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Ellen Fletcher, pioneering bicycle advocate was 83

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ellen FletcherThe Holocaust survivor turned PTA mom whose pioneering role as a bicycle advocate included helping establish the nation’s first bicycle boulevard (later named in her honor) while a member of Palo Alto’s city council, died yesterday. She was 83. That’s a more recent photo of her by Richard Masoner, posted along with a remembrance at the Cyclelicious blog. Below, Fletcher in 1979, campaigning by bicycle. Among other things, Masoner recounts the role she played in Caltrain’s setting aside space on its rail cars for bikes, and adds:

Ellen Fletcher Palo Alto City Council 1979I first met Ellen in 2006 and even as a retired senior citizen she was super busy parking bikes at Stanford football games and organizing volunteers for bike giveaways. I could count on always seeing her at Palo Alto City Hall on Bike to Work Day handing out schwag and encouraging people.

Although she has never smoked a cigarette in her life, she was diagnosed with lung cancer late in 2008 and was forced to begin driving her 1964 Plymouth Valiant to appointments because her pulmonary therapy required that she be at rest.

She felt bad about driving, even with her ill health, and she continued toodling around town on her bike. Last year she bought a RideKick trailer — this is a little trailer attached to her Breezer bicycle with an electric motor to give her a modest push to help her along. When I saw her with the RideKick she expressed her embarrassment at having to use an electric motor on her bike — even at 82 years old and dying of lung cancer she considered it “cheating”!


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