Celebrating Allan Crawford


Long Beach’s Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal by Allan Crawford. Suja will be honored for her visionary leadership for bike friendliness at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalitions “Firefly Ball” this Thursday.

When people ask me why I decided to focus all of my media relations energy on biking and active living advocacy my politically correct answer is that I truly believe these are some of the most important tools for optimism for some of the biggest challenges facing our modern era – the growing cost of everything including car ownership, traffic congestion and most importantly the sedentary disease pandemic. And I do believe this, I really do. But my very personal reason is a bit different it’s because very generous and talented people said yes to my ideas at a time in my life when I’d gotten used to hearing no, repeatedly.

Quite literally I would not be where I am today, doing what I love to do, in the way that I’m doing it, without Allan Crawford. Now serving as the Executive Director of the Long Beach based Bikeable Communities (who will become CalBike’s newest affiliate member this November – won’t you join us on November 3rd in Long Beach for a great party to celebrate?), and just before that serving as the Bike Coordinator of Bike Long Beach, Allan has been a dedicated advocate for growing this region’s bike friendliness for many years, including working closely with his dear friend the late Mark Bixby on making sure the Gerald Desmond bridge replacement in the Port of Long Beach would include bike and pedestrian access.

When people ask me how in the world Long Beach came out of nowhere in 2009 at #19 for Bike Friendliness and captured the attention of the media so frequently I share that it wasn’t luck. There  were several of us working hard to promote Long Beach’s growing bike friendliness not only at home but abroad from a variety of angles and succeeding – including myself, Georgia Case, Ron Antonette, April Economides, and Elizabeth Williams. But it’s been Allan’s captivating images that have left the lasting positive impression of Long Beach’s citizens both working to, and enjoying the fruits of, being bike friendly that have really struck a cord.

kidical mass may 2014-8785

One of my favorite images of Allan’s from the regular Kidical Mass rides held by the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement District of Long Beach.

When I met Allan back in 2008 he was well known as a talented photographer of road cycling, one of his great passions. But in early fall of 2011 I found out he was totally game to take other types of bike shots as well. What I wanted was to show off the fascinating bike culture I was witnessing growing all around me, much more city bike cycle chic than athletic.

The first time Allan and I worked together on a photo shoot was with Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal who had graciously agreed to be a spokesperson for Women on Bikes SoCal (the precursor to our Women on Bikes California initiative that launched in late 2011). Allan had never worked with someone styling a shoot – jumping up and in to fix a shirt, to suggest a different pose, new angles, etc. but once he realized what I was going for he was totally game. And Suja, not only is she one of the most photogenic people I’ve ever worked with, she’s such a good sport and consummate professional she makes a photo shoot a total joy.

An image from that first shoot ended up being picked up by LA Observed. The second time Allan and I did a photo shoot with Suja it was with 48 hours notice for Momentum Magazine for the inside back cover – because they’d seen images from our first photo shoot with Suja. Momentum picked a different image than the one above here at top – but this is the one that Allan, Suja and I like the best. I couldn’t be more thrilled that Suja is one of the honorees at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s “Firefly Ball” this Thursday.

MollyMomentumCoverI think it was about the fourth time Allan and I did a photo shoot together that we hit the jackpot for a cover. This image at left of Molly Gardner Paulick showing off the wonderful vintage flair of Long Beach’s 4th Street, fashion at the famous Meow boutique and a vintage cruiser was used for our own website, but not five minutes after I uploaded it to Flickr Momentum’s Managing Editor asked if it could be a cover. Yes please!

This coming Monday night CalBike will be celebrating CalBike’s newest affiliate member Bikeable Communities with Allan now as their leader.  I hope you’ll join us!

Personally but I will be celebrating someone who has become one of my personal heroes and champions.

What’s next for Allan and I on the creative front? To see if we can make videos as beautiful and emotionally resonating as Allan’s photos are.