The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Barb Chamberlain tapped as new ED for Bicycle Alliance

The search is over. Our board has hired a new Executive Director and we are thrilled to announce that it is Barb Chamberlain of Spokane.

Barb currently serves as the Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Washington State University-Spokane campus, where she has built the communications staff from one person to a team of six. She is also a founding board member of the Empire Health Foundation, led a successful Spokane public school levy campaign, and served on the North Idaho College board of trustees.

With a passion for bicycling and active transportation, Barb worked with the Bicycle Alliance and a host of other groups when she volunteered to spearhead Spokane’s Bike to Work Week beginning in 2008. She was a member of the Spokane Bicycle Advisory Board and chaired the group in 2010-2011, and currently serves on the Transportation Advisory Committee for Spokane Regional Transportation Council. She is a daily bike commuter and launched the blog,
Bike Style Spokane, as a way to encourage more women to try biking.

Barb has been a policy maker as well as a policy advocate. In 1990 she became the youngest woman ever elected to the Idaho state legislature, where she served as a state representative and senator for the Coeur d’Alene area. An Inland Northwest native, she welcomes the opportunity to apply her talents with a statewide organization.

“The Bicycle Alliance does great work that doesn’t get as much recognition as it deserves. With my experience in communications, marketing and branding I hope to position it for a clear understanding of its statewide role and importance,” Barb stated.

“It’s essential that we do that in partnership both with bike groups and with others working in this general arena, so another priority for me personally is to understand and assess all existing partnerships and look for opportunities to strengthen and to add to the overall network so it’s truly statewide,” she continued.

On the policy front, Barb wants to grow awareness both within the community of people who ride bikes and with leaders who work on tra
nsportation policy and community and economic development of just how important bicycling is and why it deserves serious policy attention and consistent funding. She believes bike infrastructure and a fully multimodal transportation network in general will make critical contributions to improved health, to congestion mitigation, to air and water quality, and so many more problems we face.

"We have critical work to do given last week's congressional action on transportation and the Bicycle Alliance will work with partners at all levels to ensure our future transportation system reflects how America wants to travel, which is increasingly multimodal in scope," reflected Barb.

“It’s transportation for everyone, even for people who will never ride a bike because it helps them if others make that shift to cut down on traffic, parking, emissions, and wear and tear on the streets,” she elaborated. “With Washington named the #1 Bike-Friendly State for the fifth year in a row by the League of American Bicyclists, and with the attention biking is getting on many fronts, we need to grow as an organization to rise to the expectations and the opportunities we have before us. We can genuinely lead the nation and that’s where we need to be.”

Ted Inkley, president of the Bicycle Alliance board of directors, is looking forward to working with Barb to grow the organization and to achieve their mission of bringing cycling into the transportation mainstream.

“Barb has a great combination of skills, a long history of activism and political involvement, and a passion for cycling advocacy. I’m confident that her background as a professional communicator will serve us well in helping a broad segment of policymakers and the public to understand that getting more people on bikes will benefit everyone,” he remarked. “The goals we’ve set for ourselves as an organization are challenging, but with Barb’s leadership I know we’ll create and seize every opportunity we can to achieve them.”

Barb grew up in the Inland Northwest, first near Lewiston, Idaho, then in the Spokane Valley. She was a recreational rider until a bike lane was installed in front of her house. The new bike facility motivated her to try bike commuting and she’s been biking to work ever since.

She and husband Eric Abbott, who is a bike racer, have four children between them. They enjoy family bike rides, movies and board games. Barb loves to cook and bake bread using her pet sourdough starter. When time allows, she also practices yoga and knits.

Barb will take the reins as Executive Director in August. Outgoing director Barbara Culp announced
her retirement earlier this year and will assist with the transition.


  1. Good news for BAW and cyclists statewide.

  2. Barb will be a great addition to the Alliance. Welcome to the wet side of the mountains, Barb.

  3. I've known Barb Chamberlain for 12 years and there simply is no one who can engage others in real issues around quality of life better than Barb. She's an incredible asset and serving in a leadership role for an area she's so passionate about will create miracles! I'm so happy for you Barb!! Karen

  4. Congratulations and Welcome. We look forward to meeting you at a future Bike Alliance event.

  5. Welcome aboard Barb. What you've outlined above makes it clear why you were hired. Very excited for this new chapter.

    A gigantic Thank You Barb Culp. We would not be where we are today with safe cycling programs and legislation without you. In a word, "Chapeau!"