Monday, 21 May 2012

Color College Avenue

The first Saturday after Graduation is for many people, the first weekend of summer in Blacksburg. With thousands of pesky Virginia Tech students gone, it is calm and peaceful. However, on Saturday May 19th, College Avenue was anything but quiet.

On my way to the farmer's market, I witnessed a most impressive open streets event. I slowed, dismounted and tied by bike to the racks next to Henderson Lawn. Before me, hundreds of bubbling children ran wild with painted fingers and paintbrushes as they doused life onto the dull grey street. Bikes with child seats attached and covered trailers were strewn all around. Families had even biked to the event with their kids. I soon learned Color College Avenue was a project of The New River Valley to participate in MINDS WIDE OPEN, a statewide initiative to present programs focused on children and the arts, by offering art-inspired, child-friendly events throughout the community. Not only did kids create masterpieces on College Avenue. As the street was closed off to traffic for the day, an evening group mobilized to paint a Save Stadium Woods art mural at the entrance. I was told before the Save Stadium Woods piece was added, large gallon globs of paint had been poured on the street and children had danced and skated through it! The Save Stadium Woods mural revamped the colorful messes.

The street art will stay up all summer until it's paved over for College Avenue Promenade construction in August. Now that's a beautiful liveability event for Blacksburg. How about we close College Avenue down to all car traffic, always?

A Rippling Effect

Biology professor George Simmons carries his exams by bike and commutes daily

Three weeks since the big Blacksburg Cycle Chic event and we've seen a rippling effect of excitement around bicycling!

Just last week, George Simmons, VT Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Bike Master Plan volunteer, presented before the Old Guard (Alumni from the 50's and early 60's) on behalf of the Alumni Association. He spoke about undergraduates and their contributions to Hokie Nation. As one of our faculty models in the bike fashion show, George spoke about Blacksburg Cycle Chic, too! Here's a peek at what was presented:

"The point I made is that VT seeks a national championship, yet we already have one - in the successes of our undergraduates who take initiative, demonstrate motivation and creativity, and move to tackle big issues. I encouraged older alumni to remember that our non-athlete undergraduates are winners and national contenders in every way possible. They are often unsung and unrecognized - but appreciated by the world at large in a very big way.

The second thing I emphasized - is that if the world is going to be changed for the better, it will be up to the women - especially the young women - who for the most part are brighter, more creative, more mature, and more articulate than their counterparts. I see this on a daily basis." - George Simmons

Read by our emcees about George during the fashion show - I commute by bike (in fact, I do not own a gas-powered vehicle - I gave up my big gas guzzlin' Silverado nearly 5-6 years ago) because I want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and fossil fuels in general, and I want to use "ACTIVE TRANSPORTATION" (note the difference between "Active" vs "Alternative") because it is more healthy, sustainable, and promotes re-organization of urban communities - like Blacksburg. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

After his presentation, George tells me several people approached him and were impressed with the involvement of our young people. "I hope this translates into saving Stadium Woods. If not, I'm going to move to Canada or somewhere in Europe! Or Ireland!", concludes George.

Thank you for believing in young people and especially for recognizing the potential of women to make change for a healthier planet! I whole-heartedly agree :)

Monday, 14 May 2012

Graduation & Summer Bike Bugs

Bicycling bug! (Praying mantis on fiddle head fern) Via

For Virginia Tech graduates the summer is finally here and the real world, getting a job, is the next 'To Do' before leaving Blacksburg forever. Luckily, I was able to walk for graduation and I'll be in Berlin this summer, taking the last class I need to receive my German minor. As such, I'll be back in Europe where my inspiration for successful cycling cultures is real and captivating.

Many people have asked what was my motivation for organizing Blacksburg Cycle Chic. To clarify, I focused my graduation personal statement on how I got to where I am. The following was read at the Science and Technology Studies graduation ceremony:

Entering Virginia Tech as a sophomore transfer student from JMU, Lyndsay first learned of the Humanities, Science and the Environment major through Earth Sustainability. The four semester long program fostered an ecologically conscious learning community where Lyndsay, with her love of biology, thrived. Impelled to take action, Lyndsay became a passionate, campus sustainability leader. A few of her highlights include serving as the Environmental Coalition Vice President from 2009-2010, building momentum behind VT’s Climate Action Commitment and organizing Power Shift Summits for the YouthClimate Movement. She also attended the United Nations Copenhagen Climate Change Convention in 2009 with the Sierra Student Coalition Delegation. There, she mobilized grassroots efforts to push the new Obama Administration to commit to equitable carbon reductions and a climate treaty. Frustrated with the International Copenhagen Accord which promised minimal action on climate change, Lyndsay shifted her sustainability efforts to alternative transportation and urban planning. As a triathlete and cyclist on the Virginia Tech teams, Lyndsay embraced the opportunity to encourage bicycle transportation among students to get people out of their cars. Two years later, Lyndsay has blogged, presented and participated at numerous bicycle and pedestrian planning conferences as VT’s first Alternative Transportation Intern. While studying abroad in Switzerland last spring, Lyndsay was able to see successful cycling cultures firsthand and attended Velo-city Seville (Spain) with the League of American Bicyclists, with whom she networked during the previous fall at Pro Walk Pro Bike 2010. Inspired by Copenhagen Cycle Chic (and that’s pronounced sch-eek, as in style), a famous street style photography blog and global movement that celebrates everyday people bike commuting, Lyndsay came back to the States with keen ambition to transform Blacksburg into a bicycle friendly community. Just last week, Lyndsay, Student Government Association Transportation Director, put on the culminating event of her environmental activism. Blacksburg Cycle Chic –Commuter Celebration and Fashion Show showcased local groups striving towards regional transportation sustainability and active lifestyles while revealing bicycle heros in our Hokie Nation. The night was moving, successful and inspired people to rediscover their bikes for transportation. Lyndsay’s undergraduate research: The Role of the American Bicycle Girl – An Indicator of Healthy U.S.Cities towards Sustainable Mobility, serves as another creative outlet where Lyndsay is actively bridging concepts of womens mobility, bicycle transportation and sustainability. Lyndsay believes the importance of empowering women to bicycle cannot be understated in today’s world of seven billion people, uncontainable pollution from cars, congestion, dangerous streets and disappearance of active transportation lifestyles. She believes empowering women to bicycle can lead to environmentally conscious mobility, increased health amongst an obesity epidemic and sustainable transportation for future generations.

As you can tell, the HSE major has enabled driven students like Lyndsay to excel in the wider Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, National and International communities as a change agent. She has experienced a rich and vibrant academic career at Virginia Tech and is excited to complete her German minor this summer. With an affectionate love of traveling, Lyndsay will spend 8 weeks abroad in Berlin, Germany at the Freie University of Berlin. She is ready to leave her Blacksburg home and friends, embarking upon a new journey. In the fall, Lyndsay hopes to become a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator and urban planner.


Tuesday, 8 May 2012


 (Earth Sustainability family)

Thank you to all the generous volunteer photographers! We have both dress rehearsal and fashion show pictures from the night.

1. Transportation and Campus Services at Virginia Tech (thanks, Debby Freed!)
2. Tuan Trung Pham (VT Cycling Alum!) - The 1st Blacksburg Bike Fashion Show
3. Dave Lehn (Blacksburg Cycling Guru) - (link coming soon)

Emily Schwarting (from my Feminist Activism course) and the cutest Blacksburg Cycle Chic rider!

Fashion show models conversing in the Graduate Life Center hallway, bikes all around!

Untitled Blacksburg Triathletes! Left to right: Nicole Capella (met while tabling at Orientation for Alternative Transportation), Leah Stiegler (Earth Sustainability and VT Triathlon Club friend), Kristen Chang (VT Triathlon Alum, TriAdventure coach and now married to Jordan Chang!) and Cortney Martin (Earth Sustainability professor and the fastest woman in town)

The tall bike! How do you ride that? Left to right: John Ruffer and Jan Grajkowski
Kyle Gardiner, Director of Sustainability for the Student Government Association at VT, speaks about Feet Fleet at Harding Elementary; a creative Safe Routes to School program which involves VT students walking children home from school. More on Kyle's inspiration here (post coming soon)
Yvonne Yee decorated her bike for the fashion show
Rogues Racing members in full kits

Monday, 7 May 2012

Success! Hokie Nation for Bikes and Trees.

Last week's Blacksburg Cycle Chic was a riot! (in a great way) From Keynotes Elly Blue and Fionnuala Quinn putting bicycling and gender into perspective against a backdrop of US carmageddon to short and sweet presentations from inspiring student sustainability leaders to the dazzling bicycle fashion show, showcasing Blacksburg's cycle chic was a complete success!

For the remainder of Bike Month May, we'll be updating the blog with highlights from our wheel stylish evening and continuing the conversation of YOU + Community & bikes. We'll have snippets of the night compiled in a video later this month, so stay tuned if you missed out!

Until then, check out the incredible Environmental Coalition campaign to Save Stadium Woods - our Virginia Tech miracle, old-growth forest behind the football stadium. Many cycle chic attendees came right over from the Tree Naming Ceremony: The Almighty Colbert Oak. Be inspired about the caliber of the video below by one of our very own cycle chic models! Thank you, Chris Risch!

"I bike because i like the sound of wind." (and because it gives me that sexy mad scientist hair) - Chris Risch

Monday, 30 April 2012

Free Farmers Market Hors d'oeuvres anyone?

What a wild time to have an event - smack dab during the last week of classes at Virginia Tech! If you can't make the entire bicycle bash, do take a study break and come eat our delicious dinner at 6:40pm - locally sourced and catered by the famous Mikies 7th Restuarant in Newport!

-Grass-finished beef burger with toppings
-Grilled London Broil with cucumber sauce
-Local asparagus-lightly roasted
-Local Mix-Green salad in wonton cups
-Dessert: Floyd's organic raspberry bar

Cyclist Spotlight

Two wonderful women, SGA Transportation committee members..and our Blacksburg Cycle Chic Fashion Show MC's! Meet Christine and Morgan.

I bike because it keeps my body strong and healthy
I bike for the adrenaline, and for the endorphins
In the summer, I bike because it creates a breeze
In the winter, I bike because the movement generates heat
I bike to commute
I bike to adventure
I bike to be free
I bike to see the world from a different perspective
I bike because I can
I bike to show others that they can
-Christine Foote 

I bike because it is the fastest way to get around campus! Biking lets me sleep in an extra 30 minutes before my 8 am!!! That's like....16 extra hours of sleep this semester! 
-Morgan Findley