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  • Our People: Q&A with Dianna Ward

    by Matt Comer | Feb 18, 2017

    Dianna Ward’s smile is infectious. Her spirit open and welcoming. She’s got principled views, a warm heart and open arms. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Dianna for a while, and our conversations together have made me grow and reflect. She’s the kind of person who can make friends with anyone and make waves of progress and change on any front, no matter the challenges.

    Dianna and I recently took a bike tour of Charlotte’s Little Sugar Creek Greenway as we got together for this short interview. Read more about that experience and see Dianna’s tips for local cycling on page 11. But, here, get to know Dianna a little bit more in this edition of our “Our People” Q&A…

    Dianna, 46, is executive director of Charlotte B-Cycle, a local non-profit bike sharing program. She’s also founder and owner of Charlotte NC Tours. Born in Albuquerque, N.M., she says her roots are in Mississippi and Memphis, and she moved to Charlotte in 2001, after living in Upstate New York, where she moved in 1995 after attending grad school at NC State. Our interview below is edited for brevity and clarity.

    What brought you to Charlotte?
    Before I moved here, I was living in Upstate New York. I was working in glass. I’m an applied mathematician. I was working alongside a bunch of glass scientists and geologists, creating glass for phones, TV, space program, beakers, plates, you name it. In 2001, I moved to Hickory to work for Corning. I lived there in a hotel for two months, but then I found Unity Fellowship Church Charlotte online, visited one week and decided I’m not living in Hickory. I’d lived in too many small towns. It was time to live in the big city.

    You’re obviously a fan of cycling. Is it just a hobby or something more?
    I’m actually a second-generation bicycle commuter. My dad used to commute to work on his bike. He’d say cycling isn’t just something you do for fun, it’s a way to get around. Since I’ve been in Charlotte, it’s been a major form of my transportation. I keep my car parked and go check on it every now and then. My partner, Carol, has even added cycling in as a part of her errand running, so even her car sits a lot now.

    When did you meet Carol?
    In 2008. In church. Church and Christianity is important to me, so it was important to find someone with whom I was equally yoked. Church was the place.

    What’s your favorite neighborhood in Charlotte?
    I live in Villa Heights. I had lived off Sunset Rd., in a house built by Harvey Gantt in the 1960s. The commute into town wasn’t the best. I’d often put my bike on the front of the bus and go down to Lasalle St., where there were some safer routes into town. I decided I wanted a lifestyle that included more walking and biking. My neighborhood is right in the middle of Plaza Midwood and Noda. Plaza Midwood is so diverse and places like Thomas St. Tavern are among my favorites. You go to places like that and you’ll have a little bit of everybody sitting at a table and I feel at home. I don’t want to hang out with all black people or all gay people. I want to hang out and socialize in a space that looks like America.

    Favorite food?
    Definitely Mexican food. If I weren’t scared of being as big as a house, I’d eat it every day. I love, I crave Mexican food.

    Fave season?
    I love fall and spring. The temperatures are perfect for being outdoors. In the winter, you feel like you have to put on 10 layers of clothes to go where you want on a bike or during summer, it’s like, “Gah, can I take my skin off?!” It’s so hot in the summer. Spring and fall are also the most colorful months of the year. Fall, with the leaves changing, it’s like God’s color show that we get to sit back and be a part of.

    Have you done any traveling? Have any iconic or memorable places you’ve seen?
    I’ve done a lot of touring and traveling as an older adult. I started traveling and touring at 35, which was the impetus for me opening Charlotte NC Tours. I went to South Africa and it is just one of those paces you have to go to. It has the most beautiful landscape. It is gorgeous. But, it was also special being there. People would call me sister. You know I’m a big cry baby and a big softie. It was amazing. You touch African soil and it seems like this place that was once untouchable, so distant. But you know your roots are from there and you get there and instantly, with no blood ties, people automatically see you as one of them. It was overwhelming. It’s overwhelming now just thinking about it today. 

  • 5 benefits of riding your bike to work

    by Corey Inscoe | Oct 31, 2015

    I’m two days into my “Corey rides his bike for a week” challenge now and, I’m not going to lie, I’m tired. But I also start each work day with more energy than normal.

    That’s just one of the benefits I’ve noticed about riding my bike to work this week. Let’s dive into them:

    (1) I show up to work wide awake, with my blood pumping.

    Some mornings when I drive to work, I feel like I’m just going through the motions in my morning commute. I zone out, the drive becomes automatic, and my brain shuts down.

    If for no other reason than safety, I have to be alert while riding. That means that my brain is always working, I’m aware of my surroundings and, by the time I reach the office, my I feel wide awake and ready for the work day.

    That’s much better than my zombie-like state some mornings when I drive in.

    (2) Calories, burnt. 

    Not gonna lie: Burning calories was a big motivator for biking to work this week. I could stand to lose a few pounds. I also like efficiency. With my bike commute, I’m working out while commuting, accomplishing two goals with one trip.

    A one-way ride burns about 500 calories, according to my Strava app. I’m getting two hours of exercise a day, something I wasn’t doing before. Love it.

    (3) Not sitting in traffic. 

    hate sitting in traffic, which makes my car commute down Independence unbearable same days. I’m the kind of person who will go out of the way — even drive farther — if it means I’m actually moving, not just sitting.

    Except for waiting at a couple of intersections, I’m always moving on my bike commute. This makes me happy.

    (4) Feeling like I’m doing something good for the world (or at least the city). 

    The obvious element of this is what I’m doing is good for the environment. But I think there’s more to it than that.

    What I’m doing could inspire others to do the same. Not just because I’m writing these stories, but because, like Jordan Moore told me a few weeks ago, there might be people sitting in their cars, seeing me pass and thinking, “Hey, I could do that. I should do that.”

    (5) The support of other bike commuters. 

    I mentioned this yesterday, but the support of the bike community has been incredible. I’ve received so many emails, tweets, Facebook messages/comments, a combination of support and tips, and offers to meet me along my route.

    It may not be obvious, but there’s a strong bike community in Charlotte and it wants to see more people pedaling to work. That community has been nothing but helpful and positive since I announced this series.

  • Creative Date Ideas

    by CIYANA JOHNSON | Oct 23, 2015

    We all get tired of the traditional dinner and a movie date sometimes, but we also don’t want to spend a lot of money to do anything too extravagant. Here’s a list of ideas to try with a significant other to spice things up as well as save some cash:

    1. Take a class together – The app Groupon always has good deals on classes such as painting, pottery, dancing, yoga, etc.
    2. Wine tasting – If you’re 21+, there are several places throughout Charlotte that allow wine tasting, such as The Wine Vault. Total Wine & More even offers some free classes and events on making your own beer or wine.
    3. Bike riding – If you have your own bike, then bike riding through town or on a trail with your significant other is totally free. However, if you don’t own a bike, there’s a rental service called Charlotte B-Cycle that allows you to rent a bike for different rates. They have a 24 hour rental pass for as low as $8.
    4. Documentary night – For those nights when you just want to stay inside and enjoy each other’s company, the website Documentary Heaven allows users to watch any type of documentary for free; you don’t even have to sign up.
    5. Bowling – AMF Bowling has some good deals on bowling such as College Night, $2 Tuesdays, and Dollar Mania. Strike City is a bowling alley and restaurant that has unlimited bowling on Mondays for $15. They have group deals as well.
    6. Open mic poetry night – There are a couple spots around Charlotte that hosts poetry nights on different days of the week for about $10. Check out the NoDa area. There’s also a poetry slam every month at Slam Charlotte.
    7. Game night – If you have games at home, then game nights can be free with just the costs of snacks. However, Dave & Busters has a Eat & Play combo for $16.99!
    8. Hiking – Crowders Mountain State Park has free admission and different level trails to choose from. Great way to workout and spend time with your partner.
    9. Live shows – The Neighborhood Theatre has shows all throughout the month and ticket prices range but are usually no more than $20. UpStage in the NoDa area also has live shows of music, comedy, theatre, spoken word/poetry, dance, etc.
  • B-Cycle Rider To Officer In Chase: ‘Take The Bike!’

    by CBS4 | Aug 03, 2015

    DENVER (CBS4) – Though not designed for speed, let alone a pursuit, Denver police utilized a bystander’s B-cycle to chase down a suspect earlier in June.

    Police knew Jose Delgado, wanted on multiple felony warrants, would run when they confronted him in downtown Denver.

    “He was running and he was running hard, he looked desperate,” said bystander Aaron Miripol.

    Miripol was riding a B-cycle on the Cherry Creek trail when he saw Delgado run through the creek.

    “As I keep riding there’s a guy running in front of me, probably 50 meters up, running across the water, and that’s when I realize that’s who they’re running after,” said Miripol.

    Aaron Miripol (credit: CBS)

    Aaron Miripol describes the police chase (credit: CBS)

    The officers were tiring and losing ground. Miripol knew he could help.

    “I said, ‘Take the bike’ … I said, ‘Take the bike.’ He’s like, ‘Are you sure?’ … I said, ‘Yeah, take it.’ And he got him!”

    Delgado was trapped by the walls of the trail when officers finally caught up to him on a footbridge in Confluence Park, tackling him before he could jump back in the water.

    The popular B-cycle bike program is supposed to help clean up the environment, and this case even helped clean up the streets.

    Miripol said it’s a good enough example to argue for more of the rental bikes.

    “If we had more of those, not to say more arrests would be made, but it would be nice to have more of those stations,” he said.

    Miripol was heading home when the incident happened, which happened so fast that police were able to give his bike before he was charged for extra usage.

  • Dozens "Bike to Breakfast" Uptown to Promote Cycling

    by Nick Lawton | Aug 03, 2015
    CHARLOTTE—The ringing of bells and the clicking of chains rivaled tires and car horns in Uptown Charlotte Friday as the city kicked off "Bike to Breakfast."

    "Hundred people come out to ride their bikes to show that you can commute in Charlotte," said Charlotte City Councilwoman At-Large, Vi Lyles.

    Residents and city leaders took to their two-wheelers en masse, promoting the beginning of the month-long "Bike! Charlotte" campaign.

    "We have a real aspiration to be a city of bikes where we're adding new ways to get to work," said Michael Smith, President of Charlotte Center City Partners.

    The spotlight was on cycling's benefits to people's health and air quality.
    City leaders pointed out Charlotte's accessibility through bike lanes and even the B-cycle rentals.

    "Take a bus in, hope on a B-cycle, ride that B-cycle, run your errands, so it is actually an extension of the transportation system," said B-cycle Executive Director Dianna Ward.

    For as many strides as Charlotte has made in biking, officials also said more needs to be done to take cycling into a safer future.

    "We have to continue to make it a priority, though, and add more infrastructure so it becomes easier," Smith said. "What the city's doing with the Cross-Charlotte Trail is going to be a big move because of the way that creates some of the infrastructure we already have."

    A healthier option for these bikers and the city.
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