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!