The 2012 Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award was presented to the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee by Alexandria Renew Enterprises (formerly Alexandria Sanitation Authority) and the City of Alexandria Environmental Policy Commission at Saturday’s Alexandria Earth Day celebration.
BPAC was launched in February 2011 to support a force of active citizens who enjoy bicycling and walking in the City of Alexandria. This all-volunteer group has supported local bicycle and pedestrian initiatives that include the installation of bike racks on DASH buses and the inclusion of bicycle networks in small area plans. BPAC is currently encouraging city planners to use the latest “best practices” for bicycling and walking. In October 2011, BPAC launched a series of monthly community bike rides focused on “utility cycling,” or using Alexandria’s bike network for shopping, socializing and commuting in daily life. BPAC also encouraged the City to bring the already-popular Capital Bikeshare to Alexandria.
BPAC recently recruited and trained bicycle and rider volunteer “counters.” Their data suggests that the Mount Vernon Trail, which runs from Roosevelt Island to Mount Vernon, moves about one million people through Alexandria each year.
“Ellen Pickering advocated for the creation of the Mount Vernon Trail, and perhaps she knew that this beautiful trail would be enjoyed by a million people every year and would spawn more advocates, like the volunteers of the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee,” said Alexandria Renew Chief Executive Officer Karen L. Pallansch.
“We have no doubt she would be thrilled at BPAC’s work – as are we. We share many of the same values and philosophies, such as being a good neighbor, uniting community needs with community desires, and using best practices to promote a healthy environment and preserve our precious natural resources. BPAC’s efforts are yet another step forward to making Alexandria the Eco-City of the future. We are very proud to present BPAC with this award.”
Planning is underway to upgrade Alexandria Renew Enterprise’s facilities. Part of the upgrade involves giving back to the community by turning unused industrial space off Eisenhower Avenue into green space, a new athletic field, and a pedestrian/bike path linking a new green deck with the Alexandria African American Heritage Park.
The Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award is named in honor of Frances Ellen Pickering’s lifelong dedication to preservation and conservation in the City of Alexandria. She was a member of the Alexandria Sanitation Authority Board of Directors, and also served on the City Council and numerous City boards and commissions.
Alexandria Renew Enterprise cleans more than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater, and last year used 1.4 billion gallons of reclaimed water to help run its facility, saving ratepayers about $3 million. It provided 22,500 wet tons of nutrient-rich biosolids soil amendments to farmers in nine counties in Virginia, and on Earth Day, gives out samples to local gardeners. Last year, the facility also created more than 145 million cubic feet of digester gas and used over 118 million cubic feet of it to fuel its treatment process, which cost less than natural gas would have.