#People of CLE: Angie Schmitt, public transportation activist

Meet Angie Schmitt, a 13-year Detroit Shoreway resident, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is a volunteer with Clevelanders for Public Transit, a group of RTA riders who believe in safe, accessible, affordable, reliable and sustainable public transit for Clevelanders.

As one of the country’s best-known writers on sustainable transportation, Schmitt was a long-time writer and national editor for Streetsblog, a go-to source for planners, engineers, and advocates. She is the and author of “Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America,” and the founder and principal at 3MPH Planning and Consulting, a small firm focused on pedestrian safety.

What gets you motivated each day?
My children, literally. They wake me up a lot of days.  I am an impulsive person, honestly, and I am also an insomniac. So, I don’t know where my inspiration comes from exactly, but I do get very excited about things, like stuff I read. I’m a big reader. Sometimes at night I think about issues or get ideas and get excited about them and I can’t fall asleep.

What has been a highlight of your work in transportation reform?
I have been so very lucky in my career. For more than a decade I have been working on transportation reform. I have part of a group people pushing for more sustainable alternatives to pedestrian safety and I have been “traveling around”—virtually on Zoom—giving talks about it and speaking with the media.

We also has had two virtual workshops during the pandemic, and now I am hopeful that U.S. Department of Transportation  secretary Pete Buttigieg is going to take some action that will really help and save lives.

What have been the biggest challenges in your work and how did you overcome them?
I have had a lot of struggles with childcare. Also, Cleveland hasn’t been a leader in [public transportation] area I work in, which has forced me to be a little bit entrepreneurial.

What has been your greatest success?
My book “Right of Way”  wasn’t a best seller or anything, but I do think it’s been successful in helping reframe the problem of pedestrian deaths, the media coverage I was able to get, and the other supporters [I found]. I still don’t think the ideas I presented are exactly mainstream but there is a lot greater recognition anyway within the industry and media, which I think is critical.

What are your hobbies and interests?
I am big a commuter bicyclist. I also have recently been trying to learn how to watercolor paint (I got a chance to go to the Beck Center), but I’m not very good at it.

Where are you located for work?
I have an office in the Tremont at The Fairmont Creamery. I’ve been there for eight months now and I like it a lot I share the space with a with a friend who’s in the event planning industry.

<span class="content-image-text">Angie Schmitt is one of the country’s best-known writers on sustainable transportation.</span>Angie Schmitt is one of the country’s best-known writers on sustainable transportation.Do you have an interesting work-related experiences you’d like to share?
I wasn’t able to do a book release party or an in-person book tour because my book was finished right when the pandemic started. So that was a bummer. But about a year before [the book came out] I got a chance to speak about it in Portland and Seattle. And I got to take the train between the two cities. That was the highlight for me of my career I would say.

Since I started my business, I worked on a campaign asking U.S. Department of Transportation to commit to a goal of zero traffic deaths by 2050. And earlier this year, Pete Buttigieg announced that they would make that commitment. So that was gratifying. It’s gratifying to be part of the push that is successful.

I’m working on a few campaigns now that I’m hopeful will have such huge impacts in terms of saving lives and promoting sustainability [within the public transportation industry].

I recently worked on a campaign in New York to change laws that will reduce traffic deaths.

What is your greatest weakness?
I have a lot. I am a terrible speller; I am also impatient. I have struggled, I would say, with different things at different points in my career. Now that I’m about 40 years of age, I feel like I’m just trying to use the sorts of the things that are unique about my personality to the best of my ability. I admire people who have different traits and how their contributions can be different and important as well.

Who are your role models?
For me it’s often been my friends who are a few years older than me and who are doing amazing things in their careers. Over the years, it’s been a few females who are very close to me. And they have inspired me a lot (one is an entrepreneur, one is a creative type, and one is a doctor).

Where do you see yourself in the future?
Right now, my goal is to grow 3MPH Planning and Consulting here in Cleveland.

Have you ever lived anywhere other than Cleveland?
I grew up in Columbus and have lived in a bunch of different cities. I’ve worked at newspapers in Youngstown and Toledo before I moved here. I came here to go to grad school at Cleveland State University, where I earned my master’s degree in urban planning.

La Queta Worley
La Queta Worley

About the Author: La Queta Worley

La Queta Worley was born and raised in the Central community, where she is active in neighborhood improvement efforts. Even though her address represents the Union-Miles neighborhood, she is currently working on getting back to her roots. She enjoys doing non-profit work and is a Baptist Christian at Triedstone Missionary Baptist Church in Central, where she volunteers with the youth and teen ministries every Sunday.