This month I've been criss-crossing our great state of Ohio with fellow Yay Bikes! ride leaders, guiding dozens (77 and counting!) of "influencers" on Professional Development Rides that are transforming how they think about bicyclists and bicycle infrastructure. That's not my own feel-good impression. It's coming through loud and clear, over and over again, on our program evaluation surveys. You can see it in participants' own words, scattered throughout this post: this work works.
By the end of this month we will have ridden in 13 communities with professionals from all over Ohio. Mayors! Council Members and Commissioners! Engineers! Planners! Advocates! Public health and parks employees! Philanthropists! Economic development officers! Etc.!
Why do all these VIPs consent to ride with Yay Bikes!? It's "the Yay Way"—or rather, how we are with them: kind, encouraging, neutral, grateful. Quoting one hesitant participant: "This isn't going to be some extended bitchfest, is it?". No, it isn't! We don't attack, we don't proscribe, we don't bitch. We lead and teach, and allow our participants to reach their own professional conclusions about what would work best for their communities' cyclists, given their unique circumstances.
Many of these professionals had never ridden streets before, or didn't understand how to ride them in a way that maximizes their safety. With the best of intentions, they simply didn't know what they didn't know about how a cyclist experiences different roads, or makes the choices they do to stay safe. But six weeks after their rides? A significant majority say they now "advocate more strongly and confidently for bicyclists" at their jobs. Wow. Take a pause here to think about that. People in position to influence conditions for cyclists throughout the state understand now what cyclists need AND they have become bicycle advocates! This. Work. Works.
Constant travel is exhausting. My unanswered emails are piled a mile high; my brain is mush. But according to the data, one thing remains true and steady: Yay Bikes! is making a difference in this world. And that brings me joy and peace during this crazy season. Which I look forward to sharing with you.... next month, after a nap or several...
We offer programming like this with support from the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the support of our members. Join now!