against that bill’s sponsors.
The IRS doesn’t allow charitable non-profits (also known as 501(c)(3)’s,) such as the BTA, to influence election outcomes.
“Think about how you’d feel if people were discussing details of your situation in public,” said someone in defense of the BTA. Well here’s the thing, if I were working for, or leading, a public organization, then I would know ahead of time that all my actions on behalf of that organization and all actions by that organization are public. Or at least public enough that all PAYING members are privy to it. And knowing this in advance would prevent me from having any hurt feelings or shocks or surprises about it. Though if I did have some feelings, I’d certainly be free to go home and have a good cry with some Haagen Dazs and look at my Hunky Firemen calendar. But unless preserving my feelings are part of the organization’s mission, it really isn’t part of what those thousands of members signed up for.