“My family jokes that I was raised on a bicycle,” Dewey said with a smile, as he sits down on a refurbished bicycle seat.
Dewey was named the first executive director of BikeAthens on Nov. 15, 2012. The position opened up after the organization received a grant from the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to expand its education program. The funds gave the organization enough salary to hire full-time staff members.
Dewey’s distinctive background gave him an advantage for the position during the application process. He has a lot of experience with cycling, teaching and the law.
Cycling has always been his passion from an early age. Growing up, Dewey and his sisters used bicycling as recreation and for getting exercise. He even celebrated his first birthday by going on a bicycle camping trip with his family.
Dewey is from Illinois and a graduate of Northern Illinois University and Michigan State University College of Law. After graduating law school, he spent two years working for the Peace Corps in Kazakhstan where he taught an English class. He lived without a car, which forced him to get around by bus, taxi and minivan.
“[Living without a car] exposed me to how easy alternative transportation is even in a remote country,” Dewey said.
Upon leaving for the Peace Corps, Dewey’s father moved to Athens for work, which is where Dewey made his return.
He immediately began volunteering with the Bike Recycling Program and from that program he was offered a full-time position at BikeAthens.
“I thought that he was an extremely qualified person in terms of his education and life experiences - organized and driven but with a sense of humility and purpose,” said Elliott Caldwell, the previous BikeAthens president.
Dewey was drawn to BikeAthens after learning about the organization’s history and its contribution to the community.
“He’s a lawyer by training, but seems inspired by something perhaps a bit different - something larger than legal work,” board member, Richard Shoemaker said.
BikeAthens is a growing nonprofit organization that has been around for over 20 years. The organization provides Athenians with public transportation, so they have a safe and efficient way of getting around town. In 2011, BikeAthens’ BRP program repaired and donated around 150 bikes to adults and kids throughout Athens.
It wasn’t until he got hired and began researching the job when Dewey realized how much work actually goes into it. There is a huge responsibility that comes with being one of the four full-time executive directors for bike advocacy organizations throughout Georgia.
“It’s a rare position, and I didn’t quite realize it,” Dewey said.
There is no typical workday as executive director for BikeAthens differs each day. Some days Dewey works in front of a computer doing advocacy work for bike facilities around town. Other days he could be going to meetings or working hands-on with people in his bike safety classes.
“Tyler rises to challenges, which is necessary in an executive director,” Caldwell said. “If there is something he needs to get better at, he works at it. He doesn't shrink away from something because it is difficult or outside of his experience.”
One thing Dewey enjoys most about BikeAthens is the variety of the job - he enjoys getting the opportunity to meet all segments of Athens and seeing the town in a whole new way. Some nights he’s meeting with commissioners and other times he’s working in the shop with recipients who have received the bikes.
“It’s just exciting to sort of see all of Athens in one place and see how bikes can really tie everything together,” Dewey said.