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

Model Recruitment Success

We now have 41 people officially registered for the bicycle fashion show! We just need 9 more to reach our goal, so encourage your friends and let's get 50 people + bikes on the cycle path (runway) this Tuesday! I'll be accepting last entries until 5pm! Send them NOW, post on the facebook wall or email to

Need specifics to woo your cycling friends to apply for the fashion show? Send below message!

Cycle Chic Models,

Thank you for applying to Blacksburg’s first Bicycle Fashion Show, where we will celebrate the everyday people (YOU) who choose bicycle transportation in our community! You all have been accepted. Congratulations!

We are delighted to highlight Blacksburg’s diversity of cyclists – commuters, racers and recreational riders. Wherever you fit, we all use the same roads, sidewalks, trails and paths. We think this is significant as Blacksburg embraces a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan and Virginia Tech makes strides towards becoming a Bicycle Friendly University. This event will address the safety of our roads for pedestrians and bicyclists in a creative way. Together we will showcase Blacksburg’s livability and promote active commuting as a way of life.

As’ models’ in our fashion show, we’d like to remind you Blacksburg Cycle CHIC is about your individual style and charisma. As you walk down the runway with your bike, have fun! Our fashion show is really a commuter celebration about CHARACTERS in our vibrant bike community.

Fashion Show Q&A:

When do I need to arrive? If you cannot make the incredible line-up of speakers, farmers market feast or Open Networking, arrive at 8:00 pm for the short, 15 minute break before the Fashion Show starts at 8:30pm. Bring your bike into the Graduate Life Center, go to the Multi-purpose room and put your bike where all the others are.

What to wear? This is completely up to you! (If you are one of the targeted racers, then wear your kit) Our event will be filmed in its entirety, so wear clothes you feel good in, something comfortable and you’d bike around town in. The idea of ‘cyclechic’ is that you can wear any everyday clothes and that biking isn’t limited to extremist, Lycra and spandex wearing cyclists. Ladies, keep in mind you will be walking on a raised runway – don’t wear short skirts!

What to expect? My boyfriend will be DJ-ing a mix of upbeat classic rock and funk. Each model will walk down the runway slowly for a total of 30-60 seconds. Be yourself! Smile, wave, bow, kiss, etc as you walk. Christine Foote and Morgan Findley, two energetic gals in SGA Transportation, will be our MC’s! They will be speaking about you and reading your ‘why you bike/why it’s important to you’. To help us, please send a short bio or email signature before Tuesday (professor's field, major, year, profession, etc). While you walk down the runway, a PowerPoint slide with your picture will be projected behind you. Our runway is also complete with colorful lights that will beam around you and your bike.

Practice? Please join us for a DRESS REHEARSAL and LUNCHEON on Tuesday, May 1st at noon!

A highly recommended run through of the fashion show will take place in the Graduate Life Center from 12-1pm on Tuesday, May 1st. Hear an overview of what to expect during the show, practice walking down the runway with your bike and enjoy a giant 50 person Substation sandwich! (courtesy of Transportation and Campus Services) Meet & greet other models!

Thank you and I look forward to seeing everyone Tuesday! Don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions. If you'd like to change your picture or quote, email me ASAP (before 5pm). And remember to invite your friends, family and colleagues to cheer you on in the fashion show while they are inspired about bicycle transportation and sustainability.

Your Blacksburg Cycle Chic Coordinator

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Farmers Market Photo Shoot

We've come a long way since we posed at the Farmers Market for Blacksburg Cycle Chic. Pictured are great friends and campus leaders with strong passions for sustainability.

No Hokie Left Inside

Flashback to Field Day 'No Hokie Left Inside' during Earth Week. The board encapsulates what we're trying to do at Blacksburg Cycle Chic - create a culture of Respect around all modes of transportation :)

Blacksburg Cycle Chic is a day away! Stay tuned for model recruitment and fashion show updates. We also have a tasty surprise.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Have you seen these around town?

Drillfield at Virginia Tech

Bollos Cafe and Bakery; one of our only downtown bike racks

Bulletin board

Re-purposing the Earth Week A-Frames, thanks cradle-cradle construction club!

Squires bike racks

It's about YOU + COMMUNITY & bikes.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Schedule of Events and Posters Out!

It's been a crazy few weeks lately, but we've finally finished posters for Blacksburg Cycle Chic - Commuter Celebration & Fashion Show! Spread the word and make sure you get off work in time for Tuesday's evening's festivities, starting at 5pm sharp! I'll introduce my vision for Blacksburg embracing bicycle transportation, then let Mayor Ron Rordam, and Director of Transportation and Campus Services at Virginia Tech, Steve Mouras, speak on our thriving bicycle cultures both in town and at VT. Here's the schedule of events and finalized speakers:

5:00 – Welcome:  Lyndsay McKeever, Blacksburg Cycle Chic Creator
5:15 - Mayor Ron Rordam and Steve Mouras, Director of Transportation and Campus Services
5:30 - Fionnuala Quinn, Alta Planning + Design, Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, on Women Cycling Project and empowering women to bicycle
6:00 – Keynote: Elly Blue, author of Taking the Lane, will speak on the gender gap and Bikenomics: How bicycling can save the economy
6:40 - Open Networking and Bike Brainstorm
Enjoy farmers market hors d’oevres by the Sustainable Food Corps with Joshua Ploeg of the Dinner and Bikes Tour.

Engage with key stakeholders, Share your vision, Learn about Bicycle Opportunities

7:15 – Bike Culture Presentations

  • Mike Kulikowski, Design for America, on grassroots bike advocacy at VT
  • Kyle Gardiner, SGA Sustainability, on Feet Fleet (Safe Routes to School)
  • Lida Aljabar, Urban Affairs and Student Planning Association on PARK(ing) Day
  • Beth Lohman, Blacksburg Corridor Committee Member on Blacksburg Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan
  • Cole Harden, East Coasters Bike Shop, on bridging the worlds of advocacy and racing together with the upcoming World Cycling Championships in Richmond, Virginia 2015

8:15 – Short Break
8:30-9:30 – Fashion Show

Don't miss out on this one of a kind bike bash in Blacksburg! This is our community's premier bicycle event that will bring together cyclists of all walks - recreational riders, commuters and racers. Use this space to brainstorm with student and community cyclists on how to grow our vibrant, emerging active transportation culture!

See you in 11 days.

your Blacksburg Cycle Chic Event Coordinator

Friday, 30 March 2012

Blacksburg Bicycle Women Unite

You may have heard a gender gap exists in the U.S. for bicycle commuters. It may seem obvious and appear normal that more men bike than women do. But when we look at thriving cycling cultures in Europe, this is not the case. At all! In Germany, half of all riders are women. In the Netherlands, it’s more than half. That is significant. As such, women are increasingly being studied as 'indicator species' for safe infrastructure that supports active transportation lifestyles. This is a matter of health and sustainability people! Can empowering American women to bicycle, in fact, lead to environmentally conscious mobility, increased health amongst an obesity epidemic and sustainable transportation for future generations? I'd like to think so.

Exploring what motivates women to bicycle is a hot topic! A national lens born by the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals has opened those doors. Building on the Women Cycling Project, I had the opportunity to attend the National Women Cycling Forum two weeks ago. The room was packed! An inspiring energy and communal spirit permeated the air as women (and men!) discussed an exciting feminine opportunity to lead an active transportation revolution in the U.S. - part of National Bike Summit 2012.

During last week's webinar, 'Empowering Women to Bicycle', Finnuola Quinn and Kit Keller encourage us to use the National Women Cycling Forum as a springboard for action in our own communities - and we're doing just that at Virginia Tech!

Let's face it. Most bike commuters in Blacksburg are men. Whether it be the lack of bike lanes and sharrows down North Main Street or women's risk-averse attitude towards the many distracted drivers on our roads, far too few women bike in Blacksburg! It's time for this to change. In SGA Transportation, we understand women need the right kinds of encouragement to commute by bike. Despite the MAMIL (middle aged man in lycra) at the bike store confusing us with power-to-gear-ratios when asked a simple question on how to shift into an easier gear, the ladies of SGA Transportation invite all women from our Hokie community to discuss barriers in bike commuting.

As part of Womens Mobility Week (April 22-27), be sure to attend the Virginia Tech Women Cycling Forum! Mix and mingle with other women who commute by bike at VT, share stories and swap advice on everything from biking in skirts with class projects to navigating the Prices Fork round-about. We'll discuss barriers and safety concerns VT women have about biking in Blacksburg, then brainstorm how we can empower more women to bike while creating a culture of respect for active transportation. We're currently looking for panelists! If you'd like to lead part of the discussion, email with your ideas.

At the event, we'll be recruiting models for the big Blacksburg Cycle Chic Fashion Show on May 1st!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Celebrate Bicycling in Blacksburg - Cycle chic fashion show style!

It's been confirmed. On the evening of May 1st, SGA Transportation will host the first of its kind in the New River Valley - Blacksburg Cycle Chic Fashion Show and Commuter Celebration! Inspired by one girl's travels to the land of Copenhagen Cycle Chic during UNFCC Climate Change Conference (thank you, Sierra Student Coalition!) to blogger lessons learned from Velo-city Seville to exciting progress made through Womens Cycling Project, Blacksburg Cycle Chic captures it all; and promises a wheel-stylish night on the Virginia Tech campus. Hokie Nation is well on its way to bicycle friendly university status while a thriving bike community embraces Blacksburg's Bike Master Plan. A bicycle revolution in our small college town is underway. It's time to celebrate the people who pedal everyday!

Wait, you're telling me biking is cool and sexy, and that we should celebrate? - Precisely! All over the world people are taking back the bike for transportation. Call it urbanesque and strange, but cycle chic culture is hot and if you can bike in a skirt on your way to work then it's even hotter! Here's a definition and some history:

Cycle chic is the culture of bicycle commuting in fashionable, everyday clothes and accessories. It aims to take back bike culture by showing how the bicycle once again can be an integral, respected and feasible transportation option, free of sports clothes and gear, and how it can play a vital role in increasing the life quality in cities. Cycle Chic is associated with the utility cycling practiced in bicycle-friendly cities such as Amsterdam and Copenhagen. It is a growing trend in cities that are now investing in bicycle infrastructure, education and facilities.

Coined by filmmaker and photographer Mikael Colville-Andersen, Copenhagen Cycle Chic is a famous street style photography blog that celebrates everyday people choosing the bicycle as their main means of transportation. The blog has spurred a global movement to normalize urban cycling while promoting the idea that cycling infrastructure should fit around the needs of women in high heels. The message may seem odd to many transportation planners, but if everyday cycling cultures are to flourish, roads must be designed for a slow city that embraces safety and pedestrian-friendly features.

Blacksburg is home to its own distinctive cycle chic culture. Let's explore its diversity. Here's our vision:

Blacksburg Cycle Chic is a unique town-Tech collaborative celebration that will showcase local groups striving towards regional transportation sustainability and active lifestyles while revealing bicycle heroines (and heroes!) in our Hokie community. Opening with presentations on cycle chic culture and concluding with a full fashion show where the runway is a cycle path, it will be a wheel stylish evening with the winning combination of fashionable clothing, women and bicycles. Blacksburg Cycle Chic is not only about pretty people on pretty bikes, it’s about inspiring others to rediscover their bikes for transportation. Come take part in Blacksburg Cycle Chic – a big idea for a small city where the models are everyday citizens and student cyclist commuters.

Blacksburg Cycle Chic kicks off the New River Valley’s Clean Commute Days and National Bike Month May.

Have creative suggestions to make the evening even more exciting? Want to get involved? With six weeks left to plan, there is much work to do! Email Lyndsay McKeever at