Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Composting, Cycling and Community

While my blogger energies have been redirected to the soon to be Transportation and Campus Services BIKE BLOG (link not available yet), I have to tell you about my good friend Chris Fields-Johnson. Just yesterday I was biking by Bollos when my eyes caught sight of a bike trailer connected to a hybrid commuter bike. There was a big blue tub next to the trailer and then Chris walked out of Bollos. Holding a orange bucket with the words "Compost" written on it, Chris told me he collects coffee grounds from Bollos, Easy Chair coffee shop and other places around town. How cool! He then trucks away the grounds to his beloved farm on Merrimac where they are recycled into his soils as compost. Now that's a Blacksburg utilitarian cyclist. How I love my Crop & Soil Environmental Sciencey/Forestry friends, so earthy, friendly and wise.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Bike Month May

Tomorrow is my 1st day of work as the alternative transportation student intern since my return from Europe. I am pumped, especially about meeting Amanda Chassot, the new Alt Trans Coordinator for Transportation and Campus Services.

In other news, my boyfriend David Greenspan and I are going on a training ride for this weekend's Wilderness Road Ride. The ride is described as a historical adventure through southwest Virginia’s beautiful New River Valley, which follows part of Daniel Boone’s Wilderness Road. Pretty rad! (just like them radler dranks in Germany) On Sunday I'll ride survival mode style in the NRVBA's Mountains of Misery. one hundred and four mile ride. extreme!

Dave from Hokie Spokes called the other day asking if I'd like to come back and work for the summer. Still deciding. It's definitely an interesting place to work. Ultimately I'll get to learn more bike mechanic skillz which I aspire to know.

Yesterday I checked out Bike Barn, which took over the old Hokie Spokes space. They have an awesome community bulletin board with bike news. Check out the Bike Month May in the New River Valley information posted. Ride Solutions based out of Roanoke continues to do a superb job with incentives for bike commuting.

It seems as if more friends of mine are bike pedal touring across America. Last year Andy Reagan participated in Bike&Build and this year friends (and VT triathlete/cycling girls) Kati Span and Kelly Neville are doing both B&B and a family TransAmerica adventure. Good Luck to them!

Fun Grist article about bicycling and the art of being broke; bikenomics :)

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Home Sweet Blacksburg

Just passed Iceland. The mountains were majestic and mighty, despite the thin plum of dark clouds overtop. Boo ozone depletion and the greenhouse gas effect. It seems as if everywhere I go, the mountains of the region draw me in. They have character and feel like home. I think living in Blacksburg has transformed me to a mountain-hugging girl, thank you Appalachian mountains and Mountain Justice!

I'm almost home, crossing the Atlantic Ocean as I type. It's been five incredible months abroad in Switzerland and now I'll resume my life in Blacksburg. While it's sad to end my European adventures (just when I was becoming more fluent in German!), I can not wait to pursue my transportation passionism when I return. Just last week, I was appointed Student Government Association (SGA) Director of Transportation! I'll now serve on the SGA Executive Board and have my own committee. Finally, at bureaucratic Virginia Tech, I'll have the necessary title to organize most effectively (*see next blog entry for SGA Transportation committee brainstorm of events and projects*).

There are a number of transportation developments in Blacksburg that are extremely exciting and hold huge potential for...sustainable mobility in Hokie Nation! (if we cut those damn multi-million dollar parking garages out of the picture/VT Comprehensive Plan..grr!)

Here's the rundown of transit juicy gossip in Blacksburg:

  1. Blacksburg Bike Master Plan. It's alive and taking shape! There is a task force. A diverse volunteer base of planners, town bicycle advocates, cyclists and transportation engineers are on the job. The due date of project completion is projected winter 2011 to adopt with new updates of Blacksburg's Comprehensive Plan. Ambitious? Yes. I hope to help and get the student voice involved. Attending May 12th meeting tomorrow :) Go NRVBA (New River Valley Bicycle Association), Sustainable Blacksburg, Town Council, Greenway/Bikeway/Sidewalk Corridor Committee stakeholders! We want safe bike lanes and infrastructure!

  2. Virginia Tech Multi-modal Transit Facility. The lack of a New River Valley mass transit hub will result in the construction of a large bus shelter behind the Chem/Phys buildings off West Campus Drive. Bus commute drop offs and pick ups will move to this location slowly, away from the hectic Drilfield traffic during peak commute hours. The initiative will decrease congestion and in the future perhaps become game for the infamous “car-free Drillfield” vision many people embrace for a safe-pedestrian and bicycle friendly university. Unfortunately, President Steger holds this transformation will never take place. Sounds like something the progressive young minds of students in the EC and SGA could tackle in a short few years. Who's up for it? The MMTF planning committee is also seriously exploring options for a campus bicycling center (much thanks to Andy Reagan!). Blacksburg Bike Co-Op student location? I think so. Future town-tech bike share hub and launch of pilot program in 2013-2015 as midterm goal of Virginia Tech Climate Action Commitment and Sustainability Plan? Hell yes.

  3. College Ave Promenade. Construction underway and almost finished. Hello ten feet sidewalks and beautiful pedestrian walkability greenspace. Blacksburg may not be disincentivizing driving yet, but they're taking steps to opening the streets to the people. Phew, we're getting there. Does anyone know where the bikers go in the Promenade expansion? Last I heard during the Corridor meeting in November was that they weren't included in the vision. Alas, bicycle transportation continues to be shunned. People who commute by bike must not be real people. Duh.

  4. Prices Fork Round-About. Whether this nifty vehicular circle reduces congestion or results in cyclist deaths is a hot topic. I'm myself mixed about the construction. As I saw in Europe, they exist everywhere and are a great tool for continuous traffic flow. With the typical student driving behaviors in Blacksburg however, I fear distracted and careless driving will result in serious pedestrian and cyclist harm. There needs to be some sort of education or safety campaign on round-about use to reduce the extreme risks.

  5. VT Alternative Transportation Coordinator. The very talented Amanda Chassot was recently hired in Transportation and Campus Services. There's now three VT employed people working specifically to promote alternative transportation. Debby Freed is the Alternative Transportation Manager, Amanda Chassot is the Coordinator and I'm the student-liasion intern. A women powered transportation workhouse!

  6. VT Bike Advocacy Club. Every few semesters, a handful of passionate bike activists attempt to establish an effective club based on commuter education, safety and health. Every club that comes into existence gains ground (special thanks to Tiffany Grossman with successful bike rack location placement and the rack petitioning during 2010). However, as the leaders move on the clubs generally dissipate. With all the upcoming transportation hubbub, I think the age of transient bike advocacy clubs are over. There exists huge potential for the birth of a permanent club. Why? Three weeks ago I got an unexpected invite to the facebook group VT Bike Advocacy Club. The founders? Three VT Cyclists (ok so one is Andy Reagan) that want to teach students how to safely ride and fix their bikes. Perfect! VT Cycling (and VT Triathlon) is single-handedly a major player in a transition to a bicycle friendly university and growth of bike commuting.

These are the updates I'm aware of. Let me know if you have others and I shall post them. Updates are a must. Now onward to Blacksburg!

Saturday, 30 April 2011

I like New Women

Bikes! Women and bikes! Women on Wheels! Sisters in Cycling! Cycle Chics! I'm eating it all up. nom nom nom. Perhaps this topic will grow into that undergraduate research I'm trying to create at VT. So far learning about the history of women taking hold of the bicycle for independence has been captivating. Go Women suffragists, she-roes of the bike movement, yay Susan B. Anthony with your wise revolutionary words.

"I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives a woman a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. The moment she takes her seat she knows she can't get into harm unless she gets off her bicycle, and away she goes, the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood."

Cycling brought Freedom (Bloomers)

Here's another she-roe, a really cute one:

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Here I blog

Three weeks since Velo-city Sevilla with conference reflections synthesized on the League's blog, I find myself more empowered than I've felt in months. The feeling is comparable to that of Powershift 2007, where the youth climate movement first sucked me in and I began my journey as a passionate environment activist on the Virginia Tech campus.

I started this blog for many, many reasons. Listing them is not fun, but here and there I'll emphasize why. Reason one: I am lucky. I'm currently studying sustainability abroad in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland with great friends (many of them EC'ers and ES'ers) from Virginia Tech. I represent a top percentage of extremely lucky human beings whose parents are well-off and can afford to send me across the Atlantic Ocean with a Eurail pass in hand. Yes I come from one of the leafy cozy suburbs of Washington D.C. My parents worked hard to achieve their American dream and now I get to wreak these benefits by experiencing all that there is to experience in life: planet earth. My peers and I often recognize how priviledged we are, couch surfing and traveling freely, ingesting and embracing Europe's environmentalism, Green Parties and rich organic local culture. We've experienced so much. It's unbelieavable. And while my republican parents did not intend to fund a tree-hugger (bike-hugger?) with strong progressive eco-ideals in hand, that is the daughter mother nature gave them, me! Never the less, what I take away from Europe, whatever incredible adventures and remarkable people I run into, I hope to share these experiences with all who care to listen. An inspiring lady in my life, Ms. Jane Vance, taught me an important lesson in her Creative Process class (a life-changing must take class). She illustrated through the power of storytelling, the ability to captivate the hearts and minds of those who listen. Because of her class, I am alive again.

Europe has allowed me time to continplate my actions, ambitions and activism. Thus, this blog is a creative outlet. A space to gather thoughts, reflect and transform incredible experiences into empowering stories in hopes of touching the lives of others. Perhaps, those who are not as 'lucky' as I can gain from them. Europe has many sustainability success stories. I'd like to bring the ones I learn of home.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Ciao Sevilla

A new day. A new blog. I give birth to Blacksburg Cycle Chic, a product of my ripening bicycle activism. I'm inspired by Copenhagen Cycle Chic and as I attend Velo-City Sevilla in Spain this week, I hope to share stories of successful bicycle culture all over the world.

After a hearty breakfast at the recommended hostel of the conference, Albergue Inturjoven Sevilla, it's time to meet Andy Clarke, president of League of American Bicyclists at the Barcel├│ Renacimiento Hotel (venue of the conference). My networking during Pro Walk/ Pro Bike 2010 earlier this fall paid off. I am being sponsored by the League to blog during Velo-City Sevilla!