President Lee King and Deana Acklin lead the slow roll

President King leads faculty, staff, students and local law enforcement officers on a “slow roll” through Banner Elk

Around 30 individuals spanning a wide range of ages and cycling experience joined Lees-McRae President Lee King, Outdoor Programs and Campus Bicycle Coordinator Deana Acklin, and members of the Banner Elk police department on a slow-paced ride through the town.

The slow roll was one of the events held on campus to celebrate Bike Month, an initiative aiming to promote bike culture and safe riding. Lees-McRae was recently named a Gold Bicycle Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists and boasts a championship cycling team. The Bike Month activities throughout March built on this momentum to expand education about the benefits of bicycling and proper bike maintenance.

Acklin, a passionate proponent of bicycling, organized the slow roll as a way to get new riders more comfortable bicycling on city streets and to help more experienced riders gain a new perspective of the route. Before the ride started, she addressed the group to share safety information and explain the purpose of the slow roll.

“We want to redefine the culture of bicycling on campus and in our community,” she said. “It’s important for us to role model what safe bicycling looks like.”

She warned that drivers might honk or even yell at the riders, but reminded the group that cyclists have a right to ride on the road. “We’ll probably never get a separate bike lane in Banner Elk, so we’re taking the lane,” she said. “That keeps us safe.”

King also addressed the riders, expressing his pride at the college’s gold-level status and cycling culture.

With Acklin and King in the lead, the group rode two-by-two down Highway 194 and through Banner Elk’s one stoplight. Acklin maintained a casual pace as she led the group, which was composed of Lees-McRae faculty and staff, members of the cycling team, other students, and campus security.

The Banner Elk Police Department directed traffic so the group could stay together as the line of cyclists made their way to the Upper Banner Elk Greenway and Tate-Evans Park. The route covered a little over two miles.

Acklin hopes to make the slow roll a recurring activity on campus as part of continued efforts to develop a strong bike culture at Lees-McRae. She is also coordinating the installation of bike racks in residence halls and safety signage around the campus.

Bike Month will conclude on March 31 with a final clinic hosted by C.R.A.N.K Crew in collaboration with Outdoor Programs. All Lees-McRae students, faculty, and staff are invited to learn bike maintenance and safety tips while participating in different bike games.

To learn more about the college’s commitment to creating a bike-friendly campus, visit the Outdoor Programs page.

By Emily WebbMarch 26, 2021
Campus Life