Students pedal for poverty: James Lyness organizes 30-mile ride to benefit Uganda

Posted by Julia Leef

At 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23, 16 Skidmore students and eight volunteers from Saratoga Healthy Transportation Network (SHTN) participated in a 30-mile bike ride from Case Center to the banks of the Hudson River in Schuylerville and back to raise money to buy bicycles for people in northern Uganda

The event, Pedal to the River, was organized by James Lyness '13, Skidmore representative of the BAP (Bicycles Against Poverty) program.

James came up with the idea for Pedal to the River during a personal bike trip to Schuylerville, when he realized that it would be an ideal distance for a group bike ride that would pass one of New York's more prominent landmarks.

"I've been in touch with several members of Saratoga Healthy Transportation Network through email and meetings and they expressed interest in the event, so I went ahead with it," Lyness said.

Lyness spoke to the beauty of the landscape on the designated route, which provided views of the Green Mountains in Vermont, as well as the Adirondacks. "I'm sure it was a great experience for the freshmen and even some of the sophomores to get out and see parts of the area they'd never seen before," Lyness said.

Gabby Stern '13, a participant in the event, said that she enjoyed the ride and was happy to support Lyness, praising his efforts to promote BAP at Skidmore.

"I attended the event because I'm interested in social justice issues and I'm happy to support a cause that is meaningful and proactive. Also, I love to bike ride and didn't want to miss the opportunity to take a beautiful ride to the Hudson on a sunny Saturday," Stern said.

Pedal to the River was an overall success and Lyness is in the process of planning a concert featuring Bailiwick in November. The concert will take place in the Spa and Ugandan food will be provided by BAP members.

The donations from this concert will bring Skidmore's BAP even closer to reaching its goal of $10,000 for the year. These funds will be held at Bucknell University until they are used to purchase more bicycles.

BAP strives to provide bikes for people in Uganda so they can have better access to the market, farms, water and basic services such as health care. According to the organization's website, using bicycle loan agreements will also encourage "responsible money management, community cooperation and creative usage of the bicycle towards economic ends."

Thus far, 300 bicycles have been distributed between 2009 and 2010, which, through community sharing, has impacted more than 1,000 people. BAP has made great strides through its fundraising, a third of which goes to the Gulu Walk Foundation, a program created to benefit and aid Ugandan children who have been impacted by war.

For more information, visit BAP's website at:

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