It took a while, but the city has once again been able to fill the position of bicycle/pedestrian/transportation coordinator – locally dubbed “bike czar.” It’s been bumpy progress for anyone who’s tried to tackle the city’s congestion and transportation puzzle — ask Chris Hamilton, who took the job in 2016 and resigned in 2017. Previously, the position had not been filled since 2008.
Now Tim Staub is stepping up to the plate under the newer moniker: multimodal transportation coordinator. Staub started work on March 4 and seems well-suited for the task. The Notre Dame graduate studied civil engineering and marketing before working for Zipcar, the dominant car-sharing company. Overall, Staub has been in the car business for 14 years, and while living in New York City and Hoboken, New Jersey, Staub became interested in bike, pedestrian and transportation advocacy. He credits his father, an avid bicyclist, for instilling in him a love of cycling, alternative transportation and introducing him to the Keys.
“Key West checked most of the boxes as a place I wanted to live,” said Staub, who arrived here while following his father bicycling from Homestead to Key West. Wanting to switch into the government, education or non- profit sector from the corporate world, Staub found the city’s open position a good fit.
“I will be involved in policy work and trying to enact action that I know can benefit the community,” said Staub. “A lot of codes and ordinances need updating right now, and I am that guy.” While he has lots of plans, it’s about starting with what the city has in place and moving toward easing congestion.
Key West’s Master Bike and Pedestrian plan will serve as Staub’s starting point, as he looks at creating friendlier infrastructure for both cars and bicycles. First, he is focusing on the needs of commuters and residents – and wants to implement bike sharing (Hamilton tried in 2017 and was rejected by the city.)
“I have talked to most of the bicycle shop owners. This is not about creating competition but complementing services,” said Staub. For example, residents coming in through the Lower Keys bus system to work will have greater access to bike sharing at heavy traffic and work areas. These improvements will be less tourist-centric.
“Tim is great. He knows the case studies, the best management practices, the trends across the country and nation. He’s the perfect person for this position,” said Alison Higgins, sustainability coordinator. She has been securing a grant to bring in more bike racks, bike fixing stations, bike lockers, and water stations to enhance transit areas as well.
“I understand how government works. You need patience. I will do my damnedest to get things done,” said Staub. His biggest challenge will be finding room for both cars and bicycles to share the road, and how the city can figure out how to repurpose the space. Also, Staub will be creating pedestrian and bicycle websites with more information and more transparency from the government on the process.