June 17, 2011

Alumnus praised for award-winning cycling program in Portland

Cycling advocate Kiel Johnson BA ’09 tells The Oregonian how he reinvigorated ridership among the city’s youth.

Since graduating from Lewis & Clark, Kiel Johnson BA ’09 has been a vocal proponent of cycling in Portland, effecting positive change throughout the city.

Johnson helped to transform North Portland’s Beach School, which had banned cycling because of safety concerns and has now come to embrace it. The Oregonian recently chronicled his success.

“At Beach, Kiel Johnson swooped in like a chain-cranking Superman. In 2009, Johnson read about a parent who became frustrated by the slow-moving line of cars dropping off Beach students outside the school. The driver sped out of the line and hit two children using the crosswalk…He approached Beach with a safety-in-numbers concept. He drew maps of safe routes and meet-up locations. ‘The first bike train,’ Johnson said, ‘was me and one family.’”

In May, the Beach community set a new record with a 150-person bike train. Johnson has expanded the program to several other schools and launched a website to offer information and resources for schools and families.

Johnson discussed his project and his inspiration in a special segment for NBC.

This spring, Johnson received an Alice Award from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance in recognition of his successful bike-train program and his efforts to engage community members throughout the city in conversation about cycling and walking conditions.

During his time at Lewis & Clark, Johnson was a leader on environmental efforts. He participated in the student group SEED (Students Engaged in Eco-Defense) and organized the College’s inaugural Eco-Olympics, challenging undergraduate students to decrease their energy consumption and participate in environmentally focused activities. Listen to a podcast interview with Johnson, in which he discusses his goals for increasing environmental awareness at Lewis & Clark.