Streets for People / Meet Local Ryan Stachurski – The City’s New “Bike Guy”
By Chris Hamilton. This story was written and published by KONK Life newspaper on October 8, 2021 and is reprinted here with permission. And please don’t forget to follow us at Friends of Car-Free Key West & Duval Street/Historic Downtown on Facebook and check out all our Streets for People stories here.
The smoke emanating from City Hall is white, indicating the island has a new Multimodal Transportation Coordinator. And to everyone’s delight, it is Key West local and beloved bicycle advocate Ryan Stachurski. Yay!
While the formal name of the position is Multimodal Transportation Coordinator, Bike Guy is the shorthand or affectionate term many of us use as the position used to be called the “Bicycle Coordinator.” That and let’s face it, with public transit use for commuting at less than 1% and a recent survey of 3,700 residents saying not enough people used public transit to rate the system, the only real alternative to driving around the island is biking – so Bike Guy it is.
Engineering Director Applauded for Pick
Tim Staub, the wonky, hard-working, and much appreciated previous Multimodal Transportation Coordinator had his last day before heading to graduate school, on July 30, so Engineering Department Director Steve McAlearney did quick work in boldly choosing an unconventional candidate. Everyone we talked to was bowled over with appreciation that Mr. McAlearney went with this pick. We say unconventional because Mr. Stachurski, 46, and who starts his new position in a week or so, has a Computer Science degree and not the more typical Planning or Engineering background traditionally hired for this kind of position. And his most recent job is part of the management team at our local Home Depot on N. Roosevelt.
What Ryan lacked in conventional instruction, he more than made up for in practical life experience, self-training, and general bicycle enthusiasm. You’ll hear that in a minute from some of the people we interviewed about Ryan.
I think I’ve known of Ryan since shortly after I moved to the island in 2015 as we followed the same transportation issues and attended similar bicycle events. He’s a well-known and well-regarded advocate for safer and easier bicycling throughout the island. He’s always the first to volunteer and enthusiastically participate in any Key West event that has anything to do about bikes, from the Papio Kinetic Parade, the Zombie Ride, the Christmas Bike Ride to monthly bike enthusiast rides.
He regularly turns up for transportation hearings and City Commission meetings about bicycling. He participated as a citizen in developing the Key West Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. He writes to the Mayor and Commissioners about these things. He participates in social media posts about these issues. He regularly provided advice to previous Transportation Coordinators.
My observation is that what sets Ryan apart from others who participate on bicycling and transportation issues in the community is the depth of research he does and the thoughtful way he goes about articulating the matter. In discussions about bike facilities Ryan can quote from FDOT best practices, Florida bicycle laws, FDOT Complete Streets guides and Federal and NACTO rules and recommendations too. He always seems to take the time to put it in language everyone can understand and most importantly he never sounds like an anti-car, left-wing bicycle fanatic (not that there’s anything wrong with that). On an island where most people drive, that’s an important skill.
Funny, in public meetings I’ve always noticed Ryan has an easy rapport with City and County Engineering and Planning staff and FDOT staff too – because he knows this stuff and they appreciate that. And now he’ll get to work with them instead of just providing input as a citizen. How cool is that?
A Little More About Ryan
He rides his bike every day for transportation. He tells us his bike is a “fixed gear track bike – for efficiency and reliability (it was kinda standard equipment when I was a legal courier).” So, he was a bike courier. That’s brave. He even has been offered a job as a local bike mechanic, so he definitely knows his way around a bike.
He helps run the Key West Bicycle Association that is “committed to promoting safe cycling by educating cyclists and drivers, while encouraging the city to improve its cycling infrastructure.”
He’s a founding and enthusiastic regular member of the Southernmost Slow Ride bicycle group, that hosts monthly fun rides around the island for people of all ages and abilities. They are well known for “Full Moon” themed nighttime bike rides where everyone decorates and lights up their bikes and regularly make stops for food and drink.
He and his friends have built some of the coolest entries and even won awards for the Papio Kinetic Sculpture Parade. Ryan is a master technician and builder who helps create these amazing moving floats and is often the one driving the vehicle, while he lets his pals take the more glamorous and public facing spots, except it seems for the picture below.
About his journey to Key West Ryan tells us:
“Marley (Claridge) and I moved to Key West in 2015. We didn’t really know anyone who lived here, but both of our parents relocated to South Florida. We liked the quirkiness; how easy it was to get around by bicycle and we’d be somewhat close to family. I was born in St. Petersburg, Florida and receive my computer science degree from the University of Central Florida (UCF). Having grown up in “isolated” suburbs, I always sought to live in the town center – where the action was, where people interacted, and where everything was close by.”
About his hopes he says:
“Drawn-in by the joy of cycling, equitable and efficient transportation became more important to me as I learned about climate change, and the public health and safety impacts of the automobile status quo. I think that sometimes the best way to get around Key West is by taking a walk or a ride. It’s how I’ve been getting around for years. I think we can do more to facilitate alternative transportation in our city and the steps we take can help improve the quality of life for us all.”
Nuts and Bolts of the Job
Here’s what the application for the Multimodal Transportation Coordinator says:
“This job’s mission is to reduce single-occupant motorized vehicle use and enhance alternative transportation options. The position will work strategically from the Planning and Engineering Departments while collaborating with Planning, Parking, Transit, Building, Code, Community Services, Legal, and Police Departments to:
- Reduce vehicle miles travelled and single occupancy vehicles through best management practices in bicycle and pedestrian planning/implementation.
- Act as a team leader with the City staff to collaborate on the design and implementation of mobility strategies for all modes of transportation: transit, shuttle, tour bus, pedicabs, automobile, bike, pedestrians, and others.
- Provide support in implementation of the City of Key West Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.
- Maintain the city’s Bicycle Friendly Community designation.
- Serve as the initial point of contact for citizens and staff regarding bicycle / pedestrian issues.”
In other words, be the Bike Guy. Our opinion is this kind of important work should have more staff and its own work group at a higher level, perhaps even a small department and a big budget, to facilitate coordination among all the agencies that have a hand in transportation. But Ryan has the chops to transcend formal hierarchies and get people together to get stuff done. He also has the support of the Mayor, Commission and most importantly the City Manager, who realizes that something this important isn’t siloed in one person, but that multi-modal transportation transcends the organization.
What People Are Saying About Ryan Stachurski
“We are thrilled to have Ryan join our team. His years in the community and familiarity with local biking and transit networks make him a great asset right out of the gate. We are excited by his energy and to see what ideas he will bring to the position.”His Boss. Steven McAlearney, Director, Department Engineering
“What an excellent choice! Someone that rides a bike to and from work, understands the complexity of improving bicycle infrastructure while appeasing drivers and has the quiet patience needed to deal with our local politicians. I look forward to monitoring his every move and demanding from him instant improvements at every opportunity.”Tom “The Bike Man” Theisen, Owner, BikeMan Bike Rentals Key West
“I look forward to Ryan advancing our strategic goal #6 Traffic and Pedestrian Friendliness. Ryan comes to the City of Key West with an incredible track record of bicycle safety initiatives, so I am looking forward to his leadership in completing our Wicker Bike Trail and Crosstown Greenway Phase ll strategic objectives along with his team in Engineering. Welcome aboard Ryan!”Teri Johnston, Mayor, City of Key West
“This is unbelievable. I can think of no better person to calmly educate the car centric people in city hall. And, with Patti at the helm, he should have support from the top. Wow. Wow. Wow.”Evan Haskell, Owner, WeCycle Key West Bike Shops
“Although disappointed in the departure of Tim Staub as Multimodal Transportation Coordinator just as he had started to make progress on many fronts in improving the safety of our roads for pedestrians, bicycles, and other users, I was thrilled to recently learn of the hiring of Ryan as his replacement. Working with Ryan for several years as a fellow bicycle advocate, I have always found Ryan to be diligent, prepared, and thoughtful in his approach to encouraging positive change in Key West for users of alternative transportation. Ryan’s local knowledge and relationships and experience in advocating for pedestrians and bicycles for many years should provide a solid foundation for Key West to become the safest city in the United States for bicycles and pedestrians.”Roger McVeigh, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
“I look forward to working with Ryan Stachurski as the City’s new Multimodal Transportation Coordinator. It is very helpful to have someone like Ryan in this position who has first-hand knowledge and experience of the many transportation issues needing improvement in the City. I have appreciated Ryan’s advice and recommendations as a private citizen, and I know that City transportation will improve with Ryan now as a city employee. “Sam Kaufman, City Commissioner, District 3
“Ryan is going to bring some great skills to the table: team leadership, creativity and on the ground experience.”Alison Higgins, City of Key West Sustainability Coordinator
“I know we just hired him, and he comes with some glowing references and praise, but I haven’t met him yet. But you can bet I will get to know him!”Mary Lou Hoover, City Commissioner, District 5
“I believe Ryan is a good choice for the role. Like Jim Malcolm before us all, Ryan is someone going into the role as a person who has ridden every street on the Island and up the Keys for good measure. He knows the people who experience the roads and paths every day and he helped form the Bike-Ped Master Plan as a citizen, so I fully expect him to hit the ground running.
There are a lot of good projects coming up with the Wickers Field path and there are materials in place to expand wayfinding sharrows and Engineering wants to do more temporary traffic calming to see how we can improve our sightlines and make our neighborhood streets safer.
Timothy Staub, Multi-Modal Transportation Coordinator April 2019 – July 2021
I fully expect Steve, Kelly, Ian, Daniel, Katie, and Alison, and everyone on City Staff to work with Ryan to get the ball rolling and make sure we make our streets safer for all ages and all abilities.”
Here’s Wishing Ryan the Best!
Ryan tells us that one of the first things they’d like him to focus on is bike parking. We like that and have some ideas. He continued: “One of my goals is to help meet the needs of users of all ages and abilities. I’ll strive to make it easier for people to “leave the car at home,” expand communication and encourage steps that can improve safety.” We like that too.
If you see Ryan on the street, congratulate him and wish him well in his new position as the Bike Guy, we mean, Multimodal Transportation Coordinator with the City. Ryan’s success means our island’s success. Congrats Ryan!
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