President Obama’s choice for Interior Secretary could be an unexpected breath of fresh air for cyclists. Sally Jewell, nominated to the position yesterday, is the CEO of adventure outfitter REI, a business-minded conservationist — and a veteran of the fossil fuel industry.
Under Jewell, REI has been one of the nation’s leading corporate promoters of bicycling. Soon after she took over as CEO at REI, the company partnered with Bikes Belong and the League of American Bicyclists to provide grants to communities that are working to improve their bikeability and build partnerships between advocacy groups and municipalities.
Last month, REI gave $100,000 to expand Bikes Belong’s Green Lane Project, which focuses on urban cycling in six key cities, working to ramp up the building of protected bicycling infrastructure.
“During Sally’s term as the head of REI, REI has gotten even more engaged in bicycling in general — bicycling for short trips and commuting, bicycling as a transportation solution,” said Tim Blumenthal, director of Bikes Belong. “This is much more a part of the current REI than it was even 10 years ago.”
Twenty-four REI stores are designated Bicycle Friendly Businesses, too, with the flagship Denver store boasting 80 bicycle parking spots, a bike-share kiosk, and incentives for employees who ride to work, according to BikeDenver. And REI just finished working with the Bike League to create a Bicycle Friendly Business application for corporate designation, which will likely count REI among its first recipients.
Blumenthal said it’s pretty exciting to imagine Jewell running the agency that controls one-fifth of all the land in the United States.