From March 4-6, as part of their curriculum, six Lees-McRae students in the Cycling Studies minor traveled to Washington, D.C. for the 2013 National Bike Summit. This annual event, which has long been recognized as the premier advocacy event of the year, gave these students the opportunity to engage in discussion with top cycling industry leaders, potential employers and congressmen.
With more than 750 attendees from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian provinces, this year’s summit featured speakers such as New York City Transportation Commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, and U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray Lahood. Throughout the three days, more than a dozen workshops and one extraordinary day on Capitol Hill focused on this year’s topic, Bicycling Means Business.
“Lees-McRae is providing the opportunity to raise the level of involvement through the educational process,” said Ted Silver, professor of cycling studies at Lees-McRae College and chairman of the Lees-McRae Bicycle Advisory Council. “Most of these students were unaware that legislation and planning began ten or twenty years in advance. We teach about advocacy in our classes, but at the summit the students were able to hear, and participate, in discussions with industry leaders and their own congressmen.”
Students Cody Phillips, TJ Trotter, Lucas Harville, Joe Liston, Gunnar Bergey and Josh Murdock travelled to the summit as part of a Cycling Studies class taught by Professor Ted Silver, who also accompanied the students to Washington along with Doug Owen, the director of cycling for Lees-McRae. This trip was made possible by the generosity of Bikes Belong, The League of American Bicyclists and Lees-McRae College. As part of the preparation for the summit, the students worked through an effective advocacy checklist which helped them with background research, message development, general message delivery, effective written communication and phone calls, and effective follow-ups.
In addition to the workshops, the summit featured Hill Day, during which participates met with senators and representatives from their respective states. The Lees-McRae students represented California, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Maryland. Each state has a coordinator who arranged appointments for the students and updated a mobile app that listed each appointment with a map to each location.
“Our students and the college will greatly benefit from attending this summit,” said Silver. “Our students have already created connections for possible jobs or internships in everything from transportation design to cycling marketing, sales and manufacturing. We were also able to create connections for support of our cycling team. We could not be more appreciative or optimistic about our time in Washington, D.C. Everyone we met praised the maturity of our students.”
Lees-McRae is home to the 10-time national team champion Bobcat cycling team. With a 12-year history and more than 50 individual national titles, this team boasts riders who race professionally as well as collegiately and former riders such as Brent Bookwalter ’06, who rode for BMC Racing in the Tour de France, and Andrew Talansky, who placed second in Paris-Nice this year for Garmin-Sharp.
In the classroom, Lees-McRae offers a minor in Cycling Studies. The Cycling Studies minor is designed to provide students the opportunity to enhance and supplement their chosen field of study with their interest in cycling. The Cycling Studies minor will not only provide exposure to the skills and knowledge of cycling, but also the skills and knowledge of other areas, such as advocacy, design, and infrastructure, that they can combine and parlay with their chosen field of study. Combining this minor and the student’s chosen field of study should allow for a rewarding life pursuit and help preserve cycling for future generations
For more information about cycling at Lees-McRae College, please contact Doug Owen, director of cycling, at email@example.com or 828.387.6618.