Going small

Me (far right), making time for long bike rides with loved ones. Photo credit: Shyra Allen

Me (far right), making time for long bike rides with loved ones. Photo credit: Shyra Allen

(Gulp…) So I never thought I’d say this but…I think I’m a recreational cyclist now. All the signs are there: eagerly planning long bike rides, going on long bike rides, enjoying long bike rides. And if you know me, you know this is SUPER weird. I work, I don’t play! I ride my bike for utility, not fun! Admitting that I ride recreationally now, just for fun—well, it’s like I don’t even know myself anymore.

This may have been a natural progression for me. I mean, I am the Executive Director of a bicycle advocacy organization (albeit one focused on transportation cycling), after all! But I do wonder if the acceleration my path to recreational riding this year isn’t somehow tied to the topsy-turvy nature of USA 2017. I’ve been frustrated a lot this year. Pondering how to be of use in this moment, wondering if perhaps I’m going about it all wrong. I’m still out there every day, advocating with all my heart for the big stuff—peaceful streets and better bicycling conditions. But is seems I’ve also been heeding a call from deep within to “go small”. It’s been a time of nurturing relationships; exploring, learning and reflecting; meeting new people; moving my body—a time, yes, of long bike rides. 

There are ways in which our bicycle movement absolutely speaks to the broader, more fraught issues of our time—more on that next month—but it also offers us a rare and necessary space in our society for healing. Rebuilding frayed nerves and relationships, one pedal stroke at a time. Connecting folks from different neighborhoods, one corridor at a time. What could be more important than this? This is The Work that I and Yay Bikes! are called to do. If you're feeling overwhelmed, sad, angry, hopeless, I encourage you go small with me. Not so small that you go into hiding. Just small enough for a restorative bike ride with friends new and old.

Much love to you all.

Smooch! 

Getting some respect

Cyclists following all the laws, likely still pissing people off. Photo credit: David Curran

Cyclists following all the laws, likely still pissing people off. Photo credit: David Curran

This article reflects the views of its author and not necessarily those of Yay Bikes!

Every time you get on a bike, from this moment forward, obey the letter of the law in every traffic exchange everywhere to help drivers (and police officers) view cyclists as predictable users of the road who deserve respect.
— "Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?", The New York Times

The above quote reflects an idea with seemingly widespread acceptance, which is that cyclists could overcome drivers’ hatred and earn their respect if we would all just follow the rules. Respect for cyclists, in this view, is predicated not on our legitimate, law-given right to the road, but our ability to perfectly, “in every traffic exchange everywhere”, obey the letter of the law. Never mind that drivers and cyclists break the law at roughly the same rate—the perception is that cyclists are the scofflaws, and damn rude to boot. And so many of us have taken to policing our fellow riders, blaming them for our pitiable station, or begging the police to more often ticket law-breaking cyclists. This I consider unfortunate—because the sad truth is that cyclists can never be perfect enough for motorists to willingly give up the space and speed they feel they’re entitled to. It’s time for us to try a different way. 

The politics of respectability

The concept of respectability politics, through which Black social critics have made the case that "acting right" will never command respect for Blacks in American society, is a useful frame for all marginalized groups, including bicyclists. 

Respectability politics...refers to attempts by marginalized groups to police their own members and show their social values as being continuous, and compatible, with mainstream values rather than challenging the mainstream for its failure to accept difference.
— wikipedia.org

You might recognize a respectability-oriented argument from comments by Bill Cosby and Charles Barkley, who insist that a lack of personal responsibility and conformity with mainstream culture, not white racism or hundreds of years of oppression, are primarily to blame for the black community's continued struggle. If (poor) blacks would pull up their pants, speak deferentially to cops, stop acting like thugs, etc., etc.—then they'd thrive. Unfortunately, as many of us know from hard experience, being respectable does not necessarily translate into being respected. Plenty of "respectable" black folks still face discrimination and, indeed, outcomes as disparate as those of America's white and black communities suggests something more is at play here.       

Of course respect can be earned, no one is disputing that. But when a power imbalance exists—caused and reinforced over many years by policies that benefit one group over another—the more powerful group comes to feel entitled to their privilege, and blind to its true cause (i.e., not their own inherent worth but an entire system stacked in their favor). They are not so inclined to grant respect (i.e., equality) to those they believe would halt the gravy train. 

And so it is with bikes v cars. If we believe that stopping at stop signs is going to reverse the impact of decades of car-prioritizing policies in the U.S., we are tragically naive. Again, cyclists can never be perfect enough to get motorists to willingly give up the space and speed they feel they’re entitled to. Many motorists don't want us on the road, period. They don't want to have to drive slower and pay better attention and re-learn traffic law and adopt a new transportation paradigm that encompasses all comers. I’m not mad about that—change can be uncomfortable, and there’s no denying that this change is a doozy. What’s crazy-making is the pretending.

I remember on two separate occasions when I was stopped at a red light and the drivers behind me honked their horns, waved frantically and yelled at me to get over so they could make a right turn—which I did not oblige, because I was headed straight. They were both over-the-top mad about it. The second time it happened, I remember wondering if he would have pretended to be as mad if I'd run the red light as he was actually mad that I was stopped there, delaying his turn. Prior to those incidents it had not occurred to me that people might (subconsciously, perhaps) pretend to care about cyclists following the law in order to mask their rage at cyclists existing in their space...but what other explanation could there be? 

Countering power and privilege

Of course it's good practice for cyclists to observe the law—it upholds the predictability upon which safety in traffic depends, and it's generally safer for us. But let's not pretend that it will earn us the respect we crave, and let's not waste time policing cyclists who aren't compliant. Instead our movement should turn our attention to helping motorists, who wield a disproportionate ability to harm, move into a new paradigm of transportation. How? Widespread motorist education. About this, Yay Bikes! has some thoughts—and also, some data.

During our 2015 Ride Buddy pilot program, we rode with people to help them figure out how to ride bikes on trips to and/or from work. We followed up with participants six weeks after their Ride Buddy experience, to see whether and how their behaviors and attitudes had changed. A couple of things we were curious about was how riding with us influenced both their impression of bicyclists and the way they drove their car. Here's what we found:

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In terms of how, exactly, their impression changed, the majority of survey respondents (61%, n=41) reported that they "better understand why [bicyclists] make the choices they do", while others said they "feel less hostility towards them" and even that they "think they're kinda heroic, actually".

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The majority of respondents (61.5%, n=39) reported that they "give cyclists more space when passing", while others said they "are less anxious and more patient"—and also that they drive more slowly and less distractedly. One even wrote, "I'm way more patient with cyclists now. I understand what they're doing.”

Although it's a small sample size, these results suggest something interesting—that a one- to two-hour guided bike ride experience can change both the way people drive and how they feel about bicyclists.

In fact, I have come to believe that the only way for cyclists to get more respect is for more motorists to become bicyclists, even for a very short period of time. Ideally, a preponderance of the population would participate in educational rides like How We Roll or Ride Buddy or Professional Development Rides. But how? It can be hard for people to overcome their fear of riding with traffic, their inability to see themselves as a “cyclist”, logistical challenges, etc. So anything that compels participation is likely a no-go. But an idea from former Yay Bikes! founding board member Ken Cohen provides a compelling alternative. What if we could get insurance companies to provide a discount to customers who participate in an educational bike ride? If we could demonstrate safer driving through bicycle education, I bet insurance companies would consider it. And if people could save money on their car insurance by becoming more attuned to how their driving impacts more vulnerable road users, I think they'd jump at the chance.  

The final word

People who ride bicycles yearn for respect out there on the roads, and no wonder—our lives can depend on it. The mistake we sometimes make is believing that we can earn that respect by acting right and following all the rules. We cannot. As much as we should ride lawfully (and we should), sadly that is not the path to legitimacy. We need to cultivate empathy among those who drive. We need to get them to ride with us. And with the proper incentives, I believe we can. 

October 2017 activity report

Ohio Department of Health employees participating in a Ride Buddy ride. Photo credit: Deo Martinez

Ohio Department of Health employees participating in a Ride Buddy ride. Photo credit: Deo Martinez

October 2

Attended an introductory meeting with a Lime Bike representative

Chaired the regular meeting of the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission's Community Advisory Committee

October 4

Athens NEWS: Advocates: Make Athens bike again

October 5

Sentinel-Tribune: BG adds graphics to remind drivers to share the road with bikes

October 6

Joined an Engineer's Ride with City of Columbus engineers, to look at portions of the proposed Clintonville Bikeway Network

Led a Ride Buddy ride with 3 Ohio Department of Health employees

Participated in the CoGo Bike Share quarterly stakeholders meeting

October 7

Yay Valet! @ OSU v Maryland

October 10

Coffee with Catherine

Attended the annual Ohio Transportation Engineering Conference

October 11

Led a Ride Buddy ride with 2 Ohio Department of Health employees

Drop In with Deo

October 12

Showcased bicycling at a "Career on Wheels" event at Liberty Elementary School

October 13

Delivered 2 Professional Development Rides for Elyria professionals

October 14

Year of Yay!, "First Dates" theme

October 15

Yay Valet! @ Columbus Marathon

October 16

Delivered 2 Professional Development Rides for Kettering professionals

Yay Bikes! board meeting

October 18

Candidates Forum, in partnership with DRAC (the Downtown Residents' Association of Columbus) and the Franklin County Consortium for Good Government

October 22

Led a How We Roll ride

October 23

Delivered a Professional Development Ride for Marietta professionals 

October 24

Delivered 2 Professional Development Rides for Marietta professionals 

October 26

Delivered a Professional Development Ride for McConnellsville professionals 

October 27

Led a Ride Buddy ride with 5 United Way of Central Ohio employees

Delivered a Professional Development Ride for Marietta professionals 

October 28

Yay Valet! @ OSU v Penn State

October 30

Participated in the Community Shares of Mid Ohio Audit Committee meeting

Chaired the regular meeting of the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission's Community Advisory Committee

October 31

abc6onyourside.com: New bill could stiffen distracted driving penalties, some safety advocates want more

'First Dates' ride recap

Ride leader Aliceanne Inskeep introduces the ride with her sweetie, Ken Cohen. Photo credit: Keith Mayton

Ride leader Aliceanne Inskeep introduces the ride with her sweetie, Ken Cohen. Photo credit: Keith Mayton

A big Yay Bikes! thanks to Aliceanne for a fantastic ride! 

Aliceanne Inskeep put together a lovely ride for October's Year of Yay!, during which we recreated her first date with Ken Cohen. Our group of 20ish traveled 17 miles on a perfect 70-degree day, exploring downtown Westerville together.

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Our group kicked off by rolling through friendly neighborhood roads and making our way towards Westerville. Once we arrived, we dismounted at the Westerville Bike Shop and took the next 40 minutes to explore State Street's shops, cafes and bakeries—and people definitely took advantage! 

Spooky cyclist @ Westerville Bike Shop. Photo credit: Keith Mayton

Spooky cyclist @ Westerville Bike Shop. Photo credit: Keith Mayton

YUM! Photo credit: Keith Mayton

YUM! Photo credit: Keith Mayton

We then took our two-wheelin' selves and made way to Westerville Cemetery (Of course! Because all good first dates include a cemetery visit!). We learned that Benjamin Russell Hanby, a composer in the 1850s who wrote the classic Christmas song "Up on the Housetop", was buried there. After a bit of a history lesson from Aliceanne and a failed attempt singing the song as a group, we headed back to our starting point.

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We made a quick stop to take a group picture at the Alum Creek park amphitheater. The way back was spent mostly on the Alum Creek trail.

'New Americans' ride recap

New Americans was the theme for this Year of Yay! ride, which exposed us to the lives of people who are not from this country. The people we encountered on this day were mostly new to the ways of American tradition and customs. Sometimes in order to understand people, you must jump knee deep in their culture, and that's just what we did. All in all, the ride went beautifully! The route went through various easy-going neighborhoods with kids waving and good vibes.

Who needs Morse Rd?!?! Photo credit: Pete Heiss

Who needs Morse Rd?!?! Photo credit: Pete Heiss

The weather was nice and the riders were ready. The day graced us with temps in the 70s perfectly fitting for the 17.9-mile ride ahead of us. The first stop on our cruise was Global Mall, a marketplace where you can find several different imported goods and gifts. Along the aisles, you could purchase colorful Somali garments, ceramics and even groceries that you wouldn't find in a conventional supermarket.

Perusing the Global Mall. Photo credit: Keith Lugs

Perusing the Global Mall. Photo credit: Keith Lugs

Ride leader Nancy Niemuth considers a garment. Photo credit: Keith Lugs

Ride leader Nancy Niemuth considers a garment. Photo credit: Keith Lugs

Next up was Masjid As-Salaamah, a mosque on Cleveland Avenue where Madhi Warsama was nice enough to speak to us about their place of worship, Islam and the daily life of Muslim people. He even let us take a peek in the men's prayer hall! He closed out with giving us info about various CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) Central Ohio activities and programs.

Hearing from Madhi Warsama Masjid at As-Salaamah, a mosque on Cleveland Avenue. Photo credit: Keith Lugs

Hearing from Madhi Warsama Masjid at As-Salaamah, a mosque on Cleveland Avenue. Photo credit: Keith Lugs

The last stop on our journey was the Columbus Global Academy, which houses the Columbus City School district's ESL (English as a Second Language) programs, which teach young immigrants to speak English. The principal wasn't available to speak, so our ride leader, Nancy Niemuth, talked to us in-depth about what the program entails and how it impacts the lives of students.

At the Columbus Global Academy to learn about their ESL program. Photo credit: Pete Heiss

At the Columbus Global Academy to learn about their ESL program. Photo credit: Pete Heiss

Thanks to everyone who joined us for the adventure, and especially Keith and Pete, who captured it so beautifully in picture and video, and Nancy for creating such a fascinating experience. See you next month!

The bicycling State of Ohio

A crew of ODOT employees discovers how easy it is to bike the West Side. Photo credit: Meredith Joy

A crew of ODOT employees discovers how easy it is to bike the West Side. Photo credit: Meredith Joy

Over the past couple months, in a pilot program similar to the one we offered in 2015 (results here), Yay Bikes! Ride Buddies Meredith Joy and Deo Martinez have ridden with 48 state agency employees. We don't yet have the data from this round of programming fully collected or analyzed, but what we have so far reaffirms for me the value of a human touch in our work. After an extremely short ride experience, at least 2 people are giving up their parking passes; almost 30 have purchased annual CoGo bike share memberships; several have begun riding again after many years and more! Entire workplaces are being transformed as 10+ people within them have learned how to ride and gained access to bike share during their work day. As always, it's been magical. 

This was a great experience! I don’t think I would have felt confident enough to ride on the road without this. I hope more people take advantage of it!
— Ride Buddy participant
Wellness Ambassadors from several agencies are partners in getting people out to ride with us. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Wellness Ambassadors from several agencies are partners in getting people out to ride with us. Photo credit: Ben Ko

What they learned

I always find it fascinating what people learned from riding with us. Again, this is an extremely short ride we're talking about—1 hour, 3ish miles. But what it opens up for people is nothing short of extraordinary. People come out of the rides understanding bike law and their right to the road, how to use various forms of bicycle infrastructure, where to access amazing parks and trails, why people who ride make the choices they do, about local resources that can support their ability to ride, how to use hand signals and on and on. It does make one wonder—what would happen on our streets if everyone had the benefit of some on-road bicycle education. Hmmm....! 

Consider my mind blown that riding a few feet to the left of where people assume they should ride their bike makes an extremely stressful situation into a normal traffic experience.
— Ride Buddy participant
Ohio Department of Health employees putting their bikes where their mouths are...uhhh...or something like that! Photo credit: Meredith Joy

Ohio Department of Health employees putting their bikes where their mouths are...uhhh...or something like that! Photo credit: Meredith Joy

What they were surprised by

Even more fascinating is what people find surprising on the ride. Two recurring themes are that people are surprised by how many rights they have as a cyclist, and by how much less stressful it is than expected to ride on the road. People have built up a lot of fear about what it must be like to ride in the street, but the come to discover that, for the most part, drivers are quite lovely. In the proper lane position, they find they are like rocks in a stream, with faster traffic flowing around them peacefully. Busy streets previously inaccessible to them are suddenly in play.

[I was surprised to realize] the large downtown streets are actually ok.
— Ride Buddy participant
The Ohio Departments of Education and Higher Education booked 3 rides with us! Photo credit: Jeff Gove

The Ohio Departments of Education and Higher Education booked 3 rides with us! Photo credit: Jeff Gove

Their favorite part

Of course, we here at Yay Bikes! don't just ride for the sake of it. Bicycling is what you experience and discover along the way! Fittingly, many of our riders have cited our ride through Scioto Audubon Metro Park and the trail into Downtown along the Scioto River as their favorite part of their experience. Between the goldenrod blooms and the breathtaking waterfront views of Columbus' skyline, it's no wonder! Many of our riders had never visited the park, and many others weren't aware of how a bike path connects it so readily to Downtown. Win! 

[My favorite part was] the beauty of the Audubon area and seeing how it connects with the Scioto Mile.
— Ride Buddy participant
Riders discover how easy it is to use CoGo to ride into Downtown from Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Photo credit: Deo Martinez

Riders discover how easy it is to use CoGo to ride into Downtown from Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Photo credit: Deo Martinez

Riding the path into Downtown from Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Riding the path into Downtown from Scioto Audubon Metro Park. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Yay Bikes! is grateful to the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Department of Health for their extraordinary commitment to active transportation. This program would not be available without their support and investment. As of this writing, funds are available for several more rides. If you work at a state agency in or near downtown, contact Meredith to schedule a one-hour ride experience for you or your team. It's magic, I tell ya.

Bertie's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Yay Bikes! board member Bertie Ford about how Yay Bikes! is helping her advance the many cycling communities she leads and enjoys.

If ever a photo captured the spirit of a person...! It's Bertie! Photo credit: Ben Ko

If ever a photo captured the spirit of a person...! It's Bertie! Photo credit: Ben Ko

Yay Bikes! is a way to connect several bicycling communities
important to me and get more people riding like I do,
for fun, fitness and camaraderie!
— Bertie Ford

FILLING A HOLE: "I was devastated when a knee injury forced me to give up running. Luckily biking was there to save me!"

Bertie Ford, an oncology nurse, has always been a cyclist, riding around her college campus, carting her son around by bike and enjoying Bike the Cbus and other trail rides. But bicycling has increasingly become a passion of hers over the past 10 years, especially since she injured her knee training for and running a marathon in 2014. When Bertie learned about the organization Black Girls Do Bike, she was quick to launch a Columbus chapter, which now boasts 266 members. She's found in bicycling an
endless source of fitness, fun and camaraderie—as well as an outlet for her natural leadership skills.

Bertie, rocking a mountain bike on the first-ever Bike the Cbus in 2008.

Bertie, rocking a mountain bike on the first-ever Bike the Cbus in 2008.

Black Girls Do Bike Columbus riding 2017's Bike the Cbus. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Black Girls Do Bike Columbus riding 2017's Bike the Cbus. Photo credit: Ben Ko

ENCOUNTERING A KINDRED SPIRIT: "Catherine is my idol. People from every cycling group in Columbus know and respect her leadership."

When Bertie met Yay Bikes! Executive Director Catherine Girves in 2015, she instantly felt bonded to her. A "Force of Nature" herself, Bertie knew a powerful woman when she met one. Over the next two years they got to know one another—Catherine joining Black Girls Do Bike rides, Bertie enjoying Year of Yay! rides, the two traveling together to the Five Boro Bike Tour in NYC—and found they shared a passion for bicycling, a worldview and even the unique experience of mixed race families. Bertie admired Catherine's tenacity, her energy, "everything about her, really!", and loved that she sees the big picture, to the benefit of the cycling community as a whole. So when Catherine invited her to consider Yay Bikes! board leadership, Bertie was all in. 

Bertie and Catherine, poised to head out with Black Girls Do Bike to the London Strawberry Festival.

Bertie and Catherine, poised to head out with Black Girls Do Bike to the London Strawberry Festival.

CONNECTING THE COMMUNITY: "I view myself as a vessel to be filled up with the wishes of my communities, so that I can help communicate them to higher levels."

Bertie is the type always compelled to go above and beyond herself for the sake of her communities. She considers herself vessel of communication and advocacy for the groups to which she belongs—Yay Bikes!, Black Girls Do Bike, Major Taylor, Steady Pedaling and CycleNuts.—and an ambassador for African American cyclists, who many people in Ohio are not accustomed to seeing. She's proud of the African American bicycle community in Columbus, which has grown exponentially in the past couple of years and would be, she says, more in line with what you'd expect from a place like Detroit or Atlanta. 

Members of Black Girls Do Bike, Major Taylors, Cycle Nuts and Yay Bikes! before chowing down during a ride to London OH.

Members of Black Girls Do Bike, Major Taylors, Cycle Nuts and Yay Bikes! before chowing down during a ride to London OH.

RAMPING UP YET AGAIN: "Joining the board of Yay Bikes! is a way for me to expand my ability to increase the number and safety of cyclists out there."

With a goal to increase the number and safety of cyclists in Central Ohio, and a leadership itch needing scratched, Bertie joined the Yay Bikes! board in August 2017. Among other things, she views board service as an opportunity to better promote and advocate for her Black Girls Do Bike chapter, and hopes to mentor new leaders within the group to expand the number of rides they offer even when she's not available to coordinate them. 

Happiness on a bike, riding with Team Buckeye during Pelotonia 2017. Photo credit: Darrell McGrath

Happiness on a bike, riding with Team Buckeye during Pelotonia 2017. Photo credit: Darrell McGrath

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Bertie for her enthusiasm, spunk, organizational knowledge and leadership. We especially appreciate her role as a Connector who brings people together for bike rides—and ultimately helps them accomplish so much more. 

Helmets off to you, friend!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

Etiquette, schmetiquette!

Why bring the best movie of all time into this?!

This article reflects the views of its author and not necessarily those of Yay Bikes!.

They’re some of the rudest people I’ve ever encountered. I hate to say it, but I’m just going to be bold—they’re some of the most self-centered people navigating on highways, or on county roads I’ve ever seen. They won’t move over. You can honk at them; they think they own the highway.

— President of the Montana Senate Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, opposing a proposed safe passing bill for the state

"Not wrong, just an a**hole"

I was reading the comment section on a bicycle-related newspaper article one day (I know, I know…) and noticed an interesting pivot in one of the comments. Someone had defended a cyclist’s right to be on the road—yay!—but then, channeling The Dude from The Big Lebowski (please do watch the clip above), went on to say that while cyclists “aren’t wrong” to be on the road, “they’re just a**holes” for riding there. Well now. That took a turn, didn’t it. 

It does seem to me there’s been a shift in the discourse lately, with more people understanding that cyclists have a legal right to be on the road. But the cultural attitude about that remains entrenched—it’s damn rude to do it. And so people who ride are faced with a choice. Do we physically remove ourselves from the flow of traffic when our presence slows motor vehicles, currying favor with drivers and maintaining our status as decent, etiquette-respecting human beings? Or do we stay safe? 

Yes, the choice between “rude” and safe is that stark. Safety for cyclists is largely a function of how visible we are to people driving cars, and the best way to be visible is to position ourselves within a driver’s line of sight (keeping in mind that they can’t see as well, or process information as quickly, from within their speeding box). Nevertheless, we are subjected to a near-constant chorus—of frustrated motorists but also fellow cyclists who think giving up space on the road will gain us acceptance and respect—that slowing the speed of car travel is deviant. Here’s what I say to that: 

Our roads ain’t no place for etiquette. Particularly the bicycle kind.

etiquette (noun) : the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group.
— dictionary.com

Etiquette is the proverbial grease to society’s chain; it’s the spoken and unspoken rules about how we should behave in a given context to get along with others. Knowing a group’s rules and acting accordingly is essential for anyone who wants to fit in and thrive. So, as people who ride, “bicycle etiquette” should be a useful concept, leading us toward a common understanding of how we should conduct ourselves, yeah? Well sure, in the context of trail and group riding, where clear codes of conduct are important for not just politeness but also safety, etiquette is essential—for example, everyone should understand how to pass others without frightening or injuring them. 

Where the notion of bicycle etiquette becomes trickier is in its application to people riding roads. A quick Google suggests the phrase is a mash-up referring to many different things: riding tips ("No shoaling!"), safety advice ("Wear a helmet at all times"), admonishments to follow the law ("Don't ride against traffic"), truly random stuff ("How to poop on a ride") and calls to get out of the way of other vehicles ("Two abreast? Surely you jest.”). Clearly, there is no clear consensus about what it means. And I’d argue that’s because etiquette in the context of road riding is nonsensical. The group into which people riding roads are attempting to “fit in” is not fellow cyclists but fellow travelers (aka “traffic”)—and all travelers are governed by traffic law, not the laws of polite society. 

Sharing isn’t caring

Keeping peace on the streets is often regarded as a function of all users extending kindness towards one another, or "sharing the road”. This is problematic for many reasons, not least that our understanding of how to behave in traffic breaks down even when people are trying to be kind (I see you there, 'Unnecessary Samaritans', braking for me as I wait to cross the street, forcing an awkward “Are they really stopping for me? Oh, OK, looks like it, guess I’ll have to perform a little shuffle-jog to demonstrate I don’t take their kindness for granted” situation). More troublingly, when we view traffic from the perspective of "polite" or "rude", as opposed to "legal" and "illegal", we set expectations for the behavior of people who ride bicycles that run counter to their interests and safety.

Transportation engineering in the United States has historically prioritized speed and efficiency, and all of us have, to some extent, internalized this ethos. The consensus in American society is now that it is “rude" to slow traffic, meaning that even perfectly legal behavior on the part of a cyclist (riding in the middle of a lane of traffic with cars queued behind) becomes cast as deviance. The “polite” thing to do is move to the right, sharing or forfeiting the lane, at the expense of our own bodies and well being. 

The following analogy may be crude, but it can help us understand how inappropriate it is to think of a bicyclist’s right to travel in terms of etiquette:

People born in the United States have been granted the right to "pursue life" (thanks, Forefathers!). But at times this right may prove inconvenient to others. Say you've spent the past several years caring for an ailing parent. You love them and you're as sympathetic as you can be, but… this is taking so much longer than expected! It’s kind of jamming you up a bit! HOWEVER. Is it “rude” for them to keep living? Of course not! They are exercising their fundamental right to life, not breaching a social contract. Their need for extra care to sustain life does not constitute a claim to "more rights” to life than anyone else. They’re just living as best they can, for as long as possible, regardless your feelings about it.  

Likewise, Americans have a fundamental right to travel (to be distinguished from a right to travel as speedily as we may desire). And at times, depending on the vehicle we’ve chosen, our exercise of this right to travel can be inconvenient for others. It can take more time for them to get to where they’re going when our vehicle is slower than theirs. They may have strong feelings about this. But each individual in our society gets to choose their vehicle from among any of the road-legal vehicles in our state traffic codes, and one type of vehicle has no more or less right to the road than any other. Public roadways are first-come, first-served, period. Taking more time to travel them does not equate to taking “more rights” to the road. We’re all just trying to make it safely to our destinations, as best we can.

The fact is that Ohioans have the right to ride a bicycle literally anywhere on the road, going any speed, regardless of traffic conditions. We cannot “impede traffic”. We need not ride “as far right as possible”. We do not have to “share”. And we are not “being rude” when we take the time and space we feel we need to be safe. Period. 

Cars queueing behind cyclists, alllll good.

Cars queueing behind cyclists, alllll good.

Meanwhile, back in the real world

OK sure, but one might argue that, back here in the real world, law and etiquette coexist, and the legality of an action does not preclude people from evaluating it in light of cultural expectations. Plenty of legal behaviors are considered rude, after all (e.g., speeding up to prevent someone from entering the flow of traffic), just as plenty of drivers employ niceties not proscribed by law (e.g., braking to allow someone to enter the flow of traffic). So assuming it’s safe to do so, people who ride roads should be willing to move aside from time to time to let traffic pass—a simple, no-skin-off-my-back way to generate good will from motorists. Doesn’t have to be a big deal, doesn’t have to mean anything, just a simple act of kindness extended to a stranger to keep things copacetic. Right?! Well…no. 

It is not OK for acceptance into the “legitimate road users club” to hinge on someone physically removing themselves from traffic to suit someone faster than them. We can acknowledge our current reality—that we face a cultural norm around speed on our roads, and flouting that norm can upset people—and also refuse to grant it the power to dictate where we ride on the road. It may not feel fair that we, as the more vulnerable road users, have to take this on, but fortunately we do have the power to help change our society’s norms. When we refuse to move aside for faster traffic, we begin to normalize our presence and slowly, over time, we become normal. And then more people join us on the roads, and bicycling becomes safer and everyone wins—even motorists

Embracing “rude”

To be clear, I think we should all approach traffic with a spirit of generosity—even, yes, kindness—towards our fellow travelers, particularly those more vulnerable than us. Again, the problem with enacting that spirit is that it can undermine the very predictability on which traffic safety for all users depends. Laws are designed to pick up the slack in spaces where human goodness cannot go far enough, where there will be mass confusion and likely injury if circumstances go awry. Adhering to the letter of the law helps keep everyone safe on the road (yes, cyclists should do so as well, but that's a topic for another day). 

I should also say that someone who rides roads need not maintain their position in traffic at all times to make a point. It is fine to feel stressed or threatened by traffic, physically exhausted or whatever, and it might make sense to just pull over for a bit. There are no "hardcore points" one can accumulate by being a never-conceding, most-challenging-route-possible-choosing cyclist. But, to be clear—if someone moves aside while cycling to let cars pass, that is a choice they are making to forfeit their right to the road. It is not "etiquette”. The distinction matters! People want to be nice, they want to follow the rules, they want to fit in, they want not to be a burden on others. They want all that so much they are willing to risk their lives to allow space for massive speeding vehicles, by riding so far to the right they become invisible. 

So polite society be damned, I say. 

It is time for cyclists to embrace “rude” and confidently take their rightful place on the road. It is time that we stop giving our fellow road riders a hard time for being in the street, slowing cars. Because we’re not doing ourselves any favors by being nice. In fact, it just might get us killed.

September 2017 activity report

Our Executive Director at a transportation professionals networking event this month.

Our Executive Director at a transportation professionals networking event this month.

September 1

Bike the Cbus and Bike the CbusPLUS registration & packet pick-up

September 2

Bike the Cbus and Bike the CbusPLUS (Click to view photos of the event!)

September 3

Year of Yay! vetting ride

September 4

Yay Valet! @ Upper Arlington Labor Day Arts Festival

September 5

Chaired the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission's regular Community Advisory Committee meeting

September 6

Coffee With Catherine

Ride Buddy ride with 5 Ohio Department of Transportation employees

September 7

Led a Ride Buddy ride with 5 Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Department of Higher Education employees

Led 2 Ride Buddy rides with 9 Ohio Development Services Administration and Ohio Department of Commerce employees

Bike Safety chat at the Grange Audubon Center

September 9

Year of Yay!, New Americans theme

Yay Valet! @ OSU v Oklahoma

September 10

Offered a Blessing of the Bicycles, in partnership with Summit on 16th United Methodist Church (See the message—"Godly Transportation Design"—here!)

September 14

Presented at a teleconference to professionals nationwide with CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, on the topic Engaging Employees in Active Commuting (Listen to the webinar here!)

Drop In with Deo @ Upper Cup Coffee House

September 15

Attended an Inclusive Communities Affordable Housing Committee meeting

Attended a transportation professionals networking event

September 16

Yay Valet! @ OSU v Army West Point

September 18

Led a Ride Buddy ride with 4 Ohio Department of Health employees

Delivered 2 Professional Development Rides for Knox County professionals

Yay Bikes! board meeting

September 19

Mount Vernon News: Ride shines light on bike safety in city

September 20

Site visit to the Ohio Department of Transportation to assess bicycle infrastructure needs

September 21

Led a Ride Buddy ride with 4 Ohio Department of Transportation and Ohio Department of Higher Education employees

September 23

Yay Valet! @ OSU v UNLV

September 25

Participated in Ohio Active Transportation Plan team meeting

September 26

Led a Ride Buddy ride with 3 Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections employees

Godly transportation design

Yay Bikes! member Nik Olah getting blessed at Summit on 16th United Methodist Church's 2017 Blessing of the Bicycles. 

Yay Bikes! member Nik Olah getting blessed at Summit on 16th United Methodist Church's 2017 Blessing of the Bicycles. 

I delivered this message at Summit on 16th United Methodist Church's 2017 Blessing of the Bicycles. It's a bit of a funny thing, because I'm not religious, and of course Yay Bikes! is secular. But I think there is great value in considering our mission from many perspectives, of which faith is one both worthy and under appreciated. (Yes, I know many of us do "bike church" on Sunday mornings, but beyond that...). Indeed, when we include “culture change” as part of our theory of change at Yay Bikes!, what we mean is that we “explore the intersections between bicycling and other areas of life—because we believe it necessary to expand the public’s notion of who is and can be a bicyclist.” People are inspired to ride for all sorts of reasons—health, the environment, fun, saving money, etc. Why not ride as an expression of our faith? So please enjoy this message as an invitation to honor God’s design by riding your bicycle! And have a blessed day. 


Sooooo…here we are at a Blessing of the Bicycles. That’s weird, right? I mean, it’s like a “thing” now—they’ve been doing them all over the world since 1999—but what is it, some kinda gimmick? A trick? But why? Like I said—weird!

Well, most of us here are cyclists, or maybe we don’t call ourselves that but we ride our bikes from time to time. We may be faithful people, or perhaps not. Regardless, I think most of us can buy into the idea of a Bike Blessing, even if only because “hey man, whatever it takes to stay safe out there”. God, pixie dust, birthday wishes, bottle genies, whatever, I’ll take it, sure! 

To tell the truth, bicycles and blessings is an odd pairing, and this event is indeed rather odd. What I love about it, though, is that it opens the door just a crack to an area of life that really warrants more attention from our faith communities—or any attention at all, frankly. And that is transportation. The everyday act of getting our bodies from one place to another. 

Yeah, let’s take this a step back from bicycling today to consider transportation more broadly. Yay Bikes!, the nonprofit organization I founded nine years ago and still work for today, is dedicated to bicycle advocacy, yes. But we focus exclusively on one type of bicycling, which is bicycling as a means of transportation. Of all the many types of riding a person can enjoy, this is mine, and transportation happens to be the frame I’ve used to explore and understand bicycling for more than a decade. So that's what I’m able to share with y’all today. Also, I grew up in the Christian tradition, as a preacher’s kid no less, so that experience is what I can speak to specifically. It is my hope that this message resonates with those of you from different backgrounds and traditions as well.

So, then. As I was reflecting for this message on what might be some intersections between the worlds of faith and transportation, I came up with a pretty short list.
Two things. First, spiritual journeys—all faith traditions use journeys as a metaphor for a person's relationship with God. Second, church vans. A way to get people to and from church when they're not able to themselves, and youth outings and the like. And I thought to myself, there has got to be more here…something more profound, more vital to those spiritual journeys we’re all traveling. And I believe there is.

{...dramatic pause...}

What is God’s design for our bodies?

What is God’s design for our communities?

What is God’s design for our planet? 

And how do our everyday transportation choices honor God’s designs…or not?

{...dramatic pause...}

If God’s design for our bodies is movement, can we not honor that design by riding a bicycle? If God’s design for our communities is love and connection, can we not honor that design by riding the bus alongside our neighbors? If God’s design for our planet is abundance, can we not honor that design by treading lightly, on a walk, so as not to squander our bounty?

This is not, of course, to suggest that God particularly cares how we choose to get around, or that there is shame in choosing to drive a car. Let’s not follow that path, it’s not productive for us. Indeed, a person can honor God's design while driving by choosing kindness with regard to more vulnerable road users. So let's instead turn to the opportunity in front of us each and every day, numerous times a day, to experience God’s majesty in the mundanity of travel.  

Surely an almighty God could have created humans to teleport. I mean, surely that would have been a superior mechanism for getting us to and fro, amiright? Missed opportunity, there...

But maybe not. See maybe there is a reason we weren’t designed to teleport. Just maybe, the time and effort it takes us to get our bodies from one place to another is a gift from God that we just haven’t realized we would do well to honor.

What type of world is available when we do choose to honor our time in transit? A world in which we arrive to our destination feeling refreshed and joyful. A world in which children can play outside and our elders can cross the street without fear of traffic. A world in which our planet suffers no storms and wild fires aren’t raging out of control.
We get to choose—each and every day, each and every time we need to go somewhere, what type of world we will create as we travel.

At Yay Bikes!, we believe that riding a bicycle is an important thing a person can do to feel profoundly connected to their best self, to their fellow (wo)man, to their place in the world, to their version of the Divine. We believe that riding a bicycle is a unique experience in that way, notably different from the experience we tend to have driving a car—isolated, rushed, body immobile, dirty. And because it offers such rare and profound connectedness to the best of who we are, we believe that the act of bicycling transforms lives. Especially so for those who choose to ride, but even among those who don't, whose lives are safer, healthier, more peaceful and more enjoyable when cyclists take to the streets. 

A bike friendly world is a better world, for all of us! 

It’s almost as if it's by design. ;)

Thank you.

We are powerful.

Hundreds of people embark on 2016's Bike the Cbus ride. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Hundreds of people embark on 2016's Bike the Cbus ride. Photo credit: Ben Ko

At Yay Bikes!, our days are spent working to influence the conditions that help people safely and comfortably ride bicycles for transportation. That work takes many forms, some of which you likely recognize—parking bicycles with Yay Valet! at festivals to help people feel confident riding their bikes there; leading monthly Year of Yay! rides that help people acclimate to traffic; supporting people on How We Roll and Ride Buddy rides that teach them how to ride roads; offering annual Bike the Cbus and Ride of Silence events that bring our bicycle community together; riding with professionals throughout Ohio on Professional Development Rides that demonstrate how they can improve conditions for people who ride for transportation in their communities. Other work happens at the many meetings and other events we attend each month. Still more work occurs to develop communications, plan events, run an office and etc., etc., etc. And because our organizational values and theory of change demand a deep commitment to excellence and a meaningful investment in people, our work takes work. 

We have a tiny staff. We could hardly be more “lean”. Staff doesn’t have the capacity to do all we’ve taken on. 

BUT LUCKILY!

There is a vast, often unseen, machinery at work to help us accomplish all of the above. And that machinery is the literally hundreds of YOUs out there who support our programming every year. You park bikes, set up bicycle valets, make Year of Yay! buttons, lead rides, sweep rides, tie Ride of Silence arm bands, place signs, design routes, table at events, take and post photos, pour beverages, support registration, prepare mailings, raise funds, promote events, invite friends. You sacrifice your free time to attend ride leader trainings, your rides to support those who are new or struggling, your beer guzzling festival time to park bikes. You are an army of the givingest folks I have ever experienced, and our bicycle community is achieving the gains it is today directly as a result. We, together, are enacting change on a major scale throughout Central Ohio and beyond; we, together, are powerful.  

Time and again what people say about Yay Bikes! and riding bikes in general, is that it’s the community that has made bicycling such a magical force in their lives. It’s true. And I invite all of you who share our values to come experience our community for yourself. Whether you ride or not, there is a place for you here, and we couldn’t be more grateful for your unique contribution to this hard, fun, life changing, excellent work. 

Thank you. A million, trillion times, thank you.

August 2017 activity report

Deo and Meredith lead an educational ride with 5 employees of the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education. 

Deo and Meredith lead an educational ride with 5 employees of the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education. 

August 1

Health fair tabling event at the Ohio Department of Health

Delivered a Professional Development Ride in Cincinnati, Newport & Covington with 26 transportation professionals from around the U.S. at AASHTO's Conference on Performance-Based Transportation Planning, Financing, and Management

Participated in the Short North's National Night Out celebration

August 2

Ride Buddy ride with an Ohio Department of Higher Education employee

August 3

Site visit to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to evaluate bike parking needs

"Pushin' Pedals" beer release party at Platform Beer Co, to benefit bicycle advocacy in Ohio

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

August 4

Professional Development Ride with Columbus City Schools staff

August 5

smartregions.org: Walkable, bikeable, and regional

August 8

Columbus Underground: Focus on Philanthropy: Yay Bikes! Removes Barriers to Biking

Coffee with Catherine @ Upper Cup Coffee Co in Gahanna

Led the Tuesday Night Ride to Whole Foods Easton to try the "Pushin' Pedals" beer

August 9

Evaluated applications to the insight2050 Technical Assistance Program on its Selection Committee

August 10

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

August 11

Site visit to the Ohio Department of Health to evaluate bike parking needs

August 12

Year of Yay!, Water theme

August 15

Ride Buddy ride with 4 Ohio Department of Health employees

Lucky's Market Impact Day tabling event

Professional Development Ride for Perry County officials in New Lexington 

August 16

Drop In with Deo @ Short North Coffee House in the Short North

Presentation to transportation professionals from the Atlanta Regional Commission about the collaborative process to develop bike lanes over the 3rd and 4th Street bridges 

August 17

Site visit to Rhodes Tower to evaluate bike parking needs

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

August 18

Ride Buddy ride with 1 Ohio Department of Higher Education employee and 1 Ohio Development Services Agency employee 

August 19

Rode the Bike with Mayor Ike bike ride

Yay Valet! @ Grove City EcoFest

August 20

Spoke on Central Ohio bicycle advocacy at the Black Girls Do Bike Columbus semiannual meet-up

August 21

Yay Bikes! board meeting

August 22

Perry County Tribune: County approves active transportation committee

Blessing of the Bicycles planning meeting with Summit on 16th United Methodist Church

August 23

How We Roll ride with Yay Bikes! members

August 24

Attended the 2017 COTA Annual Luncheon

August 25

Ride Buddy ride with 1 Ohio Department of Medicaid employee

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

Ride Buddy ride with 5 employees of the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Department of Higher Education

August 26

Bike the Cbus volunteer appreciation and route vetting ride

August 27

How We Roll ride with Yay Bikes! members

August 29

Candidates Forum planning meeting with Franklin County Consortium for Good Government

Bill's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Yay Bikes! Board Member Bill Ferriot about how Yay Bikes! has developed his ability to speak up for what matters to him.

The thing that has surprised me most is the social networking aspect of riding. It’s opened up more opportunities for me than anything else
I’ve been a part of!
— Bill Ferriot

WINDING HIS WAY TOWARDS YAY BIKES!: "If there is a way to ride, I've tried it. But I had no idea all the places it would end up taking me."

Road riding, mountain biking, gravel grinding, "bikepacking", BMXing, bicycle commuting, etc. Bill Ferriot has been there, biked that. "All the various subcultures within bicycling are just fascinating to me. It's always fun to see people expressing themselves through the various ways they ride." When Bill moved to Columbus, he soon fell in with some cycling friends (of course), and soon enough Ray George was among them (of course). When Ray set to work developing a bike culture here, Bill quickly went all in, designing Bike the Cbus tees, being a work horse at various events and ultimately joining the Yay Bikes! board in 2011.  

Bill, in his natural habitat.

Bill, in his natural habitat.

Switching it up for a more debonair styling on a recent Tweed Ride.

Switching it up for a more debonair styling on a recent Tweed Ride.

Rocking a flaming pink tee at a Comfest bike valet. 

Rocking a flaming pink tee at a Comfest bike valet. 

GAINING CONFIDENCE: "I've learned through Yay Bikes! to be a powerful advocate for change that's important to me, as opposed to just mouthing off."

Bill credits his time serving Yay Bikes! with helping him become a more effective advocate, and significantly expanding his social and professional networks. As Bill became more steeped in the business of change making and "The Yay Way", he learned how government works, how street design happens, who makes decisions affecting his neighborhood and how to influence the process. He soon gained the confidence to attend community meetings about proposed West Side–area roadway improvements and speak powerfully for what he, as a cyclist, hoped to see happen. Meanwhile, his community of bicycling friends has become a constant source of fun and adventure, emotional support and opportunity. 

Happy hour advocatin'.

Happy hour advocatin'.

PAYING IT FORWARD: "I can only hope that my contribution allows people to experience the process of learning and growth I have through cycling."

Bill has made it his mission to share with the world all the good that bicycling has brought to his life. And while he may be most comfortable quietly working behind the scenes to advance the cause, anyone who's experienced a Yay Bikes! event has experienced his care and consideration. Certainly you've seen his brilliant design and photography work, which he's artfully employed to generate interest in our rides:

Bike the Cbus and Columbus Pride t-shirt designs.

Bike the Cbus and Columbus Pride t-shirt designs.

One of our most-loved, most-used images.

One of our most-loved, most-used images.

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Bill for his quiet, earnest leadership and his too-many-to-count quick "yeses". We especially appreciate his role in helping Yay Bikes! communicate the greatness of our organization and the majesty of riding bikes!

Helmets off to you, friend!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

You belong with us

ALL (who are kind) are welcome here.

ALL (who are kind) are welcome here.

One of the great joys of increasing our organizational capacity is that we are finally in a position to better engage volunteers and support your leadership in Yay Bikes!. With the hiring of Deo, our new-as-of-this-year Program Manager, we can really take the time to match you with the gigs that best fit your skills and interests. The following are two new opportunities we're offering monthly to help you figure out where you belong:

COFFEE WITH CATHERINE

Can't wait to meet you, or catch up!

Can't wait to meet you, or catch up!

Now everyone knows that I am THE WORST at returning emails...So henceforth I will be setting aside "cafe hours" each month for conversation with all comers with questions about Yay Bikes! and the state of bicycle advocacy in Ohio. If you want to know how to support our advocacy in your part of the world, I encourage you to come for a chat!

DROP-INS WITH DEO

This face, waiting to smile at you!

This face, waiting to smile at you!

Meanwhile Deo will be offering Drop-ins that help you learn more about our service and leadership opportunities—we have everything from low-commitment tasks with on-the-spot training to big jobs that require both training and invitation. If you want to learn how to get involved with Yay Bikes!, come prepared to talk about yourself (who doesn't love that?!) and Deo will help you figure out what works.

We'll be sitting in different cafes in different parts of town, during different hours of the day each month, to accommodate everyone who wants to chat with us. Check our calendar for upcoming "Coffee Talks" with me and Deo. Then come say hi! Because one way or another, where you belong is with us.

Want to get a jump on next steps? Before you come out, join or renew your membership! It's an easy way to demonstrate your commitment Yay Bikes! and creating bicycle friendly communities in Ohio. 

July 2017 activity report

Catherine, our Executive Director, has an impromptu meeting with Tony Collins, Director of Columbus Recreation and Parks, and his staff at Columbus Jazz & Ribs Fest. 

Catherine, our Executive Director, has an impromptu meeting with Tony Collins, Director of Columbus Recreation and Parks, and his staff at Columbus Jazz & Ribs Fest. 

July 5

Met with Brent Warren of Columbus Underground to discuss bike news

Attended the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission's Commuter Challenge celebration

Attended the Parsons Avenue Merchants Association meeting to share about Bike the Cbus

Met with Whole Foods about promoting Platform Beer Co.'s "Pushin' Pedals" brew, to be sold exclusively at Whole Foods to benefit bicycle advocacy in Ohio

Met with Jeff May of The Fitness Loft regarding Bike the Cbus and a Year of Yay!

July 6

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

Met with Usjid Hameed of the Council on American Islamic Relations to explore areas of joint interest

July 7

Met with Ryan Edwards of United Way of Central Ohio regarding a Year of Yay!

Met with Bertie Adams Ford to explore Black Girls Do Bike partnerships 

July 8

Year of Yay!, JAM theme

July 10

Coffee with Catherine @ Bottoms Up Coffee Co-op

July 11

Met with the Mayor of Somerset, Ohio

July 12

Chaired the Columbus Green Team meeting

Columbus Young Professionals Club gathering @ City Tavern

July 13–14

Participated in the OSU Roads Scholars Tour

July 14

Rode with City of Columbus engineers on their Hilltop ride to share thoughts about proposed infrastructure

July 15

Delivered a Ride Buddy work commute with a Mount Carmel Hospice employee

July 17–28

Delivered Earn a Bike programming with Kaleidoscope Youth Center youth, in partnership with Franklinton Cycle Works

July 17

Delivered a Professional Development Ride in Somerset

Yay Bikes! Board of Directors meeting

July 19

Attended an Advisory Committee meeting for the ongoing SR-161 Study

WBNS 10TV: A "spicy" t-shirt sale means new bikes for kids in need

Represented people who ride the Hilltop Advisory Committee meeting

July 20

Met with Brooke White, new Air Quality Program Manager for the Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission, regarding potential partnerships

Met with Nick Sanna, City of Columbus Recreation and Parks, about way finding on Central Ohio Greenways

Attended meeting of the COTA NextGen Project Advisory Group

July 21

Met with Claus Eckert, Executive Director of Green Columbus, to explore potential partnerships

Met with Tony Collins, Director of Columbus Recreation & Parks, about potential partnerships

July 25 

Met with Demetries Neely, CEO of King Arts Complex, regarding Bike the Cbus

The Columbus Dispatch: Upper Arlington bike path small, but integral link for central Ohio cyclists

Attended City of Columbus Public Service and Transportation Roundtable at Whetstone Recreation Center

July 26

Attended a Columbus Metropolitan Club luncheon

Attended a Central Ohio Greenways Board meeting

July 27

Site visit to the Ohio Department of Education building to evaluate bike parking needs

Met with David Staley, Director of The Goldberg Center, to explore potential partnerships

Visited the Ohio Department of Education building to assess bicycle infrastructure needs

July 28

Ride Buddy ride with MORPC employees

How We Roll ride for members

July 29

Vetting ride Bike the CbusPLUS

July 30

Year of Yay! ride leader training

Rahel's Yay Bikes! Journey

Yay Bikes! Journeys recount how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Yay Bikes! Board Member Rahel Babb about how Yay Bikes! has helped Columbus feel like home.

The one, the only: Rahel!

The one, the only: Rahel!

I started riding primarily to reduce my car emissions.
I kept riding because of all the friends I’ve made and adventures
I’ve had along the way.
— Rahel Babb

RIDING FOR THE EARTH: "It's important to me that my lifestyle choices align with my personal and professional values. I started riding my bike for cleaner air."

As someone who works in the environmental field, sustainability-related concerns are paramount to Rahel Babb. And one way to pollute less is to drive less (duh). So when she began working at the Lazarus Building in Downtown Columbus, Rahel started riding to work with her colleague, Kelly, and slowly figuring out how to ride home on her own. 

Rahel's sometimes office.

Rahel's sometimes office.

Rahel, second from left, with colleagues who also participated in 2012's National Bike Challenge. 

Rahel, second from left, with colleagues who also participated in 2012's National Bike Challenge. 

JOINING UP WITH FELLOW CYCLISTS: "After a while it seemed a natural progression to join the community of cyclists that was beginning to emerge in Columbus." 

Some time after Rahel and Kelly had mastered their daily commute they stumbled upon news of Yay Bikes!' new Year of Yay! ride series and decided to try it out. Rahel and her husband were still relatively new to town and to Rahel it seemed like a great way to get more deeply involved in the community. And then: SHAZAM! She loved it. Soon she was helping lead Year of Yay! rides when asked (and definitely not ever accidentally leading us the wrong way...cough cough...ahem... :), and eventually coordinating others to support the rides as well.

Rahel, in green, on an early Year of Yay! ride. 

Rahel, in green, on an early Year of Yay! ride. 

VOLUNTEERING FOR ALL THE THINGS: "Volunteer for all Yay Bikes! programs helps me stay in touch with how much of a difference we're making in people's lives."  

Given all her excellent work supporting a Year of Yay!, Rahel was invited to join the Yay Bikes! board in March 2015; she was elected Secretary in 2016. Each year, Rahel commits to volunteering with every Yay Bikes! program, to stay in touch with what we offer the community and how it touches people's lives. She does it all—parks bikes; organizes, leads, sweeps and coordinates volunteers for rides; supports advocacy efforts; helps plan fundraising events; etc. Her involvement has given her countless opportunities to serve, lead and impact her community, and meet some amazing people along the way. 

Rahel, center, on the night she joined the Yay Bikes! board in March 2015.

Rahel, center, on the night she joined the Yay Bikes! board in March 2015.

Rahel, center, reviewing a map of proposed changes to Downtown Columbus' streetscape. 

Rahel, center, reviewing a map of proposed changes to Downtown Columbus' streetscape. 

Rahel at the ready, leading April 2017's "Healthy Earth" Year of Yay! ride.

Rahel at the ready, leading April 2017's "Healthy Earth" Year of Yay! ride.

FEELING AT HOME: "I can call up any number of people in Columbus now and generate instant adventure. I love it!"

When asked what stands out to her most about the impact Yay Bikes! has had on her life, Rahel is clear it's the relationships—with solid friends and also, to a certain extent, the city she now calls home. Her bike friends are people she can call up any time for instant adventure. She's explored most of Columbus by bike—which, as we all know, makes all places seem a bit more special. She is grateful for this crazy Yay Bikes! journey of hers, and looking forward to seeing where it takes her next. 

Rockin' a purple hat, with friends, on a recent Tweed Ride.  

Rockin' a purple hat, with friends, on a recent Tweed Ride.  

Yay Bikes! is grateful to Rahel for her kindness, her generosity and her thoughtful, steady leadership. We appreciate her role in supporting the hundreds of people who have learned to ride roads under her guidance.

Helmets off to you, friend!


To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!

June 2017 activity report

Our Executive Director Catherine Girves chats with City Council Member Shannon Hardin about West Side bike lanes. 

Our Executive Director Catherine Girves chats with City Council Member Shannon Hardin about West Side 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, June:

June 1

Bike the Cbus planning meeting

June 3

Meeting with Columbus City Council Member Shannon Hardin regarding bike lanes on West Broad Street

Year of Yay! vetting ride

Community engagement: Pride Bicycle Ride

June 5

Delivered 2 Professional Development Rides in Sandusky

June 6–8

Attended ODOT's Active Transportation Conference as subject matter experts assisting 5 communities throughout state; moderated a panel on education strategies in Ohio's Active Transportation Plan; and led and ride for 20 conference attendees  

June 9

Rode with City of Columbus engineers to provide input on South Side–area infrastructure under consideration through the Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund

June 10

Year of Yay!, 'Candy' theme

June 10–11

Yay Valet! at Buckeye Country Superfest

June 12

Delivered 2 Professional Development Rides in Shaker Heights

June 13

Led a ride with Wellness Ambassadors from several State of Ohio agencies

June 14

Community engagement: Grove City Bike Night

June 15

Bike the Cbus vetting ride

June 16

Community engagement: Tour de Grandview

June 19

Delivered a Professional Development Ride in Lima

June 20

Led a ride with Wellness Ambassadors from several State of Ohio agencies

Meeting with Julie Walcoff of the Ohio Department of Transportation about upcoming training and partnership opportunities

June 21

Presentation to the State Highway Safety Plan Steering Committee regarding Professional Development Rides

June 24

Bike the CbusPLUS vetting ride

Community engagement: Black Girls Do Bike / Major Taylor ride

June 25

Community engagement: Tuesday Night Ride

Community engagement: Metro Parks Bicycle Tour 2017 @ Glacier Ridge

June 26

Chaired the MORPC Community Advisory Committee meeting

June 27

Smart City partner appreciation event

Community engagement: Steady Pedaling ride

June 28

Learn, Connect & Collaborate with Smart Columbus

Tour de Brew planning meeting

Presented "How to Grocery Shop by Bike" @ Lucky's Market 

June 29

Press conference with Defend our Future, City Council Member Elizabeth Brown, the Environmental Defense Fund and Green Columbus

June 30

How We Roll for Yay Bikes! members

The Daily Sentinel: Creating Healthy Communities Program

The Spirit of Columbus

On April 17, 1964, a woman named Jerrie Mock landed her single-engine Cessna, named “Spirit of Columbus”, at Port Columbus International Airport, having become the first woman to fly solo around the world. In 2013, The Columbus Foundation created the Spirit of Columbus Award to recognize individuals who, like Jerrie, “have exhibited an exemplary community spirit through their accomplishments”. Today, the phrase has taken on new life as our community has embraced it to celebrate anything local “that distinguishes and inspires us”. As someone who has lived in and been inspired by Columbus my entire life, I’m clear that list is long. Columbus is the best city in the world!

Oh! Oh, my...! Photo credit: Bryan Barr

Oh! Oh, my...! Photo credit: Bryan Barr

Which is largely why I was so thrilled in 2015 when Yay Bikes! was invited to take over Bike the Cbus, Columbus’ annual neighborhood bike ride event. Now in its 10th year, Bike the Cbus is a shining example of all that makes this city exceptional. In the tradition of rides like NYC’s Five Boro Bike Tour, Pittsburgh’s PedalPGH and Detroit’s Tour de Troit, Bike the Cbus showcases 30 miles of the best of our city’s urban core and surrounding neighborhoods—Southside! Merion Village! Franklinton! Victorian Village! OSU Campus! Clintonville! University District! Weinland Park! Milo Grogan! King Lincoln Bonzeville! Olde Towne East! Children’s Hospital! Downtown! Brewery District! Whittier Peninsula! Bicentennial Park! German Village! More! In fact, for Bike the CbusPLUS riders, travel all of Franklin County! 

The Shoe in view. Photo credit: Bryan Barr

The Shoe in view. Photo credit: Bryan Barr

You’ve experienced many of these places, sure. But have you experienced them at the speed of bike? Because THAT is when you know, truly and intimately, the magic of a place—its smells, its hidden nooks, its vibe, its story. I promise you this. Ride a bike through Columbus and you’ll fall in love with it, or fall in love all over again. Something you experience riding Bike the Cbus or Bike the CbusPLUS will surprise and delight you. Whether it’s the hospitality of a local business, a route that shows you a better way to get somewhere, a picturesque view of the city, the new friends you make or something else entirely, you’ll emerge from this ride Columbus Proud. Guaranteed. 

Wait, what?!?! Photo credit: Ben Ko

Wait, what?!?! Photo credit: Ben Ko

A friendly hello greets a Bike the Cbus rider. Photo credit: Ben Ko

A friendly hello greets a Bike the Cbus rider. Photo credit: Ben Ko

This is our ride, Columbus! Yet another reason to be proud of this place and its people! 

So I personally invite all of you to join me in celebrating the Spirit of Columbus this September by registering for Bike the Cbus or Bike the CbusPLUS today! In honor of our 10-year anniversary, we’ve beefed up our afterparty, enhanced the snack situation, planned a surprise for the start, created new “greatest hits” routes from all previous years’ and added the opportunity for pre-ride bicycle education. We’re capping the rides at 1,500 and 100 participants, respectively, to preserve the experience (no one will have to walk their bikes on this one!), so get on it! Embrace this community asset, help make it a regional draw and keep kicking ass to make it better and better each year. All profits from the ride go directly to support the advocacy work of Yay Bikes!

Over the bridge into Downtown. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Over the bridge into Downtown. Photo credit: Ben Ko

Mark it. September 2. See you there!

'Candy' ride

Thanks to ride leader Daria Hopkins for a fantastic experience and this write-up!

Twenty-five cyclists gathered at Whole Foods for June ‘s Candy ride, which fell on a beautiful sunny day.

Our first stop at Rocket Fizz began with a brief introduction by the store’s friendly owner, Lindsay, who allowed for us to indulge in complimentary salt water taffy samples. We were also able to explore the store’s diverse soda collection, consisting of over 600 types of soda imported from hundreds of microbreweries throughout the world!

The group then ventured over to German Village to visit Schmidt’s Fudge Haus. Their friendly chocolate maker, Nathaniel, provided us with a demonstration regarding the chocolate making process. The chocolate and sweets at this store were so tasty that many of us had to be coaxed out of the store, as we went well past our allotted visit time.

Fudge demo! 

Fudge demo! 

The group then headed over to Northern Lights to visit Clown Cone and Confections. Our timing was perfect, as the store had just celebrated its 41st anniversary. The owner, Mark, whipped up one of the store’s well known specialties for us to see, the Clown Cone sundae. We were also able to see the store’s clown collection, which consists of approximately 875 clowns.

41 years of clown cones! 

41 years of clown cones! 

875 clowns?!?!!?!

875 clowns?!?!!?!

Mmmmmm.....

Mmmmmm.....

Oh yeah: MORE CANDY!

Oh yeah: MORE CANDY!

After many of us enjoyed a frozen treat at Clown Cone, the group returned to Whole Foods to socialize and recap the morning’s adventures.

Thanks to everyone who came out for the ride! See you next month!  

May 2017 activity report

ODOT transit employees learning to use the COTA bus racks during a Professional Development Ride with us this month.

ODOT transit employees learning to use the COTA bus racks during a Professional Development Ride with us this month.

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, May:

All month

Delivered Columbus Bike Maps to bike shops throughout Central Ohio

May 1

Chaired the MORPC Community Advisory Committee meeting

May 2–3

Trained Bike Cleveland to deliver Professional Development rides

May 4

Columbus Alive: Things We Love: Picks from Emily Monnig

Vet the Bike the Cbus route

May 5 

Vet the June Year of Yay! route

May 6

Tabled at Pinchflat Bike Poster Blowout

May 9

Delivered a Professional Development Ride in Cleveland and another in Euclid

May 10

Meeting at the Ohio Department of Health regarding our upcoming Ride Buddy / How We Roll program for state employees

May 12

Met with a national representative from Dero

May 11

Tabled at the Worthington Community Bike Rodeo

Columbus Green Team meeting

May 13

Year of Yay!, 'April Showers Bring May Flowers' theme

May 15

Delivered a Professional Development Ride with ODOT transit professionals in Columbus

Yay Bikes! board meeting

May 16

nbc4i.com: "Groups aim to make biking to work safer and more convenient"

ODOT Messenger: "Bike to Work Week"

Led a bike ride with members of the press

Ride the Elevator

May 17

Columbus Ride of Silence

Participated in 2 Columbus Foundation Big Table conversations

May 19

The Loop: "5.19.17"

Led a ride to Columbus' Bike to Work Day celebration

May 21

Delivered a How We Roll ride for Yay Bikes! members

May 22

Delivered 2 Professional Development Rides in Defiance

May 23

Attended a planning meeting for the Statewide Active Transportation Institute

May 24

Attended a Central Ohio Greenways board meeting

May 30

Delivered a Professional Development Ride in Dublin

May 31

Delivered 2 Professional Development Rides in Meigs County (Pomeroy and Middleport