Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Clemson Earth Dialogue

I recently had the opportunity to take part in a part-presentation, part-dialogue about the state of biking in the greater Clemson area as one of three panelists. I, along with the City of Clemson City Planner Jennifer Folz and representative from the Clemson University Student's for Environmental Action Lisa Watkins were invited to give an overview of the bike-related projects that we have been working on to make biking better, safer and more fun in the area.

Jennifer, Lisa and I listened, fielded questions and gave insights that stimulated the conversation for over an hour at the first meeting of the Clemson Earth Dialogue. The crowd was insightful and enthusiastic! Open to the public, the event is meant to create a place where folks can learn from local experts and have an open dialogue focused on a given topic. Last night the discussion was focused on the state of bicycle planning and projects in the area. Future events will cover topics like storm water, food-to-table movement, solar energy and other topics. It was exciting to take part in the inaugural event! It was also great to be a part of a panel of all women. As I've talked about before, women are an important part of the bicycling community, and have the potential to making a lasting impact.

Having the opportunity to chat, share, listen and exchange ideas is reinvigorating, and can give me a high that lasts for days afterwords. Working on a college campus I have had a several opportunities to present and talk with student groups and classes. Being able to  help folks, students or anyone understand why biking matters, and how it is positively influencing the community is an important part of creating a bike culture, especially in a place that's in the early years of change. It was great to take part in a community dialogue that brought  local leaders, entrepreneurs, students, faculty, researchers, teachers and community members together. Every discussion matters, and every question counts.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Simply By Bike

With Spring in the air, I think many may have biking on the mind. Nothing is as care-free, car-free and fun as bike riding. With that in mind, I wanted to circle back around to a cartoonist who shares her biking experience via Bikeyface. She's a gal who gets around simply by bike. Last spring I discovered her work, and thought that there were some good, funny and important stories to share.

So, after a few weeks of winter weather in the South, Spring is making an appearance. As we prepare, the following graphic is a good one to keep in mind, and share with your friends.

The Real World
Bike Party! By Bikeyface.com
Maybe it will help explain to someone why you do what you do. Maybe it will inspire you to try getting somewhere new by bike. Maybe it will get your friends to commit to a fun or heart-pumping ride once a week or month. This graphic excites me and challenges what my vision is for the communities of the Upstate:  living in a place where running errands, having fun and breaking a sweat are all possible by bike. What may not be a reality now can be a goal for the future.

Envisioning yourself on two wheels yet?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Exploring Bike Share

Bike share programs are becoming popular and might be popping up in a community near you. Within the last few years, the cities of Greenville and Spartanburg have invested in bike share programs, creating another way for people to move around and have fun in the upstate. Spartanburg launched its system in 2011, having bragging rights of being the first bike share system in the southeastern region of the country. Greenville launched their program in early 2013, with stations located near downtown, neighborhoods and near the Swamp Rabbit Trail.

Greenville Bike Share Station
Bike share is a program where bicycles are available for public use for a minimal charge. Stations are located at various destinations, and riders/users can ride around running errands and touring local sites on two-wheels. Bike share works because people feel safe using it, it’s inexpensive and it’s convenient. It’s another part of the alternative transportation system. It’s another way to have fun and get just a little bit of exercise.
The New Yorker cover. May 2013

People who use bike share aren’t the lycra crowd. (Or, maybe they are, but they probably aren’t donning their bicycle-super-racer gear.) They are everyday folks dressed in everyday attire. The bikes generally have baskets to store your purse, phone or whatever other things that you carry with you. They also come with locks, so there’s no worry about the bike being stolen if a docking station isn’t nearby. They are light enough to ride without working up a sweat. They are meant to be easy to use. 

I am interested to hear your thoughts on bike share:  what you liked, didn't like, what surprised you.  If you see a bike share station, use or have used a bike share bike, please share that experience in the comments!