L.A. Streetsblog 2011 Advocate of the Year: Colin Bogart

A big part of L.A. Streetsblog’s success this year was the Annenberg Online Health Journalism Fellowship that took our reporting into four areas we hadn’t really covered and Long Beach.  I met a lot of impressive people during that series, but what impressed me most was what we found out about someone we already knew somewhat well.

In Glendale, Colin Bogart set the standard for an embedded activist.  Bogart was an employee of the LACBC but worked in Glendale’s government building and managed to form such close alliances with city staff, elected leaders and local advocates that everyone, and I mean everyone, I talked to all agreed on one thing: the steps that Glendale has made in recent years, including some physical changes and the impressive Safe and Healthy Streets program would have been impossible without Colin Bogart.  Mayor Laura Friedman was especially effusive in her praise.

Given that Glendale isn’t considered a hotbed of Livable Streets activism, you have to look closely to see that the city is really changing.  New street designs aren’t as car-oriented as they used to be.  Transportation plans focus on access to public spaces.  And Glendale’s calendar of official bike events rivals just about any city in Southern California.  Bogart didn’t magically do all of that himself, but by working as an outsider on the inside, rightfully gaining the trust of city staff and politicians alike without losing the vision that brought him there in the first place, and just showing that there is a better way to think about transportation he created a climate that made these changes possible.

If I’m wrong, and it was some sort of spell that he cast on the City of Glendale that made these changes happen, I hope he’s not out of Pixie Dust.  Now that he’s also the Bike Coalition’s point person on the 4th Street Bike Boulevard Campaign, a little more magic could go a long way.  But if anyone can bring together all of the communities that make up the 4th Street stakeholders, it’s probably the guy that changed the windshield perspective of L.A. County’s third largest city.