“Linking cycling and transportation, you can get most anywhere.”
Cyclist of the Month: EILEEN KADESH
Wheels: Two custom Davidsons. One steel Davidson from 1985, and one custom titanium bike she had built last year. “Because of my height (5’) my husband convinced me to go custom.”
Occupation: Senior Transportation Planner
After a long and successful career in alternative transportation, Eileen Kadesh will be retiring this fall, leaving King County Metro Transit where she has passionately advocated for alternative transportation for the past 30 years.
“Eileen has led the bicycle program at Metro with passion and always an eye for the safety,” said Serena Lehman, outreach coordinator at Cascade Bicycle Club. “Her support of bicycling and Cascade will be missed.”
Prior to her job at Metro, Eileen was the first bicycle coordinator for the District of Columbia Department of Transportation, where she was instrumental in changing policies to allow bicycles on trains and installing bike lockers at rail stations. Armed with that experience and knowledge, Eileen headed west, arriving in Seattle in 1983.
“When I first got here, they said, ‘Don’t think you’re going to be an advocate for biking here!’ because I was initially hired for transit,” Eileen recalled. Little did they know, Eileen would go on to lead Metro’s biking program, making significant changes to help Seattle and King County become more bikeable.
Herself an avid bicycle commuter and recreational cyclist, Eileen started biking in 1969 while attending UC Santa Barbara.
“I participated in a 30-mile bike-a-thon to raise funding for bikeways and I got hooked,” she said.
A few years later, bicycling would change her life both professionally, as biking became a big part of her career, and personally.
In 1976, Eileen rode across the country on a Bikecentennial (now Adventure Cycling) tour.
“My husband and I met a couple of months before the trip. We were in separate groups but wrote letters to each other every day,” said Eileen. “It’s where we fell in love, and we got married shortly after we returned home.”
Together they have done several bike tours and many events, including the Group Health Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic five times. In their day-to-day life, Eileen and her husband do most of their trips and errands by bicycle. They even make Costco trips, pulling all their bulk groceries home in a bike trailer.
“Bicycling is a great way to get exercise and transportation together,” said Eileen. “But mostly I bike for environmental reasons.”
As a Senior Transportation Planner, Eileen has been part of Metro's Market Development group since 1985, promoting alternative transportation modes and develops new products and programs to get people onto transit, and into vanpools, bikes and walking.
“Accommodating bicycles has come a long way! We used to have to fight to get bikes included in designs for new transit facilities; bike parking was often overlooked,” said Eileen. “Now this has become the norm.”
Among Eileen’s proudest achievements was working to allow multimodal commuters to board bicycles on buses in the downtown core both on surface streets and in the bus tunnel. And it’s been working well,” she said.
Eileen has witnessed many changes in transportation throughout her career but one of the biggest as it pertains to her job, was seeing government agencies in Seattle and across the country finally acknowledging bikes as a legitimate form of transportation, which she believes, bodes well for the future.
“There are so many opportunities out there to get more people on bikes in the coming years with the construction of the new streetcar line, the implementation of the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan, the expansion of Link light rail and Rapid Ride and the implementation of bike sharing in King County,” continued Eileen. “We are only limited by funding, and I hope that more budget resources, both local and national, are devoted to bicycle transportation.”
Looking back on her career, Eileen admits she never expected to be working for Metro for as long as she has.
“I never planned to stay 30 years at Metro but I have the greatest group of colleagues; everyone is so dedicated and truly believes in what they do. It has been my honor and privilege to work for King County Metro,” she said.
Aside from her colleagues, Eileen said she stayed around to help bike sharing get launched. “I’ve worked on bike sharing six years now. I really want to see it implemented and I think we have a great chance of seeing that happen next year,” she said.
In September, Eileen will be saying goodbye to Metro, leaving King County in a more bike-friendly state than when she first arrived, and she’ll be moving to beautiful Bellingham.
“I don’t have any big plans,” she said. “But I have been checking out the [local] bike routes.”
Know a cyclist who deserves some special recognition? Nominate them for cyclist of the month! Send your ideas to Anne-Marije Rook at email@example.com.