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ODU Hosts Bicycle Summit For Local Cycling Advocates

Bike SummitThe first ODU Bicycle Summit attracted a crowd of more than 50 to the Student Recreation Center.

More than 50 bicycle advocates descended on Old Dominion University's Student Recreation Center on Saturday, May 31, for the inaugural Bicycle Summit, an event designed to bring regional advocates together to help strengthen the interconnectedness of Hampton Roads communities through two-wheeled transportation.

The summit attracted community leaders and interested citizens who discussed educational awareness, interactive learning and safe alternative transit practices, all designed to make Hampton Roads more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

Organizers hope the event is a springboard for a 2015 regional Bicycle Summit.

"It was wonderful to get so many great minds in one space for a day of learning, sharing and networking," said Eddie Hill, assistant professor of Park, Recreation and Tourism Studies and event co-organizer.

"Only two years ago, ODU launched its first bike-share program (Bike ODU), now it hosted the inaugural Hampton Roads Bicycle Summit. It's very exciting to see the progress, passion and support. This summit is only the beginning of the movement to elevate the Hampton Roads status as being bicycle-friendly."

The city of Portsmouth was just awarded Bronze status from the League of American Bicyclists, and Bike ODU one of the 75 college projects also recognized by the League of American Bicyclists. The city of Norfolk is working on its application to also be recognized by the league.

At the Bicycle Summit, keynote speaker Bill Nesper from the League of American Bicyclists said bicycling is not only a simple, cost-effective means of transportation and recreation. "It's a vehicle to create a vibrant community where people want to live, work and visit," Nesper said.

"I thank Old Dominion University for hosting the Hampton Road Bicycling Summit and bringing together citizens, agency staff and business leaders to share, learn and take action to build a region that makes bicycling safer and more convenient for people of all ages and abilities."

Brian Smith, an undergraduate park, recreation and tourism studies student, presented his research project, "Benefits of Mountain Biking," which will be the basis for the International Mountain Biking Association's 2014 summer research initiative.

The event also featured a focus on creating "safe routes" for bicyclists to travel around Hampton Roads today, and as the region expands its infrastructure. Local businesses such as East Coast Bicycles, Hund's Re-Cycle Factory and Norfolk Bicycle Works supported the event. As the day came to a close, a panel discussion was facilitated to allow residents to hear responses from various cities and agencies (such as the League of American Bicyclists) about the progress being made to make Hampton Roads more bicycle friendly.

Other sponsors of the event included Monarch Dining Service, Five Points Community Farm Market and Borjo.

Other organizers of the event included Jonathan Nye of the Nye Factory/Eco-Cycling; Allyson Kelly, director of ODU's Outdoor Adventure program and Bike ODU; and Mike McFall, assistant director of the Outdoor Adventure Program.