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Streetsie 2014: Deborah Murphy Award for Excellence in Advocacy

And we've saved the best for last...the hardest Streetsie to narrow down the nominees. The hardest Streetsie to vote.

Voting for all categories will close on Friday, January 2, 2015, at noon. Reader voting accounts for one-half of the scoring this year, with one-quarter going to staff voting, and another one-quarter going to a board vote.

For each category, we came up with around ten first nominees with the list being pared down to the last five “finalists” with input from the staff and board. You can vote in our “Elected Leader of the Year," “Civil Servant of the Year," “Livable Streets Friendly Business," and "Writer/Journalist of the Year" polls, too.

Here are our some of the top advocates in Los Angeles. We're sure we've missed someone or someones. Thanks to everyone who reads this for all that you do.:

Damian Kevitt at Finish the Ride
Damian Kevitt at Finish the Ride
Damian Kevitt at Finish the Ride

Finish the Ride - When most people think of "Finish the Ride," the new organization that hosts the same-named event and pushes for changes in the state's hit-and-run laws, they think of Damian Kevitt. Kevitt, who lost part of a leg after being drug onto the 5 Freeway in a hit-and-run, has become the leader of the movement, both in organization and in spirit, traveling to Sacramento and City Hall in search of better laws and safer streets. But it's not just Kevitt that made Finish the Ride such a phenomenon in 2014. A dedicated team (including Ulises Melgar, Mario Lopez, and others who worked under the banner of Andy's Law, for lost friend Andy Garcia), have made the organization and the ride a success. Jerry Brown may have vetoed some of the best legislation aimed at reducing hit-and-run crashes, but he hasn't met the determination and power of Finish the Ride yet.


Cynthia RoseAs Director of Santa Monica Spoke, Cynthia has worked tirelessly to make Santa Monica a better place to bike, walk, and live – all in an unpaid volunteer capacity. As a founder, she has built SM Spoke into a highly respected voice for change via numerous local and regional alliances. The organization has become a key partner for the city, credited with playing a key role in the creation of the city’s Bicycle Action Plan. Cynthia has also been at the forefront of forming the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Local Chapter Program, of which SMSpoke is the inaugural chapter. The Local Chapter Program is key in reaching all 88 municipalities in vast Los Angeles County. Does that sound familiar? It might. This is the text for Rose's nomination for the Alliance for Walking and Bicycling's Advocate of the Year Award in 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 10.02.46 AM

Danny Gamboa - Gamboa works with Empact Long Beach, a non-profit that engages the community, offers bike tours and safety workshops, empowers more residents as bike advocates, and pushes for inclusivity in and equitable resources from local government, transportation, and healthcare agencies. While we're big fans of Empact, what sets Gamboa apart is his work spotlighting the safety issues cyclists face via the placement, maintenance, and publicizing of the Ghost Bikes used to commemorate the fallen. While not the only one that has worked to raise visibility around these issues, the recent creation of the Ghost Bike Foundation (the So Cal chapter of the larger Ghost Bike movement) and the work he and Kat Jarvis are doing to complete a longer-form documentary on the effort to make sense of senseless losses have given advocates and victims' loved ones a growing community to turn to.

Bayne takes in a mural during a CicLAvia South L.A. exploratory ride in 2012. Sahra Sulaiman/Streetsblog L.A.
Tafarai Bayne of T.R.U.S.T. South L.A. takes in a mural along the RideSouthLA route

Tafarai Bayne - When CicLAvia rolled down South L.A.'s Martin Luther King Boulevard this month, it was a huge success, both for Angelenos unfamiliar with the area and those who live and work in South L.A. There are a lot of people who played important roles in making South L.A.'s first CicLAvia happen, of course, but one of our heroes is Tafarai Bayne, who got the ball rolling right after the very first CicLAvia in 2010. Bayne deepened his advocacy work around mobility issues while with TRUST South L.A., helping to build bridges between city planning and a community that had long been overlooked, before being asked to serve on the Board of Directors of CicLAvia. Tafarai continues his advocacy work as a consultant for TRUST and other social justice-oriented community groups while serving as a Garcetti-appointed Transportation Commissioner (where we are sure he is a good influence, despite the toothlessness of the commission. Maybe he could be appointed to the Metro Board next time?).


Leimert Park 20/20 Vision Initiative (group) - With the changes that are certain to come with the arrival of the Crenshaw/LAX Line and the opening of the Metro station at Leimert Park in 2020, stakeholders in the area felt the time was ripe to steer development in a direction that fit with the community's own vision for its future. In January of 2014, they held a design charrette to engage concerned community members around the re-branding of Leimert Park as an important cultural destination in Los Angeles, both as a supportive gathering space/living lab for African-American artists and as a source for cutting-edge and creative work by those artists (see more about the 20/20 vision here and here). While much of their work is ultimately geared toward enhancing the pedestrian environment in the village area, the strategy is grounded in a concerted effort to strengthen the community from within. As such, over the past year, stakeholders have sought to ensure that the very people of the area, the heritage they represent, and their unique aspirations are essential to driving the future transformation of the village.

Honorable Mention: Eric Bruins with LACBC for being everywhere, the teams that fought for #VisionHyperion and the King Blvd. Bike Lane (we'll wait to see the final result), Miguel Ramos and Rio Contreras at Multicultural Communities for Mobility, all the work Lark Galloway-Gilliam from Community Health Councils has done for South L.A. over the years, and, of course, the bullies at #Fig4All.

Previous Winners: Jessica Meaney, Valerie Watson, Colin Bogart, Sunyoung Yang, Don Ward, Stephen Box

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