Interview: Bike Activists in Love

Dorothy Kieu Lê and Boris Suchkov

What do you do?

Boris: I’m a Principal Transportation Planner for New York City Transit. I do data analysis having to do with performance, mostly on the subway.

Dorothy: I work for the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership as the Director of Capacity Building. I help the community groups that manage plazas. We’re both urban planners.

And you two are engaged, right? How did you meet?

Boris: We met at a Transportation Alternatives meeting.

No way! Really?

Dorothy: Yeah! This is why Transportation Alternatives is so near and dear to our hearts.

Boris: I was living on Staten Island, and Dorothy moved there for a fellowship with the National Park Service.

Dorothy: We met in August 2012 at a Staten Island Activist Committee meeting.

Boris: Then, we forgot about each other. Or the next time I saw her, I didn’t recognize her. A month later, on the Staten Island Ferry, I started talking to her, asking her questions about her bike, without realizing we’d met before.

Dorothy: At first, I was like, “Oh great, a guy asking me about my bicycle, this is kind of weird.” But he actually cared about buying a bicycle. So I was like, “You can go to Recycle-a-Bicycle if you want a used bike. I really like Bicycle Habitat, blah blah blah.” Then, as we started walking out of the ferry, we realized we were going to the same exact place, the Staten Island Activist Committee meeting. We were friends for a year after that and then finally started dating.

That’s too cute. What did you work on with the Staten Island Committee?

Boris: I ran a side project involving wayfinding signs for the neighborhood. I got the Activist of the Year Award for that. That was pretty cool because it was just an independent thing I thought up and was able to run with it because activist committee meetings provided this monthly forum for different ideas.

Dorothy: That’s the thing, Transportation Alternatives just brings together a lot of cool people who are involved in their community in different ways, not just biking and walking. So monthly, Boris had access to a group of people who could help him figure out who to talk to, where would be the best locations, how to publicize. Even though Transportation Alternatives is a larger group, it’s like a community organization within those neighborhoods.

As TransAlt volunteers, what would you say to encourage folks to get involved?

Boris: If you ever felt there’s something wrong with the city, especially in terms of transportation, and you didn’t know if there were other people who think the same way, Transportation Alternatives is a great place to realize that problem might be on the minds of several people. They might even know how to fix it, or have contacts who can be reached out to, or just to talk about it is good.

And maybe you’ll find love?

Dorothy: I have a lot of single friends always telling me that they can’t meet good people, dating sucks, whatever. I tell them to get involved in something that they’re passionate about and they will naturally meet cool people. I am not saying to volunteer as a way to date, that’s weird, but it’s a great way to express yourself and meet people who are interested in the world. If you’re looking to contribute to your community and leave your neighborhood just a little better than how you came to it, then get involved in Transportation Alternatives.

In advance of their wedding, Dorothy and Boris asked their guests to make a donation to Transportation Alternatives in lieu of gifts. You can send good tidings too: transalt.org/dorothyandboris.
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