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“Dear friends and colleagues”: A letter from Scott Bricker

Posted by on November 28th, 2009 at 5:41 pm

“This new position proved to be my most challenging professional venture.”
— Scott Bricker

On November 18th, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) announced that Scott Bricker would no longer be their leader. The firing was effective immediately, and it caught some in the community off guard. After all, Bricker had the longest tenure of any other BTA staffer.

Bricker has yet to respond at length to the personnel decision. Today, he sent out a letter to his friends and colleagues that he has given us permission to reprint in its entirety below:

Dear friends and colleagues –

Back in university I learned about Robert Moses and how one man with a vision shaped a city, a culture, through transportation. This vision set my course for the past fifteen years, including moving to Portland, graduate studies, and a career focused on creating sustainable cities and healthy economies. I believe that bicycling is a key indicator for these outcomes and so I spent eleven years at the BTA to make Oregon the best for bicycling in the nation.

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It has been a privilege to have served as a leader for over a decade in making bicycling safe, convenient and accessible to all. In that time I helped develop the Safe Routes to School movement in Oregon and nationally, working with people in over 20 Oregon cities and creating the nation’s strongest youth cycling education program. I built a state bicycle lobby program that now is carried by many, and worked on key projects such as partnering with businesses to bring the first on-street bike corral to Portland. Perhaps most important to me personally has been my work to shift the focus of cycling infrastructure development to ensure that people of all ages and abilities can be accommodated… and the funding is now flowing to make this a reality.


Bricker at the BTA Annual Meeting in 2008.

In the last two years I took on a new challenge, that of Executive Director of the BTA. This new position proved to be my most challenging professional venture. As the new BTA leader I reorganized the staffing structure, successfully shifted the operating culture and refit the team to have the right aptitudes to meet the evolving and growing demands to elevate bicycling. This required painful choices of moving friends and competent colleagues out of the organization solely in the name of a more solid and complete BTA. Just the week prior to my departure, the BTA hired two new staff and set in motion exciting advocacy campaigns . We capped our financial systems overhaul with a renewed budgeting process, and were four weeks away from piloting a new database system. Building upon nine previous years of success, I can proudly say that in the last two I led the advancement of an organization with a top notch staff and operating culture, a very strong financial position, dozens of ongoing successes, and strong and opinionated Board of Directors.

While I am personally disappointed to not be leading this great team, there are many excellent leaders and spokespeople advocating to advance cycling. I continue to believe that any movement requires many leaders and a vocal community. The BTA is the leading bicycling advocacy and education organization, and I am confident that with all of our support it will continue to be so.

Moving forward I will seek new opportunities in broader urban issues, sustainable economies, tax policies, education, and equity. But first, I am spending some well deserved time with my family. I will finish the year relaxing with friends and getting ready for the challenges ahead in the new year.

I look forward to continuing this work with many of you.

Many regards,

Scott Bricker

For more analysis of the BTA’s decision to move forward with Bricker, see our coverage from last week. In the coming weeks, we’ll have more analysis about what this means to the BTA and to bike advocacy in Portland.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • Kronda November 28, 2009 at 5:54 pm

    Scott, Thanks for all of your hard work over the years and best of luck in your future endeavors!

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  • kenny November 28, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Well said. Good luck!

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  • naomi November 28, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Very professional letter there. No animosity or anything, speaks volumes of his character. I like.

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  • Kenji November 28, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Thank you so much Scott- you have been and always will be a great resource and asset to our community.

    Best of luck!


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  • Marcus Griffith November 28, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Well written letter that speaks volume of Scott Bricker’s character. The BTA is at a crucial cross road in the ever changing Bike culture in Portland and the surrounding area. Good luck to the BTA in finding its place in this every changing environment.

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  • David Bragdon November 29, 2009 at 7:45 am

    Scott is a very talented individual and his biggest contributions to our community are still ahead of him.

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  • Andrew Plambeck November 29, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Very classy letter. I look forward to seeing the impacts Scott’s work in the future, wherever he lands.

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  • bob November 29, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Gee, how nice of him to “give you permission” to post this. I hope you are planning some journalistic follow up. Seriously. You can start with questions like, “if you are such a great leader whose concern is for sustainable economies, why did you get fired?”
    He lost $90K last year while taking a salary of at least $65K (http://bikeportland.org/2007/08/23/bta-launches-search-for-new-leader/)
    and accomplishing little to make cycling safe, convenient or accessible. The rise in cycling’s popularity happened in spite of Bricker.
    Surprising he did not take credit for the Obama election and staving off the US economic collapse…those things happened while he was alive too. Way to look out for yourself while leaving a mess for others to sort out. Just like Robert Moses.
    I’m sure ED was your most challenging professional venture as you’ve had no other professional experience. I am pleased that the Board of Directors has taken the responsibility to put people in place who have experience outside this self congratulatory bubble. Publishing this letter is not classy at all (as other commenters have blindly gushed), it is entirely self serving. I expect more from the organizations I donate to including BikePortland on whom I rely for local cycling news. If the BTA board and new directors do not quickly recover and clearly plot the way forward, another group needs to jump on and pedal harder.

    I would not vote for Bricker if he ran for dog catcher.

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  • Nathan November 29, 2009 at 9:58 am

    “A house divided…”

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  • wsbob November 29, 2009 at 11:47 am

    Like others in comments above, I appreciate Bricker’s effort and accomplishments in such things as Safe Routes to School. His letter expresses respect for people he’s worked with, including those in the BTA. That’s good, but as bob #8 notes, why does he not offer so little explanation as to the reason for his leaving?

    I tend to think people deserve an explanation with more depth than what Bricker offered in his letter. Where’s the transparency?

    Any admiration I have for Robert Moses is a cautious one. He had big ideas with which he was able to make major changes to the NYC and indirectly to the U.S. urban landscape. There were good things about those changes, but also bad ones that were devastating to many thousands of people’s lives when some of his big construction projects were undertaken. We the public, continue today, to pay for the negative consequences of those big ideas.

    Maybe Robert Moses biggest fault was the broad, sweeping, seemingly unchecked power he was able to muster with his big ideas.

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  • wsbob November 29, 2009 at 11:50 am


    “That’s good, but as bob #8 notes, why does he not offer so little explanation as to the reason for his leaving?

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  • wsbob November 29, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Sorry for the duplicate posts…can’t seem to get the ‘strike’ html code to work.

    “That’s good, but as bob #8 notes, why does he offer so little explanation as to the reason for his leaving?”

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  • Michael M. November 29, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Great letter; I’d expect nothing less from Bricker, and I hope he continues to make the kinds of impact he has already.

    wsbob (#10), I agree, more transparency is called for, but from the BTA, not from Bricker. It’s neither his duty nor his place to express what the board thinks it is doing or what it thinks it wants going forward. Also, as an aside, I didn’t read the letter as expressing admiration for everything Robert Moses did, just as an example of how one man with a vision can make a difference in reshaping urban environments.

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  • Curt Dewees November 29, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks very much for your dedication and hard work for the BTA–not just for your past two years as executive director, but also for all the things you accomplished during your 11 years with the BTA. I’ve had the privilege of being a BTA member and volunteer during most of those 11 years, and I am proud to know you and to have had the chance to work with you and the BTA during that time.

    The BTA has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 11 years, and your continuity and dedicated effort are two of the biggest reasons for the BTA’s long-term successes. You have helped us to accomplish many things that we can all be proud of, Scott. Thank you!

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  • spare_wheel November 29, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I think this *was* a classy letter because it showed no animosity over the apparently unexpected termination while voicing enthusiastic support for continued progress.

    The BTA, on the other hand, has had well publicized problems with finances and has had isssues with message consistency (e.g. the CRC debacle). I want this organization to be more focused on *forceful* transportation activism. Back-room lobbying is not progress.

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  • Jason K November 29, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Scott is showing some class as he exits stage left. Regardless of “why” he was let go, Scott did a great job of being professional in his good-bye letter. He could have attacked the BTA board of blamed any number of things for his termination. He didn’t–he simply said his parting words. I wish the best of luck to Scott.

    I wish the best of luck to the BTA in finding its identity.

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  • velo November 30, 2009 at 7:11 am

    The letter is smart and professional, thanks Scott. Your service as a lobbyist and BTA E.D. has been valuable to the bicycle community. Thank you.

    Now it’s time for the BTA to move forward. Change for the sake of change is dangerous and the BTA needs to ensure that it’s moving in a positive direction.

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  • Steve Brown November 30, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I have always appreciated your help, guidance and vision. Your efforts on behalf of our velodrome initiative were invaluable. Please feel free to contact me.

    Steve Brown

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  • Anonymous November 30, 2009 at 10:56 am

    wsbob (#10) – maybe we’re just jaded because the letter smacks so much of the non-communicative “currents” stuff we get to read at work 😉

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  • Lenny Anderson November 30, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Scott was and will remain for another environment organization a fine, if not one of the best “inside players,” working within the system for meaningful, if incremental change. His manner is reflected in his letter…thoughtful and polite almost to a fault.
    My guess would be the BTA board wants someone with a bit more edge, even underlying anger, to lead the organization, to re-ignite its advocacy roots; someone who understands that to achieve change we must create such a wave that politicians will scramble aboard for fear of being left behind. I think…on some days…we are almost there.

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  • Lake McTighe November 30, 2009 at 12:07 pm


    thank you for all you have done over the last 11 years to advance bicycling in Oregon. I anticipate that you will continue to be a major player in making Oregon and Portland a more sustainable place to live, and I look forward to working with you in the future.

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  • what_about_bob November 30, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Good job Scott. E.D. for a non-profit like the BTA has to be a relatively thankless job. Thank you for spending your time on something so positive. It beats working in many other soul-less professions. Its obvious you made the most of the opportunity/privledge. Thank you for working for bikes. That board sure is opinionated. I hope you find a way to work on equity. Where is the BTA transparency here?

    Warm regards-

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  • Joe Rowe November 30, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Just wanted to say thanks to Scott.

    In general, I wish the BTA had a better public forum for members only. The recent BTA surveys have been a joke, asking me if I like A or B, but what I really want is C, not mentioned on the survey. Improving members input would better guide the Board and Staff with transparency.

    I have this gut feeling that with no real BTA vision, Scott had to pick a route on his own.

    For example: Would all BTA members agree with me that the Idaho stop work was not only fruitless, but also hurt the BTA?

    Another example: It’s sad that the BTA did not fight the CRC until it was too late. I’d really like to know who on the board or staff was opposed to an all out CRC fight. Anyone who makes excuses and accepts any extra lanes needs to go. The BTA can fight the CRC and focus on all the big key battles at the same time.

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  • Ethan November 30, 2009 at 5:34 pm

    I think non-profit board meeting are public? Does BP have any plans to cover them and get the actual lowdown on what the various board members bring to the equation?

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  • Matt Picio December 1, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Thanks for all of your efforts, Scott, and all the hard work you’ve done through the BTA over the last decade, and personally in your other roles and endeavors. Thanks also for the advice that you’ve given others in the nonprofit field, for your dedication to bicycling and sustainable practices, and for putting a human face on advocacy. I wish you luck in whatever challenges you choose to face and hope you enjoy the holiday season with your family!

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  • Jeff Monson December 9, 2009 at 9:45 am

    All the best to you, Scott. Come by and see us at Commute Options next time you are in Bend. We appriciate the good efforts you provided us with for bike safety education and other projects in Central Oregon.

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