Posted 1/26/16 by Tiffany Dixon, updated 5/22/17 by Meredith Reed
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 board chair Emily Monnig about how Yay Bikes! is providing a way for her to create a better future for her daughter.
CRUISING WITH BIKE NERDS: “Biking is in my bones. My grandparents were total bike nerds back in the day!”
Biking is in Emily’s bones. Her grandparents, graduates of The Ohio State University, were what Emily calls “bike nerds". In the 1930s and 40s they cruised up and down High Street, and all around the Columbus of their day. Growing up in Northeast Ohio, Emily remembers when her grandparents would visit, load bikes and all the grandkids into the car and take the whole family to explore nearby trails. Their love of life on two wheels was infectious, and eventually their grandchildren caught on.
When Emily moved to Flagstaff, AZ, she met her future husband, Dan, at a bike shop 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. But just weeks before their scheduled move, Dan and Emily found themselves in Columbus, where they had family nearby. And their plans changed.
SETTING UP SHOP: “I had visited other cities and knew it was possible to get people commuting by bike.”
Having traveled from city to city experiencing various bike cultures 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: Columbus!
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 serving the urban commuter, and helping foster a new community of transportation cyclists here.
COMBINING FORCES: “Being involved with Yay Bikes! is an extension of everything I do. It completes it.”
Over the years, Emily firmly believes that Paradise Garage has thrived through giving back to Columbus’ bike community. The shop started small by hosting community rides. Eventually they began hosting bike themed art exhibits, sponsoring film screenings and getting more involved in advocacy. In 2011, Emily joined the Yay Bikes! Board of Directors; in 2016 she became its Chair.
“I joined the board because it was like, 'I have a passion, you 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.”
WITNESSING CHANGE: “I grew up where bikes were strictly recreational, but my daughter will grow up in a different era, where we ride on roads for transportation!”
Emily has been excited to continue supporting transformational experiences for people who ride in Columbus. One development—the protected bike lanes Yay Bikes! helped facilitate on 4th and Summit—is particularly thrilling for Emily. Now she and Dan, with toddler in tow, can easily and safely commute from their home in Clintonville to their shop in the Short North. In her leadership role, Emily plans to continue developing Yay Bike!' strengths to deepen relationships and evolve Columbus’ bike infrastructure. “It’s a great thing to be in the middle of Columbus and to see the evolution of cycling here,” she says. "These are exciting times for our city, and our organization!"
Yay Bikes! is grateful to Emily for her wicked smarts, her steady leadership, her thoughtfulness and generosity. We appreciate her vast and often unsung contribution to the Columbus bike scene, and for her contribution to building a sustainable bicycle advocacy organization through service to Yay Bikes!
Helmets off to you, friend!
To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!