by Nathan Loprete–
Virginia Tech has grown continuously over the years. With an increased student population comes increased revenue. However, that also meant increased traffic and a need for additional transportation methods. Luckily for Virginia Tech, Deborah Freed, who works for the school, recognized this problem in 2000 when she created the Alternative Transportation program.
One of the programs associated with the Alternative Transportation program is the Hokie Bike Hub which is located on Perry Street.
Alternative Transportation Assistant Chitti Raju has seen the biking community increase over the past few years at Virginia Tech.
“I think with more students, the number of bicycles will continue to increase,” he said. “People are realizing it’s an easier way to get around and to campus.”
Now in 2017, the Bike Hub has helped Virginia Tech become of the better biking campuses in the country. In 2013, Virginia Tech was named as a “Bronze Bicycle Friendly University,” by the League of American Bicyclists which accounts for bike lanes, bike routes and fix-it stations.
Raju contributes the growth in cyclists to the size of the campus and the traffic which makes it safer to bike than in a heavily populated metro area.
The Hokie Bike Hub is one of the contributing factors to Virginia Tech being named a bicycle-friendly campus. Raju says The Bike Hub helps students repair problems with their bikes and according to student intern Mary Frazier it all starts with the willingness to learn.
“Having these tools for free is amazing because these are some very specific tools,” she said. “It empowers you to fix your own bike and learn more. The biggest part is learning how to fix your bike.”
The Bike Hub maintains a consistent flow of customers, especially while the weather is suitable but there are still those that brave the elements.
“Whenever it gets colder there’s less people that come in…but people that come in have more stuff going on,” said Frazier.
Raju talked about the idea of creating a “self-sustaining bicycle culture,” and the mission for the Bike Hub.
“Our goal is to get people and keep people on bicycles,” he said. “The idea of the alternative transportation department is to support and grow the community that takes any form of transportation that isn’t one person in a car.”
“What makes this place so awesome to bike, is the area itself because it’s so beautiful,” said Frazier.
There are other programs in the New River Valley that help promote cycling. The NRV Bike Kitchen is a non-profit organization in Christiansburg, “that distributes bicycles to those that can’t afford other means of transportation,” according to Raju.
With programs such as these and a campus that is focusing on alternative transportation, it’s no wonder why Virginia Tech’s cycling community is continuing to pick up speed.