'Murals' ride recap

By guest writer Shyra Allen, May's Year of Yay! ride co-leader

For more than 5 years, Yay Bikes! has designed rides to help cyclists enjoy our city from the seat of their bicycle—one of the best ways to see Columbus. I was given the opportunity to lead Year of Yay! May 2016. Setting out on my 17th YOY ride, I was 50% kid, with the wind in my face and my heart pumping Kool Aid. At my side was co-lead Shirley Droney, followed by a long trail of old friends, first-time riders and even moms and dads with double trailers. Check out the route we took!

These kids are SET! UP!

These kids are SET! UP!

Our first stop was in Easton Town Center where we attempted to interpret the “Getting From Here to There” mural. Despite our best efforts to collectively interpret its meaning, our pondering was drowned out by the unexpected arrival of what I’ve now termed “the green tractor” puffing smoke and noise and refusing to go away. However, it gave us the opportunity to hydrate and prepare for ride to the Golf Depot mural. 

Stylin'!

Stylin'!

Against the backdrop of Saturday’s hustle and bustle traffic on stretches, long winding roads and climbs of Stelzer, Columbus Metropolitan Airport, Hamilton Rd and Tech Center Dr, we peddled our way up to Golf Depot—the highest point in Franklin County, 8 miles from downtown Columbus—and its breathtaking view of Columbus’ skyline. There we were met by Steve Renaker, Director of Golf & Hospitality Assets. He said that he “couldn’t believe that people really go look at murals on bikes,” which translates roughly into “Yay Bikes! is boss!” Steve talked about how amazed he was to watch the artist paint the mural by himself in three days. He was awed that throughout the Golf Depot Mural there were groupings of color that ensured a mixture of levels and shapes that increased the visual impact of the mural. Most importantly it captured the beauty of golf that Steve loves, plus his co-founders’ passion for trains.

Everyone poses in front of the mural, but a few goofballs steal the show! Photo credit: Kathleen O'Dowd

Everyone poses in front of the mural, but a few goofballs steal the show! Photo credit: Kathleen O'Dowd

Our shortcut to Gahanna’s Rocky Fork Vista on the Big Walnut Creek Trail was a welcome change as we descended to the heart of Gahanna’s downtown. Warmly greeting us at the Gahanna History Mural was another community partner, Zac Guthrie of Gahanna Parks & Recreation. The overcast day could not dim Zac’s pride in the mural or our delight at the ivory tones accented by chocolate browns and black lines that reflected the natural light of the mural’s Southern exposure—exuding a feeling of warmth through color, texture and dimension. We were also grateful for his shout out to YayBikes! for the bike valet that we provide for Gahanna’s annual Creekside Blues and Jazz Festival.

Our crew with this incredible mural.

Our crew with this incredible mural.

And a close-up! How beautiful

And a close-up! How beautiful

Wrapping it up, we grabbed a snack and water from our saddlebags, preparing for our last stretch with only one destination in mind: Whole Foods. We splashed in shallow water puddles, jumped over twigs in the road and sped down a hill with the wind in our hair. Suddenly I was 100% kid. But never, not once, was I at all bored.

Headed home!

Headed home!

Thanks to everyone who braved the threat of rain to join our ride. See you next month! Until then, check out this audio profile of the ride from the fabulous Darrell McGrath:

April 2016 activity report

Catherine joins Steve Magas, the Ohio Bike Lawyer, and James Young of the Columbus Public Service Department to talk bikes on WOSU's Ann Fisher Show.

Catherine joins Steve Magas, the Ohio Bike Lawyer, and James Young of the Columbus Public Service Department to talk bikes on WOSU's Ann Fisher Show.

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, April:

April 1

Ride of Silence wine tasting fundraiser with John the Wine Guy

April 4

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

Ride of Silence planning meeting

April 5–7

Safe Routes to School National Conference

Delivered the presentation: "Are we at a tipping point? Learn how data can keep us there.", with Seth LaJeunesse, National Center for SRTS

Led a professional development ride workshop with 20 attendees from around the country that combined urban bike tourism with instruction on how to deliver on-road education

Participated in "Ride with a cop" workshop with Hilliard police officer Ron Burkitt

April 7

This Week Community News: "City to begin downtown street resurfacing project"

All Sides with Ann Fisher: "Cycling in Ohio" 

April 8

Meeting with the new City of Columbus Director of Public Service, Jennifer Gallagher

April 9

Year of Yay! ride with "Earth Day" theme

Yay Bikes! fundraiser at Lineage Brewing—ride cancelled :(

April 11

Ride of Silence happy hour fundraiser at Hills Market Downtown

April 12

How We Roll ride with OSU City & Regional Planning graduate students

April 13

Meeting with Dero Bike Racks representative to discuss becoming a local distributor

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

April 14

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

Smart City meeting with US Department of Transportation

April 16

Pedal Instead at OSU Spring Game

April 18

Yay Bikes! board meeting

April 19

Meeting with Pam O'Grady, Director, Government Affairs, and Kimber Perfect, Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications, for the City of Columbus Office of Mayor Andrew Ginther

April 20

Meeting with Chillicothe Mayor Luke Feeny and Nick Tepe, Director, Chillicothe and Ross County Public Library

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

April 21

Connect Columbus community advisory meeting

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

Presentation to OPAL (Olentangy, Powell and Liberty Trails)

April 23

Pedal Instead at Columbus Earth Day

Week of April 25

Placing of Ride of Silence "ghost bikes" throughout Columbus

April 27

Columbus Metropolitan Club presentation: "Bicycle Power: On the Path to Bikes"

Regular meeting of the Central Ohio Greenways board, on which Catherine serves

Regular meeting of the City of Columbus' Bicycle Working Group, on which Catherine serves 

April 28

Regular meeting of the City of Columbus Green Team Built Environment & Infrastructure Committee, on which Catherine serves

Ride of Silence planning meeting

'Earth Day' ride recap

Twenty-four brave people on bikes showed up for a very chilly and windy April Year of Yay! ‘Earth Day’ ride. We rode 18.6 miles, and along the way we learned about our interconnectedness with water, ways we can get involved with local environmental improvement efforts and what each of us can do at home to live more ‘green’ and sustainably. Check the route we took and read on for what it brought us! 

Gearing up!

Gearing up!

Our group of fearless riders rolled out of Whole Foods Easton and headed west towards the Alum Creek Trail towards our first stop along that path—Edward Franklin Honton Memorial Bridge.  

Snowy bridges made for some challenging riding on the Alum Creek Trail.

Snowy bridges made for some challenging riding on the Alum Creek Trail.

Our view of Alum Creek from the Edward Franklin Honton Memorial Bridge

Our view of Alum Creek from the Edward Franklin Honton Memorial Bridge

From here, our group had a good view of Alum Creek where we listened to David Hohmann of FACT (Friends of Alum Creek and Tributaries) tell us about watersheds, why they are important, pollutants that threaten them and what we can do to protect and restore them.

Everyone is bundled up for our first chilly stop!

Everyone is bundled up for our first chilly stop!

After that we continued south on the trail towards our next destination—a private residence in Clintonville—to learn about what each of us can do at home to live more sustainably. But along the way we decided to make a stop at the bridge overlooking Glen Echo Ravine so that our other guest rider and presenter, Tad Dritz of Green Columbus, could tell us about his organization and volunteer opportunities with ‘Branch Out,’ the weeklong Earth Day Columbus volunteer effort to clean up neighborhoods, remove invasive species like honeysuckle, tend to community gardens and, of course, plant trees (Columbus has a goal to plant 300,000 trees by 2020). 

Mike Sapp standing in a bed of Kentucky bluebells as he tells us about rain barrels, composting and other at home earth friendly ways to live.

Mike Sapp standing in a bed of Kentucky bluebells as he tells us about rain barrels, composting and other at home earth friendly ways to live.

Just up Indianola from the Glen Echo Ravine was our third and final stop, the home of FLOW (Friends of Lower Olentangy Watershed) super volunteer, Mike Sapp. Mike talked about things we can do at home to protect the watershed in which we live. He showed us around his yard where he has rain barrels installed to keep water from leaving his property, an impressive compost arrangement, lots of good native plant species and his newly acquired hobby–honey bees!

From there we headed back to the warmth of Whole Foods where we enjoyed great company, food and drink. Sure, it was 30 degrees out and winds were around 20 miles per hour, but the company along the ride made it seem effortless. Thanks for all who came out to make it a super great day!

And finally, as always, this month's button, courtesy local artist Thom Glick:

A national treasure in your midst

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

Soon after my presentation at the League of American Bicyclists' National Bike Summit & Women's Forum this month, my life was in peril! I was being swarmed by bike advocates from all over the country, a la the Walking Dead! Wwwwhhhhhyyyy meeeee????? Well, surely it was not my tasty flesh but rather this: people were nutso over the engineer rides I'd presented about—in which we ride with the engineers designing our bicycle infrastructure and help them understand their work from a cyclist's perspective. Apparently, Yay Bikes! has stumbled on something unique—assuming our engineers want to do a good job and loving on them in a way that helps them do just that. Love just isn't a big part of transportation conversations these days, go figure (and more on that in a future blog post). So we became a Very Hot Topic among our national community of advocates, and life-risk aside I was grateful for that...but I had to wonder whether we are quite as Very Hot back home. Because what we do is a Very Big Deal, and Very Big Changes are coming to our Central Ohio landscape—but if you don't know about it then that's on us and I apologize. 

Yay Bikes! joined Columbus' Public Service Department on a ride exploring the area near Georgesville Road and Sullivant Avenue

Yay Bikes! joined Columbus' Public Service Department on a ride exploring the area near Georgesville Road and Sullivant Avenue

There are fixes coming to Summit Street's protected bike lanes. Bike lanes will soon extend through Downtown Columbus on Third and Fourth. "Share the Road" signs will be swapped for "Bikes May Use Full Lane" signs beginning in a few months and continuing over the next few years. Broad Street through Bexley will receive sharrows and other traffic calming measures. And, as Yay Bikes! continues to meet with and ride with those who influence the conditions that impact our experience as cyclists, there will be much, much more to come. 

By and large this work—which you can always keep track of through our monthly activity reports—is supported through your membership dollars and donations. So I humbly request a local swarm! Support our ability to continue offering the national-caliber advocacy that delivers the infrastructure upgrades you've been waiting for. We are, after all, a Very Big Deal in some circles...not to mention pretty damn tasty. Of course.  

March 2016 activity report

Yay Bikes! rides with the Columbus Department of Public Service to provide feedback on proposed bicycle infrastructure in the Sullivant Ave / Georgesville Road area.

Yay Bikes! rides with the Columbus Department of Public Service to provide feedback on proposed bicycle infrastructure in the Sullivant Ave / Georgesville Road area.

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, March:

March 1

Meeting with Ashley Davis, Caitlin Harley and Bridgette Kidd at Ohio Department of Health to discuss active commutes for state employees 

March 2

City of Bexley's Broad Street Streetscaping Design Meeting

March 3

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

March 6

Columbus Underground: "Yay Bikes Hoping to Continue Successful Ride Buddy Program"

March 7–10

Presentation and attendance at the League of American Bicyclist's National Bike Summit; tours of the NPR and World Bank bike rooms; and meetings with Senator Portman and the offices of Senator Brown and Representatives Beatty, Jordan, Fudge and Tiberi

March 8

This Week News: "Road work to begin soon, may include medians"

March 10

Tabling at Battelle Bike Expo

March 11

Ride with City of Columbus Department of Public Service to discuss proposed designs of bikeways near Sullivant Ave and Georgesville Road

March 12

Year of Yay! ride with "Chickens" theme

March 13

Tabling at Ohio Bicycle Swap Meet

March 14

Ride of Silence planning meeting

March 15

Advisory Committee Meeting for the Worthington Hills extension of the Olentangy Trail

March 16

City of Bexley's Broad Street Streetscaping Design Meeting

March 17

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

March 18

Press conference celebrating 1 million COTA Cbus trips

March 21

Yay Bikes! board meeting

March 24

Pinchflat planning meeting

March 27

Vetting a route for the Safe Routes to School National Conference ride

Columbus Dispatch: "Warm weather brings out bike-path safety warning"

March 28

Franklin County Consortium for Good Government meeting

Columbus Dispatch: "CoGo bike-share program getting new sites, higher prices"

March 29

Training on how to use the OSU Bike Share System 

Bexley City Council meeting with discussion on sharrows

March 31

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

How We Roll OSU ride

'Chickens' ride recap

The March Year of Yay! ride was a step into Spring—we were blessed with bright skies, warming temps and not a drop of rain to be seen—with the theme of 'Chickens'. The ride's almost 80 riders, including 10 first-timers, were greeted at Whole Foods Market by five 5-week-old chicks from John Bannon's urban farm. Besides those cute baby birds, we had two stops to make to visit folks raising poultry in the city. Check the route we took and then follow along to relive the experience!  

Riders—even a dad with his kids—rock Morse Road. Photo credit: Ray George

Riders—even a dad with his kids—rock Morse Road. Photo credit: Ray George

Off we rode onto Morse Road towards Jerah Pettibone's quail operation. We drifted off the heavy traffic into a lovely old Columbus neighborhood where we were greeted at Jerah's house with a tour. Upon donning shoe covers (blue booties), we met her 100 baby quail and 100 adult quail—she is licensed to sell their eggs and meat. Also living there were two breeding partridges, and they were lovely. 

Riders arrive at a house on a quiet street in North Columbus. Photo credit: Ray George

Riders arrive at a house on a quiet street in North Columbus. Photo credit: Ray George

Quails! Photo credit: Ray George

Quails! Photo credit: Ray George

Sending the group off again, we all slowly meandered through some quiet streets northward to the home of Milo Petruziello, who lives in North Columbus with his wife, two boys and eight laying hens. Milo and his family gave us a detailed look into how to raise chickens in the City of Columbus. He proudly showed us his recently awarded Animal Possessor Permit and talked about how he made his coop and the types of chickens he has been raising for the past year. 

Riders explore chicken coops at a home in North Columbus. Photo credit: Ray George

Riders explore chicken coops at a home in North Columbus. Photo credit: Ray George

Baby chicks! Photo credit: Ray George

Baby chicks! Photo credit: Ray George

Thus our chicken tour was complete, and we headed back to Easton for some well deserved snacks and beverages. By now the temps were over 60, we'd been out for several hours and the jackets were starting to peel off. That cold one was just the perfect end to another great ride. 

"Bwok bwok!" (rough translation: "Bye bye!"). Photo credit: Ray George 

"Bwok bwok!" (rough translation: "Bye bye!"). Photo credit: Ray George 

Thanks to Ride Leader John Bannon and to all who rode this month—see you next time! In the meantime, we'll leave you with another awesome audio file of the ride from Darrel McGrath:

And finally, of course, this month's button, courtesy local artist Thom Glick:

It's a team effort

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

Catherine Girves, Yay Bikes! Executive Director

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

I'm in too many pictures. Yay Bikes! is a world-class team of staff and volunteers and members and sponsors and partners and more, but it's my mug that too often ends up published. I do attend many, many meetings, rides and events—it's my job, after all, as well as my super power (I'm really really good at meetings, in particular)—and I'm pretty shameless with the selfie (NO I do not own a stick!). But do not let that confuse you: Yay Bikes! is a glorious peacock, of which I am but one feather.   

This month, as we've reviewed the outcomes of our Ride Buddy pilot program and read about what makes a good team a la Google (spoiler alert: it's being kind to one another), I've been reflecting on the role of team at Yay Bikes!. Of course kindness and meaningful relationships are fundamental to who we are as an organization, but specifically who are the people I lean on in this work? And what about them helps makes Yay Bikes! among the very most innovative bicycle advocacy organizations in the country? Luckily, bike rides create ample head space for such considerations.

As with all who win the lottery of life, I've got far too many people to love on than there is space to do it. But here are a few top-of-mind shout outs:

  • To Meredith Joy, our wicked smart writer and program designer and founder
  • To Kathleen Watkins, who makes all the [bikes] run on time
  • To Steve Puhl, our dancing queen in the bike corral
  • To Tiffany Dixon, who has helped us (finally!) relay our untold stories
  • To Shyra Allen, who will usher Year of Yay! to even greater heights
  • To Emily Monnig, who gets what a non-profit is and how to lead it like a boss
  • To Brian Laliberte, our in-house attorney and schmooze meister
  • To Joe Powell, who builds spread sheets that make me swoon
  • To Rahel Babb, who can herd a group of cats or volunteers like nobody's business
  • To Ray George, a marketing genius and work horse we could not live without
  • To Ken Cohen, who has been there from the beginning through all our ups & downs
  • To Duane McCoy, who has a mind that identifies and cleans up bottle necks
  • To Bill Ferriot, who protects our brand like a pro
  • To Abby Rhodebeck, who steps up where needed and get shit done
  • To the entire team of people who submitted to the rigorous 2-day How We Roll ride leader training and elegantly lead those rides (Art Kadlec, Rahel Babb, Steve Puhl, Mitzy Noisette, Ashley Kay Rifkouky, Rob Hendricks, Caleb Caldwell, Cherie Snyder, Ken Cohen, Denis de Vertuil, Marie Jarden, Alex Smith, Julie Walcoff, Matt Locke, Meredith Joy, Bambo Sanusi, Jonathon Youngman, Shibnum Blewett, Catherine Girves, Will Hughen, Kathleen Koechlin, Jason Poindexter, Shyra Allen, and Randy Dull)
  • To Kathleen Koechlin and the entire Ride of Silence planning team (David Curran, John Bannon, Shyra Allen, Jeff Gove, Abby Rhodebeck, Cory Hopwood, Pat Landusky, Rahel Meyers Babb, Joel Spokas, June Krayer, and Liza Rose Farrell)
  • To this year's team of Year of Yay ride leaders/sweeps/cruise directors/wrenches/photographers and all our ride organizers (Cassie Patterson, Darrel McGrath, Aliceanne Inskeep, Grant Sumner, Shiley Droney, Ken Cohen, John Bannon, Kathleen O'Dowd, Craig Clark, Jeff Gove, Bambo Sanusi, Rahel Meyers Babb, John Cresencia, Yolande Berger, Brian Meyers, Kathleen Koechlin, Bryan Barr, Jennier Evans Cowley, David Curran, Shyra Allen, Joel Spokas, Steve Puhl, Theo White, Tiffany Dixon, and Nik Olah)
  • To the bike corral champions Sarah Mellino, Steve Puhl, Mike Coakely, Duane McCoy, Andrew Hulvey, Deanne Kirillow, Jim Good, Alex Anderson, Katie Ervin, Mark Ervin, Nancy Neimuth, Craig Clark, Jason Poindexter, Kirsten Knodt, Mairead Reddy, Steve Shaffer, Maya Girves, Michael Webb, Phil Weckesser, Ra'Sheeda Donaldson, Adam Porr, Jeremy Slagel, Wiley Jackson, and the 200+ others who volunteer in the bike corral every year.
  • To Grand Poo Bah Ray George and the Bike the Cbus planning team (Bill Ferriot, Kathleen Watkins, Brian Jackson, Cherie Snyder, Brian Meyers, Jay Cheplowitz, Rob Hendricks, Gloria Hendricks, Craig Clark, Abby Rhodebeck, Nik Olah, Brian Laliberte, John Bannon, Cole Miller, Roger Beck, Kai Landis, John Waddy and Annie Ross Womack) and the 60 other people who make this happen every year.
  • To all our donors including the 900+ members and donors who keep the lights on, and this wonderful operation running.
  • To all our friends in high (and low) places who make sure we are invited into conversations about creating safe streets

I love you all. Thanks for being on our Yay Bikes! team. We are making magic happen and I am grateful.

February 2016 activity report

Bexley considers bikeways, with a presentation by Mayor Ben Kessler. Photo credit: Catherine Girves

Bexley considers bikeways, with a presentation by Mayor Ben Kessler. Photo credit: Catherine Girves

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, February:

February 2

"Inspired to Ride" film screening at Drexel East

February 3

Attended the City of Bexley's Broad Street Streetscaping Design Meeting

Meeting with Emily Monnig of Paradise Garage regarding the Pinchflat Poster Show

Meeting with Caitlin Harley of the Ohio Department of Health to discuss mode shift strategies for the statewide active transportation plan

February 5

Meeting with Ryan Edwards of United Way of Central Ohio to discuss ways to improve transportation options for low-income residents 

February 7

Year of Yay! route vetting ride

February 8

Meeting with Bill Gordon of Columbus Outdoor Pursuits regarding Bike Hub and Ride of Silence

Regular meeting of the CoGo Bike Share Stakeholder Group

Ride of Silence planning meeting

February 11

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

Meeting of the City of Columbus' Green Team

Phone call regarding year-round riding with Winter Bike Congress speaker and Yay Bikes! member Juana Sandoval

February 13

Year of Yay! ride with "Some like it HOT" theme, featuring stops at L.L.Bean and REI

February 14

Columbus Dispatch: "Repaving to clog 2 Downtown Columbus arteries this spring"

February 15

Yay Bikes! board meeting

February 16

Meeting of the Ohio Active Transportation Plan Group, with Ride Buddy presentation by Catherine Girves

February 17

Bike corral demo with redesign team

Attended City of Bexley's Broad Street Streetscaping Design Meeting

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

February 18

Meeting with Tour de Brew regarding possible partnership

February 25

Meeting with Andrew Campbell of the Columbus Metropolitan Club regarding a panel on biking for transportation

Attended the Broad Street Public Improvements Workshop

February 29

Yay Bikes! board strategic planning meeting

'Some like it HOT!' ride recap

February's theme of "SOME LIKE IT HOT!" was, ironically (but not really, because of course the whole point was that Feb is NOT HOT), altered at the last minute due to particularly FRIGID conditions. Though the stops changed and the 11-mile route was cut to 2, a hardy group of 22 enjoyed a sunny ride, cash bombed several stores and celebrated the day in style. Yay Bikes! thanks Ride Leader Jen Cowley for her work to create a great experience for everyone. Thanks, as well, to the 10 people who came an hour early to re-vet the route after it changed! 

Stealth style a la Deanne (a committed fair-weather cyclist who joined us in spite of herself!), Kathleen & Sarah. Photo credit: Kathleen O'Dowd

Stealth style a la Deanne (a committed fair-weather cyclist who joined us in spite of herself!), Kathleen & Sarah. Photo credit: Kathleen O'Dowd

Everyone was bundled up tight for the first leg of our journey on the outskirts of Easton Town Center! The plan was to visit some places where we could learn about staying HOT(ish, aka 'warm') during our winter rides. 

Ride Leader Jen Cowley (in the saucy teal helmet) with a pack of intrepid cyclists. Photo credit: Kathleen O'Dowd

Ride Leader Jen Cowley (in the saucy teal helmet) with a pack of intrepid cyclists. Photo credit: Kathleen O'Dowd

First stop: L.L.Bean, where we were greeted with fresh HOT (temperature!) coffee and all the scoop on HOT (sexy!) wool skivvies, and all sorts of other base layer options. After the wonderful presentation we wandered the store, finishing our coffee and SHOPPING! Bonus—the marketing guy saw all our bikes leaned on the front of the store and realized that the store had no bike racks. "We should have bike racks!". Changing minds and hearts one cash bomb at a time.

Our group takes in a presentation on base layers at L.L.Bean. Photo credit: Catherine Girves

Our group takes in a presentation on base layers at L.L.Bean. Photo credit: Catherine Girves

Second stop: REI, where Jamie Young (our REI SAG friend from Bike the Cbus+) taught us all about keeping our extremities toasty warm, while REI Outreach Market Coordinator passed out coupons and chapstick.

Our group cash bombs the crap out of REI. Photo credit: Catherine Girves

Our group cash bombs the crap out of REI. Photo credit: Catherine Girves

Final stop: back to Whole Foods Market, where the crew had complimentary HOT chocolate awaiting us. We kinda took over the place, didn't we?! It was the perfect way to cap off the morning and continue our conversations about riding in winter weather.

Toasting another fabulous adventure. Photo credit: Catherine Girves

Toasting another fabulous adventure. Photo credit: Catherine Girves

We're so proud of everyone who braved the anti-HOT (aka, COLD) to come out for this ride. It wasn't what we expected but we made a damn fine time of it! See you next month! Until then, check out this short audio profile of the ride from Darrell McGrath:

Sharrows have their place

3D concepts of shared lane markings. Source: NACTO's Urban Bikeways Design Guide 

3D concepts of shared lane markings. Source: NACTO's Urban Bikeways Design Guide 

These days, sharrows can’t get no respect. And cyclists who have been grumbling about them for years have some new ammo in a recently published research study, which concludes that sharrows are relatively ineffective at encouraging bicycling and keeping cyclists safe. But are they really the dregs of bike infrastructure—the scraps cities hand out when they can’t muster the will to implement exclusive space for bicycling”? Because wow! That’s… something…! So let’s take a closer look at what sharrows are, interrogate the hate and come to some sort of reasoned understanding of their place (or not) in a traffic engineer’s bag of tricks. First:

What (the heck!?) are sharrows? 

To fanfare from bicycle advocates nationwide, the FHWA added Shared Lane Markings (aka “Sharrows”, or “share the road + arrows”) to its 2009 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devises (MUTCD). By providing specific guidance regarding these markings, sharrows became a legit option for traffic engineers seeking to design roadways more accommodating of cyclists—particularly where there was no space for separated infrastructure. The use of sharrows soon exploded in cities throughout the United States; Columbus received its first sharrow on High Street near OSU in May 2010. There are now approximately 81 miles of sharrows in the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission's Metropolitan Planning Organization area.

The unveiling of Columbus' first sharrow, in 2010. Source: ColumbusUnderground.com

The unveiling of Columbus' first sharrow, in 2010. Source: ColumbusUnderground.com

According to the MUTCD, sharrows are intended to:

A Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in a shared lane with on-street parallel parking in order to reduce the chance of a bicyclist’s impacting the open door of a parked vehicle,

B Assist bicyclists with lateral positioning in lanes that are too narrow for a motor vehicle and a bicycle to travel side by side within the same traffic lane,

C Alert road users of the lateral location bicyclists are likely to occupy within the traveled way,

D Encourage safe passing of bicyclists by motorists, and

E Reduce the incidence of wrong-way bicycling.

NACTO's Urban Bikeway Design Guide provides a more in-depth take on sharrows and how they are to be used. 

Sharrow hate: what’s up with that?

Point taken: a cyclist who clearly does not understand what that sharrow is for (i.e., to help him position himself correctly in the lane). Source: dispatch.com. 

Point taken: a cyclist who clearly does not understand what that sharrow is for (i.e., to help him position himself correctly in the lane). Source: dispatch.com

Six years on, some very vocal cyclists nationwide are disgusted by the sharrow (like, seriously). Complaints include that no one seems to know what they mean, that they've often been poorly placed, that they offer no real protection from cars, that they may suggest to drivers that roads without them aren't meant for cyclists, that they seduce inexperienced cyclists onto roads too challenging for them... in a nutshell: sharrows suck because they're not protected bike lanes. And further: government officials suck because they wuss out and install sharrows instead of protected bike lanes

A place for sharrows?

The sharrow, or “Shared Lane Marking”, as defined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. 

The sharrow, or “Shared Lane Marking”, as defined in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. 

We at Yay Bikes! tend to go all side-eyed on anything that smacks of a we-should-have-protected-bike-lanes-from-my-doorstep-to-infinity argument. Because seriously guys—we're bright-eyed dreamers as much as anyone, but it's NOT HAPPENING and probably shouldn't. Still, is it responsible for a bicycle advocacy organization to bless sharrows? Or, given the critiques above, should we always hold out for more? 

The research on sharrows is not so bleak as the new study would suggest. Sharrows have been found to reduce the incidence of sidewalk riding, encourage cyclists to ride in the proper lane position, increase the distance between cyclists and parked cars, encourage safe passing and reduce the incidence of wrong-way riding (click the link and scroll to Shared Lane Marking Benefits for research supporting these findings). The impact isn't as significant as it is with bike lanes, but it's not nothing either. Certainly sharrows aren't more dangerous than nothing at all

In the study referenced above, called "Relative (In)Effectiveness of Bicycle Sharrows on Ridership and Safety Outcomes", researchers Nick Ferenchak and Wesley Marshall of the University of Colorado Denver compared rates of bike commuting and cycling injuries within census blocks in Chicago before and after bike lanes and sharrows were added, as well as blocks where nothing was done to the streets. What they found was that: 1) rates of bike commuting increased more than 109% on streets with bike lanes, 43% on streets with no change and just 27% on streets with sharrows, and that 2) rates of cycling injury decreased 42% on streets with bike lanes, 37% on streets with no change and 20% on streets with sharrows. They conclude: "It is imperative that the appropriate infrastructure and treatments are in place to ensure the safety of all users on our roadways, and it may be that sharrows do not have a role to play in this pursuit." Yikes!

But again—are sharrows really worse than nothing?!?! Doubtful. The study authors reveal assumptions that should give us serious pause. In particular, because their analysis takes place on the census block group level, they admit that they can’t account for how much infrastructure was installed, or where (i.e., was it on one corridor or throughout?). In fact, we have no information about the types of streets under consideration or the extent of the accommodations. It stands to reason that if lots of very busy streets with high rates of crashes get bike lanes, there will be a more dramatic decrease in injuries than there would be on slower streets that receive sharrows. Further, the authors admit that the presence of bicycle commuters living in a census group does not translate to bicycle exposure (i.e., how often these bicycle commuters actually ride the roads, or where). We don't know the actual number of cyclists who were riding on these streets during the timeframe for analysis. At all. Which would seem to be a critical detail if you're seeking the overall rate of cycling, yeah?! So, not to knock the study altogether, but unless we see something rather more convincing...

Our bottom line re: sharrows

You can count on Yay Bikes! to advocate context sensitive solutions that make the best of the roads we've got today, always with an eye towards making them better tomorrow. And we strongly believe that, while sharrows aren't perfect (what bike infrastructure is?), they have an important role to play in (literally and figuratively) moving us from here to there. So where it makes sense, we will bless them, yes, and absolve traffic engineers who decide they're the best possible option given the constraints at hand. Because sometimes they really are the best possible solution for a particular roadway—like when they're placed in the center of lanes too narrow to share or accommodate bike lanes. Of course, regardless of whether it’s sharrows or protected lanes or something else, we advocates must help engineers ensure it is carefully installed. And we must help both cyclists and motorists understand a cyclist's proper lane position relative to the new road design. This is what Yay Bikes! promises to do, with your help.  

With a little help from a friend: Ride Buddy program outcomes

Ride Buddies was a pilot program to help residents and employees in Downtown Columbus replace their work-related car trips with bike trips—and become hardcore badasses in the process.

Ride Buddies was a pilot program to help residents and employees in Downtown Columbus replace their work-related car trips with bike trips—and become hardcore badasses in the process.

I’m so glad I had the option to have this experience … I know it’s something a lot of people desire but don’t have the option to do. Surely, they are missing out ...

In summer 2015, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) contracted with Yay Bikes! to implement a Downtown Modal Shift Pilot Program aimed at helping downtown-area residents and employees replace work-related car trips with bicycle trips. The program, which became known as "Ride Buddies",  offered our targeted employers information sessions, custom promotional content and topical online content to help them promote bicycling. It offered custom rides—either a to/from work commute, CoGo tour or professional development experience—to any individual or small group exploring the possibility of bike commuting. These featured the following:

  • An expert Ride Buddy to lead the ride, impart road rules and answer questions
  • At least one route planned specifically by the Ride Buddy, based on a participant's origination/destination and vice versa, as well as their concerns, goals and preferences 
  • Information about how to link bike riding with other modes to make an active commute more manageable (e.g., Park & Pedal locations and COTA buses)
  • Advice regarding equipment and gear, and other bike commuting basics
  • Follow up communications with resources relevant to participants' stated interests

In total, 76 people took advantage of the Ride Buddies program. During the 2-month pilot, we conducted 44 rides—30 with individuals and 14 with small groups. Of those:

  • 17 people rode ‘real’ and 7 rode practice commutes to and/or from work
  • 19 people rode from work to a lunch or meeting site
  • 23 people had professional development experiences organized by a supervisor
  • 10 people rode non-work trips (e.g., to explore a neighborhood or shop for a bike)
A crew from Columbus State Community College explore their Near East Side neighborhood! 

A crew from Columbus State Community College explore their Near East Side neighborhood! 

It was altogether 1000 times better than I thought it would be.
I conquered a fear and feel more comfortable.

The Ride Buddies pilot was rigorously evaluated using the following tools:

  • Employer baseline survey—We sent an extensive pre-intervention survey about bike commuting attitudes and habits to employees of 10 Downtown-area employers, and received a statistically valid responses from each. Our post-intervention survey was abandoned when it became clear our impact would be less tied to specific employers than expected. 
  • Employer inventories—We conducted four interviews with Downtown-area employers regarding their support for bicycle commuting, and completed reports for each. Two employers were inspired by this process to apply for League of American Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Business program. One employer received that recognition and the other's application is pending.
  • Pre-ride surveys: 88.2% of riders completed a survey about their experience riding a bicycle for transportation as part of their online ride registration process.
  • Immediate post-ride surveys: 80.3% of riders completed a survey about their experience upon following a link in an email sent shortly following their ride.
  • 6-week post-ride follow up surveys: 57.9% of riders completed a survey about their post-ride behavior upon following a link in an email sent several weeks following their ride. 
Riding with a Buddy can be what makes all the difference.

Riding with a Buddy can be what makes all the difference.

I’ve been wanting to start riding, but have been nervous about not knowing what the hell I’m doing. I’m very grateful for this opportunity!

Here's what we learned about the motivations of those who participated in our Ride Buddies program:

  • People want to ride but feel scared and confused. 
    When asked about the barriers preventing registrants from riding a bicycle for work-related trips, 50.8% of registrants cited safety concerns and 28.8% cited not knowing how to ride in traffic.
  • A free Ride Buddy can be the catalyst that helps people make a change.
    When asked why they chose this moment to learn more about riding a bicycle for work-related trips, 59.3% of registrants said because they were offered a free Ride Buddy to help them take it on (followed distantly by 27.1% who said they’d recently committed themselves to a lifestyle overhaul).
  • Relationships, not mass media, generated participation; workplace champions are critical allies in this work. 
    Fully 63.2% of participants were invited by a co-worker, while 25.0% were invited by someone they knew from Yay Bikes!
A workplace champion at Ohio Board of Regents scheduled several rides for coworkers, and caused a significant shift in office culture as a result.

A workplace champion at Ohio Board of Regents scheduled several rides for coworkers, and caused a significant shift in office culture as a result.

Commuting is a habit that I do easily by bike. Errands, however, I do not habitually do by bike and I realize there are some I can conveniently accomplish by pedaling.

Here's what we learned about Ride Buddies' impact on mode shift:

  • A Ride Buddies experience helps people replace car trips with bike trips.  
    Immediately post-ride, a majority of participants (68.9%) said they were "Very likely" to repeat their ride or a similar journey on their own. More than half of those who responded to the six-week followup survey (52.3%) actually had replaced at least one car trip with a bike trip—and, of those, 96% replaced more than one. Nearly everyone who replaced a car trip with a bike trip (91.3%) felt "Completely!" or almost completely prepared for what they encountered. 
Riding to several bike shops helped one participant overcome her two major hurdles to riding: not knowing the road rules and not having a bike!

Riding to several bike shops helped one participant overcome her two major hurdles to riding: not knowing the road rules and not having a bike!

Being confident about taking space in the lane has made me feel safer than I did when I rode way over on the right.

Here's what we learned about Ride Buddies' impact on participants' bicycling knowledge and practice: 

  • The Ride Buddies experience significantly changes how participants ride. 
    Six weeks post-ride, 82.0% of participants said Ride Buddies had "Completely!" or almost completely influenced how they rode a bike, with the key changes being that they don't ride as far to the right (68.2%) and they are more likely to take the lane than before (61.4%).
  • The Ride Buddies experience significantly improves a key indicator of participants' bike knowledge.
    When asked to say whether the statement "Bicyclists can always choose to ride in the center of a lane, regardless of traffic conditions.” is true or false, 79.5% of Ride Buddy participants correctly said true, as opposed to 36.1% of the non-participants from our employer baseline survey. 
Bricker and Eckler employees rode in from the new Park & Pedal location at Dodge Park. 

Bricker and Eckler employees rode in from the new Park & Pedal location at Dodge Park. 

The following weeks people approached me to say that they saw me riding and were impressed by my confidence on the road, and that they would like to experience the same thing. Their comments opened the door to me talking to them about bike riding and its advantages.

Here's what we learned about Ride Buddies' viral impact:

  • The impact of a Ride Buddies experience extends far beyond participants. 
    Almost all Ride Buddy participants (95.5%) shared what they learned with others—on average each shared with 3–5 others! Specifically, they shared about proper lane positioning (69.0%), how the experience was different than expected (66.7%), how it made them feel (61.9%) and bicycle traffic law (59.5%). 
COTA and Ride Buddies: a Dream Team if we ever saw one!

COTA and Ride Buddies: a Dream Team if we ever saw one!

So what's the bottom line here? We think it's that significant mode shift can occur via meaningful interactions lasting just two hours or less. With the key here being "meaningful interactions"! It's not enough to throw up a billboard or hand out brochures. If we want to create real change in how people get from here to there, it will require a sufficient investment in people that they feel supported in adopting a new, more active way of life. Because it's hard to undertake all that much change all by yourself, and sometimes you just need a little help from a friend (or, uh, make that a Buddy! ;)!


The Ride Buddy program is not currently being offered; we are seeking funding to offer it in the future, and will promote that opportunity when it becomes available.

Contact Meredith to request additional data from this pilot. 

“I was starting to feel like superwoman.” - Shyra's Story

Despite being a little intimidated by what she perceived as the biking culture, Shyra jumped into bicycling and is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm with others.

Despite being a little intimidated by what she perceived as the biking culture, Shyra jumped into bicycling and is passionate about sharing her enthusiasm with others.

Name: Shyra Holden-Allen
Lives in: Columbus, East Side
Works in: Downtown Columbus

“The ride hooked me!”

In 2014, Shyra rode Bike the Cbus with her husband. They pedaled throughout the city, eventually jumping off the route a little early because the weather was scorching. As they walked their bikes to their cars, a man – then Yay Bikes! Board President Ray George - ran after them. He wanted to know whether they enjoyed the ride and if they had any feedback. “I thought it was so cool he considered our feelings,” Shyra said.

Not knowing the organization behind Bike the Cbus, Shyra scoped out her swag bag finding a brochure for Yay Bikes! After that ride, Shyra was enamored with both bicycling and Yay Bikes! Though she was a little worried about being accepted, she decided to check out a Year of Yay! ride.

“I remember thinking, I’m just jumping into this and I’m not an athlete. I was worried that I wasn’t the rider I felt I needed to be to ride the roads.” Shyra said. “But, the ride hooked me. It was so exhilarating!”

“After that first ride, I couldn’t wait for the next one.”

Soon after her first Year of Yay! experience, Shyra became a regular at the monthly rides. She loved exploring the city by bike and the different approach ride leaders take to highlight different areas and businesses around Columbus. “It’s exciting to see what they come up with!” Shyra said.

Year of Yay! leaders are hand selected individuals whose passion and enthusiasm for riding has caught the eye of Yay Bikes! leadership. From their own imagination, they create the themes, routes and stops on our monthly bike rides. A few months after her first Year of Yay!, Shyra was invited to lead a ride of her own.

While she was nervous, she was inspired by the confidence Yay Bikes! leadership had in her. “I became a cheerleader! I just kept getting called back to support Yay Bikes!” Shyra said.

“I was starting to feel like superwoman.”

Quickly, Shyra became immersed in; not only the Yay Bikes! community, but also Columbus biking community. As she learned more, her confidence skyrocketed and she felt inspired to begin commuting to-and-from work by bike. For three weeks she rode the 7+ miles from her home on Columbus’ East Side to Downtown. “I was starting to feel like superwoman,” Shyra said.

Then one-day bad weather struck. It was raining, pouring actually, as Shyra rode home at dusk. Untethered, Shyra was committed to get all the way home on her bike. But her concerned husband showed up in the car halfway through her commute home and pleaded her to load up her bike and take the ride home.

This sentiment was shared by her concerned father who Shyra later recalled the incident to. She and her father are close and he is very supportive of Shyra’s passion for biking. In fact, her father was the one to teach Shyra to ride a bike. One of seven children in her family, Shyra was the last to learn to ride a bike. She was eight-years-old and already her younger brother was pedaling up and down the streets of their neighborhood. “I remember my dad being behind me and I told him to let go. After getting the courage to look back, I realized he had let go about three blocks prior.”

Despite his desire to see Shyra happy doing this thing she loves, her father begged Shyra to only commute by bike in the daylight and when the weather is good. Very reluctantly, Shyra made the commitment to PAUSE her solo winter commuting. “But I miss feeling like Superwoman.” Shyra looks forward to the return of longer daylight hours when she will start commuting to work by bike again, and is determined to figure out how to address her husband and father's fear about her safety before next winter.

 “What I really want is to see more bikes on the street!”

Shyra talks to friends, family, neighbors and even strangers about the about the rules of the road and ease of getting place to place on a bike. She invites new people to ride with Yay Bikes! regularly, going as far to travel door-to-door through her neighborhood to do so. On another occasion, she struck up conversation with strangers out to lunch. “My husband and I were at Easton and I saw some people with bikes sitting on a patio at a restaurant so I marched right up to tell them about Year of Yay!” she said. “My husband said I was scaring people!”

“What I really want is to see more bikes on the street!” Shyra said. While she eagerly awaits the end of daylight savings time and the return to her regular bike commute, Shyra will continue to share her passion and knowledge with everyone she comes across as she pedals throughout Columbus.

 

 

 

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!

'TAKING' ride recap

January’s theme of “TAKING” was a “TAKE” on December’s theme of “Giving” (courtesy Ride Leader Jeff Gove, smart-ass extraordinaire). 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 “TOOK 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, especially our Ride Leader, Jeff Gove. See you next month!

January 2016 activity report

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 grandparents, 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 future 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 their Bike the Cbus shifts. 

Volunteers chillaxin' after their 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!

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

December 2015 activity report

City of Columbus officials and Yay Bikes! volunteers at the official launch of Columbus' first protected bike lanes.

City of Columbus officials and Yay Bikes! volunteers at the official launch of Columbus' first protected bike lanes.

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"