Behind the scenes of a Year of Yay!

Year of Yay! volunteer ride leads and sweeps on their January 2016 route vetting ride. 

Year of Yay! volunteer ride leads and sweeps on their January 2016 route vetting ride. 

Think you're too _____ to ride a Year of Yay!? Nope! We got you—and you got this! 

Last month we launched our 5th (!!!) Year of Yay! ride series with our 47th (!!!) ride since January 2012. Over the years, given plenty of mistakes and gracious feedback, we’ve learned a thing or 80 about how to lead a ride so that everyone feels safe, welcome and cared for. And we’re working hard behind the scenes to standardize the Year of Yay! experience, train a cadre of über volunteers to support the rides and ensure that each ride forwards our mission of helping people replace car trips with bike trips. 

Indeed, you might be surprised to know how much intention and preparation happens in the shadows of a Year of Yay!, all in service of helping all participants have a successful, fun ride experience. But we’re revealing some of our ride secrets here, so that you truly know deep down: WE. GOT. YOU. Therefore: YOU. GOT. THIS. Year of Yay! is an accessible ride that supports all comers as they gain the skills, knowledge and confidence to ride roads from place to place. 

On a Year of Yay! ride, you may be challenged, but you will also be supported. Our volunteers are all required to manifest our core values and be trained specifically to support this ride. Here’s how:

Your challenge: We ride roads—and no roads are too difficult for us to ride. This year, for example, our rides all start and end from Whole Foods Market at Easton (adjacent to Morse, Sunbury and Seltzer Roads, just to name a few). 

Our support: One week before each Year of Yay! ride, our team of volunteer leads and sweeps—1 of each for every 20 riders we anticipate—rides the draft route to see how it works on the ground and discuss how they’re going to usher the group though its particular challenges. No one is allowed to lead or sweep unless they’ve been on this ride! That way, when the group breaks during our ride, as it always does (see: “We follow traffic law”, below), each sub-group retains a lead and a sweep who know the route and will help you navigate it. You got this!

Your challenge: We follow traffic law. We don’t “cork” intersections (i.e., block cars from proceeding until all our riders have made it through), we don’t ride 6 abreast, we don’t roll through crosswalks when pedestrians are there. Etc., etc., etc.

Our support: Oh, so you’re not a bike law expert? Well, then. No ride for you! (jokes…) Seriously, though. Come 15 minutes early for a pre-ride chat that introduces you the rules of the road and our ride, and answers all your questions. Then, on the ride itself, we provide several trained “Cruise Directors” who watch for and gently correct any behavior that’s unsafe or unlawful. You got this!

Your challenge: We ride 15–20 miles. Sometimes, when the weather is nice, we may even ride slightly more. And there will be hills, sweat and mechanical issues, yes.

Our support: Year of Yay! is a NO-DROP RIDE, and we mean it. We ride at a conversational pace (approximately 10–12mph) and make frequent stops at which you can rest. But if you’re still struggling we have an emergency sweep who will stay with you, no matter what. We also have volunteer wrenches who have signed on to help fix the minor mechanical problems that occasionally pop up. That’s right: you got this! We've hosted riders of all ages and abilities, and while not everyone has finished a ride, they've all felt very much supported as they decided whether and how to proceed. 

Year of Yay! rides are truly a blast. You'll meet great people, see parts of the city you never knew existed and become confident riding roads of all kinds. It'll all seem quite effortless, joyful, carefree! But behind the scenes is a vast network of support that makes it so. And we got you!

Year of Yay! Jan 2016 Ride Recap: TAKING

January’s theme of “TAKING” was a “TAKE” on December’s theme of “Giving”. It was intended to “TAKE” into consideration our new starting point at Whole Foods Market Easton, the possibility of inclement weather and potential first-time riders. We were pleasantly surprised that the weather was grand and 60 folks were able to “TAKE” the challenge to ride with us that day! 

“TAKING time” to greet one another at our new start location, Whole Foods Market Easton. Photo credit: Craig Clark

“TAKING time” to greet one another at our new start location, Whole Foods Market Easton. Photo credit: Craig Clark

On the first leg of our 4.4-mile journey, we greeted Easton Town Center shoppers with a chorus of “Hello’s” and bike bells as we cruised by. 

"TAKING the breath away" of Easton shoppers with our huge group. Photo credit: Craig Clark

"TAKING the breath away" of Easton shoppers with our huge group. Photo credit: Craig Clark

We headed from the shops of Easton to a surprisingly accessible section of the Alum Creek Greenway Trail, where our first stop—its newly completed bridge—offered a lovely backdrop for a Central Ohio Greenways Board Member to discuss the future of our region's trail network. 

"TAKING refuge" on the Alum Creek Trail. Photo credit: Craig Clark

"TAKING refuge" on the Alum Creek Trail. Photo credit: Craig Clark

"TAKING it all in" on the recently completed Alum Creek Trail bridge. Photo credit: Craig Clark

"TAKING it all in" on the recently completed Alum Creek Trail bridge. Photo credit: Craig Clark

Our return to Whole Foods Easton included Morse Road, a busy Columbus thoroughfare that everyone navigated with ease—partly because the drivers were super patient with us and partly because we understand the importance of taking the lane. One driver even rolled down her window to ask who we were, and said she'd like to join us for a future ride!

"TAKING the lane" on Sunbury Road. Photo credit: Craig Clark

"TAKING the lane" on Sunbury Road. Photo credit: Craig Clark

Back at Whole Foods Market, most of us squeezed onto a fire-warmed patio to enjoy the food, drink and company. 

"TAKING a load off" post-ride at Whole Foods Easton Market's outdoor, fire-warmed seating area.

"TAKING a load off" post-ride at Whole Foods Easton Market's outdoor, fire-warmed seating area.

What a great start to our 5th Year of Yay! ride series! Thanks to everyone who helped us "TAKE it up a notch" this month! See you next month!

Out & About with Yay Bikes! — Jan 2016

Bike hub research took us to Indianapolis for the day! 

Bike hub research took us to Indianapolis for the day! 

Welcome to the monthly feature in which we round up all our events, earned media, program delivery, meetings and speaking engagements for the month. Representation and outreach like this is what you fund with your membership dollars and major gifts, folks! Behold, January:

Jan 2

Monthly Year of Yay! route vetting ride

Jan 3

Meeting with architect Kay Bea Jones to discuss possible layouts for a downtown Columbus Bike Hub

Jan 5

Meeting with the City of Columbus Bike Hub team and architects to discuss possible facilities and space layout

Introductory meeting with Lorrie Laing @ Cambridge Systematics Inc to explore Ride Buddy funding opportunities

Jan 6

Meeting with Bexley leadership to explore options for Broad Street improvements

CityScene: A Bicycle Built for 2 (Million)

Jan 7

Meeting with Lisa Minklei @ Homeport about offering How We Roll rides at a new affordable housing facility

Meeting with YMCA leadership regarding a potential Bike Hub partnership

Jan 8

Travel to Indianapolis to visit INDY Bike Hub YMCA and meet with its leadership.

Meeting with INDYCOG Executive Director Kevin Whited

Columbus Underground: Tips for Winter Bike Riding

Jan 9

Year of Yay! ride, “Taking” theme

Jan 11

Ride of Silence planning meeting

Jan 12

SubCommittee meeting of the United Way of Central Ohio’s Home Impact Council to discuss Kiva Columbus proposal

Meeting @ MORPC to discuss the possibility for a regional bike share

Meeting of MORPC's Active Transportation Plan Stakeholder group

This Week Community News: Bike shop wins contest, YAY Bikes! benefits

Jan 18

Monthly Yay Bikes! board meeting

Jan 20

Meeting with Denis de Verteuil about this year’s Pinchflat poster show

Jan 21

Meeting with Slagle Design about the Pedal Instead redesign project

Jan 22

Meeting of the Ohio Active Transportation Plan group

Jan 24

Training for Year of Yay! volunteer ride leadership

Jan 25–27

Travel to Washington DC to visit Bikestation Washington DC

Jan 28

Regular meeting of the Central Ohio Greenways Board Program Committee

Regular meeting of the Central Ohio Greenways Board

Jan 29

Travel to Cincinnati to visit the Cincinnati Bike Center

Getting to commitment

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

'From the Saddle' is a monthly note from our Executive Director. 

There was a script I used to deliver to dubious fair-weather cyclists and bike curious loved ones, as recently as last month, in which I'd talk about that first mile. For me, that first mile was the worst. I whined to myself it was too hot, too cold, too wet, or I was too late. If I could just manage to get my butt on the bike and get through that, I could get myself to the point of actually enjoying the rest. But that "if" was a force! Every day presented a new opportunity to struggle over whether to ride, with lots of excuses for why not to weighed against "yeah, but as the Executive Director of a BIKE ORGANIZATION...". It was exhausting.

But I am here today to tell you that at long last, after 12 years of riding my bike for transportation, my script has flipped. Utterly, absolutely, totally. The "if factor" is resolved; my ambivalence has evaporated. I'm enjoying EVERY mile on my bike.

The crummy Key West rental bike that helped awaken me to change.

The crummy Key West rental bike that helped awaken me to change.

I realized something had shifted with some shock upon my return from a Key West vacation. While there I rode every day, on a ridiculous single speed rental bike that fit terribly and was maintained even worse. Some days I wanted to ride and others I rode because I made a goal to ride every day this year. So ride I did, up and down the island on that hot mess. And somehow, upon my return to Ohio and my perfectly-crafted-for-me bike, things were different. But why?? Was it the relief of homecoming after riding that broken alien steed for some 80 miles? Maybe.

But I'm guessing that my new and unexpected love of riding began not with Key West but with a commitment I made at the beginning of 2016—that I was going to ride every single day this year, no matter what. Declarations like that are very powerful, I'm learning anew in my bike life. Less than one month in and there is no more "if". There's only riding for me, from here on out. How about you? 

Join me—commit today!

Happy February! 
—Catherine

“Being involved with Yay Bikes! is an extension of everything I do.” - Emily's Story

Yay Bikes! Board Chair, Emily, has fostered a culture of biking in Columbus in everything she does. She's pictured with her young daughter who she travels with regularly.

Yay Bikes! Board Chair, Emily, has fostered a culture of biking in Columbus in everything she does. She's pictured with her young daughter who she travels with regularly.

Name: Emily Monnig
Lives in: Clintonville
Works in: Short North (Columbus)

“I just like to live in places where I can walk or bike.”

Biking is in Emily’s bones. Her Grandparent’s, graduates of The Ohio State University, were what Emily calls “bike nerds". In the 1930’s and 40’s they cruised up and down High Street, and all around the Columbus of their day.

Growing up in Northeast Ohio, Emily remembers her Grandparents visits when they would load bikes and all the grandkids into the car so the whole family could explore nearby trails. Their love of life on two wheels was infectious and eventually their grandchildren caught on.

Emily moved cities a few times, landing in Flagstaff, AZ where she met her would-be husband, Dan, at a bike shop that he co-owned. Soon after meeting, the pair were looking for a change and settled on a move to Denver for its walkability, bikeability and liveability. “I just like to live in places where I can walk or bike,” Emily said. Their plan was to start a business.

Just weeks before their scheduled move, Dan and Emily found themselves in Columbus. They were familiar with the city and had family nearby. Just after their visit, Emily was in Arizona and Dan was supposed to be on his way to Denver to find the pair a home. Instead, he hopped a plane and called Emily only after he found himself in the Short North and deep in love with Columbus, the city they have called home since 2006. 

Emily's Grandmother (pictured) and Grandfather influenced her early passion for biking.

Emily's Grandmother (pictured) and Grandfather influenced her early passion for biking.

“I knew it was possible to get people commuting by bike.”

Having traveled from city to city experiencing bike culture first-hand, Emily knew the possibilities for a bike-friendly community. “I had visited other cities and knew it was possible to get people commuting by bike,” Emily said.

She understood the benefits biking could bring to the people who live within a city, its businesses and community at large. She and Dan wanted just that for the place they decided to grow their roots, the place they called home.

In 2008, Emily and Dan opened their commuting-only bike shop on High Street, right before the economy tanked. The business in which they had invested their hopes and dreams was no longer sustainable. If they wanted to succeed, their whole approach had to change. So, they focused on making friends with and helping the urban commuter…their community.

“Being involved with Yay Bikes! is an extension of everything I do.”

Over the years, Paradise Garage has thrived because Emily and Dan are immersed in Columbus’ bike community. The shop started small by hosting community rides. Eventually their involvement evolved to hosting bike themed art exhibits, sponsoring film screenings and becoming integral to our organization. In 2011, Emily joined Yay Bikes! Board of Directors.

“I joined because it was like we have a passion, you [Yay Bikes!] have a passion. Let’s get together and see where it goes,” Emily said. “I liked that there was thought and intention behind the organization. Change had to happen because there was a balance between teaching people to use bikes and teaching our community how to embrace bikes.” This month marks the start of Emily’s first term as Yay Bikes! Board Chair.

“Being involved with Yay Bikes! is an extension of everything I do,” Emily said. “It completes it.”

“We’re noticing success…because we’re working with people.”

Emily is excited to continue to support transformational experiences surrounding cycling in Columbus. “Yay Bikes! is working so comfortably with influencing infrastructure because we are so good at fostering relationships. We’re noticing success because we’re not fighting and battling, we’re working with people.”

One particular evolution, the new infrastructure of 4th Street and Summit Street, is particularly thrilling for Emily because her family, including their 19-month-old daughter, is able to easily and safely commute from their home in Clintonville to Paradise Garage in the Short North by bike. “It’s a great thing to be in the middle of Columbus and to see the evolution of cycling here,” Emily said. With her leadership, Emily plans to continue to focus on Yay Bikes! strengths to continue to foster relationships and evolve Columbus’ bike infrastructure.

“I grew up where bikes were recreational on sidewalks and trails but it makes me excited that my young daughter will grow up in a different era where we ride on roads for transportation!”


Taking the next step with Yay Bikes!

Volunteers chillaxin' after the Bike the Cbus shifts. 

Volunteers chillaxin' after the Bike the Cbus shifts. 

So you’re looking to get more involved in Yay Bikes!, eh? Sweet! Here’s how:

BECOME A MEMBER

Regardless of how you see yourself being involved with Yay Bikes!, step one will always be to become a member. When you invest in an annual membership—which, at $25/year, is eminently accessible to most (not to mention, if you really can't afford it, we’re open to trade for some in-kind services)—it serves as a declaration that this cause and this community matters to you. In fact, it matters so much that you’re willing to fund full-time staff members to make full-time bicycle advocacy happen. We want people on our team who are passionate at that level, because a sizable and engaged membership predicts advocacy outcomes.

VOLUNTEER

The “what” of volunteering, i.e., our available entry-level opportunities, is not nearly so important as the “who”, i.e., the “who we should be to be an effective Yay Bikes! volunteer”. Our volunteers consistently manifest our core values—because “meaningful relationships” are key to our theory of change. What this looks like in practice is:

  • Committing to a job by registering in advance on our website or emailing staff
  • Fulfilling that job as defined, or communicating well in advance if you cannot
  • Upholding our core values at all times throughout the process

Members who have demonstrated an ability to manifest our core values, either outside the organization or by volunteering in our entry-level jobs—like parking bikes in the corral, assembling buttons for Year of Yay! or registering people for Bike the Cbus—are eligible to manage part of a bigger job. That might entail leading or sweeping a Year of Yay! ride, greeting cyclists at the bike corral or designing a Bike the Cbus route, etc. Members who manifest the core values and have special skills or training may be invited to take even greater leadership roles—for example, to join our board or assume accountability for an entire project, such as the Ride of Silence, a Yay Bikes! fund-raising event, Year of Yay!, bike corral site supervision, etc. That's right. Yay Bikes! members have a unique opportunity to explore ourselves as a leaders and get the support needed to be successful. Reach out to someone on staff and grab it!

GIVE

When you give to Yay Bikes!, what you’re doing in practical terms is providing us with discretionary funds—i.e., funds we can use at our discretion, without the need to attach them to any particular program. Basically this funding stream goes to funding our operations—non-program staff, technology, rent, office supplies, etc. That's right: our overhead. Overhead has gotten a bad rap in the philanthropic world, but it seems some people have (thankfully!) begun to come back around to the idea that (gasp!) it costs money to run an effective organization.

Membership is always, as noted above, step one. But gifts above that $25/year make a huge difference to our efficiency and effectiveness, because they allow us to invest in the essential organizational functions that program grants simply do not cover. Even better? Giving a regular amount on a regular basis (an option that you can set up to run automatically through your bank) allows us to predict our monthly cash flow and just might make the difference between whether we feel like we can increase investment and expand existing programming or invest in new services. This is a no-joke proposition—we are an extremely lean organization and YOUR GIFT could be what it takes to move us to the next level.

SHARE

We have lots of love to go around, and we transform lives. Bring a friend along for the ride, literally (ha)! Neither of you will regret it!

January 2016: Biking as transformation

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

'From the Saddle' is a monthly note from our Executive Director. 

You may be surprised to know that I don't care whether you ride a bike. In fact, no one at Yay Bikes! really cares whether you ride a bike or don't ride a bike. While most of us like to ride bikes, and help other people like to ride bikes too, our organization doesn't exist just to get people to ride bikes. I know, I know: part of our mission is to get people to ride bikes! So—huh?!?!

See I happen to think riding a bike is an important thing people can do to feel profoundly connected—to their best selves, to their fellow (wo)man, to their place and the environment, to their version of The Divine. I think it's an entirely unique experience in that regard, different from, say, the experience most of us have playing chess. And because it can offer us such a sense of connectedness in an increasingly disconnected world, I truly believe, because I've experienced it myself and witnessed it in countless others, that bicycling transforms lives. 

So no, Yay Bikes! does not exist because we think people should ride bikes, as if we were instigating an arbitrary, moralistic finger wag for the lapses of modern (wo)man. Yay Bikes! exists because we know that bicycling provides access to transformation.

So yes, Yay Bikes! does want you to ride a bike! But if you have another access to connection and transformation, go for it. Regardless of your orientation to actually getting on a bike and riding it, I hope you'll support the type of transformation we're up to. Because I tell you with certainty that we at Yay Bikes! are creating a beautiful world for all of us, cyclist or not: from the experience of "badassery" in a woman who overcomes fear to ride roads, to the safe streets that allow a grandpa to take his time in a crosswalk, to the quiet traffic that encourages a family to play on their front lawn.

This work matters.

Read our stories.

Join us.

Happy January!
—Catherine

Out & About with Yay Bikes! — December 2015

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Welcome to the monthly feature in which we round up all our events, earned media, program delivery, meetings and speaking engagements for the month. Representation and outreach like this is what you fund with your membership dollars and major gifts, folks! Behold, December:

December 2

Regular meeting of the Safe Routes to School National Conference Program Committee

Exploratory meeting with a representative of Adventure Cycling about participation in National Bike Travel Weekend

December 3

Led a meeting and ride for the Knight Foundation and an exploratory committee from the Akron area to showcase why Columbus is a cool bike city

Official ride with Columbus City Councilman Shannon Hardin opening the bike lanes on Summit/3rd and Fourth Streets

Attended the 11th Annual Statewide Tribute to Rosa Parks, offered by COTA, The Ohio State University and Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

The Lantern: "Protected bike lanes open along Summit Avenue"

December 5

Spoke about the movie "Bikes vs Cars" and bicycle infrastructure at Paradise Garage's Holiday Hop Party

December 8

Inaugural meeting of ODOT's Statewide Active Transportation Team

Regular meeting of COTA's NextGen Advisory Group

Conversation with staff at Paradise Garage regarding new Columbus infrastructure

December 10

Quarterly meeting of Columbus' Chronic Disease Prevention Advisory Board

December 12

Year of Yay! with "Giving" theme featuring stops at the Lutheran Social Services West Side Food Pantry and WCMH NCB4 studios "Firefighters for Kids" toy drive

December 13

The Columbus Dispatch: "New bike lanes causing confusion north of Downtown"

December 14

Ride of Silence planning meeting

December 16

General (public) meeting of the Downtown Residents Association of Columbus, on which Catherine serves

Board meeting of the Central Ohio Greenways Board

December 21

Regular monthly board meeting of Yay Bikes!

Kick-off meeting with the City of Columbus to explore the possibility of a Downtown Bike Hub

December 22

Meeting with the Fitness Loft to discuss considerations for operating a shower/locker space

Streetsblog USA: "Vote for the Best Urban Street Transformation of 2015"

December 25

Columbus Underground: "Best Nonprofits in Columbus"

Tips for Riding in Columbus' First Protected Bike Lane

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SummitStGraphic_12.3 (1)

The City of Columbus celebrated the grand opening of a new protected bike lane on Summit Street December 3. Protected bike lanes are physically separated from traffic and the sidewalk. The protected bike lanes are part of an effort to add standard bike lanes to Summit Street between East 11th Avenue and I-670, and on North 4th Street between East Hudson Street and I-670. The project which began construction in October 2014 is the first of its kind in Central Ohio. Along the way, Yay Bikes! collaborated with the Department of Public Service to provide ongoing feedback to city engineers.

To complete the resurfacing and bike lanes project, ODOT will resurface both 3rd Street and 4th Streets between I-670 and East Fulton Street in the spring of 2016.  Following the resurfacing, the City of Columbus will install standard bike lanes on both streets between I-670 and East Fulton Street.

In addition to a greater sense of security for bicyclists who are less experienced in riding with traffic on the street, bike lanes result in motorists driving slower because roads seem narrower.  While there are many benefits to protected bike lanes included in our roads, the addition of bus bulbs, queue boxes and a new type of traffic provide an opportunity to highlight tips for traffic safety.

Motorists

  • ­ Be alert for bicyclists and obey al traffic laws, signs and signals. ­
  • Do not park in the protected bike lane.
  • Park in the marked lane between the travel lane and the bike lane.
  • Cars parked in the bike lane are subject to ticketing. ­
  • Do not drive in the protected bike lane.
  • Motorists can make turns across the bike lane, but must yield to people riding bicycles in either direction. ­
  • Look both ways before turning across the bike lane.
  • Through bicyclists have the right-of-way at uncontrolled intersections, driveways and alleys. ­
  • Do not block the bike lane or turn box when waiting to turn onto Summit Street from a side street. ­
  • Do not block driveways when parking.
  • Under City Code, motor vehicles that block driveways are subject to ticketing and towing.

Cyclists

  • ­ Be alert for motorists, pedestrians, bicycle signs and signals and obey all traffic laws, signs ­.
  • Yield to pedestrians and wheelchair users who may be crossing the protected bike lane. ­
  • Be alert for turning vehicles when approaching uncontrolled intersections, driveways and alleys. ­
  • Stay to the right and allow faster bicyclists to pass safely.
  • Be alert for other bicyclists passing. ­
  • Before overtaking and passing a slower cyclist, look to be certain there are no oncoming cyclists from the opposite direction or pedestrians about to cross the protected bike lane.
  • Once you are certain there are no oncoming cyclists or pedestrians, give an audible signal by saying “on your left” to the slower cyclist in front of you before overtaking and passing them. ­
  • Be aware the bike lane may weave as it approaches intersections to make bicyclists more visible to motorists.
  • ­ Use caution when exiting the bike lane.
  • If crossing Summit Street, wait in the green turn boxes to wait until it is safe to proceed.

Pedestrians

  • ­Be alert for motor vehicle and bicycle traffic.
  • Look both ways, watch and listen for bicyclists traveling from either direction before crossing the protected bike lane. ­
  • Always cross the street at a crosswalk. ­
  • Use caution when crossing the protected bike lane at other locations, such as when entering and exiting parked vehicles. ­
  • The protected bike lane is for bicycles only.
  • Use the sidewalk when walking along the street if it is practical. ­
  • Do not stand or wait in the protected bike lane.
  • Use the concrete island bus bulbs to wait for buses.

“I felt it was something I could do to help change for the positive.” - Ray's story

Ray has beautifully served Yay Bikes! as Board President for several years.
Ray has beautifully served Yay Bikes! as Board President for several years.

“I ate gravel.”

Growing up in the Ohio Valley, Ray had understood the value of energy and its impact on livelihoods, families, and nature. “My Dad worked for the EPA so I learned how to be environmentally conscious.”

For both utility and recreation Ray biked the hills of the northern panhandle of West Virginia until the age of 17 when he crashed. “It was my own fault. I was riding on roads I knew without enough light. I ate gravel.” He broke his collarbone and punctured a lung. After that Ray wasn’t enthusiastic to return to his bike; and he didn’t, all through his college years at West Virginia University and into his mid-twenties."

“I had a lot of time on my hands.”

In 2007, Ray and his wife moved to Columbus. “She was in law school so I had a lot of time on my hands…a lot of time.” The extra time to himself and new-found friends, a group of retirees who were avid cyclers, were just the push Ray needed to get back on his bike.

He eventually found himself at a Monday night ride in downtown Columbus with nearly 100 other bike riders, including a woman who rode clad in a cowgirl outfit – skirt, hat and boots. Downtown Columbus, in a developing stage, wasn’t nearly the metropolis it is today. The streets were empty, quiet as the group of rowdy riders breezed past old, abandoned buildings under the night sky. “I had never ridden in a city so it was completely magical.”

“Every time…is an adventure”

Captivated by its energy and sense of community, Ray spent a year making personal connections with people whose passions ranged from food to history. Bikes were their common thread. Together, Ray and his new community helped evolve the ways people experience Columbus. One of those evolutions was Bike the C-bus.

Bike the C-bus was born out of Ray’s desire to get people out on bikes so they could really experience Columbus. “Every time you get on a bike, it’s an adventure. You don’t see the whole city unless you’re on a bike.” Although others will say Ray is a natural leader, he sees himself as the creator of tools to help others create their own experiences. “I think my attitude has been to support programs or events that help change behavior,” he says.

“I felt it was something I could do to help change for the positive.”

In 2011, Ray was approached by Yay Bikes! founder, Meredith Joy, about joining the Board. His natural leadership tendencies led him to become the Board President.

Having supported Yay Bikes! for a year prior, coming into leadership was an easy decision. “I felt it was something I could do to help change for the positive,” he says. “I see bicycling as the lowest hanging fruit to get people out of the car.”

“I don’t care if my name is on it.”

Over the past four years, Ray has helped Yay Bikes! through its infancy to the thriving organization it is today. Though, he will attribute every ounce of success as a group effort. “I just want the organization to succeed.” He’s passionate about inspiring people to make change. Whether it’s for their health, the environment or something else, Ray believes biking is the answer. “Being in this organization has shown me that small groups of people can make big change.”

Note from Executive Director, Catherine Girves...

It’s no coincidence that the ascendancy of Central Ohio’s Golden Age of Bicycling (in my estimation: right now, into infinity) coincides with Ray George’s move to Columbus 8 years ago. Because regardless Ray’s insistence on remaining behind the scenes, and the fact that most people don’t realize it: all of us in Central Ohio’s cycling community owe a debt of gratitude to this man. If you’re not yet inaugurated into the Cult of Ray, well pay your dues; read up on Columbus Rides Bikes; check out Tuesday Night Rides, a gravel grinder or bike camping trip; and get with it. What wasn’t there before? He started it. I mean, can you imagine—Columbus DID NOT HAVE A CITYWIDE BICYCLE RIDE before Ray. And because that’s just who he is, he rolled up his sleeves, got to work and made Bike the Cbus happen. For 8 straight years and running! Unbelievable….

Then there’s the whole matter of Yay Bikes!, an organization that went from nothing to our region’s premier bicycle advocacy organization in just a few short years. Under Ray's leadership, Yay Bikes!:

  • Launched a membership program that, 3 years later, boasts more than 850 members
  • Hired 5 staff members and tripled our budget
  • Brought Bike the Cbus into the fold, started Year of Yay! and created Ride the Elevator
  • Prioritized the communications strategy that helped position us as the region’s thought leader 
  • Positioned the Board for its next transition in composition and leadership

But it is, as they say, the end of an era: after 4+ years as Board Chair, Ray George led his last Yay Bikes! board meeting last night.  

We’d be devastated, of course, except that he’s agreed to stick around for a bit to serve as Immediate Past President on our Executive Committee, and he’ll carry on with leadership of Bike the Cbus, Ride the Elevator and other fun bike rides he will no doubt soon be dreaming up.  

So things have changed, as they do, but some will stay the same. That’s right—you’ll find the two of us most Thursday mornings at Upper Cup Coffee from 7–9am just like always, dreamin' and schemin' and plottin' world domination. Come say hi!

"It's all new for me this year, everyday biking." - Will's Story

Will with his wife, Diana, and daughter, Avril, explore Columbus by bike whenever weather permits.
Will with his wife, Diana, and daughter, Avril, explore Columbus by bike whenever weather permits.

Name: Will Koehler Lives in: ClintonvilleWorks in: Clintonville

“My interest was piqued.”

Will’s love affair with bikes and biking started early. He’s been riding since he was 8-years-old, or 10, he can’t quite remember. His Dad got Will and his friends out on bikes at an early age. Together they pedaled the one-lane country roads near their home in Oxford, Ohio. Quickly, Will was enamored. He joined a bike club and became a regular recreational cyclist.

When he relocated to Columbus in 1986 Will found himself cycling the “big city” recreationally on his way out to less populated country roads. It was a client who lived in Connecticut who helped Will see bicycling a little differently. During a visit to Connecticut, Will’s client invited him to travel in to work by bike. The 30-mile commute served as training ride for upcoming bicycle races and was a better option to driving through rush hour. What was a long, congested commute by car became a scenic morning bike ride. During this trip “I realized that biking could be transportation,” Will said.

Will’s revelation left him inspired. For years he continued to ride recreationally, but started mixing recreational bike rides with occasional 12-mile commutes to work. Then, about seven years ago, Will was left without a car to get around. Building on his foundation of recreational riding and occasional commuting, Will started biking as his main source of transportation.

Hungry to learn how Columbus could make traveling by bike an option for more people, he started digging into blogs, articles, books, news, anything that could help him teach him how cities can make the roads safer. “I knew about Yay Bikes! for years. It wasn’t until the engineer rides came along that my interest was piqued.”

“I watched them begin to see things differently.”

In October 2014, Will met Yay Bikes! Executive Director, Catherine Girves. During their conversation, Catherine mentioned an upcoming bike ride with engineers from the City of Columbus. A firm believer that better road infrastructure is the key to change the way people travel, Will was excited. “I didn’t invite myself on that ride which is what I really wanted.” Luckily, Catherine saw Will’s passion and knowledge. She invited him to ride with Yay Bikes! and the engineers.

Catherine and Will showed up with bike lights and the attitude to foster a productive relationship with city engineers. “It was a great opportunity to get our voices heard and to be in front of people who can change the way our roads are designed,” Will said. For the first time the engineers experienced the road from a bicyclist’s perspective on downtown streets during rush hour.

“I watched them begin to see things differently.” This shifted Will’s perspective even more and opened up the possibilities of biking in Columbus, especially as improvements to Columbus’ bike infrastructure were made.

“It’s everyday biking.”

He still trains and rides with old teammates, but Will is learning bit by bit that biking is actually simpler than he realized. “There’s no need for fancy equipment or special clothes – slowly I’m letting go of all this baggage and the perception that biking needs to be complicated and athletic. I’m learning that a bike is a simple tool you can use in your daily life.” Will said. “Taking it to the core essence, biking is as easy as walking, only faster.”

Just in the past few years, Will’s lengthy recreational rides on country roads have morphed into weekend family excursions. “It’s all new for me this year, everyday biking.” Will and his family use bikes not only for daily transportation, but also as a way to explore the city.

On Sunday’s, Will, his wife and young daughter load up on their bikes and travel throughout the city. “As long as weather permits, we’re going to be on a bike. We can get all over Columbus pretty easily,” Will said. With help from Yay Bikes! and city-wide infrastructure improvements Will sees riding the streets of Columbus differently. He’s learned favorite routes for travel, but he and his family have also found a new kind of adventure.

Will sees this shift nationwide. People are moving away from the notion that clothes, shoes, a certain kind of bike, or specific routes are requirements to biking. Will thinks – and hopes – this trend will continue as more people start to adopt everyday biking into their lives.

Has your perception about biking changed thanks to an experience with Yay Bikes!? Tell us about it at tiffany@yaybikes.com

Year of Yay! December 2015 recap: Giving

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{Ed note: Thanks to ride leader and guest blog post contributor Rob Hendricks!}

Saturday's ride was one of the longer ones this year, but the weather was so nice it was hard to tell (60s, say what?!)!

From Whole Foods Market on Lane Avenue we rode our loaded cargo bikes, recumbents with full trunks, commuters with full panniers, and every other type of bike imaginable, and headed southwest to Lutheran Social Services' West Side Food Pantry. They had to bring carts out to haul the food our riders brought to donate!

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After some miles and a few climbs, we came across the Charity Newsies volunteers at an intersection. Riders were quickly pulling out their wallets and handing over donations before the light could turn green.

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We continued on to WCMH NBC4 Studios on Olentangy River Road, where Firefighters for Kids was having a massive toy drop off campaign. We rode our bikes through, dropping off a large number of toys and meeting the Channel 4 news team. Jim Ganahl expressed amazement at all of the different types of bikes!

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We then headed back to Whole Foods to enjoy their hospitality, with food and drinks, one last time. Thanks for the memories, Whole Foods Market Lane Avenue! We'll miss you, but we're looking forward to a new start at the Easton store next year.

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“Yay Bikes! gave us a whole new perspective.”

City of Columbus Department of Public Service Engineers
Names:
Bud Braughton, Downtown and Special Projects, Division of Design and Construction
Daniel Moorhead, Division of Infrastructure Management
Steve Wasosky, Design Section Manager, Division of Design and Construction
Richard Ortman,  Project Manager and Bridge Engineer, Division of Design and Construction(NOT PICTURED)

“How can we continue to improve and take the next step to make Columbus one of the top biking cities in the nation?” 

Under Mayor Michael B Coleman’s leadership, the Columbus Department of Public Service in October 2014 escalated its commitment to supporting bicyclists and enhancing our city’s bike infrastructure. That commitment includes making Columbus streets safer for everyone, including cyclists.  Public Service Director Tracie Davies reached out to Yay Bikes!, resulting in a meeting with City staff. Maps of city streets splayed over tables, and City staff asked “how can we improve and take the next step in making Columbus one of the top biking cities in the nation?”

They wanted feedback from real, every day bicyclists. Our answer:  let’s ride!

“I need to experience it.”

At the opportunity to expand their knowledge, five engineers from the City of Columbus agreed. A few weeks later Bud Braughton, Richard Ortman, and Daniel Moorhead, each with a different infrastructure specialization – downtown and ODOT projects, bridges, and bikes respectively, found themselves riding the roads with representatives from Yay Bikes!.  “I want to use good engineering judgment and keep it safe for everyone, so I need to be back on a bike and experience it,” Bud said.

Each engineer had his own previous experience with bicycling. Bud hadn’t ridden much since his teenage years when he cruised through his neighborhood on the west side before gaining his driver’s license and “freedom.” Richard biked sometimes for recreation and even to work on occasion, using the Olentangy bike path. Daniel was a seasoned bicyclist having picked it up when he was hired by the Department of Public Service as a bike transportation engineer.

Despite different levels of comfort and experience, most of the engineers were apprehensive of this approach. None of them expected the results that came out of the initial ride. They each vividly recall that first experience riding with Yay Bikes!.

“Because I like to ride on bike paths, I typically would not ride alone on downtown streets,” says Richard. “I had some trepidation, but I never turn down a learning opportunity.”

“Yay Bikes! gave us a whole new perspective.”

“It was a lot different than we expected,” Bud said. “As engineers, we’re focused on making it work, but Yay Bikes! gave us input from a customer perspective.” This feedback has helped the engineers and their team grow in their understanding of needs for bike infrastructure and how it related to the details of their ongoing projects. Representatives from the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department and the Columbus Public Health Department often ride and collaborate with the engineers on projects in the planning phases.

“It was nice to have Yay Bikes! share their concerns which factor into our decisions,” Bud said. The collaboration yielded a first for Columbus. “One of those decisions was to add protected bike lanes to our roads,” Richard said.  “You’ve [Yay Bikes!] enhanced our previous understanding of the danger of a door zone and the need for a buffer,” Richard added. “It’s good to see what works well in Columbus.”

“Biking is important.”

The success from their relationship with Yay Bikes! has translated to a more collaborative working environment and a bike-centric office culture. “This is the next step in the evolution of meeting Mayor Coleman’s goals of making this one of the top biking cities in the nation,” Daniel said. “The department and Yay Bikes are part of a culture shift in Columbus. It’s really refreshing.”

The engineers ride city streets at least monthly to check in on their projects which have all become more cognizant of biking in Columbus. Whether it be substituting a bike for a car in a trip to a park or getting to work, each engineer has started incorporating more bike trips into their lives and they have become more aware of the needs of our city. “We just want our projects to be the best they can be for all users,” Bud said.
Looking to the Future:  Bike Design Involvement Is Growing

You can see the evolution, the culture shift, all around Columbus.  Since the City implemented its Bikeways Plan in 2008, investments in bicycle infrastructure have blossomed. The City has installed 34 miles of bike lanes, 2,400 sharrows on 60 miles of streets, constructed 11.6 miles of shared use paths, installed 320 Share the Road signs, 460 bike racks and 23 queue boxes.  The City has also introduced the CoGo bike share program, with 390 bikes at 41 bicycle stations across the city.

In an effort to accelerate the addition of bike facilities and their delivery time, the Department of Public Service Design Section has begun generating plans for new bike facilities in-house.  This allows for ideas to be implemented much more quickly and provides better oversight of consistent standards being used throughout the City.  It is an exciting time.  On-street bike facilities are an evolving part of roadway design, and new ideas are being implemented in Columbus and across the country. That’s why it is critical to make these facilities safe and understandable to all right of way users. Department of Public Service Design Section Manager Steve Wasosky joined the Engineer rides in the Spring of 2015. 

“Riding these locations has been an essential tool to see conflicts and concerns that may not have been noticed when looking at only a two-dimensional plan view on paper,” Steve said.  “Most of us already have a perspective on driving the roadway and the many concerns, but having the biking perspective on the same corridors dramatically helps the design provide a safer more user friendly ride,” Steve said.

Support ongoing initiatives like education for public service employees and infrastructure projects by donating HERE!

Where to ride on the road

Cyclists may have a right to the road, but how that right translates into actual road riding is not inherently clear. And a theoretical right can become an actual wrong if you end up flattened by a car!

Ironically, in our experience the mistake that cyclists most often make is being too accommodating of motor vehicle traffic. Of course! Because cars are loud and fast and we can feel the danger on our skin! And it's rude hogging the road when motorists could be using it so much more efficiently! But when we ride too far to the right of the road—or worse, on the sidewalk—we become invisible and unpredictable to motorists. You can see why in this video we created (with funding from ODOT) for practitioners of youth bicycle programming statewide:

[embed]https://vimeo.com/122141423[/embed]

WHERE TO RIDE

Where we ride on the road is the single best tool we have for averting crashes with motor vehicles. Cyclists inadvertently encourage motorists' bad behavior by maintaining lane positions that invite them to squeeze their cars alongside us when there's really no room to spare.While it's true that bad driving causes most crashes, when cyclists position ourselves to be visible and predictable to motorists we have a safer and more peaceful experience.

We have some quick tips below for how to position yourself on the road, but check out the EXCELLENT this, this and this for more in-depth coverage of the topic. Now, then:

Ride on the road.

Riding on the sidewalk is illegal in the City of Columbus, but more than that—it’s dangerous to ride on the sidewalk. Paradoxically, cyclists are more likely to be hit by a car riding on the sidewalk than they are riding on the road! This is because cyclists are most vulnerable at intersections, and every curb cut—4-way light-regulated stops with crosswalks, of course, but also alleys, driveways, garage entry/exit points, etc.—is an intersection. A motorist's view can be blocked by buildings, plants or other cars, and particularly those making a turn may not be able to stop in time when they do finally register your presence, because you're going faster than the pedestrians they expect to see. Riding in the street puts you within motorists' lines of sight and gives them time to react to you.

Ride at least 3’ from the curb. 

Riding closer to the curb than 3' puts you at risk of having to swerve into traffic to maneuver around hazards like glass, trash, potholes, storm grates, etc. etc. etc. And depending on the width of the road, you could end up squeezed if a car happens to be passing while another is approaching from the opposite direction (i.e., the passing car has no room to cross the double yellow line). So even though sometimes there seems to be enough space to ride near the curb, it's safer for us to force drivers to slow down and maneuver safely around us.

Ride at least 6’ from parked cars.

Riding in "the door zone" is a sure way to get a car door flung into your path. If you're within 3–4’ of a car, you're in danger of ramming the door itself; if you're within within 4–6’ of a car, you're in danger of swerving into traffic to avoid ramming the door. Ride 6' from parked cars to have full clearance and room to maneuver—and maintain a straight line! Every time you retreat to the curb at a break in a line of parked cars you create an need to merge back into traffic—and weaving in and out of traffic is unpredictable behavior that puts you at risk.

Ride in the middle of a narrow lane.

Physics exists! Which means that narrow lanes simply can't accommodate both you and a motor vehicle at the same time. In this situation—regardless of your speed or traffic conditions—you simply must ride in the center of the lane to prevent cars from passing too closely.

Ride in a bike lane…or don’t.

Bike lanes can reduce crash rates, but they can also be poorly designed, littered or otherwise putting you at risk. Luckily we have no legal requirement to ride within bicycle facilities! If you feel unsafe riding in a bike lane, or need to leave the lane to make a left turn, that is a legitimate and lawful choice.

Ride to prepare for your destination.

Just as when you're driving a car, you always want to choose the rightmost lane that serves your destination. That lane might indeed be the far-right lane, if, for example, you're headed straight and there are no turn lanes or bus- or taxi-only lanes in your path. But it might just as well be the middle lane, if, for example, you're  on a 3-lane road during rush hour and you're preparing to make a left turn in two blocks. It could even be the far-left lane, if you're approaching two left turn only lanes and the leftmost turn lane best positions you to turn left again immediately after the intersection. Always be preparing for your next move and choose your lane based on where you want to end up.

DECIDING WHERE TO RIDE

All of the above does not suggest you need to rock the middle lane of Sawmill Road at rush hour. Yes, you will want to follow the advice above regardless of the road or its traffic conditions (no, really!), but no doubt there are several routes to your destination. Read our advice on planning a routeand be on your way!

HOW YAY BIKES! CAN HELP

This whole lane positioning thing is TOTALLY OUR JAM! This is what we do—we teach people where to ride on the roads. Let us help you. Come on a ride with us* and we'll teach you the ways of urban bike zen (oooommmmmmmm!). And you will be transformed!

*Our on-road educational rides are $300 for up to 5 people. Gather your friends for a fun 2-hour ride showcasing Downtown Columbus—any time that works for you!Contact Meredith to schedule a ride today!

Cyclists' rights under the law

There’s no bike law expert like the guy shouting at you out their car window, amiright?

…sigh…

It may surprise you (no it won’t) to know that most people have not the foggiest notion regarding how cyclists are supposed to conduct themselves on the road. Everyone is pretty clear that “Hey, you gotta stop at red lights too, man!”, but beyond that they’re making it up—uncharitably. In general, people tend to emphasize cyclists’ responsibilities as road users (oh boy do they really really really wants us to stop at red lights….), and not so much our rights to the road (go figure). Often cyclists themselves don’t fully appreciate their rights or how they translate into lawful riding practice. But in terms of our personal safety, it’s the collective confusion about our rights, more so than our sometimes-failure to uphold the law,that contributes to our role in bike/car altercations.So let’s learn some bike law, y’all!

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS

Knowing your rights will fundamentally change how you ride. Which is a good thing! Chances are, the way you’re riding is like a big, fat, slobbering apology, and it’s putting you in harm’s way. The first thing you need to know is that bicycles are classified as vehicles in the Ohio Revised Code (ORC)—just like cars, big rigs, motorcycles and scooters, tractors, RVs, Amish buggies and more.

OK, but so what?

Well, see, anyone who chooses to travel in ORC-defined vehicle has the exact same right to the road as anyone else. Period. Regardless of their vehicle's size or speed, they all can claim the most fundamental of all transportation-related rights: the right of way. In legalese, this is defined as:

“The right of a vehicle…to proceed uninterruptedly in a lawful manner in the direction in which it…is moving in preference to another vehicle…approaching from a different direction into its…path.”—Ohio Revised Code 4511.01

Translated, via analogy: Imagine yourself at a public water fountain. As long as you’re using it legally (not, say, poisoning the water supply), no one is allowed to, say, tackle you in order to take their turn. Everyone must stand in line to wait until you’re done, regardless of how long it takes. Similarly, use of public roads is a case of first come, first served.

Which has some pretty radical implications for us cyclists:

We cannot “impede traffic”.

As ruled by the State of Ohio Court of Appeals in State v Selz, requiring cyclists to travel at the speed of motor vehicle traffic would effectively ban them from public roadways, something the law surely does not intend. Precedent in Ohio is now clear that travelers can’t be expected to go faster than the inherent speed of the vehicle they’ve chosen—and just as farm equipment can’t be expected to maintain a speed of 55mph, bicycles can’t be expected to maintain a consistent 25mph. The notion of cyclists impeding traffic is nonsensical; we are traffic.

We do not have to “share the road”. 

“Share the road” is a horrible, terrible made-up phrase meant to help cyclists assert their right to a lane. But it is commonly interpreted by motorists to mean that cyclists should always shareour lane with (ahem, defer to) them. Again—size, speed and traffic volume are irrelevant when it comes to who’s got right of way, and nothing in the law requires us to yield to other traffic, for any reason. In fact, it can be extremely dangerous to do so!

We need not ride “as far right as possible”.  

The law says to ride “as far to the right as practicable, NOT “as far to the right as possible. The distinction is everything. To ride as far right as possible would keep us forever in the rightmost lane, close enough to the curb and parked cars to clip them. But to ride as far right as practicable is to ride as far to the right as safe and reasonable for us.In fact, there are many reasons we should avoid a far-right position on the road (uh, left turns, anyone??), and no one—not cops*, not judges, not fellow cyclists, not our moms, not crazed motorists—can dictate otherwise. We decide where we ride. Here again is the ORC:

This section does not require a person operating a bicycle to ride at the edge of the roadway when it is unreasonable or unsafe to do so. Conditions that may require riding away from the edge of the roadway include when necessary to avoid fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, surface hazards, or if it otherwise is unsafe or impracticable to do so, including if the lane is too narrow for the bicycle and an overtaking vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.—Ohio Revised Code 4511.55, Section C

THE BOTTOM LINE

As cyclists, we can ride literally anywhere on the road, going any speed, regardless of traffic conditions.

(…pausing here to let that sink in a bit…)

CLAIM YOUR RIGHTS

At this point your mind very well may be blown. You may be thinking, “yeah well, that’s all fine and good but how does my theoretical right to the road translate into actual not getting killed?!” You may be thinking, "That is THE! RUDEST!" Or maybe you’re feeling empowered in a way you never have before.

Ironically, to the extent that cyclists have control over safety outcomes vis-a-vis motor vehicle drivers, the safest way to ride is to assert our right to the road (indeed, it's downright dangerous not to). This is because excessively accommodating motor vehicle traffic renders us invisible and unpredictable to drivers. It is therefore critical that we take a lane when necessary, refuse to yield when it’s not safe to do so and ride far enough from the curb that we can safely maneuver around hazards. It’s true that drivers may have all sorts of feels about that. But it’s not “rude” to exercise your right of way, to take up time and space on the road. It’s your right and you need to claim it—not to be a jerk, of course, but to keep yourself safe! (More on this in a soon-to-come blog post.)

HOW YAY BIKES! CAN HELP

It always surprises the newbies with whom we ride how much they can influence motorists’ behavior by exercising their right of way and riding visibly and predictably in the proper lane position. Join us on an educational ride** to gain the confidence you need to assert your rights and stay safe out there!

In the meantime, for some easy reading, check out Bob Mionske's classic Bicycling and the Law: Your Rights as a Cyclist to learn ALLLLL the nuances of bike law.

*If you’re given a ticket for failure to yield, impeding traffic, being too far from the curb, etc.—be polite to the officer, but fight it in court. Because you will win.

**Our on-road educational rides are $300 for up to 5 people. Gather your friends for a fun 2-hour ride showcasing Downtown Columbus—any time that works for you! Contact Meredith to schedule a ride today.

"The culture of biking is changing in Ohio..." - Michelle's story

Name: Michelle May
Lives in:
Clintonville
Works in:
Columbus - West Side at Ohio Department of Transportation

Michelle credits the changing landscape for bicycling to strong ties between advocates and city officials.
Michelle credits the changing landscape for bicycling to strong ties between advocates and city officials.

“We were much more focused because they demanded it."

Led by ODOT’s Highway Safety Manager, Michelle May, a group of transportation engineers, roadway designers and safety professionals from ODOT spent three hours riding city roads with Yay Bikes! on a gorgeous July afternoon earlier this year. “I credit those focused on biking and walking. We are much more focused because people are demanding it,” Michelle said.

“I learned so much that day.”

The ride was transformative. “It’s been completely eye opening,” Michelle said. The group travelled a route that was deliberately designed to showcase a variety of bike traffic scenarios including those with great bike infrastructure, those with challenging bike infrastructure and those with well-intentioned bike infrastructure that just doesn’t work well for many bicyclists. “I learned so much that day,” Michelle said. “But more importantly, the folks who designed our roadways learned so much.”

Specifically, Michelle and team were able to identify potential safety issues by experiencing them on a bike rather than seeing them on paper. “I learned the value of riding with folks who do it every day” Michelle said. “It allows us to take what we learn and translate it into making roads safer.”

“There’s no substitute for seeing things for yourself.”

While she isn’t a regular bicyclist, Michelle considers herself a bike supporter. Her initial hesitation to riding – fear of motorists. “I worry about other drivers not paying attention,” she said. But riding with Yay Bikes! changed that. They didn’t have any scary interactions with motorists on their July ride. “Riding with Yay Bikes! changed my mindset because the vast majority of drivers were accommodating to our presence on the road.”

Michelle hopes to see the expansion of relationships like this to other areas of the state. “Yay Bikes! encouraged us to investigate concerns about road design with their non-adversarial approach. I’d like to think the culture of biking is changing in Ohio and these relationships between engineers, transportation professionals and bike advocates like Yay Bikes! are to thank.”

You can support continued advocacy and projects to improve bicycle infrastructure in Columbus by clicking here. Happy Giving Tuesday and thank you!

Year of Yay, November 2015 recap: Biology Class

November’s “Biology Class” ride was a great success! Thanks in part to the nice weather (sunny and fairly warm for this time of year) we had a strong turnout with an estimated 59 riders. Participants on the ride were able to visit two destinations involved in biological research and preservation and make use of two pieces of bike infrastructure -- one of which is closely tied to the biological theme.

Our first stop was The Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park, where riders were hosted by volunteers from the facility. We were given an overview of their mission, which includes education and research about environmental sustainability as well as community outreach. We were also given a guided tour of the research park, including the wetlands themselves (which are not generally accessible to the public).

After departing the wetlands, the group made their way downtown via Summit Street, where riders had the opportunity to ride the newly-completed protected bike lanes between Hudson Street and 11th Avenue.

Our lunch stop was Cafe Brioso, a bike-friendly destination familiar to Year of Yay riders.

The ride’s final stop was the Scioto Audubon Metro Park, where riders had an opportunity to tour the Audubon Society’s facility as well as the grounds themselves, which function as a a fragile oasis, a tiny jewel, a haven for wildlife,  This park is unique in its proximity to a large city.  

Finally, riders made use of the beautiful Scioto Greenway, which had been officially opened just a few days prior.  The greenway project is the result of a returning of the Scioto River to a more natural state as well as creating 33 acres of greenspace downtown. The ride went along the riverfront park downtown before continuing north and back to Whole Foods.

Out & About with Yay Bikes! — November 2015

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Welcome to the monthly feature in which we round up all our events, earned media, program delivery, meetings and speaking engagements for the month. Representation and outreach like this is what you fund with your membership dollars and major gifts, folks! Behold, November:

November 2

Regular meeting of MORPC’s Community Advisory Council, on which Catherine serves

November 4

Inaugural meeting of the Safe Routes to School National Conference Program Committee, on which Catherine serves

November 5

Regular meeting of the Mayor's Green Team Transportation Committee, on which Catherine serves

Connect Columbus "Tactical Urbanism" event featuring temporary protected bike lanes

November 6

Columbus Dispatch: "Columbus experiments with protected bike lanes"

Ride with City of Columbus engineers and other officials to preview Summit and 4th Street's new protected bike lanes and provide feedback

November 7

Pedal Instead @ OSU v Minnesota

November 9

Meeting with MORPC's RideSolutions staff to discuss the future of our Ride Buddies program

Year of Yay!with "Architectouring" theme featuring stops at Columbus Architectural Salvage,MAPFREStadium and Ohio Firefighters Union Hall

November 10

Inaugural meeting with Olentangy Paddles to discuss potential partnerships

Scioto Greenways Grand Opening

November 11

Board meeting of the Downtown Residents Association of Columbus, on which Catherine serves

November 12

Program Committee meeting of the Central Ohio Greenways Board

November 14

Year of Yay!with "Biology Class" theme featuring stops at the Wilma H. Schiermeier Olentangy River Wetland Research Park,Café Briosoand Grange Insurance Audubon Center

November 16

Regular monthly board meeting of Yay Bikes!

Lantern TV: "Ohio State off-campus area home to first protected bike lane"

November 17

Inaugural meeting of Central Ohio's active transportation leadership to assess overlapping interests and explore coalition building

November 18

Inaugural meeting with Caitlin Harley of the Ohio Department of Health to discuss mode shift and the state's healthy community plan

General (public) meeting of the Downtown Residents Association of Columbus, on which Catherine serves

Board meeting of the Central Ohio Greenways Board

Annual Membership Meeting for Community Shares of Mid Ohio, featuring workshops "Social Media 101" and "Fundraising is an Art, Not a Science"

November 19

Tabling at the annual meeting of Downtown Capital Crossroads SID

November 21

Pedal Instead @ OSU v Michigan State

November 24

2015 National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon

Ride with City of Columbus engineers and other officials to preview Summit and 4th Street's new protected bike lanes and provide feedback

November 29

Olde Worthington Partnership "It's a Wonderful Window Contest" Open House with RIDEhome's Yay Bikes! entry

November 30

Regular meeting of MORPC’s Community Advisory Council, on which Catherine serves

"My feet were moving. I forgot there were cars." — Jamilah's story

Name: Jamilah Tucker Lives in: Hilliard Works in: Downtown Columbus

“I only went where the sidewalks could take me.”

A co-worker was championing Ride Buddy, a program Yay Bikes! hosted to teach downtown workers to ride bikes instead of drive. Jamilah was curious. “People were doing it and I was like ‘oh, that looks fun!’”

Riding with Yay Bikes! helped Jamilah see the roads differently.
Riding with Yay Bikes! helped Jamilah see the roads differently.

But she hadn’t been on a bike since junior high and she was scared, never having traveled by bike anywhere besides the sidewalk. “There are all these reasons not to get on a bike. I was nervous about getting hit by a car,” she said. Jamilah needed direction before she felt comfortable riding a bike on her own. Determined, she asked co-worker after co-worker to join her on a downtown bike ride with Yay Bikes!. Finally, a friend agreed.

“Building up to it was the worst,” Jamilah said. She was sweaty and shaking as she tried to remember the mechanics of working the pedals. She climbed upon the seat of a CoGo bike and moved with as much ease as she could muster. “A few minutes into it, my feet were moving. I forgot there were cars.”

“We feel comfortable to ride our bikes at home.”

Soon after, Jamilah found a bike at a garage sale. For $15 she bought it, cleaned it up and made it her own. She rides it regularly with her 11-year-old daughter on her own bike just ahead. They ride the road, mostly to and from the park or around the neighborhood. “It was a good thing to be in that group and to gain education so we feel comfortable to ride our bikes at home,” Jamilah said.

The biggest change was her awareness of bicyclists on the road which she shared with her husband. “We didn’t used to pay attention to bicyclists,” Jamilah said.

“The road was created for moving people.”

Now Jamilah and her husband are aware of the need to share the road. “Not everyone has a car. The road was created for moving people; we have to respect each other.”

She’s grateful for the experience to learn a new approach to getting around downtown every day. While she does not commute to work by bike, Jamilah hopes to start integrating CoGo bike rides into her lunch hour, inviting friends and co-workers along when she can. “My mentality about getting around and paying attention to roads has changed. I wouldn’t have gotten back on a bike without the Yay Bikes! experience.”

Do you see the roads differently after riding with Yay Bikes!? Tell us about it by emailing tiffany@yaybikes.com.

Dressing for weather

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When considering how to ride comfortably though all of Ohio's wild weather, two truisms bear repeating—first: "There is no bad weather, only bad wardrobe," and second: "Layer, layer, layer".  But when it comes to the particulars of outfitting for rainy, snowy or just plain frigid rides, there are a couple schools of thought:

THE MINIMALISTS

The minimalist view is expressed here and here, and by the following:

"When people ask me for tips on winter bicycling, I have very simple advice: Wear what you would have worn if you were going to walk outside in the winter. If it’s wet, throw on some water-proof pants on top of your regular pants, and that’s it. It’s very simple."

The argument from this camp is basically that people (i.e., marketers and hardcore cyclists) overcomplicate dressing for weather, causing the average person or fair-weather cyclist to balk at the expense of acquiring all the required gear, and/or the stigma of looking too much like a whack-a-doo. They claim that most weather-appropriate cycling gear is already in your closet, and that a trip to the thrift store for wool layers and the like should suffice to get you through most weather conditions—stylishly!

Cue photo of an adorable Dutch cyclist riding her sexy self through a whiteout:

Also, though not explicitly in any article I could find, this side of the aisle gives nod to the so-called "invisible cyclists"among us who ride all year long out of economic necessity, regardless of their ability to afford special gear. Clearly not everyone can afford the luxury of fabrics that wick!

THE "MAXIMALISTS"

There are dozensand hundreds and billions of helpful articles and buyer's guides out there by people who are all-in on cyclist-specific gear for weather. Here's their rebuttal to the minimalists:

"I'm not a fashion victim who's been gulled by marketers or taken for a ride by the bike shop sales staff. I'm a rational adult who is quite capable of making choices based on my own experience and on the advice of other cyclists. My winter cycling equipment and clothing have been evolving for several years, as I discover what works for me, in my particular climate—and more days than not, what works looks like the images [of cyclists in weather-specific gear] you point to with ridicule."

The argument here is pretty simple—the gear works. It was designed to work for cyclists riding in a specific set of circumstances, and it does. So if you want to ride in all conditions, these cyclists say, you will invest in a wardrobe that makes it possible. After all, no matter what you spend it's still cheaper than driving!

THE "YAY 'BIKES!-ISTS'!"

We at YB! tend to be a practical bunch, and accommodating of all styles on the spectrum of "gear-full" to gear-free. If it works for you? Great! There are posts  here and here that reflect that 'tude, and you should check them out.

Bottom line? Our best advice, in a nutshell?

Regardless of whether you're going for style, function or both: employ extreme measures to protect your extremities! If your hands or feet are cold (and they will be), your ride will be misery.

But of course we at YB! always encourage you to make your own informed decisions—by actually riding your actual bike in actual real-word conditions alongside actual cycling friends. We invite you to join us and learn first-hand the tricks that will allow you to go from a fair- to an all-weather cyclist! Our Year of Yay! rides occur on the second Saturday of every month, so together we experience the full spectrum of Ohio weather. Case in point:

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Good luck out there, friends, whatever you wear! May this be the year you tackle Nov–May!