Cathy Clark Tyler just took the helm as the second President/CEO of PEDS, the Atlanta-based advocacy organization dedicated to making streets, sidewalks and communities safe and accessible to all pedestrians. Tyler brings to her new role, more than 25 years of senior level executive service in nonprofit, government and higher education arenas.
“The Board of PEDS is thrilled to have Cathy join the team. Cathy brings a wealth of nonprofit leadership that will help us expand our mission, those we serve, and our members,” said PEDS Board Chairman Andrew Hixson.
Founded in 1996 by Sally Flocks, PEDS (an acronym for Pedestrians Educating Drivers) has made significant strides through grassroots advocacy and in collaboration with government, civic and business stakeholders.
“Walking is a basic human right and people should be safe when they are doing it,” Tyler said.
While committed to all pedestrians, Tyler is eager to expand membership and develop new partnerships in underserved communities to address disparities, like insufficient street crossings, which put residents at risk.
“I don’t want children being killed crossing a busy road to catch a school bus,” Tyler said, referring to a 14-year old boy who died after being hit by a car on 2495 Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway in early September.
“We did a bus audit over there [Hollowell Parkway], recently. It’s a half of a mile before a crosswalk. If you’re late for school you are going to cross to get to that bus,” Tyler said.
That’s why the new PEDS leader wants to help residents who live near multi-lane roadways like Hollowell Parkway, Tara Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive voice their concerns.
“It can’t all come from us – it needs to be a human voice telling these stories to make it urgent for lawmakers for government to pay closer attention,” Tyler said.
Tyler also remains committed to working closely with partners at GDOT and with local governments, including the newly created City of Atlanta Department of Transportation.
“I believe that people want to do the right thing, but sometimes they need urging to pay attention,” Tyler said.
After a month on the job, Tyler is pleased with the transition.
“I am humbled by the amount of support the board of directors, staff and particularly the founder of PEDS have all shown,” Tyler said.
During her 23 years at PEDS, Flocks shared that some of her proudest accomplishments include: increasing the number of drivers who stop for people in crosswalks; providing workshops to help transportation professionals design for pedestrian safety; and helping innovative crossing treatments become mainstream in Georgia.
“I’m thrilled to have created an organization much bigger than myself, gratified to have achieved far more than I ever imagined, and optimistic that Cathy Tyler will lead PEDS to a whole new level,” said Flocks.
Tyler understands that more pedestrian advocacy is still needed, such as fixing Atlanta’s broken sidewalks to increase walkability, connectivity and access to public transit. The city allocates less than $500,000 to routine sidewalk maintenance, which doesn’t come close to meeting the cost of annual disintegration, estimated at $20 million by Public Works.
Wheelchair users recently sued the City of Atlanta for failing to maintain sidewalks that are equally accessible to people with disabilities. The lawsuit seeks to force Atlanta to modify its practices, install curb ramps and fix broken sidewalks – remedies that will ultimately benefit all pedestrians.
“Litigation is costly. It delays the work and somebody else could get hurt while going through the court process,” Tyler said.
The new PEDS leader sees collaboration as a more expeditious solution and is ready to walk the talk.
“Steve Jobs said, ‘We’re here to put a dent in the universe.’ Sally has put a dent in the universe of pedestrian safety. I’m very happy to take that on now… to work collaboratively with other partners who are concerned about safety and walkability, particularly in underserved communities”, Tyler said.
“It’s the oldest mode of transportation. Everybody can’t afford a car. Everybody doesn’t want a car. They still need to be able to live and thrive in the city.”
Learn more at peds.org.