The BikeShare.com team would like to welcome its newest bike share expert, Alex Vickers. He’ll be assisting the team in content creation and marketing, and after a week in the office we already have some great plans in the works. His primary mission is to redesign the BikeShare.com website and expand our audience with a wide range of new content and social media engagement. (If you haven’t liked us on Facebook or followed us on Twitter, now’s your chance!) We decided to have a short Q&A with Alex to help our readers get to know him.
Matt Christensen: How did you first become interested in bicycling as a form of transport?
Alex Vickers: My interest in bikes began during my time at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where the beach cruiser bike culture gave a real world example to the teachings of my Environmental Studies degree. At the same time I was learning about the ill-effects of car culture and the exponential growth of vehicle miles traveled (VMT), my personal VMT dropped to near zero as I walked, skateboarded or biked to 98% of my engagements. To those unaware, UCSB boasts a great network of bike lanes and Santa Barbara is one of California’s most bike-friendly cities second only to Davis. And I really caught the bike bug during my study abroad in Copenhagen, which was a hugely formative experience for my personal and professional development.
MC: Tell us more about your time in Copenhagen!
Growing up in Los Angeles and living in Copenhagen was a complete shock, the two cities couldn’t be more of a yin and yang (although L.A is starting to change!). I bought a bike on my third day in the city (shown to the right) and throughout my six month stay I was in a car a total of three times. I went from the city of freeways to the city of cycle tracks, trading broken speed limits for bike-only turn signals. Copenhagen offered my first introduction to bike share, with their primitive coin-based bike share system that I often took advantage of during my long walks home from Copenhagen’s relentless nightlife. The only coursework I was able to apply to my major back home were graduate level urban design courses and after some cajoling with the teaching staff I was being taught urban planning within the city that was breaking the fields ground. Learning about Jan Gehl in the city where he made his mark was an incredible experience to say the least.
MC: When did you realize you wanted to pursue a career in the bike industry?
AV: Shortly after returning from Copenhagen, I graduated from UCSB and found myself back in Los Angeles in the midst of a sea change. In April 2011, LA saw its first CicLAvia–a concept modeled after Ciclovia in Bogata, similar to “Bike the Drive” events elsewhere–and the City of LA had passed its groundbreaking bike plan the year before. So, I was able to land an internship working for the LADOT’s Bikeway Team under Michelle Mowery and Nate Baird. My primary role was contributing content to the LADOT BikeBlog, writing articles and filming educational videos. I got a great introduction to the infrastructural options available to make Los Angeles more like Copenhagen, and was exposed to the political realities you have to face in order to do so.
MC: And how did you get into bike share?
AV: Well, the next step in my career occurred at April 2012’s CicLAvia, which featured Bike Nation’s announcement as Los Angeles’ bike share provider. I emailed my resume to management as soon as I got home from CicLAvia and received a full-time event planning role that came to include a number of marketing and operational roles. You may have met me if you stopped by our booths at Pro Walk-Pro Bike, Mobility 21, or subsequent CicLAvias. I built and maintained the Bike Nation Blog, as well as their presence on social media platforms. Seeing what it takes to get one of these systems into the ground, and the interface between technology, urban planning, and elbow grease that a bike share system demands was truly an eye-opener. I learned a great deal during my time at Bike Nation and look forward to applying my skills here at BikeShare.com!
We hope you enjoyed learning a bit about Alex Vickers. His experience in the bike share industry makes him a great addition to the team and we look forward to his contributions to BikeShare.com as we look to become the industry’s go-to for news, research, events, and collaboration within the industry.