An interview with W&M Bike Alliance Member Erica Schneider
M: Michelle, interviewer
M: What year are you and what are you studying?
E: I am a senior and I am studying Linguistics. I came into William & Mary completely undecided and took classes in everything, from Biology to Hispanic Studies to, eventually, the Intro to Linguistics class, and really liked it. I didn’t declare until first semester of junior year. My interests have been super far-reaching--my passions are still in other places and I’ve always valued being able to take different types of classes, as well. I’m really lucky that I found the Bike Alliance because it allowed me to find and pursue a passion in an area that was not my specific area of study but that of bicycle advocacy, urban planning, and infrastructure.
M: Can you tell me more about the Bike Alliance and your involvement with it?
E: I wasn’t much of a biker before I got to college, but I went on a bike ride my first semester freshman year, just as the Bike Alliance was starting, and the founding presidents took me in and talked to me on the ride. I was like ‘yeah, this is fun and I like biking,’ and he’s like ‘Great! You’re our new Event Planner!’. I attended every meeting but I wasn’t feeling like I made much of a difference but I was always there and always kind of soaking in what they were working on. The initial goal of the Bike Alliance was to establish a bike share on campus. But through research, they discovered that wasn’t exactly what students wanted, in terms of bike infrastructure on campus. The goal of the organization turned towards general bike advocacy and making it easier for students to bike when they wanted to and to have safe places to keep their bikes, as well as to educate students how to best take advantage of them. Eventually I worked my way up to Vice President; really then, I think was when I became really passionate. Being able to see the impact that I was having in hosting group rides, big speaker events that attracted hundreds of people, concrete improvement in infrastructure via the Fix-It stations that you see around campus, and more and better bike racks. And I think that was just really inspiring to me to see my work actually having an impact on students’ lives, whether they recognized it or not. Then I went abroad for a semester in Seville and they had amazing bike infrastructure there and I totally geeked out over that. I came back super-inspired and rejuvenated because working in the Bike Alliance can be demanding--we work under Auxiliary Services and Parking Services but a lot of work relies on the student organization which is pretty small. But I came back, ready to jump right to it, and so now I’m the Social Media Manager.
M: What would you say made you so passionate about the Bike Alliance?
E: I think seeing the outcomes of my work, especially as a ride leader in the beginning. I just loved the feeling of exploring Williamsburg from a different angle. The first time I went out on the Virginia Capital Trail, I was just blown away by the fact that I was in the middle of a cornfield five miles from campus, and by the beauty of Williamsburg which I had never appreciated and had taken for granted. I had never really went off campus before, so being able to explore that was amazing. The best part is also exposing other people to that and bringing people out on rides and saying, “Look what’s in our backyard and what we have access to!”
M: Do you have any fond memories or experiences while in the Bike Alliance?
E: My favorite memory was my sophomore year: we wanted to reach out to freshman and expose them to transportation via the bicycle, and I was part of the team that planned a ride to New Town. We worked with the First Year Experience (FYE) office. They offered funding to buy everyone Blaze Pizza and I planned the route and advertising. Together, working with FYE, we were able to create a great event that attracted over 40 freshman and so, through that, we were able to educate them on bike etiquette and bike safety. It was so awesome seeing that many people out on bikes and being safe, and exposing them to life without a car and maybe addressing the feeling that they may feel trapped on campus by showing people that they could get off campus just as easily with their bike.
M: As a senior, do you have any thoughts about getting closer to graduation?
E: I never thought I’d be at the point where I’d feel excited and ready. I do feel like William & Mary has really prepared me and the Bike Alliance has especially pushed me out of my comfort zone. I never thought of myself as much of a natural leader, but through the mentorship of our faculty staff advisors, Rich and Bill, I have been able to discover this confidence and leadership abilities that have been able to accomplish a lot on this campus. I feel really proud of the work that I’ve been able to do here in my four years. I know that I am leaving the organization in good hands, knowing that we have strong underclassmen that are leading the organization and I have confidence in their progress in the future.
Last updated 3/4/3018