I’m doing something a little different for this week’s Four Questions by featuring a guest post by my husband, Rich Parr. Rich is the director of policy at a local non-profit that focuses on transportation needs for the city and state. He recently sat down with Boston’s first-ever Bike Czar, Nicole Freedman. She’s leaving the post this month to take job in Maine, but in her five years in Boston’s she’s really turned around the city’s attitude and image as a bike city. She’s also a former Olympic cyclist and an honoree of the Jewish American Sports Hall of Fame. (This post originally appeared on A Better City.)
What would you say was the single biggest accomplishment during your tenure as Boston’s bike “czar”?
Under the Mayor’s leadership, I would say the top three accomplishments of the Boston Bikes program have been launching the New Balance Hubway system, adding 50 miles of bike lanes, and creating and implementing a national model for community bike programs.
You’re going from building urban infrastructure to building rural infrastructure, as executive director of Maine Huts and Trails. What attracted to you that position?
The job is actually quite similar, just in a more rural and lower-income area. As Executive director of Maine Huts and Trails, I will building out a hut system, as well as a trail system for hut-to-hut hiking, skiing and biking. Our goal is to get to about 10 huts and 200 miles of trails, and turn the western mountain region of Maine into a world-class outdoor recreation area. This, of course, will substantially help the local economy.
You’re a former Olympic cyclist; do you still have time to train? What’s your favorite ride around these parts?
I do often ride; train would be an overstatement for what I do! [My favorite ride is] biking out to Hale Reservation in Dover.
What advice do you have for fellow cyclists who want to effect change in their communities?
1) Show up at the community meetings in support of bike projects; 2) Get your office or school to promote cycling; 3) Encourage all your non-cycling friends to ride. Our bottom line is the same — get more people cycling. The best way is the direct way.
Does this interview inspire you to get up from behind your computer? Check out JewishBoston.com’s listings for Sports and Outdoors events.