Lauren Rushing Consulting, LLC
Mobility Planner and and Cycling Advocate
Lauren Rushing is a former YPT-NYC board member and an independent mobility planning consultant and cycling advocate. Lauren works with clients to develop strategic mobility plans for local governments, with a focus on creating complete and integrated multimodal transportation systems that serve people and provide mobility choices. Lauren is driven by her belief that bicycles are the missing link to many urban challenges, and puts her professional skills to work advocating for policies and infrastructure that will facilitate a cultural shift to legitimize cycling (and other active modes) as a mode of transportation in urban areas.
1. What is your favorite YPT-NYC memory?
This is a hard one, but I think it would have to be the YPT-NYC/WE Bike Queens Bike Tour last summer. Enjoying summer in the city by bike is always a favorite pastime, but on the Queens tour we also learned about the process involved in building bicycle infrastructure in the city and got to see many of the recent projects first-hand, including the famous 34th Ave Open Street. We had the opportunity to work with staff in the NYC DOT Bicycle Unit to organize the tour and also got to meet some of New York transportation and open space influencers including Jim Burke (34th Ave Open Street) Evie Hantzopolous and Irak Cehonski (31st Ave Open Street) and Kyle Gorman (Senior Program Manager of the Public Space Unit at NYCDOT), as well as local business owners. During the tour we also ran in to Clarence Eckerson Jr. of Streetfilms!
2. If you could snap your fingers and make one change to regional transportation, what would it be?
Hands down, the effective implementation of a strategic plan for bicycle (and micromobility) parking throughout the region. Bicycle parking is one of the biggest obstacles to conveniently using a bicycle as a mode of transportation in New York, both in residential areas and commercial areas. To provide a personal example, there is no public bicycle parking on the street where I live. So, before I moved into my 5-floor walk-up, I made sure it was clear that using the downstairs basement to store my bicycle was a condition of me signing the lease. At the time, and to my annoyance, the building management made me sign a waiver releasing them of liability if it were to be stolen – but fine. However, 10 months later, they gratuitously decided I wasn’t allowed to use the basement space anymore. Since there is no bicycle parking on my street and no “safe” parking anywhere nearby, I am now forced to carry it up and down five flights of stairs every time I want to use it. Needless to say, my usage definitely decreased. Policies that ensure space like this can be used for bicycle parking should be included in a strategic plan. In addition, since bicycle theft is a big issue, the plan should also consider ways of providing secure bicycle parking facilities throughout the region. Luckily, companies like Oonee are already getting creative and providing options, but we need the city to embrace these options. Lastly, travel outside the U.S. and you’ll find awe inspiring, massive bicycle parking garages at major transit stations allowing people to use bikes (and other emerging technologies) as a first-last mile solution. As the “greatest city in the world” we shouldn’t sell ourselves short on these important infrastructure investments.
3. What sparked your passion to work in the transportation industry?
My journey to a career in urbanism and transportation began as a teenager living in Jacksonville, Florida – one of America’s most sprawled cities characterized by quintessential suburban development. Having grown up in a city built for cars and lacking an enticing and reliable transit system, I was awe struck by the multimodal cities I visited, and later moved to, as an adult.
I remember when studying abroad, navigating and riding the metro was such a fun thing to me! I loved learning the system and memorizing the transit map. It was a very different lifestyle from how I grew up and somehow that felt more like freedom to me than when I first earned my driver’s license. That’s when I fell in love with cities.
4. What are you working on that you’re most excited by?
In 2021, I had the pleasure of managing community outreach for the Essex-Hudson Greenway campaign with the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition. The Essex-Hudson Greenway is a proposed, nearly nine-mile long, multi-use trail corridor following the abandoned Norfolk Southern rail line that runs through eight towns between Montclair and Jersey City. When complete, the Greenway will be New Jersey’s version of the High Line creating more than 135 acres of new green space, improved options for active transportation and recreation, and will act as an economic engine for nearby communities by attracting visitors to local shops and restaurants along the trail.
After decades of advocacy from local residents and electeds, more than three years of direct negotiations with Norfolk Southern, and personally more than one year of full-time work galvanizing community support for the project, in November the State of New Jersey committed to providing funding and securing purchase rights to the existing railway property identified for the Greenway!
Playing a part in bringing such an impactful project to success and being a part of the community of support that built up around the project has been truly amazing and definitely the highlight of my career.
5. What career advice would you give to other YPT’ers interested in your career path?
Don’t be afraid to fail. I know it sounds cliché, but I held myself back so much early on in my career with my imposter syndrome. Push yourself to do things that are out of your comfort zone. Say yes to things when you want to say no. You might surprise yourself. You WILL surprise yourself!
That would be a great YPT event. A webinar on how to overcome imposter syndrome. Or perhaps a good topic for the next YPT Podcast club!
6. What famous celebrity do you think should be given the opportunity to voice a NYCT Subway Announcement?
I absolutely adored Schitt’s Creek and think Catherine O’Hara’s character, Moira Rose, is hilarious. I would love to hear Catherine do an announcement in character as Moira.