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Safe Routes Revolution

By David Hoffman

Deb Hubsmith is not your typical bicycle advocate. In fact, there is very little about Deb that is typical. For this interview, I go to Deb’s home in Fairfax, California—a sleepy little town in Marin County that is the gateway between bucolic, rural West Marin, and the more heavily populated suburban communities that are just off of the other end of the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco where the locals have been known to sport bumper stickers on their cars printed with the slogan, “Fairfax: Mayberry on Acid” against a tie-died background.

Looking around her home office you would never know that she has been one of the key bicycle and pedestrian advocates in the United States over the past ten years. A couple of awards and proclamations sit on her bookshelves; a photograph or two of her with some key political figures, some throw pillows sitting in corners of an otherwise spartan room, and an iPod with speakers. Deb’s simple furnishings offer little distraction for her in the course of her daily work.

For starters, Deb manages to squeeze three jobs into the course of a day. She works as the Advocacy Director for the Marin County Bicycle Coalition (, sits on or advises the Board of Directors for both the Bay Area Bicycle Coalition ( and the California Bicycle Coalition ( and, most importantly, runs the Safe Routes to School National Partnership ( Safe Routes to School is a national program in all 50 states that encourages youth to walk or bike to school. Safe Routes to School also works with local communities to create and improve bicycle and pedestrian routes to school. The education and infrastructure efforts combine to create a powerful tool for helping to promote healthy lifestyles, reduce congestion around schools, and change the way that we think