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SUNY Plattsburgh Cyclists Organize 'Petal to Protect'

Community Event to Honor Accident Victim, Promote Safer Streets

BicyclesSUNY Plattsburgh students are joining forces with the community to promote safe streets in the wake of a student cyclist's recent death.Members of the college's Biketopia club will host "Petal to Protect," from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, in Amitié Plaza in front of Angell College Center. (In the event of rain, activities will be moved into the center's Warren Ballrooms.)

The club chose the name "Petal to Protect" as a play on words, Biketopia President Samaria Corrales said, because the event will feature a cycling caravan that will pedal to the accident scene where they will leave petals (flowers) in honor of fellow student, Yee Hao "Bryan" Chiel, who died Sept. 28. Chiel was struck by a tractor-trailer while riding his bike at the intersection of Route 3 and the ramp for Exit 37 on I-87.

The caravan of cyclists will leave the college at 12:30 p.m., moving down Rugar Street to Hammond Lane and onto Cornelia Street. There, cyclists will park their bikes at Agency Insurance and place flowers at the scene of the accident.

The event will also feature informational booths, a bike clinic and safety checks. A rally will be held at 2 p.m.

"The event will serve three purposes," said Corrales. "First, we will honor Bryan Chiel. Second, we will call attention to the need to make our streets - and especially Cornelia Street - safer. This road is extremely dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists alike. Finally, we will remind cyclists of the rules of the road and the need to take precautions - like wearing bike helmets."

In an effort to show a commitment to safety, the group is asking everyone who joins the caravan to wear a helmet. A limited supply of free bike helmets will be available.

"Our hope is that something good will come out of Bryan's death - a safer, healthier Plattsburgh," Corrales said.

Biketopia has been working with several groups to plan this event, including the college's Student Association; Project H.E.L.P.; SUNY Plattsburgh sororities and fraternities; College Auxilary Services; Chartwells; University Police; New York State Police; Plattsburgh City Police; the Clinton County Sheriff's Office; and the Town of Plattsburgh among others.

"We are thankful for this help," Corrales said. "We couldn't do something like this without it."

Schedule of events:
- 11:30 a.m. - booths open.
- 12:15 p.m. - safety briefing for bike caravan.
- 12:30 p.m. - memorial caravan.
- Around 1 p.m. - caravan stops at Agency Insurance and cyclists walk to accident scene to place flowers.
- Around 1:30 p.m. - caravan arrives back on campus.
- 2 p.m. - rally with speeches, followed by a performance from local musicians including a song written by senior Alison Lutz in honor of the event.
- 3 p.m. - close.

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