Hey! I’m Alyssa and recently joined the Copenhagenize team in our Montréal office.
I’ve been working with data and mapping in GIS since 2006. Back then I didn’t even know urban planning was a profession, so how did I get here?
Ten years ago, I had the worst bike ride of my life. I had just started bicycling from my apartment in Brooklyn to eastern Queens to my job as an air pollution researcher for the City of New York. My commute led me through industrial trucking districts with no bicycle infrastructure in sight, along five-lane arterials passing through centuries-old cemeteries, and across six highway on and off ramps to finally reach the only bike lane in existence along my entire route. That bike lane was only one mile long and dead-ended at an arterial I then needed to ride for another mile to reach the laboratory.
I’ve never been a cyclist. Rather, I started riding a bike because bicycling was two times faster than taking the two subway lines and bus to reach my job — a job where I was pulling filters caked in car exhaust out of air pollution monitors and looking at the alarming statistics of child and elderly hospitalizations due to the poor air quality in NYC. I decided to stop monitoring pollution and change the way people travel.
In the past decade, I have worked with transportation advocates, as a transportation planning consultant, and as a long-range transportation planner for non-profit institutions. I began at Transportation Alternatives, advocating for people walking, biking, and using transit, with a focus on organizing the 2010 Park(ing) Day. That year, every borough of New York City had parking spaces reclaimed for something other than storing cars. That experience emboldened me to pursue a Master of Urban Planning from Hunter College, City University of New York. Afterwards, I spent four years working with multimodal transportation planners at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates, transforming cities, universities, and towns throughout the United States to become more bicycle-friendly and less car-centric. Until moving to Montreal in late 2017, I worked with the multi-disciplinary team at the Regional Plan Association on a long-range transportation vision for the New York metropolitan region. Our work sought to end the automobile’s dominance of street space in cities throughout the region, envisioning a transformation of the 80% of space given to cars into places for walking, biking, and riding transit.
My commuting horror story is not new for most people who ride a bike in North America but I believe we can change our cities and towns to be more bikeable and ultimately human-centric. And through all the dire data I’ve analyzed as a public health researcher, after the dozens of traffic safety studies, street design guides, and multimodal planning I’ve done — I still remain an idealist. I passionately believe we need to flip the equation on how street space is allocated and create life-sized cities for happier and healthier communities. That’s why I’m happy to be joining the team at Copenhagenize!