Jonathan Boncek file photo
Kurt Cavanaugh became executive director of Charleston Moves in 2014
Kurt Cavanaugh is stepping down as the executive director of Charleston Moves, the local nonprofit organization dedicated to pedestrian and bicycle mobility.
After more than two years of leading the organization's effort, Cavanaugh will be relocating to New York to step into his new role as deputy director of the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership. Savannah Brennan, who has served as Charleston Moves' full-time membership and outreach coordinator since 2015, will serve as acting executive director while a national search is conducted to find Cavanaugh's replacement.
Looking back on his time with Charleston Moves, Cavanaugh's proudest accomplishment came with the nonprofit's #BridgeEquity campaign, which he says amplified the voices of those who called for a dedicated bike and pedestrian lane across the Ashley River.
"I am also proud that our advocacy work prompted recent national attention in Bicycling Magazine as the worst bicycling city in the U.S.," says Cavanaugh. "There's a healthy bicycle mode share (on the peninsula) despite the city's inaction, and so much potential to be a great place for everyone to ride a bike, be it for transportation or recreation."
Before stepping into his role at Charleston Moves in 2014, Cavanaugh served as deputy director of the park conservancy organization Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn. According to a statement released by Charleston Moves, the organization's annual budget has grown to $200,000 and paid memberships have reached almost 450 individuals under Cavanaugh's guidance.
Asked what led to his decision to step down from his position with Charleston Moves, Cavanaugh pointed to the lengthy path taken by local officials to approve transportation projects such as the proposed West Ashley bike lane.
"The political delays and myriad useless studies were the reasons I began looking to move back to New York. Nearly 1,000 days have passed since the original bike/ped lane agreement was signed by the SCDOT, Charleston City Council, and Charleston County Council in February 2014," says Cavanaugh. "I am hopeful that Charleston Moves and the next executive director can get beyond bikelash and move projects forward at a rapid clip because this is ultimately about people's safety. As former [New York Department of Transportation] Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan states, ‘Cities can never succeed in transforming their streets if they never try. There is no courage, no achievement, and no triumph in avoiding the attempt.'"