“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!”