Summer 2000, p.21

Volunteer of the Month: Ruth Rosenthal (a.k.a. "Bike Week Queen")

Neighborhood: Upper West Side
Age: Grownup
TA Member: 15 years, volunteering 5 years
This is the second time you've graced our pages as "Volunteer of the Month" - no other volunteer has ever achieved this honor. How does it feel to make T.A. history?
I'm very flattered.
Do you think your precedent will intimidate other would-be volunteers?
It shouldn't discourage anyone. There's room at the top for everyone!
Tell us about how you began these T.A. trailblazing volunteer ventures.
I met Sharon Soons from T.A., who was looking for some help with Bike Week. Now it's five years later. It just keeps getting better next year will be even more amazing. The first Bike Week was nothing too special, but this year we had these beautiful postcards, definitely something to write home about.
So your reign over Bike Week remains unshakable?
I'll be holding onto my tenure, but I welcome any and all help. It's all those T.A. volunteers who make Bike Week work out.
Any sneak peaks at next year's Bike Week festivities?
Look for a big kick-off bash at the Brooklyn Brewery, more night-time activities, and a bigger commuter challenge.
What other volunteer activities have you participated in?
I help with the Century (ed-Ruth is notorious for prodding Century registrants to become members), organize the Holiday Party and other odds and ends. If T.A. needs me, they know where to find me.
As such a virtuous volunteer, I'm sure you're in demand. Why does T.A. get your attention?
Bicycling is important to me. I've been riding since I was a little girl in The Bronx. I rode with my son when he was in and ex utero. If we ever needed to get someplace quick we'd just hop on the bike and go. I still ride my old 3-speed Murray around, and pick my streets. And I'm married to T.A.'s "Commuter of the Millennium." Riding does get a little hairy sometimes, but there's no better way to get around.
What one bicycling issue most concerns you?
Bike lanes. I'd like to see real improvements in the bike lanes: better bike lanes, more respect for them and no parking next to them. I see them as essential. If they were secure, people would feel safer using them. You'd have more people riding. To get that, there needs to be stricter enforcement: you park in the lane, you get a ticket and you get towed. Period. Boosting ridership is important - when bikers are more in the public eye, we'll get more clout, and get the City to make these improvements. Bike Week works to do just that, with all the publicity and coverage about biking.
Thoughts on volunteering?
I love working with T.A. The staff is great, and it gives me a real feeling of accomplishment.
What would you say to rope other members into becoming stellar volunteers?
I'd say it's in their self-interest to help out, because by doing so they make things better in the city. Plus, volunteering is an opportunity to work with a bunch of dedicated and energetic people committed to a good mission.
You must have a favorite Bike Week Activity or moment. What's the "Ruth Rosenthal Bike Week Highlight?"
Eating Krispy Kreme Donuts, I have my annual one each Bike Week. No really though, my favorite was the evening station at Columbus Circle in Central Park. We met so many interesting and interested people, not just bikers, but pedestrians too. Nice evening weather, we really were able to reach out to everyone. That's what Bike Week's all about.