Alternative Transportation advocate Steve Schmitt passes away

This is mainly of interest to me as the organization Steve was director of since 1994, the Coalition for Appropriate Transportation, is my hometown of Bethlehem, PA. Although I never met Steve, his work at improving transit, walking, and bicycling are significant. I had moved away from Bethlehem for work once I graduated from college in 1983, so we didn’t really overlap in time. I had tried to meet up with him a few years ago during a visit but we weren’t able to sync up schedules.

Really good writeup by Jason Schiffer TAKE THE LANE, STEVE SCHMITT:

…I met Steve when I was a young bicycle police officer in Bethlehem, PA in the late 1990’s. I had frequent interactions with him as he advocated for cyclists’ rights and cycling safety in the Valley. In the early days, I was very skeptical of what he was teaching and I didn’t understand or appreciate why he rode so far out in the lane. It seemed to me at the time that riding that way would be more dangerous, not safer, as he claimed. I heard him speak on the topic many times and, little by little, began trying it myself while logging thousands of miles on the streets of Bethlehem. I not only found it to be true, but became a believer and advocate, as well. Steve never grew tired of taking every opportunity to explain all of the reasons that it was safer to ride farther out in the lane: being more visible, being out of the “door zone”, being more predictable, and the list goes on. I became a police cyclist instructor in 2000 and have since trained hundreds of police officers to be police cyclists. Steve not only changed the way that I rode, but even more importantly, he changed the way that I taught…

It says something powerful about true “Bicycle Friendliness” that Jason Schiffer, now (apparently) practicing as an attorney, was relatively recently retired from the Bethlehem Police Dept from a twenty year career culminating in his being Chief, and held numerous credentials as a certified Police Cyclist Instructor. (Bethlehem is not rated by LAB — i have no idea as to the what the status of that is)

Pennsylvania is, by the way, one of qute a few (Arizona is another) states that uses John Allen’s excellent book Street Smarts as the basis for a “bicycle drivers manual“. article.