Talking with Deb Hubsmith, advocacy director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition

The name Deb Hubsmith ring a bell? Think bicycle bell, and perhaps you’ll recognize her as advocacy director of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition and founding director of Safer Routes to School, a national program seeking safe pedestrian and bike paths for children and adults. In honor of Bike to Work Day on May 15th, we decided to talk with our local “spokes person” extraordinaire about her national and local attempts to get more people out of their cars.

She’s already been lauded for such accomplishments by groups like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, American Lung Association and Bay Area Air Quality Management District. Her continued efforts on behalf of two-wheeled and two-legged travel have her dividing her time between home in Fairfax and the halls of Congress in D.C. Recently the federal government lent some legs to her campaign, granting $25 million for Marin County to improve its nonmotorized transit and demonstrate whether we can indeed reduce our dependence on the automobile. With recent stats indicating that 82 percent of our daily trips are, she has her work cut out for her.

You could live anywhere. Why Marin? I chose to live here for many reasons—but mostly because I considered Marin fertile ground for making positive changes.

What makes you happy in Marin? I love the open space, small towns, dance community, and the opportunities to collaborate with intelligent, caring people.

What’s your personal idea of luxury? Taking the day off, sleeping in late, going on a hike, and getting out for a night of dancing at a location that I can bike to.

What do you value every day? My health, my husband, my friends and family, and the opportunity to make a difference in the world.

What person has influenced you the most? My mom went back to work in 1974 after my parents got divorced, when I was 5 and my sister was 2—a time when all my friends had stay-at-home moms. She was a great role model on how to be a woman in the world.

What’s been the most fulfilling moment in your work? So far, the federal transportation bill that included $25 million for Marin County for the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program and the $612 million for a national Safe Routes to School program (which came out of Marin’s Safe Routes pilot program).

What’s a Marin stereotype that works? Marin is a place of new ideas and innovations that often influence the rest of the country.

What stereotype doesn’t fit? Marin has always been known as being environmentally conscious, yet we now have one of the largest ecological footprints in the world. Marinites need to do more to “walk the talk.”

How do you want to be remembered? As someone who made a difference locally and nationally with environmental and health issues and helped inspire others to make positive changes.