Tom Landre – San Diego’s New Bicycle Coordinator

As of November 1st, Thomas Landre has been San Diego’s new Bicycle Coordinator.

I first learned about Landre’s new position while celebrating the Eastern Planning Group’s vote last month to make University Avenue east of 54th Street more bicycle friendly. After the meeting, Landre who was the City’s contact person for the Mobility Study, Randolph Van Vleck, the Active Transportation Manager with the City Heights Community Development Corporation, and I met at the famed City Heights Tower Bar to celebrate the vote over drinks and conversation. During the course of the conversation Landre could barely contain his excitement in announcing his new position with the City. While I was disappointed to learn of Jim Lundquist’s reassignment, it was exciting to learn that someone as enthusiastic as Landre would now be in charge of shaping the city’s environment for its cyclists.

Tom Landre – San Diego’s New Bicycle Coordinator

 

Last week I sat down with Tom to talk about his background, his goals and his vision for San Diego.

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Tom Landre attended the University of Wisconsin to study Transportation Engineering within the Civil Engineering Department. His experience prior to moving to San Diego was initially with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation where he worked on signing and pavement markings. He eventually began working for the City of Milwaukee on signal timing issues and worked to obtain grants to implement safety features, eliminate road hazards and make improvements at intersections. Landre stated that this experience “was nice but not very exciting.” But then he was promoted to the “Non-traditional Project Program” which was Milwaukee’s bicycle and pedestrian division within their Engineering Department. It was while talking about his experience with the Non-traditional Project Program that Landre’s eyes really lit up and he truly became excited to talk about his past job experience.

It was while working on bicycle and pedestrian projects in Milwaukee that Landre truly blossomed. There has been much mention of the study done Department of Transportation at Wisconsin on the tremendous economic impact of bicycling in Wisconsin. Landre was one of many in Wisconsin to actively contribute significant efforts that resulted in the economic impact seen at the state level. In Milwaukee, Landre worked to acquire railroad right of way, instituted traffic calming projects and oversaw the installation of many off-street bike paths all of which eventually resulted in the League of American Bicyclists bestowing Milwaukee with the bronze-level status for being a bicycle friendly city. It was while at the City of Milwaukee that Landre learned how to excel in coordinating the various city departmental goals with the demands made by the city’s vocal bicycle advocacy group and aligning them all together to make Milwaukee a welcoming city for its cyclists.

I then asked Landre how he wound up in San Diego and he responded that Wisconsin’s brutal winters had played a very significant role. According to him, “moving to San Diego was a dream come true.” So he applied for a position with the city and when he came down for a job interview, stayed at the bicycle friendly Pearl Hotel. He took advantage of the free bicycle that the hotel provided him and explored the city from a two wheeled perspective. It was then that he fell in love with San Diego. He got the job with the City, sold everything he owned and bought a one way ticket to San Diego.

While the previous bicycle coordinator, Jim Lundquist, was frustrated that the majority of his time as a bicycle coordinator was spent dealing with Caltrans issues, Landre is grateful that he can focus 100% of his attention on bicycle issues in San Diego. Landre credited Lundquist with the fact that the city now has a full time Caltrans liaison to work solely on Caltrans issues. And as a testament to the growing bicycle movement here in San Diego, Landre now has a full time assistant who will also be working on bicycle issues all the time. Two years ago, San Diego had one person who spent only a portion of his workload on bicycle issues and yet was able to make some significant impacts throughout the city. Now bicyclists have two full time staff at the city level devoted to improving bicycling for all who live, work and play in San Diego.

Since being on the job, Landre has visited Long Beach to take part in a bike tour led by the city’s mobility coordinator, Charlie Gandy. Landre was thrilled to see a banner at the Long Beach City Hall proclaiming that Long Beach was “America’s most bicycle friendly city”. Landre appreciated that assertion because he thought that claim required Long Beach to now stand up to it.

He then talked about participating in a webinar recently where other cities were used as examples of what a bike friendly city could be. It was then he decided that he wanted San Diego to be the example referenced as the model city worthy of emulation. He wanted San Diego to be innovative and forward thinking rather than simply imitating what other cities had already done. Landre wants San Diego to be the vanguard of change.

When I asked what Landre liked most about riding. His response revealed a genuine love for riding.

“Riding gives me the experience of being close to everything that’s going on. Riding my bike to something versus driving to it [means] you miss a lot driving. You miss the world, you miss a lot of the world.”

I certainly couldn’t argue with that sentiment. As human beings it is important to feel connected to the community we call home and I am thrilled that San Diego has a bicycle coordinator who is committed to putting San Diego on the world map.

Tom Landre can be reached via email or by phone at: (619) 533-3045

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