Yay Bikes! Journeys tell the story of how Yay Bikes! is transforming lives and communities, from the perspective of those we’ve impacted. In this installment, we hear from Nick Tepe, Director of Athens County Public Libraries, about how Yay Bikes! has enriched his life and made his community of Nelsonville more bicycle friendly.
RIDING SOLO: “That’s just what I do, I ride my bike to where I want to go.”
Nick has, for as long as he can remember, ridden his bike to get where he wants to go. Thanks to the gift of 70s-era parents, he even rode his bike several miles to get to his elementary school! So it was a no brainer that he took his bike to college in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then grad school at OSU. And when he got his first library job at the Columbus Metropolitan Library, of course he’d ride his bike to work. “For me,” he says, it was no big deal—that’s just what I do, I ride my bike to where I want to go.”
FINDING COMMUNITY: “This is great! Yay Bikes! is connecting me to a whole new network of friends and activity.”
The first contact Nick had with Yay Bikes! was the Bike to Work Challenge in 2009. And what struck him about it most was the approach of getting people not just to ride their bikes to work, but also to have fun doing it. Nick’s CML team did have fun—so much so that they ended up winning their category that year and growing their team each year thereafter. Then, when Yay Bikes! announced the Year of Yay! rides in 2012, Nick had just gotten divorced and was looking for ways to get himself out there, keep active, meet new people and take his mind off what he was going through. So he came out for the St. Patty’s Day Parade ride (Year of Yay! 12.3, March 2012), had such a blast that he decided he was going to do the rest of them, which he did. About which he remembers thinking, “This is great! Yay Bikes! is connecting me to a whole new network of friends and activity, and the organization is doing a lot of good, too.”
SEEING RESULTS: “I think [Yay Bikes! Executive Director] Catherine Girves is a bike infrastructure fairy. She visits a town and magically bike infrastructure appears.”
Nick was driving to work shortly after Yay Bikes! led his Nelsonville’s City Manager and a City Council Member on a Professional Development Ride and saw, to his great surprise, sharrows on the road leading from the bike path to the Nelsonville Public Library. He notes with excitement that it’s been great for his patrons, who can now rent a bike for free from the library’s established “Book a Bike” program and use sharrows to make their way safely to the trail for a ride. And he credits “The Yay Way!” with making the difference: “I don’t think that Yay Bikes! would have been as successful as we’ve been with advocacy if we hadn’t done that initial front-end work of making bicycling a fun activity for people, making it something that anybody can do, by making people feel comfortable, by hosting rides that have both more and less experienced riders, on and on and on.“
FEELING PRIDE: “I have just been more and more blown away by everything that we’re pulling off with this group.”
“It’s a credit to Yay Bikes! that people around the state have become aware of the work Yay Bikes! is doing and are reaching out to us as experts on how to improve cycling for everybody in their communities. We’ve really been able to move the needle on cycling awareness in not just Franklin County anymore, but the entire state. The people who are making decisions about how we can be safe and have fun riding our bikes on the road, are actually paying attention to us now, and it is 100% because of this organization. Which is why I am proud to continue to support Yay Bikes!, even though I no longer live in Columbus!”
Yay Bikes! is grateful to Nick for his joyful presence, his deep knowledge of all things bike (and every other topic under the sun—yay librarians!) and the innumerable ways he has helped his friends, colleagues and community members achieve happiness and health through bicycling. We look forward to riding with him again soon on a Year of Yay!, when baby Piper is finally ready to rock that trailer. Helmets off to you, friend!
To share your Yay Bikes! Journey, contact Meredith to set up a chat!