Sophie Maerowitz (she/her)
Project Manager, Bicycles Unit, NYC Department of Transportation
For the better half of a decade, Sophie Maerowitz has advocated for better cycling, pedestrian, and bus infrastructure in New York City, having served on Transportation Alternatives’ Manhattan Activist Committee and on Manhattan Community Board 3’s Transportation Committee as a public member. Notable advocacy milestones have included the Chrystie Street two-way protected bike lane and the 14th Street Busway in Manhattan and City Council legislation mandating Open Streets permanence.
In 2020, Sophie co-launched the Loisaida Open Streets Community Coalition, a volunteer group managing the operations and programming of Avenue B’s Open Street in Manhattan.
Sophie graduated from CUNY Baruch College’s Marxe School of Public and International Affairs with a Masters of Public Administration in Fall 2021 and in April 2021 started as a Project Manager at the New York City Department of Transportation’s Bicycles Unit. A lifelong New Yorker, she holds a BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC memory?
I attended a networking event as part of a larger multi-day conference and didn’t know anybody there, but swallowed my nerves, walked over to a table of YPT members, and soon we were merrily talking bus infrastructure. It stuck with me that the group made an effort to make me feel included even though I come from the advocacy world rather than a traditional planning background.
2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be?
Fewer and smaller cars in the roadway—prioritizing space for pedestrians, buses and bikes over less equitable street uses like free curbside parking for private vehicles.
3. What sparked your passion to work in the transportation industry?
I started biking to work about 10 years ago and it woke me up to the unconscionable way we treat our most vulnerable road users. I became thoroughly invested in trying to promote safer, carbon-free, and carbon-light ways of getting around cities.
While I’m by no means a hardcore cyclist—I’ve never completed a century ride, and can’t change a tire for my life—I firmly believe the best way to experience cities is by bike. Case in point: A close friend threw her bachelorette party in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, and I insisted we all try out their bikeshare system while we visited. Turned out it was the easiest and most fun way to hop between parade routes! I later noticed she added an e-bike to her wedding registry….Coincidence? I think not!
4. What are you working on that you’re most excited by?
As a new recruit, I’ve been running support on some bike network expansions and improvements in the Bronx and Brooklyn, as well as on our new Bike the Block program which brings learn-to-ride and bike repairs to neighborhoods that have long been underserved by bike infrastructure. It’s awesome to see a new generation embrace active transportation!
5. What career advice would you give to other YPT’ers interested in your career path?
Active transportation happens in the open air and is therefore social by nature. There are ample opportunities to meet like-minded people on group bike rides, Open Streets events and through volunteering and organizing at advocacy organizations like Transportation Alternatives, Open Plans, Riders Alliance, and Families for Safe Streets. And Twitter has been a great place to meet planners, nonprofit pros, and advocates. Simply by using #bikenyc #OpenStreets hashtags, you can build out a great network of locals with their ears and eyes on the transportation beat.
6. What famous celebrity do you think should be given the opportunity to voice a NYCT Subway Announcement?
I’ll level with you, I’m still kind of annoyed at Natasha Lyonne for her anti-bike lane comments a few years ago, but the newest season of Russian Doll is a love letter to the subway at a time it could really use a boost, so her iconic rasp would be a win in my book.