Good evening President Ginther, Environment Chair Mills, Co-Sponsor Klein and Miller and to the remaining honorable members of Columbus City Council. Thank you for this opportunity to speak to you tonight. My name is Catherine Girves and I am the Executive Director of Yay Bikes! Tonight I am delighted and honored to be here representing the 517 members of Yay Bikes! Yes, Council Member Mills we have added 5 members since we were here last Tuesday. Yay Bikes! is thankful to Columbus City Council for consideration of 1182-2014 the proposed “Safe Streets Ordinance”. This ordinance showcases our City's commitment to peaceful streets for all users – transit riders and operators, motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists.
As a year round bicyclist, (yes I road here tonight in a skirt and heels), I can tell you from personal experience that bicycling is good for the physical and emotional health of individual riders. But what many don't realize is, that when people choose bicycling as a mode of transportation everyone in the community benefits:
- Commuter bicyclists protect the public health of the entire community by reducing carbon and other green house gas emissions protecting air quality for all, particularly our most vulnerable members of the community.
- Commuter bicyclists reduce dependence on fossil fuels protecting the environment, economy, and national security of the entire community.
- Like pedestrians, commuter bicyclists increase the safety and community cohesiveness of the neighborhoods we ride in, often functioning as informal block watches.
- And when people Discover Columbus by bike we see an economic impact. Yay Bikes! leads “How We Roll” rides teaching bicyclists to ride streets legally, visibly, and predictably. Immediately following, participants take a short test. When asked how likely participants are to return to places they were introduced to on these rides, 75%-77% respond they are very likely and an additional 20% report they are somewhat likely to return to those locations. When we conduct a 6 week follow up survey we find that 53.3% have already returned to a place they were initially introduced to on a “How We Roll” ride. When asked about favorite moments on these rides, 29% name a specific business, 26% name downtown Columbus and its sites, and 23% respond Experiencing Columbus and learning more about the community.
This Council's investment in the safety of bicyclists that travel our streets is an investment in the entire community.
Finally, investing in commuter bicyclists is an investment in social justice. Some of us who travel by bike, do it out of economic necessity. Protecting the safety of commuter bicyclists protects the safety of working class people traveling to work, school, shop, and back home to our families.